USA Table Tennis

History of U.S. Table Tennis Volume 13: 1984

CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE 

1984: July-August Tournaments (Brathwaite Wins CNE). 

The July 28th Seafair Open (SPIN, Oct., 1984, 28) “was hosted, as it had been in the past, by Dr. Michael Scott and the Seattle University TTC. This year, again under the outstanding direction of Tyra Parkins, the tournament drew over 100 entries, had good local media coverage, offered some money prizes as well as trophies, and provided six-packs of Pepsi for the finalists in all events.

After a mediocre spring season and U.S. Open, Jay Crystal took advantage of Quang Bui’s summer absence (he was training in Houston) and swept all four Singles events he entered. That earned him $215, a two-man rubber raft, and multiple six-packs of Pepsi. He also added his name to a long list of winners (none of whom ever defended their title), including Dean Doyle, Peter Joe, Tom Ruttinger, and Jack Howard.

Results: Open Singles: Crystal over Canada’s Alan Bajkov. Women’s: Liana Panesko over Debbie Poh. Open Doubles: Canada’s Robert Chin/Greg Chow over Crystal/Bob Mandel. Special Singles [what’s so special about it?]: Crystal over Tait Anderson. U-2200: Crystal over Bill Popp. U-2100: Chow over Bajkov. U-1980: Mike Terrell over Mike Tam. U-1850: Bob Ho over George Kawamoto. U-1750: Panesko over Anthony Yu. U-1600 Singles: Seow Fong over Aisil Kawamoto. U-1400: Nora Ly over Prashani Rangnekar. Hard Bat: Crystal over Greg Eng. U-50: Seow Lee over Michael Scott, Sr. O-40: Lee over Bob Ho. O-30: Mandel over Scott, Sr. Junior’s: Chin over Panesko.

In the U.S., Nora of course is a female name. But in Pochentong, Cambodia, where Dr. Scott tells us (Timmy’s, June, 1984, 16) Nora Ly, 13 (see U-1400 winner above), and his brother Randy, 11, were born, Nora is most definitely a male name. Michael praises their t.t. talents and compares them to the Vietnamese Bui brothers. They have the benefit of playing at Tyra Parkins’ Seattle University Club, and of Hong Pham’s coaching, but it’s their parents—and, as with the Buis, especially their father Vanna—“who do everything within their ability and resources to assist their children in their intense pursuit of the sport.” Expect to see Nora and Randy’s names for quite a while.

Winners at the Aug. 11th River City Open in Sacramento: Open Singles: Dean Doyle over Avishy Schmidt who’d outlasted Masaaki Tajima, deuce in the 4th. Open Doubles: Doyle/Schmidt over Tajima/Charles Childers. U-2200’s: Schmidt over David Chun. U-2000’s: Mike Grooms over Frank Mesia who’d advanced over Tom Miller, 18 in the 3rd. U-1850’s: Allen McDermott over David Chu. U-1700’s: McDermott over Hien Nguyen, 17, 23, -16, -18, 9. U-3250 Doubles: James Therriault/Jim Goodwin II over Ben Torella/Geoff Harvey. U-1550’s: Torella over Jere Brumby in five. U-1400’s: Abe DeMateo over Ron Jew in five. U-1250’s: DeMateo over Humilde Prudencio, 19, -24, 16. U-2250 Doubles: Warren Baxter/Anthony Streutker over Chan/Nguyen. U-1100’s: James Stewart over Than Nguyen, 12, -19, 22, 16. U-950’s: Leo Egel over Don Struetker, 17, -21, 21, then over Joe Rodriguez. Handicap: Torella over Jim Goodwin, III, 18, -20, 19, then over Jim Goodwin, II, 19, 21. Sr. Esquire’s: Lloyd Henning over Jack Mason. Esquire’s: Harry Nelson over Bill Wright. Senior’s: McDermott over James Ritz. Junior’s: Joe Lomas over Angel Soltero.

Results of the July 14-15 Hawthorne-Northrop Summer Open (90 entries): Open Singles: Ricky Guillen over Mas Hashimoto. Best Match: 1st Round: six-time World Wheelchair Champion Mike Dempsey (now living in Laguna Beach, CA) over chopper Godfrey Julian, 16 in the 5th. U-2200’s: Hashimoto over Mike Wedret, 19 in the 3rd, then over Mike Baltaxe. U-2000’s: Wedret over Shmuel Goshen, -12, 14, 20, 20. U-1900’s: Tom Highley over Lynwood Smith in five. U-1800’s: Highley over Smith. U-1700’s: Bob Green over C. Lei, 23-21 in the 5th. U-1600’s: Sompong Siew over Ted Pacnya in five. U-1500’s: G. Pauly over Siew. U-1400’s: T. Nguyen over George Moses who’d eliminated Tom Ballard, 18 in the 3rd. U-1300’s: Taeko Lei over Paul Thompson. U-1200’s: James Scott over T. Lei, 23-21 in the 5th. Unrated Singles: K.C. Tse over A. Sakai, 17 in the 5th. Draw Doubles: Thompson/Jonathan Wallace over Wong/Smith, -13, 18, -12, 20, 19. Esquire’s: Smith over Don Ayers. Senior’s: Amin Jaffer over Smith.   

Henry Walding (SPIN, Sept., 1984, 17) reports on the 60-entry Austin, TX Aquatennial Festival Round Robin, played Aug. 4 “in the spacious city coliseum—a 15,000 square-foot air-conditioned facility. The Austin Aquafest is one of the five largest festivals in the U.S. At a gig across the street at the same time the tournament was going on were entertainers Waylon Jennings, Tanya Tucker, and Johnny Rodriguez. The tournament, the first held in Austin in many years, drew several hundred spectators during the day, and many area residents expressed an interest in learning more about table tennis.”

Results: Class A R.R. 1. Quang Bui, 3-0. 2. Ed Poon, 2-1—d. DeLeon, 14, -21, 19. 3. Carl Willis, 1-2. 4. Jacob DeLeon, 0-3. Class B: 1. Phue Van, 3-0. 2. Alex Poon, 2-1. 3. William Stern, 1-2. 4. Maurice Leviston, 0-3. Class C: 1. James Scherer, 3-0—d. Ruiz, 22, -13, 22. 2. Kenny Owens, 2-1. 3. Furman Haddix, 1-2. 4. Salvador Ruiz, 0-3. Class D: 1. Mike Roddy, 3-0. 2. Martin Veta, 2-1. 3. Karl Schulz, 1-2. 4. Quyen Ha, 0-3. Class E: 1. Jerry Pommering, 3-0. 2. Chris Rivette, 1-2 (4-4)—d. Sargent. 3. Leslie Garrad, 1-2 (4-5)—d. Rivette. 4. Sargent, 1-2 (4-5)—d. Garrad. Class F: 1. Freddy Arista, 3-0. 2. Carter Richardson, 2-1. 3. Marjory Wilcox, 1-2. 4. Gary Perry, 0-3.

Jimmy Su (SPIN, Sept., 1984, 23) tells us that “the Lansing, MI Community College TTC held its first Hilton-LCC tournament July 21-22. Through the help of Mr. Shahbaz Amidi, General Manager of the Hilton Inn-Lansing, our tournament was covered by both local CBS and NBC affiliates, WLNS and WILX respectively. Hilton Inn-Lansing donated the trophies, supplementing the more than $500 in prize money given by the LCCTCC, as well as offering rooms for up to four for $25 a night. We feel Mr. Amidi deserves to be the Most Valuable Player of our tournament.

In addition to Mr. Amidi, we would like to thank the Student Activities Office and the Physical Education Department, especially William Zuhl and Tournament Co-Director Rich Mull, for making the tournament possible. Thanks also to Scott and Jimmy Butler for playing an exhibition match during the tourney.

Winners: Open Singles: 1. Scott Butler. 2. Dell Sweeris. 3. Jim Butler. 4. Jim Doney (who sandwiched in this tournament while running three July training camps). A’s: 1. Doug Burns. 2. Jim Repasy. B’s: Bela Nagy. 2. Max Salisbury. C’s: Mark Merritt. 2. Guenther Schroeder. D’s: Larry Ryel. 2. Paul Keller. E’s: Dave Kurski. 2. Dave Parradotto. F’s: Michelle Mantel. 2. Arnold Smith. Over 50: Larry Ryell. 2. Myron “Mike” Edgerton. Over 40: Max Salisbury. 2. Shih Lin. 

 Here’s Pat Hernan (SPIN, Sept., 1984, 18) to give us a rundown on the $2,400 Quaker State Open, played July 14-15 in Oil City, PA:

“Quaker State Oil Refining Corportation—headquartered in the nation’s ‘Heart of Oildom,’ Oil City, PA—has emerged as a serious advocate of the USTTA. Through their total sponsorship of the Open Singles ($1,725) and the cooperation of Tom Neil of Quaker State’s advertising department, the 1984 Quaker State Open was a rousing success. The total purse exceeded $2,400 and was appropriately distributed so that approximately half the contestants left with a little change in their pockets. The Championships even turned a small profit—quite a change from the formative years of this tournament.

Mr. Neil took a genuine interest in the sport and was present Sunday to view the final. He chatted with some of the players, who were all very cordial, and he showed a keen awareness of problems facing table tennis. The tournament committee would like to publicly thank Quaker State and their adman extraordinaire Tom Neil for an outstanding job on this 1984 QS Open.

Open Singles began with four round robin groups of six. From this preliminary play two players from each group would advance to single elimination play—quarter’s, semi’s, and final. The third and fourth players in a group would not advance, but would win $50 for their efforts. In many cases the rating difference between the 4th, 5th, and 6th seeds wasn’t that great, so the prize money provided an extra incentive to produce an upset or two. In addition to the cash prizes, top-quality trophies were awarded in the lower-rated events. Chuck Focht, who plays in a wheelchair, won the U-1400’s over runner-up Arnold Smith and third-place finisher Dave Surti. And Herman Sprattling took the U-1200’s with Gary Egri coming in second and Gail Yaspan third.

In his Open quarter’s match, Danny Seemiller defeated Jeff Young—but it was Jeff who via word-of-mouth got the most attention this tournament weekend. By way of explanation, let me ask you, ‘What former Heavyweight Champion of the World stopped off to visit Jeff at his home during the weekend?’ Answer: ‘Muhammed Ali.’

Jeff, it turns out, is a great boxing fan, and several years ago he flew out to California just to meet the Champ. Meet him, he did, and they became friends. So when Ali had occasion to be in Pittsburgh to attend an awards banquet, he stopped by Jeff’s house for an early-morning chat. Talk about neighborhood pandemonium! Before leaving, Ali placed a phone call to Jeff’s mother who was vacationing in Chicago. Anyone in the Pittsburgh area can see more of Ali and Young in an upcoming segment of television’s ‘Evening Magazine.’

Ricky and Randy Seemiller had uneventful straight-game quarter’s matches—Ricky over Bob Cordell and Randy over Jim Repasy.

The one interesting quarter’s match was between former Russian internationalist Simon Shtofmakher and former Canadian Junior Team member Steve Feldstein. Simon had his hands full with Steve’s steady chops. It was a classic offense vs. defense battle with Simon sometimes looping 10 or so consecutive balls before he had a chance to hit one in. Feldstein was chopping with heavy spin but would occasionally mix it up with an anti chop, and if Shtofmakher’s return was high, Steve would race in and smack in a backhand. Feldstein, in doing his best Engelbert Huging impersonation, outlasted Simon for the right to play Danny in the semi’s. Don’t feel sorry for old Shtofmakher, though, as he came back to defeat Feldstein and win the U-2200’s.

In the semi’s, Danny, exploding shots against Feldstein’s chops, downed  Steve three straight. While Ricky, playing perhaps the best table tennis of his career (his rating’s now over 2500), was too loop-strong for Randy.

In the first game of the Danny-Ricky final, Ricky held a three or four-point lead until Danny caught him at 17. The brothers then exchanged marvelous points, almost as if in a well-planned exhibition. But at 18-all, after a lengthy rally that had Danny lobbing and chopping, Ricky missed a crucial kill of a lob Danny had returned while crashing into the barriers. Ricky’s miss was the last chance anyone had this tournament of taking even a game from Danny.

Distribution of prize money: Danny Seemiller ($400); Ricky Seemiller ($225); Steve Feldstein ($190); Simon Shtofmakher ($175); Randy Seemiller ($150); Larry Hodges ($130); Bob Cordell, Jim Repasy, and Jeff Young ($100); Barney Reed ($80); Pat Hernan ($75); Hank McCoullum ($70); Gary Martin ($65); and Ralph Ubry, Bob Powell, Danny Walk, and Alex Meleshenko ($50).” 

A June 23-24 $1,700 Cleveland Open had been advertised, but I’ve no record of it having been played, and it was never covered in SPIN.

 Winners at the July 14 Columbus, Ohio Summer Sweepstakes: Open Singles: 1.-2. Ricky and Randy Seemiller split, didn’t play the final. 3. Bob Powell. 4. Bob Cordell. Women’s: 1. Joyce Jenkins. 2. Lydia Balchunas. 3. Lori Berenson. 4. Pat Schuld. A’s: Akram Aloqaili over Jim Repasy in 5. B’s: Ray Stewart over Greg Brendon, 19 in the 4th. C’s: Tima Beka over Vince Turner. D’s: Brad Hudson over Greg Galbreath, 18, -34 [sic], 19, then over Rick Hardy (def.). E’s: Dan James over Eric Maskey. Unrated/Novice: Tony Albrecht over Gus Apsitis, 19 in the 5th. Beginner/Novice: Albrecht over Richard Takas (from down 2-0). Senior’s: Brendon over Jenkins. Young Adults: 1.-2.: Chip Coulter and Danny Walk split. 3. Hudson. 4. Peter Vekselman. 

The $2,500 Yasaka Invitational (SPIN, Sept., 1984, cover +) was held in Indianapolis, Aug. 4-5. The article on this tournament, very short for a SPIN cover story and with no byline, says this Invitational, with its unusual modified double elimination format, was played in Indianapolis in conjunction with the Indiana Open, presumably held but never reported on in SPIN. The article gives “Special thanks to Bob Petty, Lorraine Rikke, Jerry Button, and all the many others who helped make the Yasaka Invitational and the Indiana Open a success. [Wouldn’t it have been more a success if they’d have found, among “all the many others,” a writer to cover both tournaments?]

‘This Yasaka Invitational was sponsored by the U.S. distributor of Yasaka products, the Table Tennis Club of America, Ltd. This year [it’s the second such Invitational] there were 15 participants in the event which was exclusively for Yasaka-sponsored players and for independent players who play with Yasaka products. Prize money came from the promotional and advertising budget of Table Tennis America, Ltd.

In this modified double elimination format, the two players who reach the final of the Winners bracket play for the Championship—each is guaranteed to be either winner or runner-up. The finalists in the Loser’s bracket play for 3rd Place. The losing semifinalists in the Loser’s bracket play for 5th Place. The players whom the losing semifinalists in the Losers bracket beat the round before play for 7th place.”

Results: First round’s only three-game matches (#1 seed Nigeria’s Francis Sule drew the only bye): Jimmy Butler over Sweden’s Peter Ahlgren. -21, 18, 18, and Scott Butler over Khoa Nguyen, 19, -16, 15. After second-round play, in addition to Ahlgren (whose second loss was to Scott Butler), players who disappear from the money list are: Bob Cordell (beaten first by Sean O’Neill, then by Jim Doney who, after originally falling to Sweden’s Christer Andersson endured a second loss to Chartchai Teekaveerakit); Bob Powell was first stopped by Teekaveerakit, then, after getting by Dick Hicks who’d lost his opener to Lekan Fenuyi, went down to Andersson; Gene Lonnon lost his first match to Rey Domingo, his second to Khoa Nguyen (Khoa then ousted Jimmy Butler whose first loss was to Sule).

That left in the Winner’s bracket the quarter’s matches between the undefeated. In addition to Sule’s advance over Jim Butler, O’Neill had an easy 13, 18 win over Andersson; but Domingo was 22, -20, 10 extended to three by Scott Butler, and in the best match of the tournament Defending Champ Fenuyi finally outlasted Thai Champ Teekaveerakit, -17, 19, 21. “Fenuyi played with a degree of intensity that he has rarely shown before, especially late in the match. Trailing triple-match-point 20-17 in the third, Lekan ran three straight to deuce it, lost the next point, but again ran three, winning six of the last seven points to reach the semi’s.”

Results of the players who, losing their quarter’s matches, dropped into the Loser’s bracket: Teekaveerakit ended Scott Butler’s tournament, and Andersson did the same to Khoa Nguyen. Scott and Khoa earned $62 apiece.

In the Winner’s semi’s, it was Sule, challenged only in the first, 20, 11, 13, over O’Neill; and Domingo in a [wish it had been described] 18, -19, 19 thriller over Fenuyi. That forced O’Neill and Fenuyi into the Loser’s bracket—with the result that Teekaveerakit ($180), who’d lost to his Virginia-host O’Neill in the final of the Junior’s at the U.S. Open 10, 16, 8, again went down super-docilely to him, 13, 12; and Anderson ($180) was beaten by Fenuyi, 18, 18. Lekan ($355) then went on to win the Loser’s bracket over Sean ($255), 19. -18, 18.

The Championship final had to be somewhat disappointing to the spectators, for Sule again won, as he had throughout, three straight, 16, 14, 14. For winning three matches Francis earned $855; for winning three matches (but losing one) Rey earned $555. 

Richard Badessa (SPIN, Sept., 1984, 22) covers the July 28 Louisville Two-Man Team Tournament for us. “Twenty-one teams were initially divided into three divisions (A, B, C) according to team ratings. Each division then played a full round robin, Corbillon Cup format, with the top two teams in each division earning the awards.”

Results: Championship Division: 1. Scott/Jim Butler. 2. John Allen/Charlie Buckley (“Allen, in the Butler tie, by placing his loops with precision and varying their spin, outdueled Jim”). 3. Richard Hicks/Homer Brown (“Hicks stunned the spectators in his Butler tie by beating Scott, 15, 11”). “The tie here for 2nd-Place money was particularly exciting. Allen opened by handling Hicks’s usually deadly long pips with 11, 10 ease, much in the way he’d varied his aggressive game with young Butler. Homer then evened the tie with a win over Charlie—but Allen/Buckley took the key doubles to go up 2-1. Hicks, as expected, then won out over Buckley, but Allen, coming through with his second singles win, prevailed over Brown.”

A Division: 1. Mike Hamm/Bill Hall (“Bill was the only player in the tournament to win all his singles matches”). 2. Riley brothers (lost to Hamm/Hall in five). 3. Bob Gilbert/David Ewton (a pyrrhic victory, for “they’d been rated last in this Division”).

B Division: 1. Paul Dye/Phil Funk (Funk winning 8 of 9 singles matches). 2. Larry Staggers/Jim Laney (lost 3-2 tie to winners). 3. Gene Bricker/Jim Wilson.

An August 11-12 $1,500 Louisiana World’s Fair tournament had been advertised, but I’ve no record of it having been played, and it was never covered in SPIN. 

 There were detailed results but no write-up of the 1984 XVIII AAU/USA Junior Olympics, held Aug. 13-19 in Jacksonville, FL at the downtown Civic Center. However, back in the spring (SPIN, Apr., 1984, 23), the AAU’s Jerry Lenander, hyping the tournament, said that this year 5,800 athletes from every state were expected to compete for national titles in 15 sports, including table tennis. [Wow! Almost 6,000 athletes in just 15 sports. How many of them are in table tennis?] Sears Roebuck and Co. has been the national corporate sponsor of these AAU/USA Junior Olympics since 1977 and they provide ribbons, medals, posters, and other administrative support material for all levels of competition.”

Results: Boys State Teams: 1. Iowa (Jim/Scott Butler). 2. Michigan (Mark Legters/Todd Meadows/ Todd Sweeris). 3. California (Charles Hill/Gary Ladd/Joe Lomas/Emilio Vargas). 4. Georgia (Ricky da Silva/Derek May). 5. Minnesota (Thor/Tryg Truelson). 6. Arkansas (Bud Caughman/Michael Lauro). Boys Class A: 1. Scott Butler. 2. Jim Butler. 3. Greg Chamish. 4. Mark Legters. 5. Bud Caughman. 6. Charles Hill. Boys Class B: 1. Derek May. 2. Scott Bakke. 3. Joe Lomas. 4. Dan Krall. 5. Tryg Truelson. 6. William Kwan. Class C: 1. Quyen Ha. 2. Ricky da Silva. 3. Todd Sweeris. 4. Daniel Legters. 5. Charles Baker. 6. Randy Madrigal. Class D: Artie Gayton. 2. Ben Fuller. 3. Cedric Drewes. 4. Bo Headly. 5. Kevin Hsu. 6. Jim Polfer.

Boys U-17: 1. Mark Legters. 2. Scott Butler. 3. Derek May. 4. Ovidiu Nazarbechian. 5. Gary Ladd. 6. Bud Caughman. Boys U-15: 1. Charles Hill. 2. Thor Truelson. 3. William Kwan. 4. Charles Baker. 5. Artie Gayton. 6. Randy Madrigal. Boys U-13: Jim Butler. 2. John Elwood. 3. William Kwan. 4. Charles Baker. 5. Artie Gayton. 6. Randy Madrigal. Boys U-11: 1. Reggie Madrigal. 2. Anthony Cooper. 3. Todd Sweeris. 4. Karl Schulz. 5. Rene Ramirez. 6. Michael Lauro. Boys U-9: 1. Eric Owens. 2. Daniel Legters. 3. Adam Culler. 4. Paul Harrison.

Girls State Teams: 1. Illinois (Kathy/Linda/Martha Gates). 2. Missouri (Abby/Stephanie Fox). 3. Texas (Leslie Garrad/Linda Van Enenaam). Girls Open Singles: 1. Vicky Wong. 2. Kathy Gates. 3. Stephanie Fox. 4. Linda Gates. 5. Rebecca Martin. 6. Martha Gates. Girls U-17: 1. Kathy Gates. 2. Vanessa Watson. 3. Linda Van Eenenaam. 4. Delisa Drewes. Girls U-15: 1. Vicky Wong. 2. Linda Gates. Girls U-13: 1. Stephanie Fox. 2. Leslie Garrad. Girls U-11: Martha Gates. 2. Rebecca Martin. 3. Colleen Scharphon. Girls U-9: 1. Andrea Butler. 2. Abby Fox. 3. Dawn Gates. Girls U-17 Doubles: 1. Kathy/Linda Gates. 2. Leslie Garrad/Linda Van Eenenaam. Girls U-13 Doubles: 1. Abby/Stephanie Fox. 2. Martha/Dawn Gates.

[Why do I get the idea this wasn’t one of our better Junior Olympics? And having said that, here are a few words from Junior Olympics Chaperone Yvonne Kronlage (SPIN, Oct., 1984, 12):] 

“The Junior Olympics for me was an adventure in more ways than one. Seven boys from Maryland qualified in the State Tryouts to go to Jacksonville, FL to play in the Championships. All players had all their expenses paid from money raised from donations, raffles, and the Howard County TTC.

When we arrived at 1:00 a.m., the hotel didn’t have the two rooms we needed [two rooms for seven boys and Yvonne?], even though, when I called in for reservations between plane changes in Atlanta, they’d told me they did have these rooms for us. Thanks to USTTA Junior Development Chair Dick Butler, who I called at that late hour, we managed to get to another hotel for a few hours sleep.  

The tournament, after finally starting, went well, but it took quite a lot of time getting everything together as last-minute players entered, which I thought wasn’t right after other players had to qualify. [Dick Butler disagreed with Yvonne—said, “The tournament started at the time scheduled…and all tournament participants qualified.”]

A fire! And what a time for a fire—12:30 a.m. after we’d just fallen asleep after a tough tournament day. There came a banging at my door—boys were yelling, ‘There’s a fire!’ Thinking it was in the hotel I jumped out of bed only to learn that lightning had hit a gas-storage tank about two miles away—but still the whole area was lit up by the flames leaping high into the sky. It was a relief that the blaze was not close, and after watching it for a while we all managed to get back to sleep.

What can I say? You find all kinds of excitement when you’re involved with table tennis. And Maryland did end up winning five medals. [What can I say? According to the Results above, Maryland didn’t send a Boys or Girls State Team, and only one player from Maryland (Kevin Su, #5 in Class D) was named in those Results.] 

Winners at the July 28-29 Orlando Summer Open: Open Singles: Ron Rigo, 15, -13, 22, -9, 12, over Greg Gingold who’d advanced by Bard Brenner, 18, 12, -20, 19. Early matches of note: Gingold over Olga Soltesz, 14, 24, -14, 18; and Larry Gold over His-Tung Chu, -16, 17, 12, 19. Open Doubles: Gold/Pat Patterson, 17, -19, 19, 18, over Soltesz/Lenny Chew who’d survived Jerry Thrasher/Brian Miezejewski, 18 in the 5th.  Senior’s: Brenner over Randy Hess, 18 in the 4th. U-1950’s: Brenner over Chew (from down 2-0 and at 23-all in the third), -17, -7, 22, 19, 14. U-1850’s: Steve McLaren over Clinton Steffan, -16, -9, 12, 14, 36 [sic]. U-1750’s: Steffan over Bill Davidson. U-1650’s: Sam Maxwell over Bill Godshalk. U-1550’s: Godshalk over Jeff Felger who’d advanced by Colin Weyrauch, 20, 20. U-1450’s: Michael Hugh-Sam over Rudy Santo, -16, 20, 15. Consolation’s: Jorn Tandberg over Jean Andrian.

Yvonne Kronlage (SPIN, Oct., 1984, 22) reports that her Maryland Training Camp, “sponsored by the USTTA, was held [July 14-28] for the fourth year in a row. The coaches were Henan Li Ai and Brian Masters and the combination proved excellent.

There were 28 participants in the two one-week camps that included six hours of coaching daily, a tournament at the conclusion of each camp, and lots of time for fun and other activities. In addition, there was a trip to Harbour Place in Baltimore, a visit to the movies to see “Ghostbusters,’ plenty to eat, and lots of good competition for the kids ranging from 10 to 50-years-old. Also, the famous watermelon-seed spitting contest was held at both weekly parties with the winners feeling they had won some gigantic Championship.”

Results of the New England Open Team Championships, held Aug. 11 in Cambridge, MA: Class A: 1. Ben Nisbet/Ralph Bockoven, 4-1. 2. Brian Eisner/Barry Dattel, 3-2. 3. John Allen/Kurt Douty, 3/2. 4. Pandit Dean/Sparky James, 3/2. 5. Suguru Araki/Marta Zurowski, 2/3. 6. Benny Hull/Haig Raky, 0/5. Class B: Jay Rogers/Don Najarian, 4-0. 2. Wes Daley/William Maisonet, 2/2. 3. Dan Garcia/“Tommy” Castronovo, 2/2. 4. Flora Ng/Pedro Cardenas, 2-2. 5. Mike Allen/Bob Quinn, 0-4.

Class C: 1. Chris Kalagher/John Beauvais, 3/1. 2. Jim Hayford/Ray Baillargoon, 3/1. 3. Dan McNeil/Frank Hrobak, 2/2. Jim Warren/Sym Gallucci, 2/2. Jeff/Kim Brastow, 0-4. Class D: 1. Dennis Walker/Barry Scott, 4-1. 2. Alex Landsman/Ralph Osborne, 4/1. 3. Trien Chieu/Maury Stern, 4/1. 4. Howard Reben/John Lohfeld, 2/3. 5. Richard Lewis/Steven Scheiner, 1/4. 6. Michael Reterski/Kas Zurowski, 0-5. Class E: 1. Gary Ehrhardt/Ray Gallucci, 5/0. 2. Rebecca/Roger Martin, 4/1. 3. Frank Williams/Alicja Kolodnicki, 3/2. 4. David Goss/Mack Thatcher, 2/3. 5. Robert/John Wade, 1/4. 6. J. Duncan Campbell/John Palmer, 0-5. 

            Why, as the Ontario TTA celebrates its 50th anniversary, was the Aug. 30-Sept. 2, 1984 Toronto-based CNE International Open—with its 291-entries in 32 events—so historically interesting?

            For three reasons. (1) Canada, in an unusual occurrence, defeated the U.S. in all four Team ties. (2) Canton, China/Vancouver B.C.’s Cindy Choy was the first Far Western Province’s Women’s Singles winner in this tournament that I, Tim, am aware of. And (3) George “The Chief” Brathwaite had to be—though you’d never know it to look at him—the oldest player ever to win the Men’s Single here.

            This year’s Open, though, I’m forced to say, lost much of its usual strength with the absence of a great many players, most of whom under different circumstances might normally have been expected to play.

            Canadian Team members Joe Ng, Alain Bourbonnais, Mariann Domonkos, and Becky McKnight were in Gdansk, Poland for the World University Games; however, their teammates, Romanian defector Horatio Pintea, the current Canadian Men’s Champion, and Vietnamese immigrant Thanh Mach, the ’82 CNE Women’s winner, were denied visas by Poland at the 11th hour. Afterwards, the CNE Tournament Committee allowed (How do you spell his nickname?) “Hory’ to play in the friendly Team matches but NOT in the $600-first prize Singles.

Three players, former world-class star Zoran “Zoki” Kosanovic, longtime Canadian Internationalist Errol Caetano, and Ming Yuan—all angry at, or indifferent to, the present Canadian TTA administration—were dropped from the Canadian Ranking list and—ptui!—they didn’t play (Kosanovic had just come off holding a 12-day Training Clinic in Toronto anyway). Nor did Canada’s Bao Nguyen, busy elsewhere in Ontario trying to change his Certificate of Identity into Canadian Citizenship papers. Nor did B.C.’s Eddie Lo who, having just taken two weeks off from his mechanic’s job to come to the National Training Center at Ottawa, couldn’t take a third. Frank Watson, Canadian #9, didn’t play. Derek Wall, three-time Canadian Closed Champ, didn’t play. Nor did former Canadian Women’s Champion Rupa Banerjee who, with her young son in tow, merely watching, was heard to say wistfully, “I should have played.”

Patrick Birocheau, usually the French #2 behind Jacques Secretin (a recent winner here), was vacationing in the area with his wife, but the Tournament Committee wouldn’t let him play at the last minute either. [The Israeli contingent drew Canada’s longtime Official/Coach/ Player Chandra Madosingh’s disapproval. Five of their players here for the Maccabi Games in Detroit entered the tournament but didn’t show, and didn’t bother to say they weren’t coming either. “Very, very parsimonious,” said Chandra.

U.S. players were conspicuously absent. Defending Champion Kalavathi Panda wasn’t here. Nor were Sean O’Neill or Brandon Olson. Former Men’s finalist Scott Boggan, following his summer tree-spraying job and new surfing and triathlon kick, was laying off t.t. before returning to league play in Germany. Rey Domingo and Scott Butler were going at it at the Indianapolis Yasaka tournament.

U.S. #1 Insook Bhushan, five months pregnant, wasn’t going to take the slightest risk of dehydrating herself. U.S. Champ Danny Seemiller, CNE finalist par excellence, was in Malaysia at the $55,555 World Cup (had Swedish super-star Jan-Ove Waldner in trouble too). And World #20 Eric Boggan, forced to cancel out his World Cup play or the chance to play on opening night here for a wristwatch, was giving his usual professional performance in his new Steinhagen Club’s opening Bundesliga match against Dusseldorf. “Ja, der U.S. boy” made a great debut, beating both Des Douglas, the English #1, and Ralf Wosik, the German #2.

Still, according to CNE Tournament Brian Hackeson (OTTA Update, Aug.-Sept., 1984, 6), “our ‘Season Opener’ (though technically a little wobbly behind the scenes) was a great success. Support was, as usual, top-notch, thanks to Marvin Pearl and his crew. Our only serious problem being the little ancient gate-man who insisted on turning certain lights out at 11:00 p.m. no matter what was going on—in this case, approximately 15 tables of round robins. Our thanks to all the volunteers, and especially to Gilbert Benoit for what proved to be an excellent time schedule.” 

Team Matches

            So how did the U.S. lose all four Team ties?

            In the Men’s, Pan-Am Champ Brian Masters and the Seemiller brothers, Ricky and Randy, lost all three to Pintea (“Greatest noticeable improvement I saw in a player,” said officiating umpire Detlev von Notbeck). Also, the “Canadian Kumar-chopper," David Mahabir (born in England, brought up in Trinidad, attended school in Barbados, graduated to a university in Canada), beat both Brian and Ricky. The U.S. avoided a blitz when the Seemiller brothers had easy last-game wins over Bert Flisberg.

            Masters was up 5-0 in the third against Mahabir before losing 21-6! Then in his two- straight loss to Pintea, he managed all of 4 points in the second game. Think that’s kind of crazy? How about the time Brian, losing hopelessly to Kosanovic and Caetano in the last game of a doubles match, surprised even his partner when he deliberately served fast down the line…into the wrong court! “Ace!” he said triumphantly.

            Before playing Ricky, Canada’s #10 Mahabir, a landed emigrant who can’t vote in Provincial elections, just happened to be glancing through an article in the Butterfly Report that dealt with how the famous Japanese defensive star Takashima handled balls that came spinning into his middle. To backhand or forehand chop-return them, you had to get your body out of the way, give yourself at least six to eight extra inches. Good thing he’d read the article, said David, for Ricky’s loop wasn’t “normal” but came sideways into his mid-section. “Also,” said David, “if the color rule weren’t in effect, I would have been wiped out by both Brian and Ricky.”

            In the Women’s, experienced U.S. players Connie Sweeris and Takako Trenholme, down 2-0 to Gloria Hsu and Cindy Choy, showed heart in rallying to take the needed doubles, but couldn’t win a singles match. In losing two games at 19, Takako felt she often outplayed Cindy, varied shot for varied shot, but said she just couldn’t handle the Chinese girl’s jab block that sent the ball spinning down, down, down.

            In the Junior Men’s, our last year’s team of Billy Lipton and Rich Sosis, with new teammate Mark Legters replacing Dave Alt, again were beaten 5-3. A couple of deuce games with Peter Ng made a big difference—Lipton lost what might have been a momentum-building opener, and Sosis, close to winning, was up 1-0 and at deuce in the second. Junior Olympic U-17 Champ Legters had attended some summer camps: religious camps in Mexico—his father’s a Christian missionary—but also t.t. camps under Sweeris and then with Kosanovic just before the tournament. He won all three of his matches—from Patrick Leveille, Ng, and Vaibhav Kamble.

             In the Junior Miss, 14-year-old Michelle Mantel, the only American to win a Gold medal at the recent Maccabi Youth Games in Detroit (not reported in SPIN), didn’t arrive until substitute Kas Zurowski had suited up and gone out to the table. Kas (rated 899) had no chance against Canada’s Michelle Qurrey or Crystal Daniel, but she didn’t have to play the doubles because Mantel was legally eligible. When the U.S. easily won those doubles, giving up only 20 points total, all the pressure was on Marta Zurowski, an earlier winner over Qurrey. In her first two games against Daniel, Marta outscored Crystal 40-33, but they split games because Marta lost the very important first at 19. In the third, Daniel unexpectedly kept countering in Marta’s slow loops, giving Canada the win. 

Age Events

            Boys U-11: Dang Yu Hop over Rehan Aziz, 3, 7. Boys U-13: Johnny Ng over Dhiren Narotam, 12, 12. Girls U-13: Katherine (“Kas”) Zurowski over Marie-Josee Leroux, 18, 21. Boys U-15: Peter Ng over Danny Poh, 15, -18, 16. Girls U-15: 1. Crystal Daniel. 2. Michelle Mantel. 3. Filomena Cavaca. Boys U-17: Vaibhav Kamble over Mark Legters, 21, 16, 9. Girls U-17: Michelle Mantel over Michelle Qurrey, 18, 10, -12, 21. Junior Doubles: Thierry Karsenti/ Martin Ladoceur over Bill Lipton/Rich Sosis, def.

            Men’s Youth: Brian Masters over Wayne Estwick, -14, 18, 13. Women’s Youth: Cindy Choy over Debbie Poh, 9, 10. Over 40: George Brathwaite over Houshang Bozorgzadeh, 19, 15, 13. Over 50: Tim Boggan over Bill Sharpe, 11, -16, 16. Senior Doubles: Brathwaite/Sharpe over Boggan/Derek Wall, 12, 16. 

Rating Events

U-1200’s: Yu-Lan Hoang over Raghu Singh, 20, -13, 16. U-1400’s: John Fang over Lorne Cherry, 13, 8. U-1600’s: Donald Lee Pack over Johnny Ng, 19, 18. U-1700’s: John Yu over Stephane Lucchesi, 15, 19. U-1800 Doubles: Yih-Sheh Leo/Shih Lin over Ben Chow/Warren Tang, -18, 17, 15. U-1800’s: John Schenk over Donald Davidson, 10, -16, 12. U-1900’s: Andrew Giblon over Sanjay Issar, -18, 13, 9. U-2000 Doubles: Mariusz Czajor/Bogdan Kalinowski over Marcy Monasterial/Michael Henry, 19, -14, 10. U-2000’s: Mark Legters over Giblon, 6, 21. U-2100’s: Gloria Hsu over Legters, 17, -23, 13. 

Major Doubles Events

            Men’s Doubles: Dell Sweeris/ Estwick over Ricky/Randy Seemiller,-16, 17, 18. Women’s Doubles: Connie Sweeris/Trenholme over Hsu/Choy, 15, -11, 14. Mixed Doubles: Flisberg/Hsu over Steve Lyons/Julia Johnson, 16, 19. 

Women’s Singles

In one Women’s Singles semi, ’81 CNE titleholder Hsu was extended to 24-22 in the fourth by Canada’s #4 Karin Rumar who’d lost a game to Poland’s World’s Over 50 Women’s Champion Magda Kucharski, quarter’s winner over Connie Sweeris. :I don’t play against pips that often,” said Connie—“and when as a result I set the ball up, I don’t care how old this woman is, she’s got a pretty good pick-hit.” In the other semi, Takako Trenholme, blocked a little too often into a forced awkward return, lost in five to the 19-year-old Choy who, a few years back in elementary school in Canton, China, had played only at lunch time.

Choy’s three-straight, crosscourt snap-hit win over Hsu in the final was in part a surprise. But Cindy, who’s trimmed-off 25 pounds, had been urged by CTTA Vice-President Chandra Madosingh not to be too conservative, to take chances—something which Yan Soo Lee, her new coach from Beijing, is surely going to reinforce. Yes, she uses pips-out Chinese rubber (“Is there any other kind?” someone said wryly) and it turns out she has a very effective backhand flip to go with those point-winning fast-hit forehands. Gloria said later, “Cindy’s forehand, strangely, is where I should have played the ball.”

“If I could coach that girl {I think he means Cindy] for three months,” said my friend Derek Wall (of course he was saying the same thing about Quebec’s bouncily exuberant Lyne Thibeault), “I’d make her into a good player. I wonder how old she is.” 

Men’s Singles

In the Men’s Singles, in the absence of the top nine-rated Canadians (THAT must be a first for this tournament), four U.S. players—Ricky, Brian, Randy, and George—were seeded all the way to the quarter’s, were, in effect, given $150 appearance money (another first). The remaining eight round robin winners had to fight it out in the eighth’s for the four quarter’s spots against the seeds—but since 16 players were supposed to get at least $100, the four round robin losers with the best won-loss records would not advance but would still get $100 (another first)

Coming out to play and losing three-straight to Ricky was Chan Hua Pang, originally seeded fourth in his round robin behind #1 Bert Flisberg (son of the famed 1954 Swedish World Men’s Singles finalist). But Bert misread his schedule and was defaulted—though taking some solace in winning the Mixed with Gloria Hsu. Pang, largely on the strength of his varied top and chop serves to his opponent’s backhand, beat Esquire Champ, me, and then Junior Champ Kamble (from down 2-1 and 20-18 in the fourth).

Advancing to lose in straight games to Brathwaite was Dell Sweeris, who earlier in his round robin had been down 1-0 and 19-14 in the second to the surprising L.T. Wang. Having escaped that loss, however, he’d had no trouble with Canada’s Kam Bhatia, rated about 1860. Against “The Chief,” as Sweeris could later tell from son Todd’s diary entries, Dell’s offense just wasn’t strong enough to allow him to win. He wasn’t moving quickly enough, and couldn’t get enough combination shots in to sustain any attacking game. More running needed in Apple Country, Dell, but take heart—when George was 38, he had some weaknesses too.

Dell’s winning Men’s Doubles partner Wayne Estwick is a better touch player than George Cameron—and maybe even a better looper. But it was the more determined Cammie who, by serving short chop serves to Wayne’s forehand where he doesn’t have a very good flip, and by withstanding a frustrating paddle point against him at ad-up in the fifth, that finally allowed him to outlast the young Trinidad star. In the quarter’s, Cameron lost in an uneventful four games to Masters—if ever playing and even losing to Brian can be called uneventful.

Mahabir was 8-1 down in the first in his round robin match with Rene Lewandowski (Canada #25). But that was alright: “Rene just goes crazy for a while,’ said David. In the eighth’s, Mahabir was too much for Dave Shapiro who said, never mind about his loss, what did it matter—he was going to take his $100 earnings and spend it on an expensive dinner with his family atop the CNE Tower. No, it wouldn’t be the condemned man’s last meal; no, he wasn’t going to jump—he just never could play a chopper. Mahabir was also too much for Randy who unsuccessfully kept trying to change his game—loop, push…loop, loop…loop, kill—before eventually coming back to his losing serve, loop, block pattern, And why when he had David 30 feet back wouldn’t he drop shot? Because, as Mahabir said afterwards, ‘I can tell when Randy’s going to drop—his body movement changes, and he senses I know that.”

Before the first semi—Mahabir vs. Masters—U.S. Team Captain Bozorgzadeh said he wouldn’t talk to Brian if he didn’t beat David this time. (Certainly an incentive.) Masters had been advised that he wasn’t to try to loop steadily, predictably at Mahabir—though patience was necessary, particularly when the ball often came back high to him. Not to lose points unnecessarily, that was one thing—how, though, was he to win them? By rhythmically destroying Mahabir’s rhythms? Not the first game—that went 21-15 to Dave.

At 16-all in the second, Brian had a chance to even the match? But misreading Mahabir’s spin, he popped up the ball, and Dave smashed it in. Then, running the score to 20-16, Mahabir held on to win it 20-19. And took the third at 14. So, goodbye and good luck to you in your league play in Sweden, Brian.

In the other semi, it was Ricky vs. “The Chief.” Ricky had been practicing daily with World Cup-bound brother Danny, but in this first Men’s Singles match of any consequence he just couldn’t do what he wanted to do. But then for decades, it seems, George’s opponents have been complaining about that. Ricky was bothered by the humidity, the moisture, the film that he said was always on the table, and his rubber. “I couldn’t get any spin on the ball. Wipe your finger across the table at any one time and I’ll guarantee you’ll see why the ball often goes dead. Danny and Eric—players who have a power loop-kill—aren’t affected by such conditions, but I am—I only have spin.”

And George, what did he have? From up 2-1 and at 8-all in the fourth, he suddenly had control of the match. He could out-spin Ricky and could hit out at him crosscourt or down the line. After losing seven in a row, so 15-8 hopeless that last game was for Seemiller, whether he was serving or not, that he said later, “After a while I was just glad to get out of the court.”

The Men’s final then was historically a first: the Senior Champion vs. a 2238 chopper, the highest-rated Canadian in the tournament. And yet many a spectator, sick of serve and smack matches, was eager to watch. “If you want to have a good show,” said former Canadian Champ Lionel Cloutier, “you have to have a good chopper.” And he might have added, “someone of George’s persistence to play against him.”

“The Chief really did put on an inexhaustible show of strength—cleverly drop-shotting and powerfully snap-hitting in winners. Only in the second game—when David rallied from 19-13 down and at deuce was given some miraculous respite (badly out of position he lobbed back an irretrievable net, then went on to win the game)—did the title appear to be in any doubt at all.

“This Sunday court’s so enlarged,” someone said, “Mahabir’s losing all perspective, is going back much too far.” Yeah? At match point, George got in what appeared to be one last winner, and, hand outstretched, rounded the table—but, wait, David lobbed it back…for an ace. Sportingly, a little sheepishly, George smiled, shook hands anyway—then finished his job. “Ah,” said Chandra Madosingh, “The cunning, the wit of the aging master was too much for Mahabir to handle.”

Strange as it may sound, I think Brathwaite is now playing the best table tennis of his long and distinguished career…as if, in this place and time, he were mythically not just a man of the past but of the future.

“‘The Chief’ sleeps in a cooler,” said one of his friends—“he never ages.”