USA Table Tennis
1985: China Sweeps U.S. Open.
Before I turn you over to Tom Wintrich for his report on the June 26-30 U.S. Open (SPIN, July-Aug., 1985, Cover+), I’m going to give you, first, the opening, then later, at Tom’s finish, the closing I’ve framed his report with.
Here’s my “Welcome” I wrote for the U.S. Open Program (p. 15):
“To all those who have reached out to us to make this 1985 U.S. Open possible—to our major sponsors, Capital Bank, Stiga, and Nittaku (and a thanks here, too, to Avis and Eastern Airlines), to tournament organizers Dennis Masters, Bard Brenner, and Jay Harris, and to all those hundreds if not thousands of players and spectators who’ve supported us in our exploratory move to Miami Beach, I offer you—along with a winning smile, an outstretched racket—my hand, in welcome, in hope.
Yeah, I’m feeling pretty good about this U.S. Capital Bank Open. And you know why? Because I think this tournament will show to the table tennis world—to all our entries from Asia, Europe, Africa, and the Americas—that, regardless of the cost in time, effort, and money, the USTTA is from now on a sport force, one that, mindful of its ITTF and Olympic heritage, believes in EXCELLENCE, insists on VALUE received. It’s no accident that we’re playing at the Miami Beach Convention Center, staying at the Miami Biscayne Bay Marriott, receiving the cooperation of local city governments, being filmed by Channel 7, receiving for the first time commercial sponsorships.
I hope everyone recognizes the improvements we’re trying to make, for it’s clear we need the complementary support of a great many players and spectators for OUR sport—table tennis—to make it big. It’s therefore very encouraging to me and a distinct honor (one always likes to see his/her work appreciated) to welcome… the inimitably exciting and glamorous Chinese; the brightest stars in the firmament of all Europe, the spectacular Swedes; the ebullient U.S. Open Team Champions, the justly proud Nigerians; and, from wherever one has roots, all those players, world-class or just class, who’ll entertain the exuberant spectators, many of whom spend their sporting lives driving themselves to where the action is. These are my friendly, my competitive comrades in arms. To them—to YOU—I extend my welcome—this little message of love and hope.”
“Neither current World Singles Men’s or Women’s Champion won an individual title at the 1985 U.S. Open. Nevertheless China finished first in all major events.
Cheng Yinghua, a righty shakehands player who might be underrated at World #63, covered China’s World Men’s Singles Champion Jiang Jialiang’s semifinal loss to Defending Champion Wu Wen-Chia of Chinese Taipei by defeating Wu in the final in straight games.
Pips-out penholder Li Huifen, World #44, upset China’s two-time World Women’s Singles Champion Cao Yanhua in their final, also in straight games.
China won both the Men’s and Women’s Team events—with each final turning out to be an anticlimactic contest. There were, however, earlier ties of interest to the spectators.
In the USA-China men’s team semifinal, the opening match saw U.S. National Champion Eric Boggan electrify the partisan crowd with his first-game defeat of Jiang Jialiang. In the second game, the fans were in a frenzy after Eric had gone up 20-19 match point. He then opened with a strong forehand loop to J.J.’s middle, a sure winner…except that Jiang instinctively returned it, and then hung on to deuce it up. Again Eric went up match point when he smacked in a winner off an under-spin ball to his backhand. Up now 21-20, Eric goes for another big forehand that just misses long and it’s doubtful that had that one landed J.J. could have returned it. Deuce again. Eric continues to play the aggressor but whiffs a forehand loop. In the game’s final point, Eric almost caught Jiang off guard with a risky but perfectly executed fast deep serve to the backhand, but Jiang got it back, then won the ensuing rally.
The fans continued cheering wildly in the third as Eric played dead even with the World Champion. But down 18-17, Jiang’s serve, Eric was to get only one more point when Jiang blocked one of Eric’s loops long. Down 20-18 match point, Eric made a good save but it put him on the floor and Jiang simply dropped the ball on the table for the win.
There was a collective murmur of disappointment from the crowd, but it quickly changed to resounding applause in honor of Eric’s intense effort. America’s champ had made the home crowd proud.
Danny Seemiller faced Cheng Yinghua in the second match and although he played well (18, 17), he couldn’t combat the consistency of Cheng, a man who’s backhand loop alone is strong enough to challenge many world-class players. His touch isn’t too bad either. At 20-17 in the second game, Cheng masterfully surprised Dan with a short push that, catching him away from the table, ended the match.
In the doubles, Dan and Eric, again exciting the crowd, extended Jiang/Cheng to 19 in the third—but Cheng ended the tie when he ripped a backhand loop down the line.
Earlier, the U.S. had downed Canada (Joe Ng and Horatio Pintea), 3-1, when Eric won two and he and Danny took the doubles. The Eastern Canada team of Zoran Kosanovic and Alain Bourbonnais, before losing to the Chinese, struggled 3-2 by Nigeria (Atanda Musa, Francis Sule, and Yomi Bankole) when Kosanovic won both his singles and he and Alain won the doubles.
In the other semi’s, the composite European team of George Bohm of West Germany and Mariano Loukov of Bulgaria took down the Swedish II team of Ulf Bengtsson and Ulf (“Tickan”) Carlsson. It was a respectable confrontation of European stars playing European table tennis with one exception. Loukov, Bulgaria’s #1 and world ranked #36, is a righty penholder, but that doesn’t stop him from looping with his backhand. For that shot, he pulls his thumb off the front of the racket and proceeds to loop like a shakehander. He does this so fast and so effortlessly you’d swear he’s looping penhold-style until you really concentrate on watching his stroke, or, more specifically, his right hand. So what he represents to his opponents is a two-winged penhold looper. Not too many of those running around [but give the Chinese a few years and there will be]. Of course, because of his unique style, the Bulgarian became a spectator favorite.
Neither Loukov, unusual though he may be, nor Bohm, could take down European Champion, World #26, Ulf Bengtsson, although each did extend him to three games. Carlsson, however, proved the weak link. He lost a 24-22 in the third killer to Loukov, and though he was currently the World Doubles Champion with another Swede, Mikael Appelgren, he lost the doubles with Bengtsson, again at deuce in the third. Then, with the tie tied at 2-2, “Tickan” couldn’t come through, lost in straight games to World #47 Bohm, toughened by his defection from Romania to West Germany.
Bohm and Loukov had certainly earned the right to play China. They’d had to survive a five-match tie against the Chinese Taipei Juniors, a high-school team who’d later whip the U.S. in junior singles competition. Then in the quarter’s, they’d knocked off Sweden’s #1 team, Erik Lindh, World #10, and Jan-Ove Waldner, World #11, three zip.
Thus Bohm and Loukov eliminated the possibility of any hoped for China vs. Sweden final (which is why Sweden had two teams on the opposite side of the draw from China). Nor would there be a China-Chinese Taipei confrontation as had occurred just a week before in Alhambra, CA. Sweden II took care of that when they downed Taipei’s best team of Wu and Huang in the quarter’s.
In the Team final, Europe was of course the underdog. Bohm thought he had a good chance against Cheng, but he wasn’t too optimistic about his or his teammate’s chances against Jiang. (Top-spinners when playing pips-out hitters like Jiang know they’re in for trouble.) Bohm called it perfectly, in that Jiang disposed of both Loukov and Bohm, and paired with Cheng to take the doubles in three. But he couldn’t have predicted his own brilliant comeback against Cheng. Down 1-0 and 20-16 quadruple match point with Cheng serving, Bohn ran four to deuce it, then was down a fifth match point before finally winning the game 23-21. He went on, from 19-all in the third to take the match, largely because he, too, has a superb backhand loop, as well as the talent to exchange topspin shots for as long as necessary. Certainly this was one of the best matches in any event here in Miami Beach, and the only exciting one in the Men’s or Women’s Team final.
Cao Yanhua and Li Huifen, as expected, had little difficulty winning the Women’s Team event. They defeated Chinese Taipei’s Lin Li-Zu/Chang Shu-Hwa, 3-1 in the final, having lost the doubles, 18, 19. Their semi’s opponent, another composite European team, was made up of Sonja Grefberg of Finland and Daniela Guergueltcheva of Bulgaria. Both of these women made it to the semi’s of Women’s Singles where, as you can guess, they met the same two Chinese that they were blanked by in the Team event.
The closest Women’s tie occurred in the other semifinal match-up: USA I’s Julie Au and Diana Gee vs. Chinese Taipei’s Lin and Chang. Julie lost the opener in three to Chang, but 16-year-old Diana came right out and challenged the equally strong Lin. Diana lost the first at 19, but, knowing she could have won that game, she determinedly hung on in the second to take it 23-21. Then, in the third, it was Diana all the way, 21-10, and the California teenager was beaming proudly as she exited the court.
USA lost the doubles, 2-0. But Julie followed with a straight-game win over Lin. Tie 2-2. However, Diana wasn’t able to beat Chuang and so the U.S. couldn’t make the final. It was a frustrating loss for our women who had played so well. Perhaps more frustrating, though, was the fact that their tie was interrupted before the last match by the official opening ceremonies. These were staged as scheduled despite the Women’s Teams’ semi’s in progress, as well as numerous other event matches. Worse yet was the opening ceremonies themselves, a very disorganized affair featuring an embarrassing live a cappella rendition of the national anthem.* This U.S. Open was one of the best I’ve ever been to, but the salute to the participants is best forgotten.
The All-Chinese Women’s final was 1-2-3 over, with the penhold pips-out hitting of Li Huifen dominating penhold looper Cao Yanhua who not at her best back in the quarter’s had to go five to get by the Taipei #1, Lin Li-Zu. In China it’s quite respectable for a World Champion to lose to a teammate—especially when that teammate was the 1983 Chinese National Champion, the 1984 runner-up—and Cao certainly showed all due respect for Li’s fine play. In the semifinal’s, however, Li encountered stiff opposition from World #51 Daniela Guergueltcheva. The Bulgarian won the first two games and Li was hard-pressed to win the next three. Daniela is a shakehands looper, capable of opening off either wing. She is physically strong with good footwork and her main strategy was to attack relentlessly with topspin. Also, her lobbing kept her in many rallies as inevitably her pips-out opponent would drive her off the table. Most other women had no chance against Li’s hits but Daniela could retreat quickly and arc the ball back from deep in the court and quite often hold her own in the play.
The style differences helped create the best women’s match of the tournament. Li had been down 18-17 in the fifth with Daniela serving, but fought back with steady hitting to win 21-19.
Finland’s Sonja Grefberg, World #49, took on Cao in the other semi’s. The lefty European had game-point on the World Champion in the first, but couldn’t win it. One last chance she had at 18-all in the third but couldn’t bring that one in either.
U.S. Women’s Champ Julie Au advanced further than her teammates—got to the quarter’s where she was stopped by Li. Julie, a lefty penholder with excellent high-toss serves,
played admirably against the eventual winner, taking the third game at deuce before falling short, 21-17, in the fourth.
Although Diana Gee lost in the eighth’s to Grefberg, she demonstrated in three close games that she’s becoming increasingly competitive against world-ranked players. Coach Li Henan is looking forward to working with her at Colorado Springs in the upcoming Resident Training Program and is not concerned with any of her losses. As Coach Li says, ‘Diana is simply inexperienced compared to her international opponents. But that’s just a normal and temporary situation for an improving young player like Diana.’”
No surprise that China’s Cao/Li dominated the Women’s Doubles. Runner-ups were Bulgaria’s Guergeltcheva/Sweden’s Kamilla Bjork who, after stopping the Gee sisters, 21, 15, downed the Swedish/Finland combo of Sonia Wredberg/Grefberg who’d earlier been -16, 19, 17 extended by Vicky/Jasmine.
The players’ various struggles to reach the final were far more exciting than the concluding match itself. Defending U.S. Open Champ Wu Wen-Chia of Chinese Taipei, who advanced to the final, knocked off World Champion Jiang in the semi’s in four games. Wu held nothing back, playing with a controlled ferocity that frustrated the World Champion but delighted the spectators. No other player at this Open came close to equaling Wu’s performance during that Singles match.
The lasting image of right-handed Wu was his forehand looping off his backhand. Repeatedly he darted left to cover his extreme backhand and although he was leaving his forehand court wide open, he was able to score continuously with this ploy. It was thrilling to see the sure quickness of his footwork and the speed of his loops, especially the ones he ripped down the line while parallel to the side of the table. Often he recovered fast enough to meet the inevitable return to his forehand. Be assured, though, that Jiang counter-hit many of those topspin bullets for outright winners to the open court. But Wu could afford to take his chances. He played as fast as Jiang did and just as consistently. In the end it was Wu’s intensity of play that made the difference, and even Jiang admitted that Wu’s aggressiveness is what did him in.
An interesting side note to Wu’s victory is that news of his success sped nationally through the grapevine. Taiwanese students at the University of New Mexico were boasting of their countryman's win over the World Champion within two days and not a single reference to it had appeared in the Albuquerque media.
Nigerian Champion Musa, after winning the key third game at deuce, defeated Loukov in five, while Waldner came back from two games down to Taipei’s Huang. That set up a memorable Musa-Waldner quarter’s. Musa won that marvelous tribute to forehand and backhand topspin, but not without a five-game struggle against the man they call Mr. Finesse. Waldner is the Swede to watch as there seems nothing he can’t do with the ball from anywhere in the court. His repertoire of shots seems unlimited. Indeed, he seems to invent new ways of returning the ball on the spur of the moment. Curiously, Waldner displays no intensity through his matches. In fact, he appears to be playing in a daze, an assessment his fellow Swedes acknowledge. But play he can and Waldner alone may have been reason enough for USTTA members to come to this Open. Still, Musa took him down to move on to his losing semifinal effort against Cheng.
A similar match to Musa-Waldner was Cheng’s defeat of European Champion Ulf Bengtsson in the eighth’s. Actually, all the Swedes can be considered as shot-magicians who thoroughly enjoy exhibiting their tricks for the spectators’ benefit. Too much so perhaps, as playing spectacular long points seem more important to them than actually winning the points. The Chinese of course like to end the rallies quickly and that’s what Cheng concentrated on doing, after he lost the first two games, against Bengtsson. He won game three at 18 and then shut out the Swede 11 and 11. Forget the scores, though, they don’t reflect the excitement of righty shakehander vs. lefty shakehander countering spinny shots from all over the court. And when there’s a Swede in the match you can bet on seeing plenty of lobs.
Eric Boggan was the only American to advance to the eight’s and beyond. After eliminating Mario Alvarez of the Dominican Republic in straight games he moved on to the quarter’s for his shot at Cheng, who he didn’t get to play during the Team competition. Eric played as aggressively as he did against Jiang earlier, but Cheng’s consistency off either wing was tougher to combat than the predominately forehand play of Jiang. Also, Cheng coped with Eric’s anti better—would often loop the dead balls, whereas Jiang had been trying to hit them. Neither shot is easy given Eric’s talent with anti, but without topspin it’s tougher for a hitter to clear the net than a looper. Eric took game two, but that was it.
Woe for Wu in the final. He had just played his heart out an hour earlier in the semi’s, and now was back on court for the Championship. He lacked the indomitable spirit he had against Jiang, and Cheng could more easily counter his topspins. Wu just couldn’t get through the guy often enough and lost in straight games.”
Neither the Swedes Bengtsson/Carlsson in the semi’s or Waldner/Lindh in the final could make a match of it with China’s overpowering Jiang/Cheng. However, Waldner/Lindh did have to work to advance—first squeaking by China’s Geng Zhen/Loukov,-12, 20, 18, then with barely more breathing room, 14, -14, 18, over Taipei’s Wu/Huang. USA’s Boggan/Seemiller fell 18, 22 in the quarter’s to Bengtsson/Carlsson.
Perhaps the Mixed Doubles final between the Chinese was an exhibition? Jiang/Cao narrowly won the title over Cheng/Li, 18, -18, 19. U.S. pairs didn’t make the quarter’s.
“Sean O’Neill ended up Champion of the U.S. Open rating events. In the Under 2500 Singles, he downed lefty Quang Bui in the finals, rallying, after losing the first at deuce, to win in three. In the semi’s, he knocked off Scott Boggan, losing the first game at deuce, then perilously winning the second at deuce, before 21-14 taking command in the third. In the quarter’s, Sean stopped Peru’s Walter Nathan two straight.”
In the 2350’s, Scott Butler survived Florida’s Dennis Brown, -8, 19, 17, in the quarter’s. then moved on to an easy win over runner-up Avishy Schmidt. Brown came up short again in the U-2200’s, losing in the final to Barry Dattel after Barry had slipped by Ron Rigo deuce in the third. The U-2100’s produced an all-Canada battle-of-the-sexes final—with Richard Chin defeating Thanh Mach. In the companion U-2100’s a woman did win: Takako Trenholme might have lost this Women’s U-2100’s to Olga Soltesz, but 20, -16, 12 didn’t; then in the final she easily defeated Ulrika Quist from Sweden’s Angby Club. U-4100 Doubles: John Shareshian/Jeff Steif couldn’t have had it 10, 7 easier over John Elliott/Ron Rigo who’d outlasted Canadians Thanh Mach/Becky McKnight, 14, -7, 20.
Other Rating results: U-2000’s: Stephen Yeh over Larry Hodges, deuce in the fourth. U-1900’s: Terrence Ide over Chuck Turchick, then over Trieu Chieu, 17, 19. U-1800’s: Roman Teller 19, 17 over Anthony Streutker who’d outlasted William Humphrey, 15, -19, 22. U-1700’s: Hung Pham over Angel Soltero 16, -21, 19, then over Tryg Truelson, 11, 18, after Tryg had advanced by Pauly Guenter, -22, 24, 13. U-1700 Women’s: Barbara Kaminsky over Yvonne Kronlage, 8, 15. U-3400 Doubles: Larry Hodges/Jeff Harris over Thor Truelson/Guenther Schroeder, 12, 16. U-1600’s: Alan Kwong over Darren Green, 19, 19. U-1500’s: Erich Haring over Michal Reterski, -19, 21, 16, after Michael had halted Andre Liu’s advance, 20, 20. U-1400’s: Janine Schroeder over Liu, -17, 19, 18. U-2700 Doubles: Terry Canup/Bob Canup over Gene Bricker/Greg Galbreath, 17, -22, 19. U-1300’s: Damir Kadija over Michael Christy, -21, 18, 22. U-1150’s: Medaro Espinosa over Mitchell Brenner, 17, 21. U-1000’s: Nilesh Narotam over Freddy Urrego, 15, 9.
R.R. 1. Mike Dempsey, 2-0. 2. Terese Terranova, 1-1. 3. John Ebert, 0-2.
Lim Ming Chui, 16, 16, over Tim Boggan who’d eliminated Homer Brown in three.
Over 30 Through 70 Events
Over 30’s: L-M Chui over David Sakai, -21, 11, 17. Over 40’s: El Salvador’s Wang Shan Wu over Bohdan Dawidowicz, 7, 14. Over 40 Doubles: Dawidowicz/Houshang Bozorgzadeh over Boggan/Derek Wall, -19, 20, 23. Over 40 U-1900’s: El Salvador’s Melecio Rivera 13, 21 over George Rocker after George had downed Norm Schless, 23, -21, 9. As I write in 2013, Rivera is the South American representative on the ITTF Executive Board. Over 40 Women’s: Huang Chin-Hao over Yvonne Kronlage, 3, 13. Over 40 U-1600’s: Michael Reterski over Harvey Meyer, 14, 15. Over 50’s: Bill Sharpe over Boggan, 17, 20. Over 50 Doubles: Jack “Buddy” Melamed/Rune Forsberg over Boggan/George Hendry, -21, 17, 17. Over 55’s: Forsberg over Festus Mead, 10, 13. Over 60’s: Forsberg over Harry Deschamps, 14, 13. Over 65’s: John White over Rocker, def. Over 70’s: Laszlo Bellak over George Sempeles, 8, 6. Over 75’s: R.R. 1.Ulpiano Santo, 2-0. 2. Stan Morest, 1-1. 3. John McLennan, 0-2.
“Sean’s 2500 win was only partial testimony to his exceptional performance at this exceptional Open. In all, he played 17 matches and won 11 of them, splitting with Nathan and Bau Peng Leu of Chinese Taipei, winner of Boys U-15 over Jimmy Butler, 20, 17, and runner-up in Boys U-17 to Sheng-Chin Ferng, also of Chinese Taipei. Topping the list of O’Neill’s win column was Sweden’s National Champion and World #10 Erik Lindh. This, the biggest upset of Sean’s career, occurred in the quarter’s of the Under 21’s, an event not much weaker (with Wu, Waldner, Huang, Ng, and Teekaveerakit in the draw) than the Open Singles.
Sean toppled Lindh in straight games, primarily because he’s no longer playing as ‘soft’ a game as he used to. His shots are more powerful, his selection is better, and he’s more consistent overall. Add those factors to his power of concentration and increasing self-confidence, and it’s really no surprise that he beat a player of Lindh’s caliber. Wu, after downing Sean, 17, 13 in the semi’s, would go on to win these 21’s, 18 in the third, over Waldner who in his semi’s had just gotten by Chinese Taipei’s Huang Huei-Chieh, 24, -16, 21.
Along with their men’s and women’s teams, Chinese Taipei brought a high school team that obviously plays Junior T.T. on an international level. In addition, to winning the Boys U-17 and U-15 Singles as I’d mentioned above, they also took the Boys U-13 when Kuo-Ching Shu defeated Canada’s Johnny Ng who’d advanced over our Chi-Sun Chui, -21, 17, 18. Quite strikingly, young Shu paired with Leu to win not only the U-15 Doubles but the U-17 Doubles as well, downing in the semi’s O’Neill/Gene Lonnon, then, in a furious -21, 19, 18 final, Scott and Jimmy Butler, a loss that Jimmy solitarily sulked over from high atop the spectator stands. [Young Butler couldn’t have been too happy either with his U-17 loss to Canada’s U-15 National Champion Peter Ng.] The U-13 Doubles, which Dhiren Narotam/Todd Sweeris won, after splitting two deuce games, in three over Chi-Sun Chui and Eric Owens, drew an appreciative crowd. Chi-Sun won the U-11’s over Eric, who in turn took the U-9’s from Randy Cohen.
Vicky Wong bested the predominately American field in the Under 17’s. In the final, she defeated Jasmine Wang three straight. Vicky had scored big in the semi’s with a surprisingly easy 12, 13 win over Diana Gee. Jasmine reached the final by downing Lisa Gee, 15, -14, 17, then Chinese Taipei’s Mei-Jen Huang, 16, -13, 15. The Gees balanced some by winning the U-17 Doubles from Vicky/Jasmine in three. In both the Girls U-15 and U-13, Ecuador’s Maria Cabrera eked out wins over Li Ai, 19, 20, and -14, 23, 14.”
Sitting on the Dock of a Bay
By Saturday evening, most of the events had been completed, including the Men’s and Women’s Singles and the Women’s Doubles. Sunday’s action would feature the Teams, Men’s Doubles, and the final of the Mixed. As for now, it was what the Olympic Training Center’s sponsor would call…Miller Time.
The venue for the Biscayne Bay Marriott Hotel and Marina’s complimentary party was their outdoor café located on the Bay’s mainland edge just inches from the marina’s slips filled with boats gently rocking in the harbor. It was a perfect balmy summer evening and the international gathering of tournament players was sporting its social civies—drinking drinks, munching hors d’oeuvres, and forever talking T.T. Naturally, a frequent topic of discussion was the tournament itself.
The main debate was whether this was the best Open ever, or just one of the best. All agreed it was at least the latter. As one philosophical type suggested, “Just leave it at that—it’s far more important to strive for the best than actually attain it.”
The 1985 edition was a U.S. Open with ‘heart’ Why? Because the people running it had given so much of themselves for other people’s enjoyment. There was a collective consciousness working toward the success of this event,** and the effort it produce revealed a significantly more united USTTA. Many people deserve recognition for their commitment of time and energy, but two people in particular stand out. Thanks Dennis Masters and Dan Simon.
If you didn’t make this ’85 Open, well, you missed the best one ever, but hopefully after next year ’85 will rank second.”
I close Tom’s Report with an “In Appreciation” Letter I wrote to Chinese TTA President Xu Yinsheng on Sunday, June 30, the last day of the tournament:
“Dear Xu Yinsheng:
It was wonderful for U.S. Table Tennis that the Chinese could play in Los Angeles, Miami, and New York [I have no record now of them playing in New York]—and that it all could have been done so cooperatively, and in so short a time.
It’s Sunday morning and the Open still has its final day to go—but the publicity, the attendance, has been, by U.S. expectations, very, very good. The most encouraging thing to me is the cheering applause that’s often greeted point after point of play. The spectator enthusiasm proves to me that, in the U.S. or anywhere, the modern game can be, IS, exciting—both to aficionados and the people off the street. Clearly the game has POTENTIAL.
This Open may be the most expensive one in USTTA history—but I think it’s well worth it. The U.S. must upgrade the IMAGE of Table Tennis, must make the sport, even as we go about grass-roots popularizing play, a glamour sport played in CLASS surroundings. People must come to see the international expertise and appeal of the sport.
I want to work with you, Xu, your Association, China…to make Table Tennis come alive in this country. I appreciate the complete cooperation you’ve so freely given, the common-goal discipline, dedication, and friendliness of the Team members you’ve sent here this summer, and the efforts of the very, very helpful liaison figures Liguo and Henan Ai.
This little letter to you, then, is one that expresses more than polite thanks—it expresses what I know a duty-minded man does not absolutely need but what gives him more and more inner strength. This letter—and this is my support message to you—expresses HOPE in the future of Table Tennis…not just in this country but in the world.
Again, I thank you for encouraging us.
*Regarding the national anthem sung at the U.S. Open, Little Rock’s Mary Vancura (Paul Vancura’s wife) had this to say in a Letter to the Editor (SPIN, July-Aug., 1985, 4):
“I am a table tennis spectator. I have watched more matches that most players ever play. But I wish I had not watched the opening ceremony of the U.S. Open in Miami. For I was embarrassed beyond telling.
A local performer slaughtered ‘The Star-Spangled Banner” before world-class competition from many countries in our own USA. He sang it as if he’d never heard the song before, as if he couldn’t even read the words from the paper in his hand. On purpose? Is this his act? What a shoddy show for the players representing that banner!
Treat table tennis with class, or don’t have a tournament at all.”
**It was as if the heavens, too, joined in this collective consciousness that would contribute to the Open’s success. Here’s Jim Tinder (SPIN, Nov., 1985, 4) with his “U.S. Open UFO Explained”:
“Those who attended the Players’ Party at the ’85 U.S. Open in Miami Beach may be curious about the astronomical display that occurred during the gathering.
The sighting was reported by the Southern Cross Astronomical Society and was followed by civilian reports of a UFO. At approximately 9 p.m., an Atlas Centauri rocket raced across the Northeast sky with illuminated shock waves around the nose cone and a trail of white vapor. The second stage separated just before it was lost from view.
The display caught everyone by surprise at the outdoor buffet and was a beauty to behold. The illumination was visible for only a few minutes.”