USA Table Tennis
1985: Jan./Feb. U.S./Canadian Tournaments (India’s Manmeet Singh Wins at Montreal and Baton Rouge).
As we saw in my last volume, the USTTA E.C. at their December, 1984 Meeting thought so highly of Sacramento’s Jeff Mason—his 50-school coaching work with juniors has now morphed into a seven-day-a-week, 15-table commercial club called Table Tennis World—that it awarded him (and his partners, wife Mona and her sister Cindy Miller) $6,000+ for establishing this World and maintaining its strength as the most progressive table tennis club in the country.
As Jeff offers a USTTA-sanctioned tournament every month, I’ll begin this chapter with the results of his opening two tournaments. First, the 13-event Jan. 5-6 Winter Open: Open Singles: Vietnamese immigrant Duc Luu, 20, 16, 9, over Carl Danner, after Carl had advanced by lobber extraordinaire James Therriault who’d put up a very stubborn 14, -24, -23, 15, 15 fight against him. Under 2150’s: Danner in a tough 19, -18, 20 semi’s over Abnan Alawami, then over David Chun, 17,-23, -16, 15, 19, in another down-to-the-wire finish. U-2000’s RR: 1. Alawami, 3-1 (3-2—d. Connell). 2. Tom Miller, 3-1 (3-3—d. Alawami). 3. Grant Connell. 3-1 (2-3—d. Miller). 4. Morgan Lehman, 1-3. 5. Peter Lo, 0-4. U-1850’s: Connell over Miller in five. U-1550’s: Ken Bowman over Eric Hamilton. U-1400’s: Bowman over Ron Jew. U-1250’s: Vinh Thieu over Jew, 19 in the 4th. U-1100’s: Robbie Sorenson over Leo Egel.
Esquire’s: Egel over Lloyd Henning. Senior’s: Miller over James Ritz. Junior Championship RR: 1. Sorenson. 2. Jeff Feri. 3. Carl Ports. Junior A RR: 1. Steve Anderson, 3-1 (5-2). 2. Steve Kassis, 3-1 (4-2). 3. Dain Micheletti, 3-1 (4-4). 4. Steve Madsen, 1-3. 5. Nicole Ports, 0-4. Junior B RR: 1. David Levine. 2. Illeya Ringo. 3. Chris Mora. 4. Jennifer Medlin. Junior C RR: 1. Chris Mathews. 2. Jennifer Mathews. 3. Kyle Ford. 4. Paul Morris.
Results of the Feb. Butterfly Open: Open Singles RR: 1. Duc Luu. 2. De Tran. (Twenty years later, at the 2003 U.S. Championships, De Tran would be both the Over 30 runner-up to four-time U.S. Men’s Champion Ilija Lupulesku and the Over 40 runner-up to four-time U.S. Men’s Champion Cheng Yinghua.) 3. Mike Gooms. 2200 RR: 1. Tran. 2. David Chun. 3. Steve Varela. 2050 RR: 1. Michael Greene. 2. Dave Chu. 3. Varela. 1900’s: Greene over Lou Morel. 1750 R.R. 1. Allen McDermott—d. Morel, 18, 22). 2. Morel. 3. Robbie Sorenson. U-3250 Doubles: Tom Li/McDermott over Byron Corley/Harvey, -12, 23, 19. 1600’s: Anthony Streutker over Morgan Lehman. U-1450’s R.R.: 1. Jim Goodwin (a 14-year-old forehand attacker). 2. Warren Baxter. 3. Dave McAfee. 4. Steve Oldham. 5. Ed Kawai. U-1300’s: Goodwin over Jeff Feri. U-1150’s: Andy Heroux over Ken Frankel. U-1000 RR: 1. Ralph Jimenez, 4-0. 2. Kevin Nugent, 2-2. 3. Frankel, 2-2. 4. Don Streutker, 2-2. 5. Dain Micheletti, 0-4.
Senior Esquire’s RR: 1. Lloyd Henning. 2. Leo Egel. 3. Wil Fountain. Esquire’s RR: 1. Bob Partridge. 2. Tom Miller. 3. Bill Wright. Senior’s: Miller over Greene, 7, -20, 18. Junior Boys Championship: 1. Sorenson, 3-1. 2. Feri, 3-1. 3. Brett Ehrlich, 2-2. 4. Micheletti, 1-3. 5. Carl Ports, 1-3. Junior A RR: 1. Feri. 2. Sorenson. 3. Ehrlich. 4. Ports. 5. Micheletti. Junior B RR: 1. David Levine. 2. Chris Mathews. 3. Skipper Medlin. Junior Girls: 1. Nicole Ports. 2. Jennifer Medlin. 3. Jennifer Mathews. Leslie O’Reardon.
Winners at the Rocky Mountain Closed, played Jan. 19 at Fort Collins, CO under the direction of Paul Williams: Open Singles: Sheila O’Dougherty, newcomer to the area, had to go five to get by Williams in the semi’s, then won the event when Donn Olsen was injured and had to default the final. Women’s: Keri Herman over Carol Plato. A’s: Roger Kuseski over Dennis Driggs who, caught in a snowstorm, had to default the final. A Doubles: Frank Heller/Wes Wolfe over Tran/Chow who’d 23-21 in the 3rd outlasted Herman/Bill Walsh. B’s: Stanley Stephens over Walsh. B Doubles: Jackson/Weissberg over Walt Gomes/Taylor. C’s: Marty Cohen over Herman who’d downed Wolfe, 19 in the 3rd. D’s: Cheryl Garnett, after -22, 22, 14 escaping Millie Drake, over Cynthia Smith. Senior’s: Dana Jeffries over John Garnett. Junior’s: Tim Roberts over Kenneth Cohen.
During the Jan. 12-13 weekend, two tournaments were played in the Toronto area. One, as Andrew Giblon tells us (Jan.-Feb., 1985 Ontario TTA (OTTA) Update, 28), was the Canadian Tryouts for the 1985 Maccabiah (Muh-kuh-bee-uh) Games to be held July 15-25 in Tel Aviv, Israel. This was a round robin event played among only eight participants at the Jewish Community Center under the watchful eye of Team Coach Zoran (“Zoki”) Kosanovic. As matches started, Giblon, who was not only covering the event but playing in it, noted that Kosanovic had said that “the exact number of players to make the Team was still undecided, but that there would be between three and five [with all expenses paid].” He also said that he and the Selection Committee reserved the right to select lower finishing players.”
Not to worry: the four selected were the four top finishers: 1. Steve Feldstein, 6-1 (3-2). 2. Rene Lewandowski, 6-1 (2-2). 3. Andrew Giblon, 6-1 (2-3). 4. Mitch Rothfleisch, 4-3. 5. Boris Vaynsteyn, 3-4. 6. Lorne Cherry, 2-5. 7. Jennifer Rothfleisch, 1-6. (“Her status as a possible women’s representative is still undecided.”) 8. Kenny Berger (lost to Jennifer deuce in the 3rd).
Feldstein (rated 2252), who’s working on his Ph.D. at the U.S.’s Penn State University, lost only to Giblon (1981), but was upset-threatened not only by the ever-intense Vaynsteyn (1800) who had him 9-1 in the 3rd, but by Rothfleisch (2161) who’d led 17-14 in both the second and third games but eventually lost the match to Steve, 23-21 in the 3rd.
Lewandowski (2084), like Feldstein a former member of the Canadian Team to the World’s, lost to Steve in straight games, but put down an 18-in-the-3rd challenge by Mitch, and came back from 10-1 down in the 3rd against poor Boris to finally win the game, 25-23.
Giblon, “the only one of the top four not to have represented Canada in any of the previous Maccabiah Games,” gave Feldstein his only loss, rallying from down 1-0 and 11-4 before running out the match from 18-all in the 3rd. Also, against Mitch, whom he’d never beaten before, Andrew came back from being match-point down in the second, and down 19-17 in the third, to score a big 21-19 win.
“Rothfleisch had played eight matches in a National Circuit tournament earlier, on the first day of these Maccabiah trials (losing in the quarter’s of the Open to Bert Flisberg), then had gone on that very day to win all four of his Maccabiah matches before losing his last three the next afternoon.”
Giblon says Tel Aviv expects “4000 competitors from 35 countries, including 200 from Canada.” Does anyone think the U.S. is competing in these games?*
The National Circuit tournament Giblon alludes to above is the Jan. 12-13 Eastern Canada Open, played at Toronto’s Etobicoke Olympium. Results: Men’s Singles: Joe Ng over Dave Mahabir. Women’s Singles: Annica Karlsson (newly arrived from Sweden?) over Canada’s #4 Becky McKnight. Men’s Doubles: Joe Ng/Peter Ng over Chris Chu/Bert Flisberg (Bert’s the son of Sweden’s 1954 World Men’s Singles finalist Tage Flisberg). Women’s Doubles: McKnight/Karen Rumar over Daiva Koperski/Karlsson. Mixed Doubles: Joe Ng/Karlsson over OTTA Vice-President Steve Lyons/Julia Johnson. Senior’s: Bill Cheng over Ron Bickerstaffe. Boys U-17: Peter Ng over Lam Tan. Boys U-15: Peter Ng over Martin Ladouceur. Boys U-13: Johnny Ng over Trung Le. Girls U-17: Helene Bedard over Caroline Sylvestre. Girls U-15: Sylvestre over former Trinidadian Crystal Daniel who, though she was previously active in track and field, is said to need footwork practice. Girls U-13: Sylvestre over Judith Perron.
U-2000: Peter Ng over Bogdan Kalinowski. U-1850: Johnny Ng (age 12) over Marc Houle (age 19). U-1700: Tom da Silva over Johnny Ng. U-1550: Trung Le over J.C. Hong. U-1400: Paulo Antunes over Rajiv Singh. U-1200: Lee Khiem over Michael Huynh. U-1000: Huynh over Sylvestre.
Winners at Toronto’s Feb. 2nd Max Marinko Memorial Open: Men’s Singles: Joe Ng over Bert Flisberg, 13, 12, 16. Women’s Singles: Karin Rumar over Julia Johnson, 18, 11, 17. U-2000’s: OTTA Treasurer Emil Vardon over Richard Abbel, -15, 11, 19. U-1850’s: Tuong Bui over Ben Chow, 20, 14. U-1700’s: Bui over Trung Le, 18, -11, 18. U-1550’s: Man Kit over Paulo Antunes, -12, 16, 17. U-1400’s: Rajiv Singh over Jorge Ferreira, -12, 19, 19. U-1200’s: Jeff Wong over Gutierrez, 14, 16. U-1000’s: Scott Steel over Desmond Beckles, 16, 15. Senior’s: George Bonigut over Ron Bickerstaffe, 17, 20. Boys U-15: Peter Ng over his brother Johnny, 17, 15. Boys U-13: Johnny Ng over Trung Le, 19, 12.
Results of the Feb. 16-17 Ontario Open, one of 10 such Opens on the $10,000 Canadian Circuit, played Feb. 16-17 at the Etobicoke Olympium: Men’s Singles: Horatio Pintea, before his gutsy, surprise defection at a tournament in Greece a member of the Romanian National Team, over Bert Flisberg, 13, 9, -16, 10. Women’s Singles: Mariann Domonkos over Thanh Mach, 14, 18, -17, -12, 13, after Thanh had advanced by Gloria Hsu, -21, 17, -24, 13, 15. Men’s Doubles: Pintea/Pierre Parulekar, -8, 16, 20, over Chris Chu/Flisberg who’d escaped Steve Lyons/Vaibhav Kamble, 13, -20, 19. Women’s Doubles: Domonkos/Hsu over Mach/McKnight, 19, 17. Mixed Doubles: Pintea/Domonkos over Chu/Hsu, -14, 20, 18.
U-2000’s: Charles Woo over Andrew Giblon, 13, 18. U-1800’s: OTTA photographer Bela Nagy over Trung Le, 13, 9. U-1800 Doubles: Danny Leung/Shih Lin over Nagy/OTTA President Ned McLennan, -19, 15, 14. U-1600’s: Tuong Bui over Rajiv Singh, 15, 12. U-1400’s: Phu Vi over Jeff Wong, 13, 10. U-1200’s: Gia Ly over Andy Leal, 16, -19, 10. U-1000’s: Ly over Angelo Gambrelis. U-800’s: Gambrelis over Veronique Ellyson, 13, -18, 18. Senior’s: Bill Cheng over George Bonigut, 8, 9. Boys U-17: Peter Ng over Paulo Antunes, 11, 22. Boys U-15: Peter Ng over Johnny Ng, 15, 8. Boys U-13: Trung Le over Johnny Ng, 16, -21, 22. Girls U-17: Helene Bedard over Chris Traeger, 8, 13. Girls U-15: Nathalie Patel over Christine Paquet, 16, -17, 16.
Winners at the Columbus Winter Open: Open Singles RR Final: 1. Ricky Seemiller. 2. Bob Cordell. 3. Mike Walk. 4. Bob Powell. Open Doubles: Seemiller/Chip Coulter over Cordell/Ray Stewart, 12, 18. A’s: Mike Walk over Tima Beka, 9, 13. B’s: David Ahonen over Bill Walk, -17, 7, 15. C’s: Ahonen over Jim Fulks, 17, -20, 12, 19. D’s: Fulks over Tony Wenner, 17, -17, 17, 17, after Tony had stopped Kizer, 21, -16, 11. E’s: Wenner, 18, 15, 17, over James Takas who’d taken out Jay Wright, -16, 19, 17. Novice: M. Spetsios over Greg Galbreath. Beginner: Lawrence Boss over Lori Berenson, 16, 15, 17. Senior’s: Ron Schull over Ron DeMent, 13, 8, 19. U-21’s: M. Walk over Coulter, 9, 14, after Chip had been 19, -24, 16 challenged by Dan Walk.
I received from Paul Vancura—who’s just become Arkansas’s first National Umpire—the #1 issue (Feb. 1, 1985) of the State Table Tennis of Arkansas (STTAR) mimeographed Newsletter. It’s designed, after the Apr., 1984 closing of Duke Stogner’s Tickey’s Club in Little Rock, to tell us about the renewed interest in Arkansas table tennis. Turns out, on Jan. 15th, 1985, after months of inactivity, “eight interested members paid their monthly dues and started a five-table club.” That’s exactly the “Clubbirth” Mel Eisner urges in his March column in SPIN. Vancura says, “There’s not much heat, no air-conditioning, but lots of work went into the club and we’re still improving it. We’re not fooling ourselves by hoping to make a profit. Children, beginners, and guests play free until they know whether they like the sport.”
Here’s Stogner’s description of the new facility: “It’s located in a 3000 square-foot warehouse. The playing area is wide open with no posts to get in the way. The ceilings are 15 feet high. There are four good tables and ball stops. There is also a black background and good fluorescent lighting. Membership is open to ‘kids’ of all ages and both sexes. Members can play almost any time they want, day or night, as long as there are at least three of them present. As of now, Wednesday and Friday nights are the main nights players get together.”
Arkansas players drawing a nod for their recent good play are: Indiana University student Eric Barland; Bud Caughman; “BB” (Benton Blocker) Jack Haynes; 11-year-old Mike Lauro; and the Club’s oldest player, Otto Wenk, who’s contacted the Little Rock Parks and Recreation Commission about a possible permanent location for the club.**
Club organizers thank the following businesses and individuals who’ve helped them with money and gifts: “Coughman Construction Company; Donham Electric Company; Dr. Richard York Henry; Mary Vancura; Three States Supply Company; and Charles Moore of the Arkansas Gazette.
Naturally I’ve tried to give this little group encouragement and wished them every success.
Here’s Tom Wintrich (SPIN, March, 1985, cover +) reporting on the $10,000 Louisiana Open, held Feb. 16-17 in the Exhibition Hall of the Centroplex—a newly designed center in downtown Baton Rouge:
“India’s Manmeet Singh didn’t record an official hat trick at the Louisiana Open, but the three events he did win were—presto!—worth $1200 in prize money. Turning victory into hard cash is the type of table tennis magic everyone would like to perform.
Even with his quick reflexes, Singh didn’t rely on any slight-of-hand to pull out the bucks. Just good TT and the attitude that, as you’ll see, the show must go on despite the stage conditions and an imminent curtain call.
Down three game, match, championship points to Danny Seemiller, Singh, it appeared, would soon be taking his second-place bows. But, surprisingly, Seemiller served off to make the score 20-18, lost the next point with a 4 and ½-foot loop, and then, unbelievably, whiffed a block. Magically, Singh was standing in the spotlight at deuce.
Four points later, the score was still tied after Danny, with third-ball loop winners, had saved two game, match, championship points. Now it was 22-22 Singh’s serve, and during the ensuing topspin rally Manmeet got his third ad-point when Danny blocked long. And then his final, winning point as Danny’s loop never landed on the table. No time for Singh to bask in the limelight, though, as he had to do a quick disappearing act to catch a plane to Houston.
Singh’s victory over Seemiller in the Open Singles semifinal round robin was preceded by his wins over the other semifinalists, Rey Domingo, and fellow countryman B.K. Arunkumar. Against B.K., Manmeet had relatively little trouble except for his impatience in the second game, which he lost 22-20; but then he dominated the final two games, 11 and 6.
The outcome of the Singh-Domingo Open Singles match determined the winner of the Elite Singles. As in past Louisiana Opens, there were again two separate events for the top players. This was Tournament Director Power Poon’s traditional solution to the ITTF’s $600 prize limit in one event. However, with the tournament running late as usual, the format backfired on Poon and the only solution to Singh’s dwindling time left to make it to Houston as scheduled was to have one match count for both events.
No one seemed to care about the format change. With the exception of Arunkumar, the semifinals of both events featured the same players. (Canada’s Alain Bourbonnais was the different face in the Elite draw.) Dan Seemiller and Rey Domingo had already played back-to-back matches in which Seemiller fought off defeat in the fourth game of the Open Singles after trailing 2-1 and 19-14. (Domingo, however, avenged his frustrating loss by winning 13 in the third in the Elite.)
Singh defeated Domingo in four and caught his plane. Both men are excellent blockers off either wing and are especially effective with their backhands, each of them often contacting the ball forcibly right off the bounce. Domingo is comfortable playing all over the court, but when Manmeet drove him back to the barriers he was in trouble, for Singh would invariably keep him there with his ability to constantly return Rey’s lobs. Moreover, there was another difficulty playing the back court. When you weren’t up at the table in this Louisiana Open venue you were automatically at a disadvantage because the concrete floor had been waxed the night before to provide smooth gliding for ballroom dancers enjoying the sounds of the Glenn Miller Band. (Traction wasn’t any better at the table, but at least you didn’t cover as much court up there.) Contributing to Singh’s success was his fast forehand cross-court loop off the backhand, his favorite shot.
Manmeet teamed with Canada’s Alain Bourbonnais to win the 10-team Open Doubles from Arunkumar and Brandon Olson who’d knocked out the squabbling Seemiller brothers in three in the semi’s; in the other semi’s, Singh/Bourbonnais eliminated Saubana Adio/Domingo.
Despite the floor, Manmeet did not slip into his final matches without encountering a couple of sticky problems…like Scott Boggan in the quarter’s of the Elite, and Jimmy Butler in the eighth’s of the Open.
Singh and Boggan played a fast and furious match, exchanging counter-drives at a rapid-fire pace before inevitably one would go for a point-winning shot. Singh likes to loop his winners, while Boggan prefers to hit his. They split the first two games and continued their point-for-point battle to deuce in the third. It could have gone either way but Singh prevailed, 23-21, as Scott missed too many of his go-for-broke smashes.
‘He’s everywhere, he’s everywhere.’ No, not Chicken-Man of the ‘60’s radio show…but Jimmy Butler, young table tennis star of the ‘80’s, ever ready to defend the honor of juniors.
Jimmy, who celebrated his 14th birthday the day before the tournament, made it to the final of A Singles, semifinals of AA Singles, semifinals of the U-2350’s, the eighth’s of Elite Singles, and the eighth’s of Open Singles where he came just two points short of making the quarter’s.
Boy meets Man was the match that ignited the spectators’ interest. Manmeet had no problem with Jimmy in the first game, winning it easily at 10. Two 19 games later, though, after blocking and countering well, Jimmy’s leading the match 2-1. But then Singh retaliated by shutting the kid down 21-7 in the fourth. Still, Man’s 20-19 lead in the fifth may have seemed closer to defeat than victory. However, there was to be no final deuce game or big upset for Jimmy. He did gain Manmeet’s respect, though, which is what Manmeet said he didn’t have for Butler at the start. Singh said he wouldn’t make that mistake again.
Danny Seemiller was one who refused to take young Butler lightly. In their Elite eighth’s match, Danny (pleased they were playing on a back table) tried extra hard, deliberately assumed a killer attitude. Seemiller’s strategy was to establish a big lead early with aggressive shots intended to intimidate the young star. Then he switched his game plan by challenging Jimmy to open. Seemiller figured he could counter the attack or make him miss—either way frustrating Jimmy. The end goal was to have Jimmy give up and Danny breeze to victory. The plan worked perfectly as Seemiller trounced Butler 4 and 9.
There you go, Jimmy: Seemiller’s tactics against you—consider it a belated birthday present. (Sorry about that, Danny, but you’re old enough to take care of yourself.)
Dell Sweeris is another adult who grants the young Butler his due respect. They met twice this tournament and, while Sweeris can’t risk using the same tactics as his former student Seemiller, trim and fit as he is, he was able to defeat Jimmy deuce in the third in the semi’s of the AA’s, and two straight in the semi’s of the U-2350’s. Though Dell did lose the final of the AA’s to Adio, and the final of the U-2350’s to Perry Schwartzberg, his tournament winnings totaled a respectable $355.
Meanwhile, Connie Sweeris, seeded second in the Women’s, wasn’t eager to discuss her winnings with husband Dell. Expected to play top seed Sheila O’Dougherty for the $300 first prize after Sheila had straight-game eliminated Pigool “Peggy” Kulcharnpises in the semi’s, Connie was 19, -20, -18 upset by Shirley Woo. Sheila then had her own troubles with Shirley, but prevailed in three. Connie did win the Mixed Doubles with Danny Seemiller—they escaped Peggy K. and Scott Butler, 21, 22, then downed Sheila and Brandon Olson, 21, -15, 17. Sheila had another second in the U-2000’s, outlasting Keith LeFrance, -10, 21, 22, but losing to Torstan Pawlowski, 18 in the third. Her total take was $395.
Other winners as yet unmentioned: A Doubles: S. Boggan/Bob Canup over Houshang Bozorgzadeh/M. Miller, 18 in the 3rd. U-2150’s: Tim Boggan over Mark Legters, 11, -18, 12. U-1850’s: Tom Odette over Power Poon, 14, 18. B Doubles: Shushil Prem/MarvinVining over Chris Rivette/ James Schiro, 23-21 in the 3rd. U-1700’s: Mark Morris over David Marcus, 15, 15. U-1550’s: Todd Sweeris over Kam-Chun Chiu, -13, 19, 20, then over Paul Vancura, 28-26 in the third. U-1300’s: Mike Binford over Eric Owens,-14, 18, 21 (Eric’s proud papa, Kenny, said Eric picked up over 100 rating points this tournament). Handicap: Lauro over Ivan Lomelli. U-21: Olson over S. Butler, 18, 22. U-17’s: Ed Poon, Power’s son, over Ben Ebert. U-15’s: Ebert over Sweeris. U-13’s: Sweeris over Mike Lauro. Senior’s: Boggan over Bozorgzadeh.
Jimmy Butler may have lit up to birthday-cake candles, but for sure Houshang was beaming—he’d just become a U.S. citizen. This USTTA’s World Team Men’s Captain/Coach has long been ‘one of us,’ but now it’s official.
Perry Schwartzberg had good reason to celebrate on Saturday. He came into the tournament as ninth seed, which at the Louisiana Open is a coveted spot indeed. The top eight seeds are excluded from AA Singles which pays $300 for first place. Consequently, Schwartzberg was eligible, and since his rating was 2346 he was also eligible for the U-2350’s ($175 for first), which, seeding-wise, was identical to the AA’s. (One has to question the wisdom of two identical events that pay money for the same group of players.) [But, as with the Open and Elite events, isn’t Power trying to reward the better players?] Perry, then, was looking at an additional $475 he could win as opposed to eighth-seed Brandon Olson whose 17 rating points over Schwartzberg provided him no advantage.
Perry won the 2350’s over Dell Sweeris, but against the same field in the AA’s he was knocked out in the quarter’s by—he is everywhere—Jimmy Butler. During that match Perry lost his composure and vocally erupted several times. He wasn’t happy with the small court that included a power cord connected to a free-standing set of spotlights outside the barriers (there were 12 of those in use to compensate for the poor overhead lighting). Nor was he pleased with the table, whose surface had been repainted with a brush. Nor did he like the tensionless net that practically gave the point to the player who could hit the top of it. And then there was that slick concrete floor. Ironically, Schwartzberg has wanted to change his reputation as a conditions-complainer, but, unfortunately, Baton Rouge offered him no reason to compromise his standards. The bottom line for Perry is that good conditions are necessary to produce good table tennis.”
I interrupt Tom as he moves to conclude his article, for I want to place here Perry Schwartzberg’s apropos Letter to the Editor (SPIN, March, 1985, 4):
“I would like very much to apologize for my rude and unsportsmanlike behavior that I unfortunately exhibited during the Louisiana Open last month. Although I tried very hard to keep my temper in check, the pressures of combative table tennis combined with the inherent frustrations of this particular tournament once again took its toll.
Though I take sole blame for my actions, these actions came about in large part due to the unnerving circumstances beyond my control. First, the enormous amount of time spent in the playing hall (at least 24 hours) weakened both my mental and physical capacities. This amount of time is due to a lack of time-scheduling whereby one must sit and wait to hear one’s name over the P.A. system. In my view, a very inconsiderate system.
Second, my poor performance at the table. This was due to the time-lag problem as well as to the shoddy repainted tables I found repulsive, the bad lighting, and the slick cement floors that contributed to my frustrations. All of this while playing for significant amounts of prize money continued to increase the pressure on the players. Welcome as the increased amount of prize money was, it did not, as some would have us believe, justify the playing conditions.
Third, a gross mismanagement of the draws somehow pitted the strong players against the strong and the weak players against the weak. Can this be a fair method to determine the best players in an event?
And, finally, the most frustrating occurrence of all, after more than a dozen years of playing tournaments in the Baton Rouge area, I note very few improvements, if any. All in all, a very frustrating affair: no pageantry, no glamour, no fun.
Again, please accept my apology for my rude behavior. I am more angry at letting my temper get the best of me than I am in losing. But then again, maybe the two are somehow intrinsically connected, maybe even one and the same.”
Tom now moves to his conclusion:
“B.K. Arunkumar and Ricky Seemiller might make the best ‘real match’ exhibition team in the USTTA. It’s practically guaranteed they’ll go to deuce in the fifth while putting on an enjoyable offensive-defensive show. In terms of their match record against one another thus far, it is guaranteed that chopper Kumar will win. Poor Ricky, he comes so close to victory each time (15 matches now?),*** but Kumar has got his number, or at least his loop. Still, before every tournament where they share the same side of the draw, the Ricky Seemiller-optimism surfaces with the confident statement, ‘I’m ready.’ Players like to tease him with something like, ‘Look out, B.K., he’s ready for you again.’ You already know that Kumar made the final four and of course you can guess who he beat deuce in the fifth to get there.
Tournament Director Power Poon and his staff worked hard to produce the USTTA’s richest club-sponsored tournament in the country, but the problems created by the conditions and large number of participants competing in 22 events cast a dark shadow over the competition. There’s no reason for the competitive sky to remain overcast, however, provided winds of change are allowed to blow freely. Hopefully, Power and friends will reevaluate their climactic conditions and produce a forecast for next year that predicts nothing but sunny skies.”
In addition to Schwartzberg’s Letter there followed two others—one short, one long. Here’s Sue Butler, Jimmy’s mom. (She saw his match with Perry?):
“I think the [Wintrich] Louisiana article is one of your best efforts. It is interesting, well-written, and hits the problems as well.”
Here’s Power Poon’s:
“I read your article and Mr. Perry Schwartzberg’s Letter concerning the $10,000 Louisiana Open. As the chairman of the tournament, I feel obligated to tell you that I feel embarrassed, humiliated, and depressed. I wonder if this is the reward to the entire staff of the Baton Rouge Table Tennis Club for hosting Louisiana Open tournaments year after year.
I found nothing but bad remarks in your article. Furthermore, I was shocked to see that as editor you were irresponsible enough to print Mr. Schwartzberg’s inaccurate Letter (more on that later). Some of your accusations were correct and improvements will be made. However, do you not honestly believe that you were being too harsh, unfair, and overly critical?
For ten years I have been the tournament director of the Louisiana Open. My goal is to promote and improve table tennis as much as possible. To help reach this goal, the staff and I gave $10,000 in prize money, more than ever before. In earlier tournaments, the nearest motel was seven miles away. This year the tournament hotel was within walking distance. These are obvious improvements. But in striving for the best, there are always limitations and obstacles. I admit the playing conditions did not meet the standards of the ‘fantasy tournament,’ but give us a break: you well know that the conditions were not as bad as you reported!
In your article you remarked, ‘As in Louisiana Opens of the past, there was again two separate events for the top players, which has been Tournament Director Power Poon’s traditional solution to the ITTF’s $600 prize money limit in one event. However, with the tournament running late, the format backfired on Poon.’
Contrary to your beliefs, the system did exactly what we wanted it to do. It gave a top player an opportunity to earn $1100 and Manmeet Singh did just that. It was entirely up to the players involved whether one match will count for two events. In this case, Danny Seemiller and Rey Domingo elected to play twice, while Singh and Danny Seemiller chose to play once. It did not backfire; it worked out fine. [Power, I don’t think Tom (even though he used the word ‘backfire’) was criticizing the format itself; it “backfired” (in a manner of speaking) because of extenuating circumstances—Singh having to catch a plane).]
As to the remark of running late, I must state my strong disagreement. The tournament was a two-day event, beginning at 9:00 a.m. Saturday and breaking at 8:30 p.m. Saturday (one hour before the scheduled break time). It continued from 9:15 a.m. Sunday until 5:45 p.m. Sunday (15 minutes before the scheduled end of the tournament). Is this too late?
Mr. Schwartzberg’s Letter contained an erroneous comment stating that the ‘enormous amount of time spent in the playing hall (at least 24 hours) weakened both my mental and physical capacities.’ With the large assumption that Mr. Schwartzberg can still add, he should discover that the most any player would have had to stay in the playing hall was 20 hours. As for Mr. Schwartzberg in particular, the most time he would have had to stay in the playing hall was only 14 hours. Additionally, keep in mind that every player was allowed to check out any time he (she) desired.
Your statement concerning the nets and tables tended to imply that all the nets were loose and all the tables were repainted. The truth, however, was that only one net was loose (new from a different company). All the others were good Stiga Clipper nets. There were four repainted tables which we had to use because four of the better ones were stolen a few days before the tournament. [Why, though, was Perry, with his reputation as a conditions-complainer, playing at one of only four repainted tables with the only loose net at the tournament? That doesn’t make sense—from the beginning it shouldn’t have been acceptable to either Perry or Power.]
Many times in your article you commented about the slick concrete floor at our tournament. The wax on the floor was not nearly as bad as you described: ‘When you weren’t up at the table at the Louisiana Open venue you were automatically at a disadvantage as the concrete floor had been waxed the night before.’ You seem to think that someone could have broken a leg just walking onto or off the court. None of the top-seeded players complained to me about it (a wet towel during play solved the problem).
You also stated in your article that Mr. Schwartzberg ‘wasn’t happy with the small court that included a power cord connected to a free-standing set of spotlights outside the barriers.’ Small court? The size of that court was 30 feet wide by 34 feet long (other courts were 20 feet wide by 34 feet long with barriers.) The plug was not in the way. It was in a corner of the playing area. I do not see why you mentioned the plug, for no harm ever resulted from it.
I thank the editor for giving me a chance to express my side of the story; however, I do not appreciate the misleading, inaccurate ‘reporting’ of the tournament. This sort of reporting is not constructive criticism. It is an outright degrading of the tournament. Perhaps the editor is trying to end the running of tournaments that do not meet the ‘fantasy tournament’ standards. If he succeeds, there will never be another table tennis tournament, for tournament directors will not take this sort of criticism for long. Hopefully, the editor will end this practice of false reporting in the near future, because it is definitely not what this sport needs. I feel that I have adequately cleared up the many falsehoods printed in the March issue of SPIN magazine.”
Power’s long Letter, besides giving Editor Tom Wintrich the opportunity to announce that from now on SPIN will limit Letters to the Editor to 250 words, drew two responses. The first is from Tom himself (SPIN, May-June, 1985, 4):
SPIN regrets if any of its readers considered the March Louisiana cover story as a slight to the Baton Rouge community. The supporting effort of the Amateur Sports Council of Louisiana—the local organizing committee of the 1985 National Sports Festival—was responsible for obtaining $2,000 in tournament sponsorship from private business. In addition, plane fare and hotel room discounts were arranged by the Council as well as complimentary rooms for officials and a reception for the players on Saturday night. SPIN publicly acknowledges this group’s valuable contribution to the Louisiana Open and offers its sincere thanks for its work on behalf of table tennis.”
And here’s President Boggan’s:
Rather than remain indifferent to the recent comments in SPIN regarding Power Poon’s Louisiana Open last spring, I would like to repeat here in brief what I said immediately after the tournament in a letter to Power.
I want to express my thanks—here my public thanks—to him for building up over the years his now $10,000 Open. This took work and a lot of heart. Although I myself had some reservations about this last tournament and expressed them to Power as I would hope many of his longtime loyal workers did, I think the USTTA as represented by my E.C. owes him a debt of gratitude. I know I want to assist him in future tournaments he runs in any way that I can.”
Florida State Closed winners at Orlando Jan. 26-27: Championship Singles: 1. Dennis Brown. 2. Greg Gingold. Women’s: 1. Olga Soltesz. 2. Bev Patterson. Championship Doubles: Dickie Fleisher/Brown over Bard Brenner/Rigo. A’s: 1. Jorn Tandberg. 2. Scott Rousky. B’s: 1. Scott Beauregard. 2. Al Millet. C’s: 1. Rudy Zarrabian. 2. Al Shears. D’s: 1. Shears. 2. Larry Beal. E’s: 1. George Ignace. 2. Rick Kadin. Novice: 1. Wah Tse. 2. Jack Eckhardt. Senior’s: 1. Ed Oliver. 2. Randy Hess.
Howard County Circuit Director Yvonne Kronlage (SPIN, Feb. 22, 1985) reports on another (Jan. 20th) of her Columbia, MD tournaments:
“Even though the weather was terrible, all entrants showed up save six. We really appreciated that the competition was supported on such a windy day.
The 50-50 raffle was won by Martin Staehlin, and, no, it wasn’t fixed—Marty simply pulled his own winning ticket out of the box.
Few juniors showed up and perhaps our scheduling is wrong. Next tourney we’re playing the juniors in the afternoon so those going to church will have time to play afterwards. Thanks to the Emmons family, we had some baked goods for sale to benefit the Junior Fund.
Congratulations to Brian Masters for winning the Open Singles and the U-3800 Doubles with—it must be his day—Martin Staehlin. Brian came away with $160 in prize money. Parviz Mojaverian was runner-up in the Open ($110). Third was Barry Dattel; fourth Stan Smolanowicz. The U-2000’s went to Larry Hodges ($67) over Lance Falce ($46). Third was Keith Minnick; fourth Dave Strang.
Following are the current Circuit Point standings: 1. Barney Reed (50). 2. Barry Dattel (50). 3. Don Garlinger (46). 4. Peter March (44). 5. Humilde Prudencio (41). 6. Steve Emmons (41). 7. Tom Steen (41). 8. Jeff Harris (30). 9. Keith Minnick (28). 10. Ming Nguyen (28). 11. Larry Hodges (26). 12. Hank McCoullum (24).
The Westfield Club reported back-to-back tournaments, naming their Opens after longtime New Jersey t.t. supporters. Here are the results of the Jan. 12-13 John Kilpatrick Open:
Open Singles RR: 1. Rey Domingo. 2. George Cameron. 3. Barry Dattel. 4. Shun Mok. Women’s: 1. Kalavathi Panda. 2. Vicky Wong. Open Doubles: Cameron/Mok over Tim Boggan/Brian Eisner, -22, 19, 13, then over Domingo/Wong, 15, -19, 11. Esquire’s: John Kilpatrick over Marcy Monasterial, 16, 19. Senior’s: Bill Sharpe over Boggan, 15, 17. U-17’s: Rajiv Dosi over Henry Ong, 12, 16. U-13’s: Ong over Donald Ma, 15, 9. U-11’s: 1. Brian Ertel. 2. Craig Karnis.
U-2250’s: Dattel over Sharpe, 19, 19, -13, 15. U-2075’s: Boggan over Panda, -16, 18, 22, then over Monasterial, 17, 15, 7, after Marcy had squeaked by Billy Lipton, -14, 19, 18. U-1975’s: Marius Wechsler, -23, 19, 10, over Doon Wong who’d eliminated Lipton, -16, 19, 18. U-1875’s: Wechsler over Mark Vrabel, 15, -13, 14. U-1875 Doubles: Mike Rose/Wechsler over Vrabel/Ahmet Kaya, -21, 18, 16. U-1775’s: George Holz over Kaya, 20, 20. U-1625’s: Ahmed Guketlov over Peppi Prasit, 12, 13. U-1625 Doubles: Al Moreau/Tony Gegelys over Dan Dickel/White, -16, 13, 16. U-1475’s: Prasit, 19, 18, over Jerry Epstein who’d eliminated Mark Schmoockler, 19, -17, 17. U-1325’s: Simon Tam over Peter March, 9, 21. U-1175’s: David Rockir over Howard Teitelbaum, 17, 18. U-1025’s: Teitelbaum over Mike Sinder, 14, -18, 17.
Results of the Feb. 16-17 Bob Barns Westfield Open directed by George Hellerman: Open Singles: Dominican Raymundo Fermin over Barbadian Robert Earle, 14, 16, -18, -20, 13, after Robert had advanced over Steven Mok, 20, -22, 23, 15. Open Doubles: Earle/Mok over Bill Sharpe/Michael Henry, 11, 13. Esquire’s: Barns—it’s his tournament—over Ray Sprague, -13, 21, 14, then over Harold Kupferman, -16, 22, 13. Senior’s: George Brathwaite over Sharpe, 13, 10. U-17’s: Ovidiu Nazarbechian over Benjamin Lu, 16, 7. U-13’s: Henry Ong, 12, 17, over Donald Ma who’d bested Allen Ma (his brother?), 5, -17, 18.
U-2300’s: Mok over Brian Eisner, 16, 15, 13. U-2025’s: Harvey Gutman over Billy Lipton, 13, 15. U-1925’s: Rich Sosis over Melvin Maxwell, 16, 17. U-1825’s: Ron Luth over Joe Campbell, 15, 14. U-1825 Doubles: Cox/Lloyd Nesfield over Mark Kane/Luth, 16, -16, 18. U-1725’s: Guenther Schroeder over Don Franks, 8, 17, 15. U-1575’s: Sam Joyner over Peppi Prasit, 20, -5, 15, then over Ahmed Guketlov, 21, 23. U-1575 Doubles: Vladimir Lojko/Norman Haase over Rich Lewis/Tony Gegelys, 9, 6. U-1425’s: David Schultz over Dennis Spellman, 17, 12. U-1275’s: George Chranewycz over Simon Tam, 8, 14, after Simon had outlasted David Rockir, -12, 17, 23. U-1125’s: Bob Agrawal over Mario Lozada, -12, 22, 20. U-975’s: Leona Joyner over Don Ma, -10, 14, 17. Unrated: Ken Pecota over Jack Jakub, 11, 11.
Results of the 3rd Annual MIT Open, played Jan. 27 at Cambridge, MA: Rick Seemiller over Rey Domingo, -20, 10, -18, 16, 17. U-2300’s: Stephen Mok over Dave Shapiro, def. U-2200’s: Shapiro over Kok Liung, 4, -17, 16. U-2100’s: Shapiro over Maximo Vasquez, def. U-2000’s: Chi-Sun Chui over Liung, 20, 22, after Liung had knocked out Jiri Hlava, 10, 16. [Jiri doesn’t look so good here—but come the new millennium he’ll go on to win at least half a dozen combined U.S. National Over 50/Over 60 Singles Championships.] U-1900’s: Hoang Do over Marta Zurowski, 15, 10, 27. U-1800’s: Sym Gallucci over James Davidson, 12, -9, 19. U-1700’s: Do d. Jim Warren, 12, 9, 16, after Jim had stopped Michael Klein, 21, -19, 19. U-1600’s: Jerry Mahoney over Michael Miller, 17, 22, -19, 14. U-1500’s: Donald Desmarais ovr Michael Taylor, 14, 15, 19. U-1400’s: John Lohfeld over Tim Kelly, 17, 21. U-1300’s: Richard Gordon over David Yee, 12, 16. U-1200: Robert Ross, 21, 11, over Richard Hancock who’d advanced over Ray Gallucci, 25, 20. U-1100’s: Bruno Kraska over Thomas Byrnes, 15, 18, 16.
Manmeet Singh, a member of the Indian Team to the ’81 and ’83 World’s, won the $400 top prize at the Jan. 25-26 Montreal Open, held at the plush Tennis 13 Club in suburban Laval.
Singh was formerly ranked #13 at the Asian Games and is now in North America on a five-year tourist visa. “Man,” I said, ‘being here means playing T.T.—but what the hell else do you do all day?”…“I watch television,” he said with a touch of Peter Sellers irony.
In the Open final, Singh wreaked straight-game revenge on Toronto’s Joe Ng who in Saturday’s warm-up Men’s Singles semi’s had come from behind to defeat Manmeet in five. Ng had then gone on to claim his $100 first prize with a victory over fellow Canadian Horatio (“Hory”) Pintea. “Yes, I know,” said Hory, “the rallies weren’t too good. I don’t know why, but we never seem to play well against each other.”
Although many-time Canadian Women’s Champ Mariann Domonkos lost the AA Singles final to Bert Flisberg, she did, as expected, win the Women’s. However, in the doubles she lost both close finals. In the Women’s, she and Gloria Hsu were 18, -16, -19 upset by Thanh Mach and Becky McKnight; and in the Mixed she and Pintea went down to Ng and Hsu, 19, 22. In the Women’s final, Mariann did 13, 16, -17, -19, 16 defeat an often smiling, often stubborn Mach, victor over Hsu in five in the semi’s. These three Canadian women teammates had just returned from the Welsh Open in Cardiff where they’d lost a best-to-forget team tie to the English (three deuce-game swings in the singles, a 19-in-the-3rd doubles).
Bad luck, you say? Not when you listened to Mariann talk grimly of the recent horror accident in Europe—a wheel came off a speeding taxi and the resultant crash took the life of the #1 Norwegian women’s player and made a paraplegic of their #1 men’s player.
The unending plane, train, car, and bus rides make for an occupational hazard that all internationalists have to live with. The eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg in “Gatsby le magnifique” stared not only at Singh watching his Montreal TV but also at the four U.S. players—Danny Seemiller, George Brathwaite, Scott Boggan, and me, Scott’s father—who’d made their snow-struck way up the map to here as well.
We all came pretty much at the irresistible urging of Coordinator du tournoi Mitch Rothfleisch—and here an accompanying tip-of-the-cap to his assistants, among whom were Papa Eric Rothfleisch, Eddie Renaud, and Paul Rozier. I hasten to say that without Mitch’s impish diligence there wouldn’t have been a Canadian Circuit stop here this weekend. And that would have been a pity, for every competitor in the States should have such a site as we were graced with (showers, sauna, restaurant, bar, and soft lounge chairs that made it so comfortable for us to watch the play as we looked through the large glass windows overlooking the courts below).
CTTA Technical Director Adham Sharara take note; not only did Mitch upset National Team member Bao Nguyen, but he worked so hard and was just so uber-ubiquitously on and off-court that he seemed to, like, float…weightlessly…everywhere—full of it all with his fun puns and ballooning spirit.
My game went Happy Hour down with the Saturday sun—of course I had no chance in the Men’s and the Open, but I also lost in the semi’s of the A’s to Yvan Dolan, 15, -19, -18, who went on to beat Stephane Charbonneau, 19 in the 3rd, in the final. Norman Gauthier won the 2100’s from Rene Lewandowski in a -19, 20, 19 thriller. And the 2000’s went to Pierre Parulekar in straight games over Tony Kiesenhoffer.
As for two of the other Americans, Danny and Scott, their lack of practice showed. In the Saturday Men’s, Danny was in early trouble against Alain Bourbonnais—but, though the Canadian internationalist was up 1-0 and 20-19 in the second, not even Paul Normandin’s coaching could save him. However, Seemiller could not escape again: for the first time in his career, he lost to Pintea, in five. Said Danny, “I took three weeks off after the U.S. National’s and had planned to start getting in shape this past week with Ricky, but it got so cold at home in our training barn—steam was coming out of our mouths—we couldn’t practice.
Scott, who’d been in Hawaii, and had played only once since the National’s, lost in the Men’s, 19, 3, 13, to Ng. Said Scott, “It’s no fun to play when you don’t practice and so don’t play well.” How true. Well, he’d just have to responsibly get his fun some other way.
Saturday evening, however, Danny and Scott did manage to win the Men’s Doubles—over Singh and Brathwaite who’d taken out the favored team of Ng/Pintea. But earlier “The Chief” had another of his marathon wins—23-21 in the fifth—over Canadian Team aspirant Chris Chu. “That Chris Chu,” said George musingly—“he hit everything in.” Uh-huh. Everything but the last point.
On Sunday, after a catch-up night’s sleep, Scott flashed out a quarter’s win over Canadian Champ Pintea. Hory, who in the Welsh Open had a nice victory over Alan Cooke, England’s #2, is not only playing 2½ hours a day, six days a week, but is also taking Phys. Ed courses toward a degree at the University of Ottowa. Maybe he could use a little rest too? Maybe some of Bernice Rothfleisch’s chicken soup?
In the one semi’s, Singh’s steady, varied repertoire of shots (particularly a short, quick backhand half-block/half-counter) was too much for Scott’s flamboyant racket—which from the first few points on was literally flying and falling all over the court, once exhilaratingly accelerating with the whizzing ball past the nose of the startled Singh.
Manmeet, by the way, had had his own control troubles in the quarter’s—had just gotten by a sometimes fired-up Bourbonnais in five. Earlier, Alain himself had barely eked out a 23-21 deciding-game win over Maccabiah Games qualifier Andrew Giblon when Andrew’s inadvertent (finger spin? double hit?) serve at deuce slid nervously off Alain’s racket and the point had to be played over.
In the other Open Singles semi’s, Danny just had too much of a problem starting against Ng, who himself hasn’t the best self-improvement situation in the world—has only Derek Wall to keep fit with, and younger junior star Peter Ng to drill and play games with.
Indeed, most of the players up and down North America have to take their practice when they can. Although Danny said he didn’t expect to do well here he had to come. Next week he leaves for Japan to defend his Western Japan Open title, and after that there’s Power Poon’s $10,000 Louisiana Open.
“You know what the USTTA needs?” said Danny. “A system something like the Canadians have—where the best U.S. players are paid a salary, weekly or monthly, to go to a decent training center where they can practice intensely before important tournaments. [Lake Placid Training Center—that’s your cue.] It’s important psychologically for the players to take breaks. After all the hours they’ve logged, it won’t take them that long to come back and get their games sharp. But the best of us suffering from poor practice situations need support from our now financially solvent Association.”
*I found out from Mel Eisner that there’d be a Team Trial in Cleveland, Ohio, Mar. 17th, to decide who would represent the U.S. at the July Maccabiah Games in Tel Aviv, Israel. However, though I’d authorize $300 assistance, I’d see no results as to which players would represent us, or afterwards how our Team did in Tel Aviv—that is, until I noted, not in SPIN, which remained mute, but in Canadian Andrew Giblon’s write-up of the tournament in the Fall, 1985 Ontario TTA Update, for included there were some U.S. results. Later, I’ll share Andrew’s article with you.]
**Otto Wenk, in these next few years, would be getting some good press. Here’s the Arkansas Democrat’s Beth Dempsey giving us (Jan. 7, 1990) some background on him:
“A native of East Germany, Wenk [born 1913] was taken by the Americans as a prisoner of war during World War II. His fluency in three languages led to him working for the Americans. In 1950, he moved to the United States and found his way to Little Rock shortly after. Upon his arrival, Otto found a room at the Central Branch of the Young Men’s Christian Association and became an avid supporter of the organization.
He worked for 23 years as the administrative assistant to the dean of the College of Pharmacy at what is now the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences campus before retiring in 1978.
Wenk is known for having won numerous speaking awards as a member of the Toastmasters International [he’s been District 43 Governor]. And even better known for having won many awards in his specialty sport: race-walking. [His best time ever for the mile? Nine minutes, 6.03 seconds. ] One of the mementoes he values most is his Presidential Sports Award certificate signed by President Gerald Ford.
At 76, Wenk still can be found on the Y’s tracks and exercise floors almost every morning.”
A few years earlier, he’d told another reporter, Deborah Glover, “his theory to keep his youth is to exercise his body, mind, and soul. ‘Everything is from God,’ he says. ‘God teaches us our body is our temple, and we should keep it in order.’ Winning races has motivated Wenk to continue participating in sports, of which table tennis is one. “Walking, though, is his sport—‘it’s the best sport because it’s the easiest.’ He has won many races in Europe, as well as the Senior Olympics in Arkansas and California.” [Also, in the upcoming 1985 World Masters Games in Toronto, he’ll walk away another winner.]
***Arunkumar, we learn—thanks to a Jan. 7, 1981 article that appeared in a local Bangalore, India newspaper given to me by Norfolk, VA’s Dana Hanson—took up table tennis despite the fact that his father, Kapinipathi, was “a famous tennis player.” And he’d done alright during a six-year (somewhat impeded) t.t. career in India beginning in 1974 when he was the Junior runner-up at the Asian Championships and in 1975 when he represented India at the Calcutta World’s.
But his role as “the only top-class defensive table tennis player in the country, a personification of sheer grace and artistry,” had come to an end. In January, 1981, he left India to come to the U.S. and, as we’ve seen for four years now, continued to play tournament matches against our top players, like, well…Ricky Seemiller.
But Arun has always had other things on his mind—which will explain why we won’t be seeing him for a year or so. As he told that Bangalore reporter, he came to the States determined “to carve out for himself a ‘decent career, a materially well-off future….I’ll be nowhere in life if I just continue in the Game.’” [Ah, yes, a realization so many of us inevitably come to. Hence Kumar’s engineering studies, and now, at 26, a job that can start him on his way.]