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


            1984: Nigeria’s Sky Power Men’s Team/Canada’s Carlton Women’s Team Take USOTC’s. 1984: December Tournaments. 

In a moment, Tom Wintrich (SPIN, Dec., 1984, 3) will cover the U.S. Open Team Championships, held Nov. 23-25 at Detroit’s Cobo Hall. But first a word or two from me, Tim, about the sponsoring Detroit TTC.  After noting I believe John Pletikapich’s petition signed by a number of Midwest players, I agreed not to try to change the participatory nature of these long-played Team Championships, but I’d urged Tournament Directors Bob Beatty and Bob Allshouse in one of my Up Front columns to please upgrade the APPEARANCE of the tournament.

Chris Wibbelman, one of the mainstay workers necessary for the tournament to run smoothly—others, Wintrich pointed out, are Fred Alt, Gordon Bright, Pat Carrier, and Pete Monaghan—wrote me back an encouraging letter promising to be helpful. I’d wanted, for example, a wooden floor for the title-contending ties, a giant scoreboard, curtains separating Divisions. Chris, in responding, said it’d be nice, for example, if Detroit could have a three-year contract to run the tournament, a lower Rating fee, and a sponsored ball.

As a result of our communication, these USOTC’s, I thought, were more successful this year than last. Almost 140 teams showed, including—hurray—one from California. Beatty, Allshouse, Wibbleman, and Co. make a very good management team. They’re cooperative, flexible, progressive. In the interests of trying to improve these Championships, they not only redirected the matches up out of that longtime not so breathable basement into an upstairs hall (thus saving the players the equivalent of a four-block walk to and from the across-the-street hotel), but they also rearranged their floor plan so that players and spectators entering the hall could immediately focus on not two or three but 12 feature tables where the better players would play separately throughout.

Perry Schwartzberg also praised these  improvements: “After years and years of trial and error, the USOTC’s has developed into a first-class tournament. The new Donic tables, TSP balls, good lighting now that were up out of the basement, Donic barriers, as well as the time-scheduling of the matches all create a professional atmosphere that is hard to find fault with. Keep on making improvements and some day you may need the upstairs and the downstairs to run the event.”

Wintrich, too, preparatory to giving us his highlighted ties, was enthusiastic about the Detroit club’s recent progress. “The Club’s now got 30 ITTF-approved Donic tables and Donic surrounds. (“The Donic tables, used here and in the German Bundesliga and contracted for use at the 1987 New Delhi World’s, cost us a small fortune,” said a players’ information sheet, “so please be extremely careful with them.”) The organizers set up a four-table arena reserved for the very top players at the front of the Hall, complete with viewing stands for the spectators. They had the time-scheduling down pat, providing a master-schedule for each team. In addition, they will Xerox your match sheets if you request a personal copy of your team’s tie results.”

So, how better for Tom to start the action than with the Nigerian Airways’ top-spinning Sky Power Team, the three-year reigning Men’s Champs: 

“Two of the Nigerian stars didn’t arrive until late Saturday afternoon—but in time for their team’s evening tie. Atanda Musa and Francis Sule of Sky Power got hung up in Yugoslavia by a 12-hour flight delay. While they were fighting time to get to the United States their teammates had been fighting the competition to finish first or second in their round robin “B” group. The top two teams qualified for Sunday’s Championship cross-over against the top two finishers in the other “A” round robin. Omotara, Ayinde, and Coach/Manager Foudja were strong enough to finish second—losing only to Butterfly East (Dan, Rick, and Randy Seemiller).

The winning “A” group team was the Srivers (Canada’s Horatio Pintea, Alain Bourbonnais, Joe Ng, and Bao Nguyen). They’d defeated the second-place Yasaka I team (Lekan Fenuyi, Sean O’Neill, Chartchai Teekaveerakit, and Perry Schwartzberg). Sunday’s semi’s matches then were the Srivers against Sky Power, and Butterfly East against Yasaka I.

Everyone had been debating the significance of Musa and Sule’s late arrival. The prevalent theory was that if the two stars had been present from the onset, Sky Power would have finished first instead of second and would have faced Yasaka I. Translation: the Canadians got burned. Proponents of that theory, however, didn’t give much credence to the fact that the Seemillers, granted their unique style, may have been the team with the best shot to beat Sky Power. Perhaps Danny could have won three, and, considering Ricky’s preference to play against topspin, perhaps he too could have been dangerous. So the crossover draw may have been the same anyway.

Although the Nigerians beat the Canadians 5-1, that tie-score didn’t represent a rout. Boubonnais had been 10-all in the third with Musa. Pintea had been 19-all in the third with Sule, and had lost to Omotara 18 in the third.

From a spectator point of view, the result was not that important: a topspin battle is what sparked their interest. Both teams play that a push is something you must do once in a while, but God forbid you should ever rely on it. Instead, it’s open as soon as possible and challenge your opponent with topspin drives. On fast Donic tables sitting on concrete, it was a game of speed with spin, with the arc of the ball about as low as it can be to the net. Both teams play that game superbly, but for the Nigerians it’s a natural style, one they adapted from their training experience with the Chinese.

In the other semi’s, Butterfly East and Yasaka I persisted in an ongoing struggle. Randy dropped the first match to Sean, then Danny lost to Chartchai two straight to give the Yasaka team a 2-0 lead. Schwartzberg was not playing this tie, purposefully sitting out to play the vital role of coach, directing his Yasaka team’s efforts against his close friends, the Seemillers. Prior to the tie, Perry told his team that the man to beat was Danny. Break his spirit and the struggle for victory would be much easier. Danny’s loss to Chartchai didn’t break his spirit—though he’d had no success whatsoever containing Teekaveerakit’s attack or initiating his own.

Ricky’s two-straight win over Lekan stopped Yasaka’s momentum, and then Danny pulled out a key 19 in the 3rd match against Sean who was playing with a fierce intensity. The entire drama of the tie was further heightened by the fact that the O’Neills and Seemillers are not particularly close. Yasaka knew that a win wouldn’t be easy. But in Schwartzberg they had a coach who believed in them and kept them pumped up.

On the two teams struggled. Lekan beat Randy, and Chartchai beat Ricky; but Dan beat Lekan and Ricky beat Sean. Tie tied at 4-all—with Randy and Chartchai to play the decider.

Randy’s been in this predicament before; either he’s the goat or the hero. (Remember it was Randy who beat Eric Boggan long ago in this same tournament after Eric had handed Danny his first loss in something like 200 matches against American competition.)

Randy as underdog has probably never fought harder or played better against the favorite when so much hung on the outcome. He captured the hearts of the spectators with an intensity of play that seemed to indicate he was willing to give his life for his team, for his brothers. That’s not melodramatic, that’s just the way the guy played.

It comes down to 17-18 in the 3rd, Randy’s serve. Chartchai loops the first serve and Randy blocks into the net. Seemiller backhands the next rally into the net. Now he’s down three match, three tie points. He gets his 18th point with solid blocking when Chartchai loops long. Then Randy scores with an anti-loop winner, and you just figure he’s going to deuce it after that strategic shot under pressure. He aggressively goes for the deuce tie, but loops long.

It was an emotional scene—Chartchai and the Yasaka team-bench exploding in joy. Randy fighting back the tears of defeat. And the spectators wildly cheering both players.

Randy Seemiller may have won the MVP award had he won that one match, but as it turned out Teekaveerakit was the guy to win all three of his matches for his team and deservedly captured the honor.

Sometime during the semifinal tie a scream of triumph came from the back of the hall. Yeah, the hamburgers—as President Boggan likes to refer to himself and the rest of us not-so-top players—were still determining their own competitive fates. The stars may be the main attraction, but at these Detroit Team’s they have to share the spotlight with 400 other avid players. This tournament is the melting pot of the Association, and if you haven’t played Detroit at Thanksgiving in Cobo Hall you’re missing out on the best.

The final tie? Anticlimactic. Yasaka I couldn’t match the topspin power of Sky Power. The Nigerians won it, 5-1. Lekan Fenuyi being the only one successful against his countrymen—although Sean O’Neill gave the impression he might be able to someday succeed against that aggressive style, perhaps incorporate much of it into his own game.

The women? Boy, did they get overshadowed by the men, especially when the result of their 11-team round robin was a foregone conclusion. The Carleton team from Canada (Mariann Domonkos, Gloria Hsu, and Thanh Mach) was undefeated—didn’t lose even a match in 10 ties (50 matches). Second-place went to the Chinatown team (Alice Kimble, Vicky Wong, and Sheila O’Dougherty) who, aside from their being blitzed by the Canadians, lost only one other match. There’s nothing wrong with the women’s game in North America that ten times their number wouldn’t remedy.”

Overshadowed, in another sense, the women weren’t. Ontario Women’s ‘A” Team Captain Norm Merrin (OTTA Update, Dec., 1984-Jan., 1985, 31) pointed out that, “though over 100 tables were continuously in use, it was great that the organizers had listened to comments about the ladies always being hidden at the back of nowhere! This year, for the first time ever, the Women’s event was staged on eight tables adjacent to the arena where the elite Men’s teams played—opposite the entrance doors. This was a far better arrangement, as the women players were ‘on view’ all the time to anyone visiting the hall and to other players as they moved further down the hall to their own events.”

Captain Merrin had hoped to do better with her own 4th-seeded team (Julia Johnson, Daiva Koperski, Becky McKnight, Karin Rumar) but wasn’t that disappointed to finish fourth behind the 3rd-seeded U.S. team (Ardith Lonnon, Connie Sweeris, Takako Trenholme, Vicky Wong). “They beat us mainly through experience,” said Merrin, “rather than technique or ability—most of the damage being done by Connie and Takako.”

Limited other Men’s results: Division B: 1. Ohio I: Bob Cordell, Mike Joelson, Bob Powell, Jim Repasy. 2. Midwest Express: Mike Baber, Gene Lonnon, Frank Sexton, Larry Wood. Division C: 1. Redwings: Jean Bourget, Hoang Lam Tan, Stephane Lucchesi, Stephane Ubiali. 2. Hawks: Wayne Chan, Bogdan Kalinowski, Tony Kiesenhofer, Peter Oski, John Shenk.

Division D: 1. Ontario Jr. Boys: Deepak Bhatia, Johnny Ng, Peter Ng, Rajiv Singh. 2. Gatineau: Dan Vo Huang, Marc-Andre Houle, Marc Richard. Division E: 1. Mississauga: Tom da Silva, Jorge Ferreira, Jose Ferreira, Roger Moore. 2. Bermuda All Stars: Mervyn Douglas, Dennis Pearman. Dexter Smith, Mansfield Smith. Division F: 1. Meridian Engine Exchange: John Elwood, Bill Hall, Mike Hamm, Joe Shumaker. 2. St. Joe Bally: Thongchai Ananthothai, Bountha Duongphouta, Paul George, Forest Milbourn.

            Looking at this list of winners one can’t help but see how well this holiday tournament is supported by Canadians. Indeed, since so many players are arriving in Detroit on Thursday preparatory to begin play Friday morning, perhaps there’s an opportunity here to promote something on Thanksgiving Day. For instance, since Cobo Hall may be used at little added expense on Thursday, why not have a North American Match between Canadian and U.S. Teams and get it on TV? And then have someone cater a table-tennis-family Thanksgiving dinner between the two countries to lift everyone’s spirits? Yes, it’s an idea—but who’ll make it happen?

Winners at Tennis World’s Yasaka Round Robin, held Dec 1-2 in Sacramento: Open Singles: 1. Dean Doyle, 2-1. 2. Quang Do, 2-1. 3. Khoa Nguyen, 2-1. (Dean lost to Do, Do lost to Nguyen, Nguyen lost to Doyle.) 4. Duc Luu, 0-3. (There’s only one Nguyen involved here, and though he didn’t “Win”, his name, “Nguyen,” came through three times. Which, as Rufford Harrison would say, was quite fitting. Having nothing better to do, he recently counted 28 separate Nguyens in the USTTA Rating list—as opposed to only 21 Smiths who heretofore had “a reputation for ubiquity.” And, “to further show how the mighty have fallen, the average Nguyen is rated 1507, the average Smith only 1469.”) Women’s: 1. Lisa Gee, 2-0. 2. Diana Gee, 1-1. 3. Nadine Doyle, 0-2. Mixed Doubles: 1. Nguyen/D. Gee, 2-0. 2. Do/L. Gee, 1-1. 3. Doyle/Doyle, 0-2.

U-2100’s: 1. James Therriault, 3-1 (3-2). 2. Michael Hortshoj, 3-1 (3-3). 3. D. Gee, 3-1 (2-3). (Gee lost to Therriault, Therriault lost to Hortshoj, Hortshoj lost to Gee). 4. David Chun, 1-3. 5. Masaaki Tajima, 0-4. U-1900’s: 1. David Chu, 3-1. 2. Frank Mesia, 2-1. 3. Tom Miller, 1-2. 4. Ed Hu, 0-3. U-1700’s: 1. Hu, 2-0. 2. Angel Soltero, 1-1. 3. Lon Morel, 0-2. U-1500’s: 1. Tom Li, 3-1 (3-2). 2. Kin Chan, 2-1 (3-3). 3. Selim Hassan, 2-1 (2-3). 4. Leroy Yoder, 1-3. 5. Lloyd Henning, 0-4. U-1300’s: 1. Yoder, 2-0. 2. Chan, 1-1. 3. Henning, 0-2. U-1100’s: Wayne Funderburk over Paul Lourick, -20, 16, 12. Senior’s: 1. Miller, 4-0. 2. James Ritz, 3-1. 3. Don McDermott, 2-2. 4. Bill Wright, 1-3. 5. Phil Gritton, 0-4. U-17’s: Anthony Streutker, 4-0. 2. Jeff Feri, 3-1. 3. Robbie Sorenson, 2-2. 4. Mark Kassis, 1-3. 5. Carl Ports, 0-4. U-13’s: 1. David Levine, 2-0. 2. Jennifer Medlin, 1-2. 3. Skipper Medlin, 0-2.   

It’d been 10 years this Nov. since the Rockford, IL Club had held a tournament. Results of this month’s (Dec. 2nd) Rockford, IL Open:  Open Singles: Winner: Ed Hogshead over Clyde Cauthen, 2-0. A’s: Winner: Hogshead. B’s: Winner: Hogshead over Dennis Hwang, 2-0. Novice: Winner: Marty Kraus. Junior’s: Winner: Tim Pearson.

Bill Su (SPIN, Jan., 1985, 16) reports on the Dec. 8-9 Lansing, MI Community College Open, sponsored by the Lansing Hilton Inn:

“Of the more than 75 players who entered this tournament, 14 were rated over 2000, including Houshang Bozorgzadeh and Simon Shtofmakher who were playing here for the first time. Coach Henan Li Ai was also present.

In Open Singles, on one side of the draw, Scott Butler easily advanced to the final. However, on the other side, there were many closely contested matches. Action started with Cody Jones’s deuce-in-the-fifth upset over 2126 Mark Legters. Jones then led second-seed Jimmy Butler 2-0 before eventually losing. Jimmy was then extended to five games by Jim Dixon who’d knocked out Bob Cordell, 19 in the fifth. In the end, though, brother Scott won the day over Jimmy in four games, while Dell Sweeris finished third over Jim Doney.

Shabaz Amidi, General Manager of the Hilton Inn, Lansing, was awarded a ‘Senior Champion’ trophy for championing efforts on behalf of the Game. His son, Hossin, won the Most Rating Points Gained Award and with it a Gift Certificate for dinner at the Hilton’s Delphine’s restaurant. Since Hossin doesn’t really need a Gift Certificate to get a free dinner there, we gave it to runner-up Todd Sweeris, and gave Hossin a large table tennis bag donated by Bob Hudson.

The LCCTTC would like to thank Danny Robbins for donating TSP balls, and the Community College’s Departments of Physical Education and Student Activities for enabling us to hold our tournament. Also, we thank Mr. Robert Enders and Hedy Mantel for helping at the control desk.”

Results of the Ontario Closed Championships, played Dec. 1, and sponsored by Alan Clark Ltd. Trophies: Men’s Singles: Joe Ng over Rod Young, 6, 4. Women’s: Julia Johnson over Ky An Du, 16, 8. Men’s Doubles: Joe Ng/Peter Ng over Andrew Giblon/ George Bonigut, 8, 11. U-2000: P. Ng over Johnson, 14, 22. U-1850: Yih-Sheh Leo over Johnny Ng, 18, -16, 18. U-1700: Johnny Ng over Deepak Bhatia, 19, 16. U-1550: Ky over Bhatia, 23, 13. U-1400: Ky over Rajiv Singh, -22, 16, 8. U-1200: Singh over Paul Reinsalu, 19, -18, 19. U-1000: Reinsalu over Ian Kai, -20, 11, 19. Senior’s: Bill Cheng over Ken Kerr, 9, 14. Boys U-17: Bhatia over P. Ng, 18, 15. Boys U-15: P. Ng over Johnny Ng, -24, 16, 14. Boys U-13: P. Ng over Trung Le, 13, -13, 19. Boys U-11: Rehan Aziz over Jeffrey Chambers, 10, 15. Girls U-17: Crystal Daniel over Janice Lorenz, Adriana Altic, and Tanya Bielby. Girls U-15: Altic over Marsha Jackson and Bielby. 

 Larry Hodges, in covering (SPIN, Feb., 1985, 16) the Dec. 8-9 Northern Virginia Round Robin, tells us that “Double winners triumphed in four of six events as Sushil Titus and Lance Falce ran amuck.

In winning both the U-1350’s (over second and third place finishers Steve and Chris Emmons) and the U-1550’s (over Steve Banks who posted a 14-2 record), Titus racked up a perfect 14-0 record, winning 28 straight games, none of which even went to 19. He hadn’t played in quite a while, and I think he may have been underrated.

Matching Titus’s success was Lance Falce who finished with a 16-2 record in winning both the U-1950’s and U-2150’s. Lance, who beat all the top seeds in those events, must have gotten tired because his two losses were to players 100 points lower.

Lance led a Pennsylvania sweep in both events—with Lance, Mike Walk, and Chip Coulter finishing 1-2-3 in the 2150’s, and Lance, Chip, and Bill Walk doing the same in the 1950’s. Since the entire Pennsylvania crew used combination rackets (anti/inverted) and flipped like crazy, it’s obvious what our club needs to practice against.

In the U-1750’s, Bernie Lisberger and Jim Verta were both 4-1 in their final round robin, but Bernie had the head-to-head win to take the event.

Except for the Open, the whole tournament was loaded with upsets. A good example is the U-1950 competition on Sunday morning where half the first 24 matches produced 100-point swings, including eight 200-point upsets.

Things were more normal in the Open. In fact, in the final group of nine players, only three matches went three games, and I was involved in all three. (I won two-thirds of them but couldn’t knock off Dave Sakai.)

Top seeds Chartchai Teekaveerakit and Sean O’Neill mowed everyone down 2-0—with only Sakai giving Sean a little first-game heat before settling for 3rd-Place over Ben Nisbet. Full-time practice partners Chartchai and Sean then requested they be allowed to split 1st and 2nd-Place prize money and I consented as it was getting late.

Just a reminder that you can win money at our tournaments no matter what your rating is. We offer cash in all round robin events: 1st--$40, 2nd--$25, 3rd--$10. Score a double like Titus or Falce and you double your winnings.” 

Results of the Howard County Circuit #3 Tournament, played Dec. 3-4 in Columbia, MD: Open Singles: 1. Don Garlanger, 3-0. 2. Parviz Mojaverian, 1-2 (3-2). 3. Barry Dattel, 1-2 (3-3). 4. John Andrade, 1-2 (2-3). U-2100: 1. Andrade, 3-0. 2. Garlanger, 2-1. 3. Chauncey Ford. 1-2. 4. Marty Ness, 0-3. U-1900: 1. Barney Reed, 2-1. 2. Ford, 2-1. 3. Tom Steen, 2-1. 4. Pat Lui, 0-3. U-3800 Doubles: Shibaji Chakraborty/Garlanger over Dattel/Steve Kong, 20, 18. U-1700: 1. Chakraborty, 3-0. 2. Kong, 2-1. 3. Yvonne Kronlage, 1-2. 4. D. Critchlow, 0-3. U-1500: 1. Steve Banks, 2-1. 2. Paul Seymour, 2-1. 3. Leonard Bujing, 1-2. 4. Craig Bailey, 0-3. U-2800 Doubles: N. Nguyen/D. Nguyen over Ken Daniels/Emmons. U-1300: Chris Emmons, 3-0. 2. N. Nguyen, 2-1. 3. Steve Emmons, 1-2. 4. Lloyd Tillman, 0-3. U-1100: 1. D. Nguyen, 5-0. 2. Gary Marks, 3-2 (3-2). 3. Don Walsh, 3-2 (3-3). 4. B. Douglas, 3-2 (2-3). 5. T. Torchia, 1-4. 6. Robert Waxman, 0-5. Sat. Handicap: D. Nguyen over Peter March. Sun. Handicap: Reed over Mark Kane. Junior’s: 1. Walsh. 2. T. Nguyen.

Winners at the U.S. National’s warm-up tournament, the Manny Moskowitz Open, played at Westfield, NJ, Dec. 15-16: Open Singles: 1. Eric Boggan, 3-0. 2. Rey Domingo, 2-1. 3. George Brathwaite, 1-2. 4. Robert Earle, 0-3. Women’s: 1. Alice Kimble, 3-0. 2. Vicky Wong, 2-1. 3. Marta Zurowski, 1-2. 4. Hazel Santon, 0-3. U-2200’s: George Cameron over Brian Eisner, 12, 18, 16. U-2050’s: Marcy Monasterial over Harvey Gutman, 10, 17. Semi’s: Monasterial over Billy Lipton, 18, -18, 18; Gutman over Alan Feldman, 14, -19, 21. U-1950’s: Doon Wong over Lipton, -18, 13, 20, then over Gutman. U-1850’s: Mark Kane, 11, -13, 16 over Ralph Vescera who’d escaped Marta Zurowski, 19, -19, 19. U-1750’s: Kane over L. Nesfield, 17, 18. U-1600’s: Lyle Seales over Ahmed Guketlov, 20, -12, 17. U-1450’s: Robert Ertel over Luz Brown, 19, 14. U-1300’s: Ertel over Humilde Prudencio, 11, 19. U-1150’s: D. Rockir over Lloyd Thomas, 14, 17. U-1000’s: Howard Teitelbaum, 13, 10, over Pam Stewart who’d just gotten by Kenan Turnacioglu, 15, -14, 20. Unrated: I. Nesfield over K. Siddique, U-17’s: Zurowski over A. Liu, 12, 12. U-13’s: Allen Ma over Dwayne Thomas, 8, 13.

Larry Hodges, having finished with his tournament coverage for the year, doesn’t want to call it quits, so he writes up (SPIN, Jan., 1985, 25) the Training Camp, held Dec. 27-30 at Vienna, VA: 

“Sean O’Neill and Chartchai Teekaveerakit ran a highly successful training camp during the Christmas holidays. Fourteen enthusiastic participants rated between 1300 and 2050 were shown all aspects of the modern game, with an emphasis on serve and serve return strategy, plus footwork.

Regarding serves, it was shown to be advantageous to perfect just one or two primary serves instead of complicating matters with a host of them. Reading spin off service was also emphasized with Chartchai demonstrating by using his high-toss serves. Invariably the group would yell ‘Chop!’ when he served top, thus the lesson would sink in: if you can’t read the spin, you’re already in trouble.

Serve return technique covered both long and short push returns, flipping short serves, and looping deep ones. With such a variable choice of tactics, it was made clear that service return drills must be practiced regularly. Also, the effectiveness of contacting the ball quickly off the bounce when pushing or blocking was demonstrated.

Footwork-wise, both side-to-side and in-and-out movements were stressed, always with the emphasis on returning quickly to the ready position so as to be set for the next ball.

Attending camps like this one is an excellent way to improve your game, and I hope to organize more of them for the Northern Virginia area, possibly for a week or two this summer.” 

And now that Larry’s focused in on coaching, I know he wants to leave us with a bit of his own “analysis—advice—strategy.” So o.k., I’ll encourage him and maybe he’ll have me to thank for writing a whole book some day. Here he asks (SPIN, Feb., 1985, 8), “Are you backhand oriented?” 

“A common problem for players at all levels of table tennis is being backhand-oriented. Backhand orientation (B.O. for short) means that you favor your backhand over the forehand—that you try to cover too much of the table with the backhand. Once developed, the forehand is the more powerful shot, so favoring the backhand like this is a mistake.

B-O is a disease. It infiltrates your game, multiplies and divides, and takes over your entire playing style. Leave it untreated, and you may find yourself blocking lobs with your backhand. But treated properly there is hope.

B.O. can be highly contagious. It can be caught simply by watching or copying (unconsciously or subconsciously) someone in the throes of B.O. It generally strikes during the formative years before you break 1500 and you must take precautions against this occurring.

Let’s examine the causes of B.O. by starting with foot placement, as that’s the root cause of the problem. Contrast the ready position of the feet of a “healthy” player with that of a backhand-oriented player (both right-handed).

Notice (on the right side of the drawing) player B’s feet? Left foot in front, both feet shifted to the left. This player is in perfect position for any shot while favoring the stronger forehand. You can’t see it, but he also has his knees bent and his weight on the inside balls of his feet.

Now look at player A. Feet parallel, he’s positioned at the middle of the table. Since the forehand and backhand rotate at the elbow and his elbow is on his right side (see x’s in drawing), he’s covering almost the whole table with his backhand. Player A will return shots to his middle with his backhand, while player B will use his stronger forehand. A will be leaning over to cover shots to his backhand, while B is in perfect position. A shot to A’s forehand would catch him unable to rotate into the shot properly (which would cost him power), while B is in perfect position to do so.

Obviously A has a problem. Very likely A has been caught in a trap whereby he finds he is most successful by favoring the backhand—but only because he hasn’t given the forehand a chance. Giving the forehand an opportunity to develop may mean a few temporary embarrassments, but in the long run it’s the right thing to do. Otherwise, the Bs of the world will pass the A’s by.

So, how, if you’re favoring your backhand, do you go about changing? The first thing to do is reposition those feet like player B. That’s half the battle.

Now that your feet are where they’re supposed to be, things look differently. Your elbow is approximately even with the middle line of the table (refer to B’s x’s) and your left foot is in front of your body so you can now swing that forehand much more effectively. Or can you? The table seems to have moved. It used to be over to the left, now it’s to the right. All your shots suddenly feel awkward. That’s okay, you’re just experiencing withdrawal symptoms of the B.O. disease.

Now is the time to find a good coach and take a lesson. You’re trying to break a bad habit and it’s best to get help. You have to hit the forehand properly, an impossibility if you stand like player A. Even your backhand will feel uncomfortable for a while and you’ll find yourself wanting to go back to what feels like the comfortable foot position of player A.

Don’t take the easy way out; stick with the new foot position. Your uncomfortableness will pass and you’ll be a better player because of the change.”