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History of USATT - Volume 12, Chapter 5

By Tim Boggan | May 14, 2012, 9 a.m. (ET)

History of USA Table Tennis Volume 12


1983: March Tournaments. 1983: Danny, Insook win $6,000 Louisiana Open.

Harold Kopper tells us (TTT, May-June, 1983, 21) that “Lan Vuong was the big story at the inaugural Thousand Oaks Open in mid-March.” In winning the Open Singles, “she defeated Mas Hashimoto (2170) in straight games and then beat her fellow Vietnamese countryman Loc Ngo (2048) three straight in the final.” Harold says, “Lan now practices with a Stiga robot and was recently featured in a five-minute news segment on the local CBS affiliate in Los Angeles. She was also the subject of a lengthy L.A. Times article.” Peter Antkowiak, organizer of this 80-entry tournament with Kopper, “has been coaching Lan in recent tournaments and she’s also received help from Y.C. Lee and C.S. Wu.”

Winners at the Mar. 12-13 Montclair Spring Open: Open Singles: Jim Lane over C.S. Wu who’d stopped Mas Hashimoto, 19 in the 4th. Open Doubles: 1. Mike Baltaxe/Hashimoto. 2. Charles Childers/Hanna Butler (Hanna’s mom, Mona, ran the much appreciated concession stand). 3. Mark Kennedy/Wu. U-2200: Baltaxe over Childers in five. U-2000: Amin Jaffer over Childers. U-1900: Stevan Rodriguez in five over Marco Chao who’d eliminated James Etherton, -18, 18, 20. U-1800: Richard Badger over Larry Blankenship, 22-20 in the 4th. U-1600: Karl Dreger over Wilfred Escobar. U-1500: Chris Salgado over L. Miller. U-1400: Escobar over Douglas Ching. 1300: Ron Peet over Chris Marble, 20, -20, 21, 16. U-1200: Ken Harris over Peet, 19 in the 4th. Hard Rubber: Kennedy over Kopper. Draw Doubles: Kopper/Millen over Blankenship/Bob Reising. Senior’s: Jaffer over Don Higgins, 21, 20, 12.

Sheri Soderberg, in covering the Mar. 25-26 $2,000 Wisner, Nebraska Open, speaks of a snowstorm zapping the tournament:

“Paul Williams drove 300 miles from Denver, competed in the tournament Friday night, and returned to his motel 25 miles outside of Wisner. The next day he found himself so close, but oh so far away since thoroughfares were not going to be plowed until the blizzard subsided. Likewise, local players from Omaha and other nearby cities were prevented by the snow from coming. Indeed, Wisner’s own, the Petersens, had difficulty getting back and forth from their farm to the playing site.

For those of us who did make it to Wisner, there we were to stay. Fortunately, the main road in Wisner was cleared, which allowed for mobility between the tournament site, the town’s restaurants, and the (only) motel.

So the tournament did start. Everyone played their preliminary rounds, then recovered at the VFW Social Hall for the buffet dinner. Unfortunately, though, the Lions Club, sponsor of the ‘Las Vegas Night’ that all the players look forward to, had to cancel the event because of the bad driving conditions. Nonetheless the players made the best of the situation. Most ventured back to the motel, which became the common sleeping ground. Single rooms often accommodated six people or more, with some sleeping under desks, on chairs, or three in a bed.”

But of course next day play resumed. Sheri said, “the esprit de corps of the players as well as the dedication of the control desk’s workers averted what could have been a disastrous weekend. Thanks to the tournament committee—Wayne Heerman, Ruth and John O’Neal, Darris Splittgerber, Dirk Petersen, and the diligent tournament director, LeRoy Petersen—for all their patience and extra efforts. The tournament was over by 2:00 p.m.—which was good because, though the storm had abated, the daylight driving hours were crucial to many.”

Sheri concentrated on the Open Singles and Doubles matches, but before I give you her take on those, here are the results of the other events: Women’s: Insook Bhushan over Sheila O’Dougherty who’d advanced over Ardith Lonnon. Senior’s: Gus Kennedy over John O’Neal. U-17 Doubles: Dhiren Narotam/Jin Seong over Gary Kerkow/Lloyd Hansen. U-13: Narotam over Seong. U-2100 Final: Jim Butler over O’Dougherty who might well have lost her -17, 22, 10 semi’s against Mitch Seidenfeld. U-1950: Final not played. Semi’s: Kerkow over Len Witz; Roland Rittmaster over Kennedy, -20, 12, 19. U-1800: Jamie Salama over Kennedy, 19 in the 5th. U-1650: Thongchai Ananthothai over Dick Butler. U-1550: Final not played: Semi’s: D. Narotam over Leroy Petersen; Champak Narotam over Dan Vinchattle. U-1450: Tom Soderberg over Conrad Kunz. U-1350: Mark Engelmann over Hansen. Hard Bat: Final between Todd Petersen and Brandon Olson not played. “Perhaps Todd was eager to go home to finish applying for a high school teaching position? He says he’s ready to move away to teach and coach high- schoolers as long as he can be close to a table tennis club.”

“In the Open Doubles, in a five-game semi, Brandon Olson and Mitch Seidenfeld defeated Scott and Jim Butler who—along with the outstanding play of Ed Hogshead, Sonny Henderson, and Clyde Cauthen—had dominated play at Millie Shahian’s Net and Paddle Club tournament two weeks earlier. In the final, Brandon/Mitch, off to a two-games-up lead, were psyched to take Insook/Todd. “Mitch, undaunted by Insook’s chops and humored by Todd’s ineffective loops, smirked at his opponents. However, the more confident Mitch seemingly got, the more his team was falling behind. Meanwhile, Todd was picking up momentum, his loops now too electrifying to return. The tables had turned. Todd’s explosive offense coupled with Insook’s now impenetrable defense became too steady, and, reversing the way the match had gone earlier, Insook/Todd took the last three games, 13, 17, and 19.”

In the Open Singles, in the one semi, it was “Todd looping Insook’s chops and smashing her pick hits…but not winning, for Insook managed via straight-game prolonged points to mix her spins and pick-hits unpredictably enough.” In the other semi, Scott Butler was two games down to Olson, “and, after one too many of Brandon’s nets, frustrated by his skill and luck, he turned toward his father and moaned, ‘He gets everything!’ His father’s stern glare prompted Scott not to whine but to fight, and he won that third game. But in the fourth Scott again focused too much on lost points. Dramatically he blew on the ball, screamed at the net, and yelled in fury after losing points. He lost it, lost the game at 19. Unhappily for Scott, the newly-arrived Chinese coach, Lin Henan, was ill back at Scott’s home in Iowa City. Perhaps her presence could have helped Scott reverse the results of this match. Or was Olson unconquerable?

In the final, Brandon won the first from Insook at 19. In the second, however, “when his forehand loop became too powerful for Insook, she attempted to place more chop returns to his backhand. But the more she aimed toward his backhand, the more invincible his backhand loop became,” and he won this game easily at 10. Though Insook had a 12-7 lead in the third, Brandon won that game at 16—a 14-4 run. But then in the fourth a dramatic turnaround: “Brandon lobbed balls off the table, missed his own serves, and pushed Insook’s chops into the net”—21-7 Insook! In the fifth, Brandon was tigerish again. “Up 13-7, he missed two serves in a row. But he didn’t lose his composure, and, outmaneuvering Insook, 21-16, he became this year’s Wisner Open Champion.

Winners at the Mar. 19-20 Michigan Closed: 1. Dell Sweeris, 3-0. 2. Paul Burns, 2-1 (d. Dixon, 20, -18, 14, 19). 3. Jim Dixon, 1-2. 4. Torsten Pawlowski, 0-3. Open Doubles: Mike Baber and Aaron Smith over Jim Tarkowski and Dave Skrzypek (who at the Ohio Open in Columbus the week before had won both the A’s and the B’s). Women’s Singles: Connie Sweeris over Genevieve Hayes. Mixed Doubles: Sweeris/Sweeris over Frank Sexton/Hayes. Senior’s: Gunter Pawlowski over Chuck Burns, 21, -22, -20, 20, 16, then over Ed Brennan, 17 in the 5th. U-17 Boys: Dave Alt over Dave Claflin, 19 in the 5th. U-17 Girls: Aubrey Nip over Michelle Mantel. U-15 Boys: Claflin over Jamie Dixon. U-15 Girls: Mantel over Nip.

A’s: Torsten Pawlowski over C. Burns, 18 in the 5th, then 18, 20, -19, 19 over Tarkowski who’d gone into the 5th with Sexton. B’s: Final not played. Semi’s: Bob Quinn over Smith; Bob Tunnell over Cody Jones. B Doubles: Quinn/Tunnell over D. Alt/Dave Cafone. C’s: Bob Allshouse over Skerzypek in five. D’s: Chris Wibbelman over Jim Tumidanski, deuce in the 5th, then over Roman Vaysman. D Doubles: John Wielhouwer/Bob Alt over Tumidanski/Wibbelman. E’s: Robert Atkinson over John Herrington. Novice: Jamie Dixon over George Saleh, -23, 21, 14, 14, then over Bruce Stuckman. Novice Doubles: Jeff Stec/J. Dixon over Stuckman/Scott Thomas, 19, -20, 17. Beginner: Jeff Darwish over Matt Myers who’d advanced over Larry Everts, 17 in the 5th. Consolation: Joe Yochim over Greg Zimmers.

Both Dave Strang and Ron Schull (TTT, May-June, 1983, 28) report on the Ohio Team Championships. Dave says that “though the Akron TTC—the site and sponsor—of this Team Championships, sometimes called the ‘Ohio Intercities,’ has hosted a dozen tournaments since 1978, this is the first time they were awarded a State Championship.”

Ron says, “The winner was the Defending Champion Columbus Yasaka team (no Bobby Powell, but “outstanding player” ($25 bonus) Team Captain Bob Cordell, Jim Repasy, Ray Stewart, and Ron Schull). Sponsored by Bob Hudson’s Yasaka of Indiana, they received the top prize of $200, largest in the history of the Championships. Thanks go to Dave Strang who, in upping the prize money to $379 (about $150 more than last year) sacrificed profit to promote the sport.”

Strang points out there was “an 11-team field for these Championships—two each from Columbus, Newark, Akron, and the University of Akron, and one from Salon, Warren, and Cleveland. It seems that Columbus II underestimated Warren, for in that tie they sat out their #2 who had to watch helplessly as Warren sent Columbus II to the six-team Consolation group.”

Solon tried hard to reach the final, but was stopped by Akron in an exciting tie. “When Strang won a pivotal match against Mike Joelson, and Don Story downed Doug Hardy, Akron had an impressive 4-1 lead. But then Solon rallied—Doug Hardy beat Bob Slapnik (who in the Newark tie had scored not only a 19-in-the-3rd win over Don Prouty, but had upset 300-rating-point favorite Greg Collins), and then Joelson beat Story. Tie 4-3. Now, when Doug was up 1-0 and match-point in the second against Strang, the tie thickened. But Dave escaped and so did his Akron team.”

“Solon then went on to play Newark in a tie that would determine 3rd Place. Newark’s Stefan Liu finally downed Solon’s Rick Hardy in a 9thmatch deuce-in-the-third nail-biter. Ironically, though, this wasn’t enough to give Newark 3rd Place. Because of a 5-4 loss to Akron University earlier, Newark, along with Akron University, and Solon finished in a three-way tie—with Solon coming out first.”

“In the final between Columbus Yasaka and Akron, when Cordell of Columbus eked out a 21-19, 23-21 match, and then when Stewart of Columbus also won two straight, it was over for Akron.”

 Results of the Mar. 19th Dayton Classic: Open Singles: R.R. 1. Dick Hicks, 2-1 (8-3). 2. Bob Cordell, 2-1 (d. Repasy in five from down 2-0). 3. Ricky Hicks, 1-2 (d. Repasy). 4. Jim Repasy (d. Dick Hicks, 21, -16, -18, 18, 17). U-1950: Ricky Hicks over Andy Gad in five, then over Larry Hensley. U-1800: Robert Miller over Mark Weber. U-1650: Weber over Sid Stansel, then over Than La. U-3300 Doubles: Ricky Hicks/Kim Farrow over Scott Robinson/Robinson. U-1500: Bill Hall over S. Robinson. U-2900 Doubles: Robinson/Farrow over Greg Brendon/Beth Autry. U-1350: Scott Grimes over Dave Gingerich. U-1200: Randy Cuzzort over Dan Patterson.

Winners at the Mar. 5th Charlotte Winter Open: Open Singles: Pete May over Bill Brown, 19 in the 4th, then over Jim Flannagan. Match of interest: David Engel over Jim McQueen, 17 in the 5th. A’s: McQueen over My Van Dinh. B’s: Erle Davis over My. C’s: Derek May over Sam Cannella, 18, 21, then over Rick Mundy, 22, -18, 19. D’s: D. May over James Hogan. E’s: Ken Weitzen over Danh Nguyen who’d eliminated Don Holzworth, 19, 23. F’s: Jerry Golubow over Weitzen, 19 in the 3rd, then over Holzworth. G’s: Weitzen over Dale Hargrove who’d bested Lester Larrew, 21, -15, 16.

North Carolina State Champions (at that same Mar. 5th Charlotte Open): Championship Singles: Bill Brown over Danny Hill, 13, -20, 14, then over Jim McQueen. Both Brown and My Van Dinh over Ty Hoff, 2-1. U-1700: Rick Mundy over Tim Poston (whose parents, Tom and Jean, earn thanks from the players for running the tournament). Both Mundy and Poston defeated Al Herr.

Results of the Mar. 12-13 Westfield Open: Open Singles: George Brathwaite over Rey Domingo, -18, 22, 17, 18, then over Fu-lap Lee, 17 in the 4th. The other semifinalist was Brian Eisner who’d downed Lim Ming Chui, 19, -19, -12, 20, 15. Open Doubles: Domingo/Steven Mo over George Cameron/Lee, -18, 15, 20, 18. Women’s: Flora Ng over Vicky Wong. A’s: Rohit Turkhud over Man-Ling Shum. A Doubles: John Sisti/Pandit Dean over Harvey Gutman/Eyal Adini. B’s: Andy Diaz 20, 19, 17 over Dan Green who’d eliminated Sisti, 19 in the 3rd. C’s: Elvis Gomez over Chris Kollar. C Doubles: Ron Luth/Kollar over Marty Theil/Doon Wong. D’s: Nick Maffei over V. Wong. E’s: Rick Sosis over Chi-Sung Chui. F’s: Chi-Ming Chui over D. S. Kong. G’s: Final: Mike Seaman over Keith Ng, 19 in the 3rd. Semi’s: Seaman over Arlo Hyttinen, 22, 20; Ng over Gloria Amoury, 19 in the 3rd. H’s: Final: H. Lee over Dennis Spellman, 20, 19. Semi’s: Lee over K. Brooks, 18 in the 3rd; Spellman over Kevin Davis, -14, 21, 10. Unrated: T.M. Cao over S.G. Ow, 20, 19. Senior’s: Brathwaite over Elmer Wengert. U-17: V. Wong over Rocky Cheng.

The $2,000 Lake Ontario Open, held Mar. 19-20 on 24 tables at the Brockport State Teachers College Tuttle Gym in Rochester, N.Y., drew 208 participants from seven states and Canada. Results: Open Singles: Ray Mack over Richard Chin. Women’s: Carol Mosher over Kris Thornton. Open Doubles: Webber/Gold over Chin/Leung. U-2050: Kam Bhatia over Roger Moore. U-1950: Moore over Joe Billups. U-1800: Sam Steiner over Bowling. U-1700: Tong Lee over Ralph Ubry. U-3400 Doubles: Lin/Lin over Bob Brickell/Brickell. U-1600: Howie Kashton over John Scata. U-1500: Ross Bagshaw over Mark Divincentis. U-3000 Doubles: Kashton/Odorczyk over Parker/Mike Halliday. U-1400: Kim Van Nguyen over Mike Seamon. U-1300: Deetha Bhatia over Walt Stephens. U-1200: Brad Gelb over D. Bhatia. Hard Bat: Mack over Harry Hawk. Senior’s: Manfred Wetner over Maurice Moore. Senior U-1500: Jim Cook over Tim Hung. U-17: D. Bhatia over Rosie Retimann. U-15: D. Bhatia over Monica Thimian.

Both Tournament Director Power Poon and Tournament Devotee Bill Steinle cover the Mar. 5-6 $6,000 Louisiana Open. I’ll let Bill begin:

“After 20 hours of straight-thru driving from Virginia Beach, I have to say that sign ‘Baton Rouge 12 miles’ was a pretty sight. Since when my friends and I got in it was just early afternoon, and since this was going to be my last tournament before the U.S. Open in Vegas and I wanted to make the most of it, we called Power Poon to see how soon we’d be able to practice.

Power said the tables would be set up about 7:00 p.m. and asked us on our way over that night to please bring Insook Bhushan who was staying at the same motel we were.

So at 6:50 p.m. (boy, drive or no drive, was I eager)—with the #1 U.S. Women’s player and the #3 U.S. Men’s player, B.K. Arunkumar, and my friend Norm Labrador—I headed for the playing site to practice. If just two tables were up, we could pair off….Norm’s rating? My rating? We were both 1500 players.

Playing conditions

Unhappily there was some delay in getting the tables to the playing area—they would not arrive until almost 8:30. While we were waiting, a very good player came over and was talking to Arun about the bad playing conditions he could expect—how the tables were no good, the courts were small, the barricades were very low.

Perhaps a few others had complained about the barriers too, for when they arrived they were about 40 or so inches high! And, hey, the playing conditions weren’t that bad. The court area for each table was adequate. Even when the main events got down to the semi’s, the playing area was only increased a foot or two, so I personally believe the court might have seemed confining more because of the overly high barriers than the actual size in square feet. I’m not sure of the floor composition, but the footing was good—though for players like Arun, who cover a lot of ground and defensively dig into the ball, the surface was very hard on the legs, just as cement would be.

As for the tables, they could have been better alright—they were about the same as those in 8 out of 10 tournaments I go to, no better, no worse. But if you wanted the net at exactly the right height you had a little more of a problem. Because the floor and consequently the tables were not exactly level, you could only get the nets properly set at a couple of the tables. However, over all, the conditions were as good as you’d find in most tournaments in the U.S. and surely as good as you’d find in most clubs that I’ve been able to get to round the country. (Our club in Virginia Beach is the only one I’ve been to that has all Butterfly tables, and they’re starting to get badly nicked up from players pounding on them with their rackets.)

Of course this was the yearly Louisiana Open and there were advantages to attending. Not only is it fun to come to a tournament that’s as well run as this one, and where the exceptionally large amount of prize money insures quality play, but it’s even better when this tournament happens to be in some part of the country you generally don’t get to and so you can see different good players for the first time.

And—surprise—I got a special bonus here. After the tables were set up I practiced with Insook, and Norm practiced with Arun for about 40 minutes. And since both Insook and Arun were to do well in the tournament, what else is there to say but that Norm and I must have done a good job with them.”


I’ll let Power take over now—to talk about the problems with the seedings. “The West Coast Koreans—Jae-ho Song, Phillip Moon, and Kyung-ja Kim—had phoned in their entries, had promised me they would be here, and would let me know if something came up, but they didn’t show. Song was seeded third in both the Open and in a new event, the Elite. Since the ITTF rule limits first-place prize money for amateurs to $600 in any one event, the only way to give top players (for some in the U.S., and almost all the Canadians, want to keep their amateur standing) a chance to earn more money is to set up another event for them. Thus, if one were able to win both the Open and the Elite he would receive $900, and if he were to win the Open and come second in the Elite he’d earn $750. Kim was first seed in both the Women’s and the AA Singles, and Moon was seeded third in the A Singles. The absence of all three of these Koreans would greatly affect the draws.”

 “A decision had to be made before the first round of the Open event. Changing the seeds was the first thought that flashed through my mind. But that would create a domino effect. To fill the slot vacated by Song, we would have to elevate the ninth seed, who was the absent Kim, or the tenth seed, Insook. If we moved Insook to the eighth seed, then the top two seeds which were vacated by these two ladies in the AA Singles would have to be filled. And the domino would carry on to the lower events. I then had a meeting with our tournament directors, Tom Baudry and Mel Douglas. Our decision ultimately, and one agreed with by the seeded players, was to listen to Perry Schwartzberg who told us we should not make any changes in the draw because it had already been posted and Song had not withdrawn, although he had not shown up and had not registered in at the motel where he was supposed to stay. With regard to the Women’s Singles, Kim’s absence threw the draw out of balance, for now second seed Insook and third seed Mariann Domonkos were in one half and fourth seed Thanh Mach had an unfair advantage in the other half. But this imbalance was rectified when it was agreed by all that the four semifinalists would play a round robin.”

Since both Power and Bill concern themselves only with top-player matches, before I give each of them their say, I’ll show you the results of all events other than the Open:

Elite: Final: Danny Seemiller ($300) over Arunkumar ($150), 18, 9, 12. Semi’s: D. Seemiller over Lekan Fenuyi ($100), 16, 19; Arunkumar over Ricky Seemiller ($100), -7, 13, 12 (Steinle says, “I’d tell you Ricky’s latest reason for losing but it’s too unbelievable”). Quarter’s: D. Seemiller over Perry Schwartzberg ($65), -17, 16, 15; Fenuyi over Domonkos ($65), 16, 19; R. Seemiller over Errol Caetano ($65), 16, -13, 16; Arunkumar over Horatio Pintea ($65), 16, 18. Women’s: Final R.R. 1. Bhushan ($200), 3-0. 2. Domonkos ($100), 2-1. 3. Mach ($25), 1-2. 4. Micheline Aucoin ($25), 0-3. Disappointingly, all these matches were won in straight games. Men’s Doubles: Semiller/Seemiller ($200) over Caetano/Pintea ($100), -18, 18, 16. Mixed Doubles: D. Seemiller/Bhushan ($100) over Pintea/Mach ($50) who’d eked out a 19, -15, 23 win over Caetano/Domonkos. Senior’s: David Harville ($100) over Al Weaver ($10), 18, -21, 16, then over Grady Gordon ($50). U-21: Pintea ($100) over Alain Bourbonnais ($50), 19, 19, after Alain had knocked out Brandon Olson ($10), 18, -19, 14. U-17: Bao Nguyen over Tarek Zohdi. U-13: Howard Nirken over Jeff Cleveland who’d eliminated Eric Owens, 14, -18, 17.

AA Singles (not open to top eight seeds in the Open): Pintea ($150) over Domonkos ($100) who’d stopped both Roberto Byles and Steven Mo ($50) in three. A Singles: Mitch Rothfleisch ($100) over Homer Brown ($60) who’d advanced over Mach ($20), 15, 22. A Doubles: Byles/Kenny Owens over Roland Schilhab/William Coleman who’d eliminated Gordon/Mike Roddy, 17, -20, 17. B’s: Coleman ($100) over Allen Barth ($50). B Doubles: Schwartzberg/Nirken over Schilhab/Sarka Dura, 19 in the 3rd, then over K. Owens/Alex Poon. C’s: Robert Chamoun ($80) over Greg Kelly ($40). D’s: Allen Cornelius ($50) over E Akapadiaha ($25), 18 in the 4th. E’s: Sushi Prem over John Zwickel who’d knocked out Bunk Hanahan, 16, -18, 23. Novice: M. Juarez over Sena Ly, 24-22 in the 3rd. Handicap: Rey Domingo ($100) over Glenn Singletary ($80).

The 19 events drew a record 143 players, and Power would like to thank the following for their support: “the site city of Baker, just outside Baton Rouge, for the use of their auditorium; the crews of the Baton Rouge TTC; Ben Alder, Allen Barth, Tom Baudry, Terry Canup, Kenny Gordon, and Ralph Spratt for umpiring, and tournament directors Baudry, Douglas, and Charles Hoyt.” Power felt the tournament was such a success that next year he wants to run at least a $7,000 Louisiana Open. He hopes to raise additional money by selling ads ($25 to $100) in the tournament program.

Late Round Matches in the Open

Eighth’s matches of special interest in the Open: Caetano over Nguyen ($25), -20, 18, 10, 20. Ricky Seemiller over Bhushan ($25), 23, -15, 16, 19. Steinle notes that Ricky Seemiller “was down 18-12 in the first to Insook, then—big swing—won it 25-23. If Insook had won that key game I think she would have taken the match.”

In the quarter’s, Danny Seemiller defeated Canada’s Pintea ($175) in straight games. Nothing too surprising in that, but Steinle says that some time before play started, “Danny told Horatio that the foot-stamp rule would be enforced (Pintea usually stamps on every serve”), and that “if Horatio wanted to go off and practice serving without stamping before their match to go and do it.” Caetano later told Bill that Pintea “had never played under such a rule before” (reportedly it had just appeared in the newest edition of the ITTF Handbook ) [but the rule, as it appeared, could not have been in the punitive form that Pintea was led to believe, for the ITTF would not have approved that until its General Meeting at the World Championships in early May]. Horatio had tried hard to be really extra cautious because he erroneously thought he would lose the point rather than replay it if ever he was called for stamping.” But, says Bill, “regardless, Danny would have won—though the match would have been closer.” Anyway, it wasn’t the first time that Horatio, who was to earn $565 in prize money this weekend, was cautious and confused about taking a step.*

Domingo, the fifth seed, downed Caetano, the fourth seed, 17 in the fourth. Power points out that had the draw been changed, Rey would have been moved up to fourth seed, and probably would have had an easier quarter’s match. But no draw problem with Rey. “He may not be a world-class player,” says Power, “but to me, he certainly has a world-class attitude.” After Rey lost the first game, “he began to play aggressively by changing his lobbing game to an all-out attack, and this allowed him to win easily.”

For Bill, and probably most other observers, “the upset of the tournament was Brandon Olson’s 15-in-the-fifth win over Perry Schwartzberg.” This was ironic in that Perry had the most to gain by keeping the original draw unchanged, for he was in the absent Song’s quarter. “This is the only match I saw,” said Bill, “where the condition of the tables clearly had an effect on the outcome. There were several bounces against Perry that were just unbelievable. It seemed to me that after getting so many bad bounces in the first three games Perry became tentative in his shot-making.’

In the remaining quarter’s, the match offered, according to Steinle, “the same result that’s happened in the last 11 matches they’ve played—Arunkumar beat Ricky in four. Ricky always makes it look close, but choppers are just too much for him.” 
In the semifinal round robin, Brandon ($275) lost all three matches in straight games. Domingo ($350) lost in four to Danny, but played a super-exciting match with Kumar. With games tied at two apiece, Arun led 12-4 in the fifth, then (“What do I have to do to win a point?”) was down 14-13 as Rey went on a 10-1 run! “From there on in,” said Bill, “no one led for more than two points. At 19-all, they played a magnificent rally that must have lasted 20 or 30 seconds—with the point finally going to Kumar. Down 20-19, Domingo thought an Arun return was going off the table and he started to raise his arms in a fight gesture—but, ohh, the ball caught the edge and the best Rey could do was make a weak return that Arun unhesitatingly put away.”

” In closing his article, Steinle writes, “Since Arun and Danny were in the final of both the Open ($600 for first, $450 for second) and the Elite ($300 for first, $150 for second) they decided to play just one 3/5 match to determine the winner of both. Danny, after running out the first game from 18-all, won comfortably, three straight. So that makes 9 U.S. tournaments in a row for our U.S. Champion. When he plays the Open in Vegas this summer I for one am going to be there.”


*In his article “A Chance To Survive” (Timmy’s, July-Aug., 1983, 19), Horatio Pintea tells us the unusual way he came to Canada.

 “I, Horatio Pintea, was playing for the CSM Cluj Club, the best in Rumania, and in mid-September of 1981—I was then 19 years old—we’d come to Athens to play a European Cup match against the Aspera Club, the best in Greece.

The very first day we were there, we were all out shopping when—I’ll never forget it—suddenly two of our players got lost. “Oh, where are my players?’ cried Coach Paneth. ‘They’re gone! They’re gone—and now what am I going to do?’

Sounds like an overreaction, does it? Not when you consider that my good friend George Boehm, now Champion of Germany, had defected shortly before, and that the authorities in Bucharest would not take kindly to more of the same.

But as it turned out, what had Coach Paneth to fear? Those players who were lost, my separated teammates, soon were no longer lost and had rejoined their fellow Rumanians.

And the next day, our Club did as we were expected to do—we beat the Athenians. Except that my away-from-home roommate, a World Championship veteran of the Rumanian Team (three times I was supposed to go to Korea as a member of that National Team, three times promises were given, and three times I did not go), a player named Dobosi, did not win his last match as I hoped he would, and though my mind was nervously elsewhere, I had to add the finishing touches.

After this tie, while my coach and teammates had some business to attend to, I told Dobosi I was going just outside the hall for a drink—which, considering I’d just finished playing, was natural enough. Besides, where could I go? My luggage was back at the hotel. I had only $20, the clothes on my back, and another shirt or two in my small tournament bag.

But once outside the hall, I impulsively broke into a run. Then quickly stopped. What was I doing? Should I go back? Then, no, I’d come too far—and I began running again, began zigzagging through the streets. I was sure everybody was looking at me. But I didn’t care. I was in seventh heaven. It doesn’t matter what happens, I said to myself. Just keep running.

Finally after resting and staying in hiding for a while (actually I wasn’t sure if the Greeks would give me asylum, but I knew that with or without me the Rumanians would have to leave very early in the morning), I took a bus downtown and went up to a police officer. I didn’t tell him I wanted to defect, I just told him I was a foreigner who wanted to go to West Germany. (It had occurred to me that if I could just get into that country I might be able to find my friend Boehm who would help me.).

The officer’s advice—it was then about 11 o’clock at night—was for me to come to a particular police station in the morning, where in the Tourist Section they might be able to solve my particular problem.

That night I slept, or rather stayed in the park. I didn’t know what my future was going to be. I was very nervous. When I saw a man slink across the street toward me I was afraid he might stab me. But he was only a pimp. Occasionally a man or two smiled at me, and one talked with me for a while. I didn’t trust anyone—and made up a story why I was there (I’d been locked out of my house). Finally I was left alone.

At eight o’clock the next morning I arrived at the police station. They were half expecting me, for naturally I’d been reported missing. They were very nice to me, put me up in a hotel room, and gave me a little money. My instructions were to join other refugees (downtown Athens was full of them—Poles, Bulgarians, Russians, Iranians) at the Red Cross next morning. When later I went out to buy a toothbrush and toothpaste to try to take the night’s bad taste out of my mouth, I was weakened by the amount of money such everyday things were going to cost me.

At the Red Cross next morning it was clear I was not going to be sent back to Rumania. But neither was I going to be allowed to immigrate to Germany—that was impossible. Where then could I go? Since my parents and I spoke French, I thought, ‘Canada…Quebec perhaps?’

Perhaps in four months. Meanwhile, I could room in a hotel with four Poles and be given some food money.

What then to do with myself? I went back to the Athens table tennis club. The Greeks were happy to see me—I liked their country, eh? Their Aspera Club would give me some money for hanging there.

 Two days after I’d defected I called my parents. ‘Oh!’ said my mother. ‘Are you all right? Have you a place to stay? Have you enough to eat?’ It was difficult for her to understand that everything was o.k. ‘Please come back!’ she pleaded. But then both she and my father—they’re very good parents—realized that if I thought Rumania was bad for me, I had to do what I had to do.

Slowly, while I waited to go to Canada, the four months crept by. Eventually things broke for me—and not for the better. The people at that Greek table tennis club and I had a falling out, and I could no longer stay at the hotel the Red Cross had assigned me to.

I was put into a Rumanian refugee camp. Here, as in a prison, I met every kind of outcast. But surprisingly they were very sympathetic to me. Moreover, their experience, their use of language was so different and interesting to me that being with them was not unpleasant. Still, after two weeks, I wanted to get out of there, and fortunately a friend agreed to put me up at his place for a month.

Meanwhile, I had a real problem—for I’d made the tactical mistake of asking to be sent to a place where apparently my table tennis talents couldn’t be used. The official line was ‘Table Tennis is not a profession in Canada, and so Mr. Pintea cannot make a living there.’ However, they would keep me on hold.

I also tried applying to the U.S. But their attitude toward me was the same, if not worse. ‘The youth has no chance to survive in the U.S. as a table tennis player. We cannot admit him.’

The one month I was to stay at my friend’s house stretched into two. After I’d been six months in Athens, the final word came—I could not go to Canada.

Now I was desperate. Luckily, by this time I had a friend at the Canadian Embassy. He helped get off another letter to the Canadian Table Tennis Association begging them to give me a chance. Then I called CTTA Technical Director Adham Sharara and he promised to take up my case. Fortunately for me, Mariann Domonkos, who was later to become Adham’s wife, was playing in Germany in the Bundesliga that season and so had come in contact with my friend Boehm, and since he’d put in a good word for me, the word came back to Adham that the CTTA ought to take a chance on me. After all, I was only 19 years old and surely I could be an asset to them in at least one of their developmental programs.

Agreement all around.

I ran with Adham’s letter to the Canadian Embassy. It was one of the happiest moments of my life.

Eleven months after I’d left my Rumanian teammates and had zigzagged dizzily through those Athenian streets I arrived in Ottawa—the capitol of the world for me—and immediately began playing table tennis for Canada.”