A BIG THANK YOU!!!
Memorial Day just passed & it many times has caused me to think of the many people who made my enjoyment of the game of table tennis possible. My apologies at the beginning for the many I will not mention.
1958 - Connie & I got our first taste of a bigger event at the Net & Paddle Club in Chicago. The club was run by hall of fame member Mildred Shahian. Many of the matches were umpired by hall of fame member Norbert VandeWalle.
1963 - I had the only lesson that I ever paid for from Erwin Klein, my hero. The lesson was for $5 and lasted one half hour. He covered movement, how to see the ball better & many other detail items that you might not ever think of. The lesson was at Chuck Burns "office" in Detroit where he had a great set up for playing table tennis.
1961-1973 - The Cobo Hall club in Detroit gave me a tremendous boost for my skill advancement. Starting with the Open in 1961 & followed by 4 more Opens in Detroit I was regularly exposed to quality table tennis. The US Open Team Championships were there nearly every year as well along with monthly tournaments from fall to spring. Some people to thank specifically are Herb Schindler, Jim Rushford & George Buben.
1967- 1973 - Long Island Table Tennis Association ran an annual tournament in Hempstead Long Island every year. They also mixed in some Eastern Opens & hosted the 1972 US Open. The quality of the tournament staff coupled with the hospitality of the Silberts made this a special stop. Of course, winning the triple crown there once added to the memories & enjoyment.
1962- 1969 Notable player memories. I was able to go to the 1962 US Open because of a promise my dad made. He said if I won the Grand Rapids city championship, he would take me to the US Open in New York City. I won & we went. When we got there, my dad noticed a doubles match and told me to watch how the left hander played doubles. The lefty was hall of fame member Sol Schiff. Bernie Bukiet gave me a big break at the 1964 Eastern Open when he agreed to play doubled with me. We won that event & began playing together many time after that. We won the US Open doubles once & were runner-ups three time when he was 49, 50 & 51. Bobby Gusicoff took a liking to me around 1965 when I was making big strides in the national rankings. I played Dan Pecora quite often & he kept beating me. Bobby kept telling me I was getting closer & closer. Finally in 1967 I made the step of starting to beat Danny more often.
VIP - My dad Art Sweeris & Elmer Ybema were at the US Open in 2012. My dad was the Grand Rapids city champion in 1956 and taught me how to have a great time playing table tennis. Elmer Ybema has been like a second father to me. He practiced with me a lot, hired me to work for him where I learned a great deal about running a business & he supported Connie & I by helping with some of our tournament expenses. I'm hoping the two of them will be able to attend the 2014 event. My dad is 96 & Elmer is 93.
Life Partner - Of course Connie has been so much a part of my enjoyment in the game. I tell people that I won the US Open Mixed Doubles title 3 times with my wife & once with my girl friend. We have teamed together to have 2 children & now enjoy 3 grandchildren.
LOC - For the past 3 US Opens in Grand Rapids I have received a great deal of praise for a job well done. So much of the credit should go to the LOC which has served so unselfishly. None of the work could have been done without their help. Their names will be listed in the program. If you know them, tell them thanks.
Players, Officials, Sponsors & Volunteers - Where would we be without these folks. To the players, may you play your best. To the official. may you make good calls. To the sponsors, may you get some fulfillment from your contribution. To the volunteers, may you get some joy from making the event happen so smoothly.
Special Thanks - Grand Rapids has some real generous people who have helped make this city what it is today. Special thanks to Mike & Sue Jandernoa for their high level support each of the 3 years. Additional special thanks to Peter & Joan Secchia for rolling up your sleeves & helping to bring in new donors to this event.
Onward & Upwards!!!
19 days & counting!!