USATT Insider poses 11 questions to Mike & Logan WetzelMike Wetzel bio tidbits:
- International umpire, certified referee and tournament director
- Have conducted tournaments, sanctioned and non-sanctioned since 1984. Worked 1995 World Team Cup and 1996 Atlanta Olympics as Sports Information Supervisor. Officiated Cerebral Palsy World Games in 2005 in New London, Connecticut, 1999 and 2015 World Special Olympics. Officiated at either U.S. Open or U.S. Nationals every year since 2005.
- Have played in 36 straight Alabama Closed tournaments, mostly only doubles in the past 15 years.
- In 1988, named my cat J.J. in honor of Jiang Jialiang, the 1985-87 world champion, I met at the 1985 U.S. Open in Miami.
- Car license tag is TBL10S.
11 Questions with Mike & Logan Wetzel
1) Why do you play?
Mike: It's good cardio exercise, nearly injury free and you can play it until you are 80 or even older. It's a sport where a player's size or foot speed is not so important.
Logan: I like to play for fun when I get the chance, it's a pretty fun and safe sport to play.
2) Which is your favorite tournament?
Mike: This is an easy one. Walt Chenault and I founded the Decatur Open. Walt is retired but Chip Patton has stepped in to help take it to the next level. The 24th annual Decatur Open is Aug. 15. Not many small tournaments in the U.S. have that kind of longevity. We try to make it fun, fair and affordable. We have generous sponsors in the Decatur, Alabama, area who have helped make it the tournament it is. All players receive Pepsi products, Domino's Pizza, a tournament T-shirt, Gatorade table tennis towel, a chance at about 30 door prizes, double-round robin play all day and $1,000 in cash and 21 trophies. We only take 74 players and we have sold out the past 22 years. The two-star tournament has been fortunate to attract three U.S. Olympians (Sean O'Neill, Jimmy Butler and Amy Feng).
Logan: Decatur Open by far is my favorite tournament, I've volunteered at the Decatur Open since I was just about 8 or 9 years old. I've seen so many amazing players play in that tournament.
3) Who is your primary nemesis?
Mike: Lack of practice. I work second shift and every weekend. My skills are rusty every time I pick up the racket.
Logan: Can't say I really have a "nemesis". I really don't play enough to say I have one.
4) What is your favorite game tactic to score?
Mike: Try to use some nasty serves and pick hit.
Logan: When I do play I like to just keep the ball in play and let the other player make the mistake.
5) Thoughts on the Poly Ball.
Mike: I haven't seen a big difference with the poly ball. When it came out, I heard players not liking it, but that talk has waned at the tournaments I have attended.
Logan: I really can't tell much of a difference from the celluloid to the poly ball.
6) Toughest Loss?
Mike: Occasionally I look at a player's rating and think I can sleepwalk to victory. Anthony Dang and Colen Ellis have proven me wrong in the past.
7) Greatest Win?
Mike: Teaming with Ernesto Kawamoto to win the 2002 Alabama State Doubles Championship. We beat Adam Brown and Jane Ng in seven games in the finals.
8) How you prepare for a tournament?
Mike: Most of the tournaments I attend nowadays, I go as either the tournament director, referee or umpire, but as a player, I try to get a good night's sleep before gameday.
Logan: Just practice as much as possible.
9) When you see a new player at the club, what do you do?
Mike: I try to make them feel comfortable and let them know we are big family and they are now part of it. I introduce them to the big dogs and have the new club member watch those players in action.
Logan: Introduce myself and let them know that they can always come to me if they have any questions.
10) Player you would most like to play in a tournament?
Mike: I would like to play Danny Seemiller. I first saw Danny in April 1978 at the Louisiana Open in Baton Rouge. I had never seen table tennis at the level Danny and his brother Ricky were playing. I was amazed. At that tournament, I found out the difference between table tennis and ping pong.
11) If you had to face Jimmy Butler, Lily Zhang or Kanak Jha what would your game plan be?
Mike: Do my best to score a couple of points. Those stars are out of my league. They are all first-class ambassadors for our sport.
Logan: Just try as hard as I can, play my usual game, and hope it doesn't get too nasty.