Istvan Jonyer and Others at the 2018 World Veterans Championships in Las Vegas
By Larry Hodges
If you started playing in the 1970s, like me, then Istvan Jonyer of Hungary was a God. There's no other way of describing the 1975 World Men's Singles Champion, the big two-winged looper from a time when two-winged looping was still relatively new. He had these long, acrobatic forehand loops, like a discus thrower, looping forehands from the shoulder, and tricky sidespin backhand loops. Everybody all over the world copied these shots. In 1979 he led the Hungarian team (along with Tibor Klampárand Gábor Gergely) when they upset the Chinese team to win the World Men's Team Championships.
Jonyer's playing in the 2018 World Veterans Championships!!! Right here in Las Vegas, USA!!! You can get in line for his autograph right behind me. (Here's a picture of Jonyer ripping a ball at his peak – yeah, he went prematurely bald. That's Gergely on the left. Here's a recent picture of Jonyer with Li Zhenshi.)
The 2018 World Veterans Championships are June 18-24, for anyone age 40 or over as of Dec. 31, 2018. The deadline to enter is March 15 or whenever they reach 5000 entries. They are currently at 3533 (here's the current listing), from exactly 80 countries, with entries coming in fast, so don't delay – enter now or miss this once-in-a-lifetime chance. The last time USA ran a World Veterans Championships was 1990. (I'll be there, doing daily coverage – but I'm not missing this once-in-a-lifetime chance, so I'm also entered in singles, and maybe doubles.)
Other big international names from the past entered include Dmitry Mazunov (the big backhand looper from Russia known for his great doubles play), Zsolt-Georg Böhm (2-time Romanian Men's Singles Champion and then 6-time German Men's Singles Champion), Danish star Allan Bentsen, and many others. There are rumors that 1991 World Men's Singles Champion Jorgen Persson will be playing (oh please oh please!), as well as Chen Weixing, the great Chinese and then Austrian player.
Big USA names competing include (with apologies to many missed):
- Danny, Ricky, and Randy Seemiller
- Cheng Yinghua (playing Over 60 Men's Doubles with Dan Seemiller)
- Sean O'Neill
- George Brathwaite
- Perry Schwartzberg
- Li Yuxiang
- Shao Yu
- Gao Yan Jun
- Dell & Connie Sweeris
- David & Donna Sakai
- Jasna Rather
- Lily Yip
- Patty Martinez-Wasserman
- Charlene Liu
With such a field of players, you probably don't think you have much of a chance to win anything. But that’s not the point of going to the World Veterans Championships (unless you are one of the best of your age in the world) – you go there to compete, meet other players (including the best in the world), have fun, spectate, shop, and enjoy the Las Vegas vacationland. It’ll be a full week of table tennis paradise, where you hobnob with your table tennis friends (old and new) and the stars. You’ll get to attend in person the opening and closing ceremonies, as well as sightseeing and social events planned.
So, you are now thinking of entering? Here are the eleven age events, with singles and doubles in each.
- 40 - 44 years (Born 1978 or before)
- 45 - 49 years (Born 1973 or before)
- 50 - 54 years (Born 1968 or before)
- 55 - 59 years (Born 1963 or before) – stay away, this age group is mine.
- 60 - 64 years (Born 1958 or before)
- 65 - 69 years (Born 1953 or before)
- 70 - 74 years (Born 1948 or before)
- 75 - 79 years (Born 1943 or before)
- 80 - 84 years (Born 1938 or before)
- 85 - 89 years (Born 1933 or before)
- Over 90 years (Born 1928 or before)
Here is a listing of USA medalists from the 2016 World Veterans in Spain:
- Charlene Liu/Patty Martinez won the silver medal in Women's 60-64 Doubles
- David Sakai/Dan Seemiller won the bronze medal in Men's 60-64 Doubles
- Minming Zhu won the gold medal in Women's Singles 60-64 Consolation
- TingNing Cheung won the bronze in Women’s Singles 65-69
- Ting Ning Cheung/Chiyako Suzuki won the silver medal in Women's 65-69 Doubles
- Donna Sakai/Connie Sweeris won the bronze medal in Women's 65-69 Doubles Consolation
- Chong Keng Tay won the bronze in Men’s Singles 75-79
This will be the largest gathering of table tennis players in U.S. history. Are you going to be part of history?