WVC2018 Final Day Men's Singles Podium Battles

By Larry Hodges | June 25, 2018, 7:47 a.m. (ET)



All 22 men's semifinal matches were played at the same time, 10:45 AM Sunday. All 11 finals matches were played at the same time, 1:00 PM Sunday. Here are complete results.

Men's 40-44 Singles

Indonesia's Dian Jacobs defeated USA's Ju Mingwei in the final, 10,-8,4,8, giving Dian a sweep of singles and doubles. What makes this even more impressive is he's a Class 10 Paralympian. It's not a huge disability - his right hand is badly twisted, but fortunately he's a lefty! He's able to throw the ball up with the right hand. He was on the regular Indonesian team for a number of years and reached the Final 16 of Men's Doubles at the World Championships one year. He's been on the Paralympic team the last ten years and won a bronze at the 2012 Paralympics in London for Singles.

 

  • Gold: Dian Jacobs (INA)

  • Silver: Ju Mingwei (USA)

  • Bronze: Jan Hrncirik (CZE) and Thomas Keinath (SVK)


Men's 44-49 Singles

Two of the marque names were in the draw, Jorg Rosskopf and Chen Weixing, and it was almost pre-ordained they'd meet in the final. Well, Yeh Chi-Shan of Taiwan almost got in the way, destroying Rosskopf 11-3 in the fourth to force a fifth game. But Rosskopf returned the favor, winning the fifth 11-3, and after Chen's spectacular 8,-10,6,3 win over Mats Kallberg (SWE) in his semifinal, the Rosskopf-Chen final was on. But only for two games. Chen, chopping with long pips on the backhand but attacking all-out with his forehand, won both against the looping Rosskopf (who pulled off a few incredible backhand rips), and the two played lots of exhibition lobbing the last game as Chen won the gold, 3,9,8.

 

  • Gold: Chen Weixing (AUT)

  • Silver: Jorg Rosskopf (GER)

  • Bronze: Mats Kallberg (SWE) and Yeh Chi-Shan (TPE)


Men's 50-54 Singles

This event was full of huge stars, and we all were waiting for that semifinal between the two big Swedes, Jorgen Persson and Erik Lindh. Except - in the round of 16 Aleksandr Savelev (RUS) had taken the lefty Swede out, 12-10 in the fifth (with Lindh up 2-0 in games and up 5-0 in the fifth). Savelev's journey ended with bronze as he lost to Persson, 5,6,10. In the other semifinal it was two more big names, Andras Podpinka (GER) and Allan Bentsen (DEN). Podpinka won, 8,10,5, to advance to the final against Persson.

This wouldn't be the first time Podpinka went up against a giant in the late rounds. Dan Seemiller and Sheri Pittman were both witnesses to the following story, which they told me about after the final here. At the 1993 Worlds, in the Men's Singles quarterfinals, Podpinka was up 2-1 on Jean-Philippe Gatien, and led in the fourth when he was unexpectedly faulted repeated on his serve, to the point where Podpinka's coach ran into the court and tried flipping the scoreboard to take away the faults!

So how did he do against this giant in the final? Persson won the first game 11-1, and of course whenever you win the first game that easily you know it's going to be an easy match, of course. Game two also went to Persson, 11-9 - so it's getting closer. I watched the third, but was also watching two other matches, and somehow when I saw Persson talking to someone after that game, I thought he'd won. I went to watch another match. When I returned, I looked at the score board, and it was 9-9 in the fifth!!! Persson was up 10-9, and finally won, 1,9,-8,-8,10, and added this gold to the Over 50 gold he won the day before in Doubles, and to his 1991 World Men's Singles title and many others.

Persson told me that while he doesn't practice like he used to, he still plays about twice a week, and about three times a week when he's at home. But he travels a lot, so practice can be difficult. Besides the World Veterans, he also plays in the ITTF Legends Tour, and does many table tennis shows (exhibitions). "Practice is fun," he said. "Competition isn't quite as fun as it used to be." He said he really enjoyed being an "Ambassador" at the recent Worlds at Halmstad, Sweden. He also coaches a team in the T2 Asia-Pacific Table Tennis League. He said winning doubles here with Erik Lindh was more important to him than winning singles since he'd never won a world doubles title. He and Lindh had gotten the bronze at the 1991 Worlds in Men's Doubles, and Persson and Waldner had gotten the silver at the 1997 Worlds.

 

  • Gold: Jorgen Persson (SWE)

  • Silver: Andras Podpinka (GER)

  • Bronze: Aleksandr Savelev (RUS) and Allan Bentsen (DEN)


Men's 55-59 Singles

Most, including me, thought pips-out penholder Ding Yi was the favorite here, and he did make the final. But there he met up with Wang Yansheng (GER), and the German took the gold, 4,9,9.

 

  • Gold: Wang Yansheng (GER

  • Silver: Ding Yi (AUT)

  • Bronze: Zhou Min (CHN) and Traian Ciociu (LUX)


Men's 60-64 Singles

Both semifinals went five, with Germany's Manfred Nieswang winning against Tay Kee of Malaysia, -4,5,-8,6,9, and Hungary's Bela Frank over Huang Jiayang of China, 4,-4,5,-14,8. Frank won the gold, 10,11,7.

 

  • Gold: Bela Frank (HUN)

  • Silver: Manfred Nieswang (GER)

  • Bronze: Tay Kee (MAS) and Huang Jiayang (CHN)


Men's 65-69 Singles

Another pair of five-gamers in the semifinals, with China's Huang Jianjiang winning against hardbat-chopping Franz-Josef Hurmann of Germany, 7,6,-10,-8,3, and Germany's Bernhard Thiel over Pang Zhan Hua of Canada, 8,5,-4,-9,3. In both semis the eventual winner won the first two, lost the next two, and won the fifth 11-3. In the final, it was gold for Huang over Thiel, 3,6,8.

 

  • Gold: Huang Jianjiang (CHN)

  • Silver: Bernhard Thiel (GER)

  • Bronze: Franz-Josef Hurmann (GER) and Pang Zhan Hua (CAN)


Men's 70-74 Singles

Zhang Xueyou of China had his hands full, with a five-game squeaker in the semifinals, -10,6,-5,3,11 against Huang GuangLin of Hong Kong, and in the final against Jiri Fafek (CZE), 6,6,-11,-9,3. (Was he copying the 65-69 semifinalists?)

 

  • Gold: Zhang Xueyou (CHN)

  • Silver: Jiri Fafek (CZE)

  • Bronze: Huang GuangLin (HKG) and Karel Sekanina (CZE)


Men's 75-79 Singles

Wang Chang Qin brought USA its first singles gold, over Chang Tseng-Hsiung (TPE) in the final, 7,4,5.

 

  • Gold: Wang Chang Qin (USA)

  • Silver: Chang Tseng-Hsiung (TPE)

  • Bronze: Barclay Reid (AUS) and Siegfried Lemke (GER)

Men's 80-84 Singles

The two USA players won against German players in the semifinals, setting up the only all-USA final in the tournament. The showdown: Tay Chong Keng, rated 2188, who'd already won Over 80 Men's Doubles, a long-pips penhold blocker who rarely attacked, just blocks and Blocks and BLOCKS!; versus USATT Hall of Famer Richard Hicks, rated 2003, who's won dozens of national age titles in the U.S., a chopper with long pips on the backhand. Tay was a former banker who started playing table tennis at age 40, and so has now been playing for 40 years, half his life.

The rallies involved lots of maneuvering, yet the essence was the same - Hicks chopped, Tay push-blocked, meaning he took the chops right off the bounce with his long pips. The pips "reversed" the spin, so his shots came out with topspin - which Hicks would chop, and so on. Hicks had more variation, throwing chops, no-spins, topspin rolls, and sudden pick-hits. Tay was a wall, moving the ball all over the table. The rallies went on and On and ON! But Tay won the first two, 11-8 and then 11-2, and with his 185-point rating advantage, he seemed on the verge of his second gold here.

But Hicks wins the third, 11-7. In the fourth, Hicks goes up 8-7 and they have a rally that, well, goes on, and On and ON - and Hicks wins it to lead 9-7. But two missed chops and it's 9-all. Hicks goes up 10-9, but suddenly Tay, for I think the first time, winds up and smashes a forehand - deuce! But Hicks catches him off guard with a backhand from the forehand side, smacked crosscourt to Tay's suddenly open forehand, 11-10 - and Hicks wins the game, 12-10.

At this point all the other matches have finished, and so this is the last match of the tournament - and the crowd is going crazy on every point, incredulous that they could keep it in play so long. They were not patting the ball back and forth; Tay's push-blocks are somewhat aggressive, and he kept Hicks constantly moving.

In the fifth, it's 6-6 - and then, five long rallies later, Hicks has won the last five points in a row and the gold, -8,-2,7,10,6!

Afterwards I asked him, "Richard, he was killing you. What did you do?" He said, "I had to be more forceful with my pushes and chops, and look for more balls to hit." And it's true that while the rallies were incredibly long, probably half of them ended with a sudden Hicks hit, forehand or backhand. He also said, "I just had to tough it out. I never quit."

The match itself took about 70 minutes. You are allowed one minute between games, but let's say they spent 2.5 minutes between games. That's ten minutes between games. That means the five games themselves took 60 minutes, or 12 minutes per game. Any time a game takes more than ten minutes the Expedite Rule is supposed to be called, but apparently nobody was timing it. My guess is that expedite would have favored Hicks, since he had a slightly better attack. I'm fairly sure all but game two took longer than ten minutes.

 

  • Gold: Richard Hicks (USA)

  • Silver: Tay Chong Keng (USA)

  • Bronze: Klaus Kruger (GER) and Dieter Lippelt (GER)


Men's 85-89 Singles

In a rare even where all the medalists were European, it was Kai Merimaa (FIN) over Frantisek Preiss (CZE) in the final, 6,1,-8,8. There were 32 players in the event. Kai only lost two games in his seven matches.

 

  • Gold: Kai Merimaa (FIN)

  • Silver: Frantisek Preis (CZE)

  • Bronze: Louis Gaiffe (FRA) and Henri Yahiel (FRA)


Men's Over 90 Singles

Chen Yongning (CHN) and Lumir Ruzha (CZE) took out the two Americans in the semifinals, Si Wasserman and Sheng Tan Tsu, both 3-0. In the final, it was Chen over Rusha, in a long, five-game final, -5,9,10,-4,8 - the next-to-last match to finish, with only the Over 80 final still going on. Ruzha had a rather unique style and grip. On one side was regular inverted, but he only used that to serve. On the other side he had regular hardbat - but using a quick twirling motion, would rotate the racket about so that he used only that side on forehand and backhand. I've never seen this before - I can't even figure out how he managed to keep the racket in his hand with all that twirling, and yet he had a 3-1 record in the event, going 11-4 in games.

 

  • Gold: Chen Yongning (CHN)

  • Silver: Lumir Ruzha (CZE)

  • Bronze: Simon Wasserman (USA) and Sheng Tan Tsu (USA)