2020 US Olympic Trials - The Old Guard

By Larry Hodges | Feb. 27, 2020, 2:29 p.m. (ET)


Could the Old Guard take over the US Olympic Team? A number of legends are trying out for the team, including three Hall of Famers.

On the women's side, Wang Chen is not just a Hall of Famer, but she's seeded #7 with a rating of 2457 - at age 46! She was the 2006 and 2007 US National Women's Singles Champion, and in 2008 made the quarterfinals in Women's Singles at the Olympics. But before moving to the US in 1999 and becoming a citizen, she had a long career as a member of the Chinese National Women's Team, where she reached #4 in the world. She's from the Wang Chen TTC in New York City.

On the Men's Side, there are two Hall of Famers, one of which is the legend Dan Seemiller, rated 2322 - but rated 2455 just three years ago, and over 2500 five years ago. Dan is a five-time U.S. Men's Singles Champion, 12-time U.S. Men's Doubles Champion, and 8-time Mixed Doubles Champion. He also had a long career as a coach, including many years as the US Men's Team Coach. But now, at age 65, he's making a comeback - and many eyes are watching. If you've heard of the Seemiller grip, he is the one who developed and popularized the grip. Dan coaches at the South Bend TTC in Indiana.

In fact, perhaps the most interesting match of the Men's Preliminaries will be a possible second-round match-up of Dan Seemiller versus 46-year-old Chi-Sun Chui, rated 2339, former junior star (winning every age group from Under 10 to Under 22) and a member of the 1991 and 1995 US Pan Am Teams, winning Silver both times. Imagine how his table tennis might have evolved if he hadn't been admitted to MIT . . . at age 15! Chi-Sun plays at the After School Learning Tree TTC in Escondido, CA.

The other Hall of Famer on the Men's side is Tahl Leibovitz, age 43, rated 2438. Tahl won Gold for Class C7 Singles at the 1996 Paralympics, and has won five other Golds at the Parapan American Games. He's been on the US Team at five Paralympic Games, and hopes to make it again this year - as well as the Olympics. Tahl plays at the Spin NYC in New York City.

Another flash from the past is Shashin Shodhan, 41, rated 2235, but rated 2443 just two years ago. He came within one match of making the 2000 US Olympic Team, and won numerous junior titles and played internationally in overseas leagues. He is now the head coach at the Fremont TTC in California.

Another of the Old Guard is Samson Dubina, rated 2444, a relative youngster at age 36. He made the final of Men's Singles at the 2009 US Nationals, and now coaches and owns the Samson Dubina TTC in Akron, OH.

Sometimes it's tricky deciding who is a member of the "Old Guard." I almost included Timothy Wang, rated 2511 and US Men's Singles Champion way back in 2010, 2012, and 2013. But . . . he's only 28!