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Table Tennis Tidbits #49

By Robert Ho | Jan. 28, 2020, 7:32 p.m. (ET)

Jim Scott USA Table Tennis


If anyone ever played in a table tennis tournament in Portland, Oregon in the past 5 decades, he/she would have had contact with Jim Scott either as a competitor or tournament director.  Jim was a great “pusher” of the sport, and a dedicated “pusher” in his game.

As a tournament director, Jim was comprehensive and efficient in the management of the tournament without losing sight of the enjoyment factor in the activity.  As a competitor he was tenacious, but always a “good sport” win or lose.  I had 2 memorable experiences in this regard in the ‘80s, both occasions in Richland Washington.

In the first case I deliberately sought to force our match into expedite.  Jim thought of himself as a “pusher” whereas I was a “chopper” with what I fancied to be a superior “attack”.  This was the era of the 21 point game and ours was a 2 out of 3 game match.  The match went into expedite in the first game when the maximum points scored by one of us was 18.  “Sure enough” I won that game and the 2nd and the match.

In the 2nd case, the tournament was held on the weekend after 5 preceding days of  intensive multiball practice and coaching by Henan Li Ai who had emigrated from China to this country.  She had been # 3 in the world at one time with a pimples-out sponge penholder attack game.  Interestingly she used the shakehand grip and inverted rubber on both sides during the coaching week.  Besides improving my chopping skills, my looping/smashing skills sharpened considerably--so much so that I won matches against lefty Kerry Terrill, one of the top women in the U.S. at the time, and lefty looper Alawami from Saudi Arabia.  Both of them were 2000 level players, by the rating system at the time, while I was in the 1700s.  It put me in the final against Jim.  I felt no need for the expedite rule with my sharpened game and wonderful earlier matches.  The final was an expression of how “the mighty (and the not so mighty) have fallen” as Jim won comfortably playing his usual game.

That “usual game” elicited an amusing response from Jim after he won a match against a local “attacker” on another occasion.  The losing attacker remarked to Jim, “You never attack!”  Jim’s response:  “I didn’t have to.”

On the other hand Jim had a lethal 3 ball attack combination: an inside-out forehand top-sidespin serve and a no-spin variation with apparently the same serving movement.  As a right hander Jim would start the serve either from his forehand corner or from the middle of the table.  If the serve elicited the return he was looking for, Jim followed with a FH “kill” to win the point outright.  Paradoxically, Jim’s BH “attack” was almost “zero”.  What for many players would be a return for a low risk BH attack, Jim would likely make another push.  Another component to Jim’s defensive game was formidable lobbing.

Jim’s “day job” had been that of an insurance agent; his “full time job” was table tennis.  Illness disabled him from the sport he loved years before his death. His absence has left a big gap in Oregon table tennis.