1960-61: Winter Tournaments/Eastern’s. 1961: China Stars at World’s—Cup Play, Men’s and Women’s Singles.
One day the California players will see Bukiet as one of their own, but not yet. At the Dec. 3-4 Pacific Coast Open in Inglewood, UCLA Junior Mike Ralston, down 2-0 in the semi’s to former Heidelberg med student Michael Fiedler, rallied, as he’d so often done, to gain the final and the title over Dick Card (who couldn’t play in the Junior’s ‘cause he had to take a college entrance exam). Earlier, Fiedler himself had fallen behind 2-0 to hard-hitting Stuffy Singer, but had survived, as had Card over Portland’s Carl Cole, 19 in the 5th. (In next month’s Oregon Open, Cole will continue his unbeaten streak—will win the Men’s from Earl Adams, Class AA victor over Senior Champ Bob Hage.)
On the pacific side of the Men’s Doubles Draw, Cole/Dr. Peter Fisher downed John Hanna/Gene Roseman deuce in the 4th, but in the semi’s were no match for Ralston/Singer. On the other side of the draw…bedlam. In the quarter’s, Shonie Aki/ Dennis Hickerson eliminated Fiedler/Si Wasserman, 19 in the 5th; and Russ Thompson/Wayne Obertone upset Card/Chuck Zsebik, 24-22 in the 5th. In the semi’s, Aki/Hickerson stopped Thompson/Obertone (go ahead, guess the score…) 24-22 in the 5th. Then in the final, Ralston/Singer, drawn into a by now seemingly lunatic flurry of points, barely prevailed over Aki/Hickerson, 19 in the 5th.
Class A Singles went to Junior Champ Hickerson, though Les Sayre had a 2-0 lead on him. Sayre, paired with Ruben Gomez, lost the A Doubles too—deuce in the 5th to Aki/Roseman. Not to make any excuses, but Les does have his wedding to think about, and at the damnedest times. In Class B, Jim Overlook finished on a high; the runner-up, doing his gritty best, was Stan Sandman. B Doubles went to Overlook and Ron Atkinson who maybe tired out Mr. Sandman, if not Stan’s partner, the “semi-professional” women’s softball slugger Earlene Ulrich. In Senior’s, Rudy Kovin who’d been down 2-0 in the Singles to Bobby Parker and had beaten him 26-24 in the 5th, continued his gutsy play by besting Hanna and Gene Wilson. Women’s had to go to either Acton or Smith—and this time it was Smith, 19 in the 4th. Acton turned the tables in the Mixed—paired with Zsebik to beat Ulrich/Singer, deuce in the 3rd, and Smith/Ralston in the final, 19 in the 3rd.
Not many entries in the Jan. 21-22 Hollywood Southern California Closed. Results: Men’s: Darryl Flann over Bob Ashley, no friend of Si Wasserman’s, and vice-versa. “A” Singles: Women’s Champ Smith over Aki. “B” Singles: Ed Nusinow over Attila Lukovich. Women’s Novice: Shirley Aki. Junior Novice: Mike Greene.
Only a few hints from Austin Finkenbinder’s “Coastscripts” in the May-June Newsletter as to what happened in the Mar. 4-5 California State Open. In the Men’s, Bob Edwards, “using a 69 cent store t.t. bat” extended the eventual winner Rich Card into the 5th. The wind blew Steve Isaacson out of Chicago all the way to California, and, on winning a 5-game quarter’s match from Stuffy Singer, he said he was gonna take up residence in L.A. Willie Weatherford upset Wasserman, 26-24 in the 5th, to reach the quarter’s, and 15-year-old Johnny Wilson made the semi’s with a win over Wayne Obertone (13). Isaacson fell to Chuck Zsebik in the other semi’s. Steve said there was a photo of a cat playing table tennis in one of the local papers, and a few players, putting Chuck on, said this cat was phenomenal, could really play. After praising it the more, one fellow went so far as to say to Zsebik he thought this cat could outplay him. Chuck paused, then, having seriously thought it over, said, “Naw, it couldn’t get back my serves.”
Two weeks later, the 9th Annual Arizona Open was played at the Phoenix College Gym. Perhaps you didn’t know, but the local Club, under President/Treasurer Forrest Barr, has 66-members, so expect a good turnout here. Forrest, a graduate of Stanford Law School, will be the Phoenix Club President (come to be thought immortal as the bird) for a quarter of a century. Stuffy Singer successfully defended his Men’s Championship by beating Dennis Hickerson in the final. In the semi’s, Dennis downed Shonie Aki, and Stuffy defeated Azmy Ibrahim who, in the decades to come, will be a well-known t.t. official not only nationally but internationally.
Amarillo, Texas held a Doubles tournament in which the A Flight winners were Richard Turner/David Dewald over Buster and Paul Chase. This affiliated Club has a membership of 6 men, 1 boy. It’s estimated that 50 men, 2 women, and 3 juniors use the 5-table Club’s facilities. Mobile, Alabama scheduled an inter-club match not with Amarillo but with Pensacola, Florida, thanks to Pensacola Club Secretary David Dickson, Jr. who’s trying to arrange team matches with clubs from other cities in the area.
At the St. Charles County Closed, Joe DeRosa of the local VFW Club had a painful accident while playing:
“…[Joe,] a fast moving defensive player, moved too deep in attempting to return one of Larry Browning’s hard forehand drives & crashed into the glass panel of one of the two doors in the front part of the hall. Joe suffered a very bad cut on his left forearm which required quite a number of stitches. We didn’t realize the safety hazard we had with these glass paneled doors being painted. This glass will be replaced by a wood panel…” (2).
At the Dec.18th Minneapolis Holiday Open, amateur magician Chris Faye pulled off a sleight-of-hand “hat trick.” In the Men’s final, he beat Jerry Knutsen, after Jerry had –12, -15, 29, 19, 14 refused to give in to Ray Mosio. In the Doubles, Chris and Roger Madsen defeated Knutsen/Henry Klass. And in the Mixed—poof!—there wasn’t any. No women to be found. Some magician Faye was to have vanished them!
Outsiders took charge of the Feb. 5th 10,000 Lakes Open in Minneapolis. Milwaukee’s Jim Blommer won the Men’s over Milwaukee’s John Pfalz, and the two took the Doubles from Faye/Knutsen. Novice Men’s went to recent University of Wisconsin graduate Mal Anderson.
It’s so exasperating….What? How many times the Newsletter’s carelessly done. The Men’s results from the Jan. 7-8 St. Joe Valley begin with the Finals (Varenyi over Pecora)…then the Semi-Finals. So far so good. But then, without any more (Quarter-Finals…Eighth-Finals…) headings, the Editor continues to do what the E.C.’s asked him not to do, bunches 38 more lines of names for just this one event—and immediately transposes the eighth’s and the quarter’s.
Editor Sinclair is a durable guy. At his Thursday night Beatty Club play, he’s said to have missed only three nights in six years. Considering how George has a full-time job with the Ohio Department of Public Welfare, it’s a tribute to his steadfastness that he’s volunteered for this unpaid job for so long. It obviously gives him a place in the Sport, some psychic payment, but it’s obviously also a chore. Amazing, with all the uncaring sameness and sloppiness of issue after issue, how he’s kept the job, and how, when his tenure comes to an end, the E.C.’s going to give him a gift (o.k) and a letter of commendation (not o.k.). Think I’m too hard on him? I don’t like it that he doesn’t take pride in his work, doesn’t care to seek out readable material.
At the Central States Open, held Mar. 4-5 in New Albany, Chuck Burns rallied twice to win the Men’s—from down 2-1 in the semi’s to Lasszlo Varenyi, and from down 2-0 in the final to Leo Griner, after Leo had upset Lippai. Men’s Doubles: Varenyi/Lippai over Larry Folk/Don Lyons. Class A: Lyons and his eccentric grip over “Pete” Childs who came back from being 2-0 down to John White. Men’s Novice went to University of Dayton graduate Sid Stansel. Mildred Harden was best in Women’s; runner-up, Connie Warren.
The Dec. 10-11 Washington Open got hit on Finals Day with heavy snow that cut attendance, but those inside warmed to the play. In the Men’s, Bobby Fields beat Somael, then Doss in the final, both in 4. (Next month at the Chesapeake Open in Baltimore, Bobby would win again—over Somael again in the semi’s and Hazi in the final.) Biggest buzz centered on Paul Hudson’s 5-game upset of Hazi, Senior’s winner over Dick Stakes. Men’s Doubles went to Californians Ashley/Flann who were touring in the area with the Globetrotters. In the final, they straight-game downed Hazi/Keim, which is just what they’d done earlier to Doss/Fields (too competitive with each other to be good partners?). In the Novice, Paul Hudson, 26-24 in the deciding 3rd, outlasted Carl Kronlage, engaged now to Yvonne Lescure.
Best in Boys’: Mark Radom over Lester Moscowitz. Ernst Willer (losing early deliberately?) won still another Consolation. Pauline Somael (whose “Over the Net” column in the Newsletter helps me to know what’s going on in the Eastern aficionado’s world) surprised Barbara Chaimson in the Women’s final, surprised herself too, for (If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em) she played “with a new sponge bat”—and thought, Why, no wonder I’ve lost to Barbara in the past—sponge does make a difference! Pauline also finished 1st in the Mixed with Fields, for, come final’s time, Schiff/ Rutelionis were elsewhere.
At the Jan. 29 D.C./Maryland/Virginia Closed, Tibor Hazi swaggered or maybe staggered away with two armfuls of trophies. He won the Men’s over Fred Case, 19 in the 4th; won the Senior’s over Jimmy Verta; won the Men’s Doubles with Billy Keim over Case/Verta; won the Mixed with Kay Young in 5 from Keim/Donna Chaimson. Bloodhound and forensic work through the detritus of the Apr., ‘61 Newsletter allows me to see that in the Feb. 12th Lincoln Memorial Open Doss beat Gusikoff. Other results: Men’s Doubles: Doss and Gusikoff over Schiff/Bill Cross who’d eliminated Hazi/Keim, deuce in the 3rd. Senior’s: Hazi, who perhaps was responsible for Hungarian Coach Paul Legradi giving some lessons at the D.C. Club, over Cross in 5. Novice: “Zak” Haleem, from Cairo, reportedly a Men’s finalist in the 1956 Egyptian National’s, over Mike Zukerman. Men’s Consolation: Eddie Record over Paul Moorat. Boys’: Tom Somerville over Mark Radom. Women’s: Pauline Somael over Barbara Chaimson (yes, again, and to think Pauline once hated sponge).
The N.Y. Closed at Gusikoff’s had 103 entries in 17 events—all run off in 11 hours by George Schein. “The Goose’s” election as NYTTA President, his consuming interest in the Club where he’s instituting Saturday afternoon Junior classes, seems not to distract him from his play. He won the Men’s over Back and then Somael who’d eliminated Schiff. Sol, carrying a box of trophies for an earlier tournament, had slipped and fallen on an icy street. He’d saved the trophies from damage, but had strained himself in the process. Now, though, he’d recovered to where he could compete again. Men’s Doubles went to Gal/Back over Schiff/Irwin Miller. Mal Russell won his first Senior’s—over Mitch Silbert in the semi’s and then, whomping in forehands, over Sam Hoffner in the final. Women’s: Bernice Chotras over Carol Haddock who’d upset Somael. Women’s Novice: Mimi Kanarek. Women’s Consolation: Mary Larsen over her daughter Terry.
At the Eastern’s, held Jan. 21-22 at the Municipal Auditorium in Springfield, Massachusetts during “the worst snow of the season,” National Champion Reisman was hyped by the local paper as the main attraction:
“Tall and wiry, Marty raps his kill shots 110 miles per hour, has played and won trophies in 67 countries [67 countries…trophies—doesn’t this reporter know Marty’s The Money Player?], and is the only American to have won the coveted British Empire singles, the table tennis equivalent of Wimbledon. He has numerous trick shots which he is apt to deploy anytime, even during the heat of a close match, and often amuses the gallery with a clever line of “between-shots chatter.”
Wanna go see him?…There he is in the 8th’s, losing the 4th 25-23, and going into the 5th with Lyn Smith—but, whew, wins that at 11. Then he’s down 1-0 and at deuce in the 2nd with Schiff—but ousts Sol in 4. In the semi’s, he’s up 2-1, loses the 4th at deuce—but, despite being behind 17-15 in-the-5th, he survives Bobby Fields who’d outsteadied the 2nd best defensive star in the field, Somael, in 5. And, finally, after losing the 1st, Marty goes on to beat Defending Champion Gusikoff, -8, 20, 19, 14. Or, as Gerry Finn of the Springfield Union put it in his Jan. 24th coverage, After Gusikoff “ran off the first game in five minutes flat…Reisman discarded his recreation-room form of the opening match [sic: for game], pulled his flawless all-round game together [he was behind 20-17 in the 2nd before he “defensed Gusikoff’s power thrusts perfectly and then injected some fireball shots of his own”] and proceeded to flog the 24-year-old Gusikoff.”
Other results: Men’s Doubles: Gusikoff/Doss over Dwelly/Hull who’d defeated both Schiff/Keim 23-21 in the 5th, and Somael/Fields 19 in the 4th. Women’s: Bernice Chotras in 5 over Somael in the semi’s, and in 4 over Neuberger in the final. Women’s Consolation: Massachusetts Open winner Harriet Benson over Montreal’s Betty Tweedy. Women’s Doubles: Chotras/Somael in 4 over Neuberger/Rutelionis. Mixed: Gusikoff/Neuberger over Doss/Denise Hunnius, 24-22 in the 4th in the semi’s, and over Schiff/Rutelionis in 4 in the final. Esquire’s: Si Ratner over John McLennan, 19 in the 3rd. Senior’s: Andreas Gal over Sam Hoffner. (Andreas had written an article for the Medical Journal in which he said that table tennis players with their fast reflexes made good drivers.) Junior’s: Keim over Guy Germain.
Ask Pauline Somael how tournament attendance is where there’s a thriving club: the Feb. 29th New York Open “had 70 in the Men’s Singles, 58 in the Men’s Novice A, 25 Juniors, 20 Boys, 15 Women and 11 Novice Women.” I note that apparently something unusual made a big impression on Pauline: “NO ENTRY WAS PUT IN THE DRAW WITHOUT THE ENTRY FEE ACCOUNTED FOR!” Easy for players to merge into anonymity, but one who must have been noticed was USTTA President Rufford Harrrison. (he plays out of the newly formed Arden T.T. “Gild” (Guild) in Wilmington, Delaware). In the Men’s semi’s, Gusikoff beat Somael; in the final, Doss who’d downed Fields in 5. Men’s Doubles went to Schiff/Keim over Fields/Record. Junior’s: Keim over Hobson. Boys’: Harvey Gutman in an upset over Hobson.
Women’s winner was Chotras over Somael—with Bernice downing Barbara Chaimson and Pauline upsetting Leah Neuberger in the semi’s. Bernice/Leah took the Women’s Doubles from Pauline/Barbara. Mixed went to Doss/Neuberger over Dwelly/Chaimson. Women’s Novice A winner: Hartford TT Club Secretary Lori Martel. Women’s Novice B winner: Gloria Amoury. Men’s Novice A winner: New Jersey’s Al Nochenson. Men’s Novice B winner: soon-to-be-Delaware Closed Champ J.E. Miller who, word was, “in 1949 put Gusikoff out in the first round of Bob’s 1st tournament in the PA Open Jrs. in Bethlehem!” (April, 1961 Newsletter, 12). (I have no record of this tournament, and had erroneously thought Bobby’s first tournament was the Mar. 5-6, 1949 Eastern’s.)
This year of course our 1959 International liaison to the World Championships, Rufford Harrison, can’t reprise his role. His telegram to China’s TTA President Chen Hsien reads as follows: “The USTTA sends very best wishes for happy and successful tournament. Sorry we cannot send team or attend congress. We regret that politics prevent our renewing our friendship in person, but it is beyond our power to change the situation.” (Like the U.S., Australia didn’t recognize Communist China, but they sent a team.)
Though the U.S. can’t go to Peking for the Apr. 5-14 World Championships, Canada can. Winnipeg’s Michael Bennett, CTTA (and USTTA Proxy) Delegate to the ITTF’s Biennial General Meeting, writes about the Championships on page 8 of the Sept., 1961 Newsletter and on page 5 of the Oct. issue. Bennett tells us right away that it was “a magnificent sports spectacle, played in superb conditions, and organized by a committee which had spent the previous two years anticipating every conceivable snag or crisis.” The Opening Ceremony, “attended by Premier Chou En-Lai,” was followed “by a Programme of Art Performances which included singing, folk dancing, mimicry, and a performance of ‘The Magic Pearl’ by the Peking Opera Company.”
The venue was the Peking Workers Gymnasium, “a magnificent circular building which was especially built for the occasion.” Ten courts were in use; the lighting was excellent; and the building, air-conditioned, could seat 15,000 spectators. “The Gymnasium was completely full for all 3 playing sessions every day—45,000 people per day for 10 days” (8). And no wonder, for there was plenty of opportunity for the spectators to see their own. Know how many Chinese were entered?…Seventy-one.
In Swaythling Cup play, China won Group A. In Group B, Hungary, the 1960 European Team Champions, advanced over Sweden and Rumania. And in Group C, Japan easily outdistanced itself from the dogfight between Yugoslavia, Brazil, England and the USSR. In the 3-way Play-offs, Hungary had no chance against Japan or China. In the latter tie they didn’t even play European Champion Berczik, for now what had happened in the evolution of our Sport was undeniable: now, no European defense could withstand the Asian attack.
In the May, 1961 issue of Table Tennis, Johnny Leach describes the China-Japan Swaythling Cup final:
“…Never have I seen such table tennis. Hugging the table, the Chinese hit the ball with such speed and deception that the Japanese, who never once made a defensive return, were forced to leap back with uncanny agility to the surrounds. From this position, some sixteen feet away from the table, they had the audacity to counter-drive!”
With China leading 4-3 in the tie, ‘59 World Champion Jung Kuo-tuan faced a pivotal match. His opponent was Nobuya Hoshino who’d won the Japanese National Championship from Ichiro Ogimura, ’60 Asian Games winner in Bombay over South Korea’s Lee Dal Joon. Lee’s that same “D-J” who will share a joint World #23 to #28 ranking (in the Asian Games he beat Ogimura in the Team’s and Hoshino and Murakami in the Singles), and who will later immigrate to the U.S., where from ’68-’73 he’ll win six straight U.S. Opens.
When Jung was up 1-0 and 20-17 match point on Hoshino, the Peking stands were about to erupt, but then, said Leach, “Hoshino leapt all over the court like a ballet dancer to counter-hit himself out of trouble”—and won 22-20.
This was a rally to rattle even a world champion? Apparently not, for Jung built up an 18-12 lead in the 5th. In describing the last point of the match, Bennett echoes Leach’s remark above about the agility of the Japanese when forced back: “Hoshino countered 6 ‘kill’ shots from alternate sides of the court, with lob returns, each return going high above the lights, before he finally lost the point, game, and match by falling over the surrounds” (5). Thus, after World’s of Japanese domination, China earned its first Swaythling Cup victory (15).
In Corbillon Cup play, Rumania, China and Japan advanced to a 3-way Play-off in which Rumania went down to Japan 5-0 and to China 3-2. Sun Mei-ying, 1952 Chinese National Champion, beat Georgeta Pitica; and Chiu Chung-hui, World #4, beat both Pitica and Maria Alexandru who together would go on to win the Women’s Doubles—the only title for the shakehands Europeans. The first 1960 issue of China’s Sports included photos of both Sun and Chiu—perhaps they’d appear in it again? In the final, Japan held on to its Corbillon Cup, but was 3-2 pressed by China (Japanese National Champion Kazuko Yamaizumi Ito beat Sun, and 1959 World Champion Matsuzaki beat both Sun and Chiu).
In Women’s Singles, Chiu, a bespectacled 26-year-old, reached the final, challenged only by Alexandru, 24-22 in the 4th. Her European opponent was Eva Koczian Foldi, a shakehands player who’d eliminated Sun Mei-ying in the quarter’s and Defending Champ Matsuzaki in the semi’s, both in 4. The final was a thriller—Chiu over Foldi, -19, 19, -14, 18, 19. The London Mirror reporter Peter Wilson said that when Chiu was up 20-18 in the 2nd game, she placed her non-playing hand on the table and moved it, so should have lost the point. But the umpire didn’t award it to her. Later, when Foldi, “chopping and occasionally flicking” against Chiu’s “continuous hitting,” was up 17-14 in the 5th, this umpire, “without being called upon, left his seat, went to the sidelines, got a towel and presented it to Miss Chiu so that she could wipe her shoes which had been slipping on the parquet flooring.” He also offered it to Foldi, who didn’t want it. The Hungarian’s concentration was broken, and she lost the next 4 points and eventually the match (Table Tennis, May, 1961, 7). Back in New York, Pauline Somael said that when Leah Neuberger heard the news Chiu had won, she called Pauline at 1:00 a.m. to “tell me that both she and I beat Hui [Chiu Chung-hui] in the 1956 World’s Corbillon Cup.”
In the Men’s, Leach was beaten, 7, 5, 13, in the 2nd round by China’s future ITTF President Hsu Yin-sheng. It was as if Johnny were already playing the 11-point games he was now advocating (“Every point would be vital”—spectators would be more interested). In this round, too, an 18-year-old Canton schoolboy, Tan Cho-lin upset Europe’s #1 player, Zoltan Berczik, 18 in the 4th, and would then go on to oust both Josip Vogrinc, World #12 in 1957 when he beat Cartland in 3 out of 4 deuce games, and China’s Wang Chia-sheng, before losing in the quarter’s to Hsu Yin-sheng. This Tan Cho-lin, USTTA Historian Leah Neuberger would note, would eventually escape Communist China by swimming to Hong Kong with his wife, immigrate to the U.S., and, from the 1970’s on, be known to those of us on the tournament circuit as Alex Tam.
In other Men’s matches, Wang beat the 19-year-old Czech Jaroslav Stanek whom we’ll see later in the States; and Averin (who would have lost to Keim in his N.Y. match if Billy hadn’t been tense?) defeated Hans Alser, Sweden’s rising World Top 20 star. There was one less Chinese when 15-year-old Biriba DaCosta (beaten in ’59 by Van de Walle) upset Defending Champion Jung Kuo-tuan in 5 in the 16th’s. And, as if less were more, the Mirror’s Peter Wilson pointed out that there was more than one instance where the Chinese strategically manipulated, not to say dumped, matches (6).
Barna and other observers rightly insisted that the Europeans had to learn to attack with the backhand, else they couldn’t win against the Asians. The Chinese and Japanese penholders stand to the left of the table, are always ready to one-wing attack, and so have the whole table at their disposal, whereas the shakehanders who stand at the middle of the table, yet don’t have a backhand attack, have only half a table at their disposal. So who’s gonna force who to play whose game? (Table Tennis, Feb., 1960, 8). Barna said that the penholder Chinese could stand at the middle of the table and use their backhand against the Japanese—a “decisive factor” in their Swaythling Cup win. Bennett, writing in our Newsletter, was more specific:
“The Chinese…stand just inside the left-hand side lines and will try to stay there under any circumstances. Any ball on their ‘forehand’ side is hit unmercifully and without hesitation, and balls on their ‘back-hand’ are blocked and angled with an amazingly consistent half-volley shot…[in order] to out-position the Japanese” (5).
Mention ought also be made of a Chinese secret weapon of sorts—what English aficionado Geoff Harrower had called “their horrible sidespin, kicking top-spin, and disguised chop serves” (Table Tennis, Dec., 1959, 16). These, according to our Norman Kilpatrick, “may be made the more effective by the round blade the Chinese use.” They “do not depend on an all-out hitting game as much as the Japanese, and the larger surface of their [short-handle] rackets, compared to the rectangular Japanese types, seems to give more control of the chops and blocks which they mix with their drives” (Topics, Oct., 1961, 13).
Kilpatrick makes a further point about ball control that even such an expert as Miles was unaware of, even as he’s competing against the Asians, and is startled, 40 years later, to learn:*
“…While the center of the blade is generally the center of ball control for all shots made by a shake-hands grip user, Eastern pen-holders tend to hit their drives from a spot quite near the top tip of the blade of the racket, and to make chop and block shots from areas of the blade near the side edges of the racket. Thus while the vital area as far as ‘feel’ is concerned, for a shake-hands player, is the center of his blade, an Eastern pen-holder must have the best ‘feel’ possible from the top tip and top and bottom sides of his racket, thus requiring the wood of his racket to be of more even quality throughout the blade than a shake-hands racket requires. The fact that many shots are made with the part of the blade around the edges of the racket, rather than the center, is another reason why pen-hold players are often hard for shake-hands players to figure out” (Newsletter, Feb., 1961, 9).
In the quarter’s of the Singles, there were 6 Chinese, 2 Japanese—no shakehand Europeans at all. The Chinese finished their quarter’s and semi’s matches all 3-0. Chuang Tse-tung, 19, who’d earlier knocked out Koji Kimura, World Men’s Doubles Champ with Hoshino, beat 18-year-old Li Fu-jung, 17 in the 4th, for the title. Reporter Wilson said Chuang “couples brilliant change of direction with a mastery of swerve shots,” and has great agility. “I have never seen a more imperturbable youngster,” said Wilson. It’s as if he knew all along the outcome of the match. “On occasions…against Li Fu-jung he would appear disinterested almost to the point of boredom and he displayed what used to be known as the prerogative of Balliol [College] men, ‘a consciousness of effortless and inevitable superiority’” (6).
*On reading the following passage from a coaching column (USA Table Tennis, Jan.-Feb., 2000, 34-35) by former U.S. National Champion Wei Wang, Miles is startled into writing an Open Letter to Wei questioning, but not disputing, specific lines she writes regarding China’s 1995 World Champion Kong Linghui’s shakehands pushing technique. Here’s the passage in question:
“…Kong Linghui is a master of disguise when it comes to spin variation. With the same motion, he can produce super heavy pushes that even world-class greats routinely loop into the bottom of the net, or he can produce an almost spinless floater. He does this by varying the contact point on the racket. The closer to the front edge of the rubber the contact point is, the heavier the ball. By contacting near the rear edge—just enough to avoid missing the ball completely—the ball doesn’t have enough time to pick up a lot of spin. Since the racket angle is the same, the resulting shot travels on a very similar trajectory and is extremely deceptive.”
And here’s Miles’s response (as it would be to Kilpatrick’s comments about Eastern penholders 40 years earlier):
“…Truthfully, in all my years of international competition, I never knew, saw, or heard of, any world class player who deliberately, as a matter of choice, ever tried to hit the ball anywhere else but on the ‘sweet spot’ of his or her racket. Any other contact point is completely contrary to what I’ve always believed and always taught. Fact is, the notion of intentionally varying your contact point seems screwy to me.
Even so, at least in the case of Kong, I’m not disputing you. But if he really does what you say he does, I’m startled….”
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