History of U.S. Table Tennis Vol IV
By Tim Boggan (Copyright 2000)




            1969: Swaythling/Corbillon Cup and Singles/Doubles Play at the Munich World’s. 1969: USA Players in Semi’s of English Junior Open.


            Dave Cox, President of the Long Island TTA, had hosted a dinner party for the U.S. Team members at the Long Island Open, and on Sunday morning they’d appeared at an Island McDonald’s drive-in in all their unaccustomed uniform smartness (“Our best-dressed-ever team”). Since McDonald’s had provided “a blazer and slacks for the men, and a blazer and skirts for the women,” the Team had an all-smiles group picture taken for themselves and their sponsor. Barna distributor Jimmy McClure also made a contribution: “two sets of shirts and shorts for the men and two sets of shirts and skirts for the women.” And Dell Sweeris provided a pair of Koyo-Bear shoes for each Team member. So, on leaving N.Y.’s JFK airport, Apr. 14 for the Apr. 17-27 Munich World’s, the Team members were in good spirits.

            But then, as U.S. Team Captain John Read reports (see Topics, Sept.-Oct., 1969, 6-7):


“…On our arrival in Frankfurt, we went to the Frankfuerterhof Hotel as guests of TWA. Our luggage was directed to the wrong rooms at 2 AM….Little did we know that European hotels take bags to the rooms directly from the entrance, without stopping at the desk. [So how do they know where to take them?]

On Tuesday morning I called Lufthansa Airlines to confirm our departure. I was told that, due to a spring schedule change, there was no such flight as the one shown on our tickets. Finally, we took a flight about an hour later and arrived in Munich at 3 PM. [Apr. 15].

We had previously notified the Deutsche Tisch Tennis Bund of our arrival time and they had sent their vice-president and an interpreter to meet us. They waited about an hour, then left shortly before our arrival. [Why? Surely the airlines could tell them the new arrival time. Of course, if a team came in with only 40 or so hours remaining before the matches were to start, one might expect plenty of last-minute problems.] After a phone call to their office, we took taxis to our hotel. There we found out we could not register without the official form which would have been given to us at the airport.

So three of us went to their office (DTTBO), where once again we were disappointed: Our reservations were all fouled up! After arguing for two hours over accommodations (three to a room without bath or shower, etc.) we returned to the hotel. Ten persons of various dispositions and states of exhaustion had waited nearly three hours in a very small hotel lobby to find out where they were to stay. Our arrival was not a huge success. 

That same evening a weary U.S. Team traveled twenty-five miles by automobile to Machtscheabben Township, a small Bavarian town of 3000, to play a warm-up match. Patty Martinez and Wendy Hicks filled in on both the women’s and men’s teams as this warm-up was to be the best of 17 matches!!!! Luckily for our tired athletes, the German team was quite weak. We won easily, 9-1, with Wendy Hicks losing to a German man.”


            Some preparation for the World’s, huh?

            No, not the best way to try to make Rufford Harrison’s predictions in the Long Island Open Program come true:


“…Our men should come back from Munich ranked at 11th or 12th, partly because of the presence of Dal-Joon Lee on the team [pre-1969 World’s ranking: #26] and partly because we do have a team of dedicated men at last, something that we have not had in my memory. [Let’s see, Rufford came to the States in 1953, so when he talks of “dedication” (by which he more properly means “team spirit”), I don’t think he ought to be dismissive of the U.S. successes of 1954-57; these players, mavericks included, were decades dedicated, else, believe me, they could not have known how to win.] The women will not rise to 11th, partly because they don’t have a Dal-Joon Lee and partly because they still have a way to go. But they too are improving, and they have more dedication than previous teams ever thought of.”


            Even Rufford’s elevation of effort into an assumption of continuing Team compatibility and improvement seems to me, and it will be borne out at the next World’s, mere wishful thinking. This is a “nice” team, a young, inexperienced one—hence “manageable.” Captain Read was delighted to say, “we have never had a more well-behaved and sportsmanlike team.” They have, in Harrison’s words, “the right attitude to table tennis.” There were no players here who’d independently cause trouble, prompt journalists to write bad things about the U.S., embarrass Rufford. All will be, as he likes it, orderly.

If you wondered why Rufford wasn’t present at all the matches, he explains that he drank beer and attended fistfuls of Meetings (some of lesser importance, but “two of Congress, four of the Advisory Committee, two of the Equipment Committee, one of the Rules Committee, one of the Junior Commission, one of continental representatives, and one on the measurement of ball speeds”). He reports that players have an interest in yellow balls, and that the ITTF has upped the prize money allowed for any event to $250. However, in the U.S., so long as there’s “no overseas participation,” even Open tournaments can be considered Closed ones, and monetary awards, apparently in excess of $250, permitted.

Three Americans now have ITTF positions. Jack Carr is on the Junior Committee. Rufford Harrison is the newly-appointed ITTF Equipment Chair, the Rules Committee Secretary, and is now serving a third term on the Advisory Committee. Graham Steenhoven, in a close vote, is the newly-elected ITTF Vice-President for North America, replacing Canada’s John Hunnius, and so also serves on the Advisory Committee. Harrison and Steenhoven, with accommodations and perks befitting their stature, will for the most part be spared the Team’s travails.

            And, aside from any problems in play, there will be, as Read relates, more discomforts:


“…The hall [it was in an Ice Stadium] for the first three days was extremely cold and windy. Until hot air blowers were obtained by the organizers, the players had to play in 35 to 40- degree temperatures much of the time. [Then, as Canadian Jose Tomkins tells us, on the last few days, “the heat was unbearable during the individual finals.”]….

Other arrangements, such as [for] meals, were extremely poor. Each team was to eat their meals at the hotel, but matches were scheduled during meal hours. After the U.S. team squawked sufficiently, we were allowed to eat at the hall. But, to get the organizers to finally make this decision, we had to protest for two days, get our interpreter to threaten withdrawal, get other teams to protest, etc.

Transportation arrangements from the hotel were unreliable; we had to take taxis on many occasions to ensure we would not be defaulted. There was no practice at the [tournament] hall after the first day, the practice hall being fifteen minutes away by bus.

All of these arrangements improved considerably as the tournament progressed, but President Steenhoven (and many other non-team members…[among whom were George and Madeline Buben, Cass and Betty Martin, Bill Gunn, Fuarnado Roberts, the Zylers, Milla Boczar, Leah Neuberger, Jess Martinez, and Vic Landau] will not soon forget the Control Ushers. They would not let anyone in the playing area unless they had a press pass or an ITTF official’s badge. [Was this a surprise? If they didn’t do this, hundreds of aficionados would be all over the playing area, right?]”


U.S./Canada Swaythling Cup Play

            In our Swaythling Cup opener we defeated Argentina 5-1: Tannehill lost –16, -18 to perhaps the best Junior in South America, Eduardo Benitez, and Cowan –20, 19, 7 almost lost to him too—but Benitez’s Cup record was an unimpressive 6-12. Then we also beat Switzerland 5-1. Sweeris lost in 3 to the Swiss #1 Marcel Grimm (16-5). Given our 5-1 loss to Czechoslovakia, whom we had no chance against, we could at best finish 13th and at worst 24th. Lee had an excellent 19 in the 3rd win over Vlado Miko, but no one else could take so much as a game from any Czech. Who in the world did Rufford think we could beat to move into the Top 12 1st Division? Surely he got a little carried away with this Team—Lee would be 16-5; Sweeris 7-6; Tannehill 5-5; Howard, suffering a hemorrhoid attack after easily winning his opening two matches against Switzerland, 2-6; and Cowan 3-7.  

            The U.S. struggled with Scotland, but won 5-3. Brian Kean scrambled by Tannehill, -19, 11, 19, but lost to Lee; Malcolm Sugden beat Sweeris and Tannehill comfortably (this fall, Sugden would be the first Scot, $240 richer, ever to win a major tournament in England); but Lee and Sweeris had no trouble with Eric Sutherland. That made the tie 3-3. Now, in a big swing match, D-J downed Sugden, -14, 5, 23. And with the Team up 4-3 Tannehill had some breathing room—though it’s well he won, for if Kean could defeat John, he could have defeated Dell in a 9th match too. Scotland finished #30.

            The U.S. also struggled with Austria, but again won 5-3: Howard lost all 3, including a nasty 23-21-in the-3rd one to Franz Thallinger; Lee stopped Gunter Heine easily, but against Heinz Schluter (13-7) was in –20, 20, 27 near-death danger of not being resuscitated; Sweeris beat Schluter 2-0, Thallinger 19, -15, 17, and, though we had Lee left, Heine in our 2nd near-loss swing win, deuce in the 3rd. This team we could have lost to—they’d finish just ahead of us, #16 to our #17.

            Wales, though Fraser Anderson downed Tannehill, couldn’t otherwise take a game from us.

            Cambodia 5-3 beat us in a tough match.Yang Chhor Nam was too good for our teens; but Lee stopped him. And both Lee and Cowan took out Serey Tan. Bou Khau allowed Cowan only 24 points total, but had to grapple mightily to get by Sweeris 25-23 in the 3rd. Had Dell won that match, D-J might have risen to the occasion against Bou (15-5), or Sweeris might well have beaten Tan. Captain Read said, “Lee did a yeoman job for four days. But “not being in peak physical condition, he was unable to keep up his torrid pace.”

            We were 5-0 shut out by Indonesia: Empy Wuisan (13-3) stopped Sweeris 19, 12 and Lee -14, 10, 12; Sugeng Soewindo (17-2), who would upset former European Champion Kjell Johansson in the Singles, had solid wins over Howard and Sweeris; and Loka Purnomo was -24, 14, 16 too good for Lee. At the 1967 World’s, I’d best remind Rufford, the U.S. defeated Indonesia 5-2: the aging, undedicated Miles beat Soewindo in 3 and Purnomo –18, 20, 21; Sweeris beat Purnomo, 2-0 and Soewindo in 3 (and Pecora beat Hadi Susanto who didn’t play this ‘69 tie). I must add though that, in the recent Asian Games at Djakarta, in the Team’s, the Indonesians with a home crowd behind them defeated the South Koreans 5-2. So maybe Wuisan made a difference, or the whole team had improved.

            Our last tie we lost 5-4 to Bulgaria: Cowan went down to all 3 players. Tannehill beat Totor Velikov and Totor Beschowischky, while Lee got the better of both Totor and Peter Velikov. But in a match Lee figured to win, he was beaten -14, -20 by Beschowischky (7-10).

            However, we did do better than the Canadian men who, as Derek Wall’s write-up in the News put it, “did well to retain 28th place, especially since the standard of play in the last two years has improved tremendously, due mainly to the European League where there is continual international competition throughout the season….The Canadian men’s team was by far the oldest in age, and. lacking the international competition that most other teams manage, it was a very creditable performance.”

            Because in 1967 Canada finished 10 spots behind the U.S., they couldn’t be expected, given their requisite Draw, to do better than 25th. They lost 5-0 to Russia. And lost 5-0 to the Netherlands—though, as Derek said, with some “tough breaks”:


“…At 18-all in the 3rd set [against Bert Schoofs] I was faulted on my service; at 20-18 Schoofs hit the top of the net and the ball trickled over to give him the match. Larry Lee led Franz Schoofs 20-19 in the 3rd….Larry missed a sitter and Schoofs went on to win 22-20 [official score was 21-19].”


            After downing Chile 5-2 (Zulps lost two), Canada beat Greece 5-2 with Modris winning 19 in the 3rd from Emmanuel Diakakis (Greece was “runner-up in the ‘B’ section of the European Team Championships”). Next up, Peru, coached by former World Doubles Champion Laci Stipek—and again the Canadians won 5-2. Against Belgium, however, they could get only two wins—ex-U.S. star Norby Van de Walle (16-5) didn’t give up a game to Zulps, Lee, or Wall. Canada, as Derek continued to put the best face on things, then beat “the top team in Africa,” Ghana, 5-2 [actually, this year Nigeria, who didn’t play in the ’67 World’s] finished 29th, Ghana 37th]. In their last tie, the Canadians, spent, with “nothing left,” lost to Luxembourg 5-0.


U.S./Canada Corbillon Cup Play

            Our U.S. Women’s Team opened with a 3-1 win over Norway (Wendy lost deuce in the 3rd to Rigmor Sorensen). Since we couldn’t take a game from the strong South Korean team, this 1-1 start assured us that, like our men, we couldn’t finish better than #13, nor worse than #24. Next, we beat Denmark, 3-1 (Alice lost to Britta Rasmussen). Then, though our men couldn’t do it, our women downed Bulgaria 3-1: highlight here was Janice Martin’s 23-21 in the 3rd win over Albertina Rangelova.

That brought us to…Canada, whom we defeated 3-1, thanks to Patty’s deuce in the 3rd win over Violetta. Belgium took us down 3-2: Janice couldn’t help us in singles, and Patty, after winning the 1st easily from Josiane Detaille (10-2), and leading 8-4 in the 2nd, was, according to Captain Read, the victim of repeated illegal serves which the umpire, despite protests, would not warn or fault Detaille for. This apparently really bothered Patty and she was quickly out of the match. But she rebounded, came through in singles over both Cambodians—an easy victory over Bhopa Rattanak (who’d beaten our Brooke Williams 5 and 7 in ’67); then a very hard one, –14, 20, 18, over Sok Cheng Tan (who’d beaten our Connie Sweeris in ’67). But Janice/Patty dropped the doubles, 18 in the 3rd. And Alice, though contesting, couldn’t add a win; she lost the 1st to Sok 25-23, and fell to Bhopa (8-3) in the 3rd.  For 17th place, Switzerland was 3-0 easy.

Read rightly praised Martinez, who had an 11-2 singles and with Hicks a 4-1 doubles record. “All Patty needs,” he went so far as to say, “is improved footwork and the will to play every point. She would be in the top twenty in the world with just a few minor improvements.”  He also said he was pleased with the other teenagers’ performance. However, if Martinez hadn’t been there….Hicks was 1-3 in singles, Martin 1-2, and Green 1-3…and even with Martinez they were 1-2 in doubles. Hence, for Harrison to write (TTT, Aug., 1969, 9), “These girls, with Patty, and others back home, can make the top ten in a couple of years if they are willing to make the effort, and if the USTTA can help them” is akin to frothing at the mouth.

Canada opened their Cup play with a 3-1 win over Spain (Shirley Gero lost 19, 17 to Pilar Lupon). This put them on a parallel course with our women. Jose Tomkins in her Aug. News report said that their next tie against Czechoslovakia, which they lost 3-0, was yet “particularly thrilling” because Shirley and Violetta played a remarkably threatening 6, -19, -9 doubles match with Jitka Karlikova/IlonaVostova. (Karlikova is the European Women’s Doubles Champion with Marta Lustova who, for some had-to-be-serious reason, wasn’t playing in Munich; Vostova is the 15-year-old European Singles Champion. So what an incredible upset that would have been!)

That 1-1 start put them on a parallel course with the U.S. Next opponent: Bulgaria. Violetta won two, but that wasn’t enough; Gero couldn’t win a game in singles or doubles. Cambodia then overwhelmed even Nesukaitis.

With regard to the U.S. tie, where Canada lost the crucial doubles 2-0, though leading 16-12 in the 2nd, Editor Tomkins said if she were Captain she would have played Gero rather than Duceppe. Why? Because “the American girls lack practice against defence and a singles might have warmed Shirley up for the all-important doubles.” Had Violetta won her match against Patty—she’d been “slow on her feet in the first game,” but had eventually led 20-19 in the 3rd—Wendy and Shirley might have had a tie-changing set-to?

Like the U.S., Canada beat Denmark 3-1 (Gero lost to Susanne Poulson). But then Belgium defeated them, 3-1, when Nesukaitis/Duceppe –20, -21 failed to win the doubles, and Detaille (and her serves?) 7, 11 destroyed Violetta. The Austrians also beat the Canadians, 3-1, for Violetta lost to Gabriele Smekal. Canada thus finished #22—with Nesukaitis 9-5 in singles and 2-5 with Gero in doubles. Neither Shirley nor Marie won a match in singles or doubles.


Swaythling Cup Winners

             Wall, writing in the Aug. Canadian News, had this to say about the Japan-West Germany Swaythling Cup final:


“West Germany, led by Eberhard Scholer, was superb in the Swaythling Cup. They reached the final through great play by Scholer, Jansen and Lieck and were backed by the enthusiastic support of the huge German crowds. West Germany looked quite capable of beating Japan. But it was not to be; they lost 5-3 after a thrilling match. Scholer won 2, beating Ito (14-2) and Hasegawa (16-2) [Ebby (21-1) lost only to Kohno (15-1) –21, 14, -17], and Jansen played a great match to defeat Hasegawa. Lieck seemed very nervous and was unable to cope with the heavy topspin drives of the Japanese due to his lack of backhand counterattack” (5).


 Yugoslavia came 3rd with a 5-0 rout of South Korea—though Kim Chung-Yong, our ’67 U.S. Open semifinalist, almost 22, -21, -18 beat Istvan Korpa, the ’63 European Junior Champion. Sweden was 5th with an easy 5-1 win over England (Neale beat Bo Persson). A really good tie to watch, for 3rd place, was Czechoslovakia over Russia 5-4—with Miko winning all 3 and Stanek 2, the big one, with his Team down 3-4, over Gomozkov, 23-21 in the 3rd. Said Harrison, “Gomozkov [the current USSR Champion] looked quite lethargic. [Still he’d be a singles quarterfinalist before losing to the winner Ito.] That great Russian backhand was still there, but the rest of Gomozkov’s game is less forceful than in the days of yore.”

Oh, oh, Russian coaches wouldn’t like to hear that. According to an article by A. and L. Vainshtein (translated by John Dart from the Soviet sports magazine Sportivniye Igri and reprinted in the Aug., 1968 issue of Tennis magazine, 34-35), the Russians, on studying films they’d taken at the 1965 Moscow International Championships, had been trying to improve their players’ attacks by slowing up their speed before hitting the ball and then increasing it during their follow through.


Corbillon Cup Winners

            Rufford, in the Aug. Topics, said, “the once-great Japan never even reached the final, for the first time in thirteen years. The culprits were the Rumanians…Alexandru [9-1], Mihalca and Crisan.” In fact, Japan barely beat Czechoslovakia, 3-2, for 3rd place because, though Vostova (11-1) won her two singles, she and Karlikova still didn’t mesh well and –21, 17, -20 lost the killer doubles to Japanese Champion Toshiko Kowada and Defending World Champion Sachiko Morisawa (10-2). In the final, the Rumanians were blitzed—never won a game from Russians Zoya Rudnova (5-2) and Svetlana Grinberg (7-0).


U.S./Canadian Men’s Singles/Doubles Matches

            Despite the encomiums being given to our players by Read and Harrison, they really didn’t do much advancing. Gusikoff, Cowan and Howard to get to the 1st round proper had to win two Qualifying matches. Bobby was immediately beaten by the Luxemburg #2 Gaston Krecke. Glenn –16, 20, 20, 18 got by India’s Kalyan Jayant (3-12 in 2nd Division Team play), then, up 2-1 and at 19-20, lost in 5 to Marcel Grimm whom Howard had beaten easily in the Team’s. Jack downed the Scot Sutherland, then Paul Pasternak, an Israeli, to reach the main Draw where he was given a drubbing by the Indonesian Purnoma.

            Lee, Sweeris, and Tannehill all fell in the 1st round: D-J –21, -20, 18, -16 to Karl Scholl, the West German #13; Dell to West Germany’s Ernst Gomolla, 3-0*; and John to South Korea’s World #16, Chung Cha Hyun. There’s no record of any of them participating in the Consolation’s. Like the Canadians, they were all played out? How much motivation did North Americans need to work at staying fit, very fit?

            In Men’s Doubles, Howard/Gusikoff defaulted (Jack was hurtin’). Lee-Sweeris downed a Peruvian pair, then had the fun of playing Shigeo Ito/Mitsuru Kohno. Cowan/Tannehill, down 2-0, rallied to beat two Norwegians, then, though miraculously winning a 23-21 2nd game from Nobuhiko Hasegawa/Tokio Tasaka, couldn’t average double figures in the other 3. In the Mixed, Lee-Martinez, Howard-Hicks, Tannehill-Green, and Cowan-Neuberger all lost their openers (none in 5) to, respectively, Greeks, Netherlanders, West Germans, and Finns. Sweeris-Martin beat a Luxemburg team 3-0, then lost –11, -5, -21 to Hasegawa-Yasuka Konno.

            Not to knock them, but this is a U.S. Team everyone’s so proud of?

            The Canadians were maybe worse. Lee, Wall, Zulps all lost their Qualifying openers to, respectively, Denmark’s Hansen, 8, 9, 16; Switzerland’s non-Cup player Birchmeier 9, 12, 16; and the UAR’s Ybrashi, 16 in the 5th. At least Zulps and Lee played in the Consolation’s. Modris lost early to a Finn who got to the semi’s. But Larry did o.k.—beat Peruvian, Welsh, and Norwegian entries before losing to Ghana’s formidable Ebenezer Quaye. In Men’s Doubles, when Max Marinko didn’t show, Lee was without a partner and didn’t play. Wall/Zulps went down right away to the pick-up pair, Scotland’s Sutherland and Somewhere’s Santoario, 3-0. In the Mixed, Zulps-Gero lost to Cambodians Tan-Tan in 4, and Lee-Duceppe to Austria’s Schluter-Smekal. Wall-Nesukaitis, however, did, after all, have a little bit left. Behind 2-0 to Luxemburg’s Gaston Krecke-Nicole Reinert, they then gave up only 37 points to run out the match. Then they beat a Nigerian team in 4. Then, alas, they were crushed by Shigeo Ito-Toshiko Kowada.


U.S./Canadian Women’s Singles/Doubles Matches

            Neither Green nor Martin made it out of the Qualifier, but at least they lost to good players—Alice could average only 10 points a game from England’s Karenza Matthews; but Janice made a strong 16, -19, -11, -19 attempt to defeat West Germany’s Monica Kneip. Wendy, down 2-0, to France’s Michele Boiteux, won the 3rd at 19 and took the match. Then she eased herself into the Draw proper with a 3-0 win over Denmark’s Britta Henriksen. Better yet, she now took a game from the Russian World #4 Svetlana Grinberg. Patty, with her dead-ball blocks and forehand flat hits, caused a stir by surprising the Swedish #2, Eva Johansson, 3-zip, then straight-game did in Wales’s Margaret Phillips. No disgrace in Patty’s 3-0 loss to Rumania’s Carmen Crisan, World #13 (she might give Patty a 5 to 7-point spot). Miss Ping (this would be her last competitive World’s) was holding her own—beat Australia’s Joy Brown, 3-0, then, helped by a 25-23 game, she downed Ghana’s #1 Ethel Jacks in 5. Still fighting at the end, she was beaten by Yugoslavia’s Irena Cordas, 15, 14, 20.

            In Women’s Doubles, Patty-Wendy lost their first Qualifying match to the USSR’s Asta Gedraitite and East Germany’s Petra Stephan, who’ll win the Women’s Consolation; and Alice-Janice lost theirs to Yugoslav Cup players Mirjana Resler-Irene Srbek. Miss Ping picked up Australia’s Vicki Wheller, and Wheller picked up Miss Ping, and out they came from the Qualifier with wins over Luxemberg and Welsh pairs. Then, after meeting West Germany’s Di Scholer-Wibke Hendriksen, both needed a pick-me-up. No problem for Leah—playing or not, she knew how to court attention: “at least two complete changes of clothes every day, including jewelry.” 

            All three Canadian women in the Qualifier lost their opening matches. Duceppe was badly outclassed by a Finn; Gero lost in 4 to Tan; and Jenny Marinko went down in straight games to a Dane. Violetta, however, beat the Austrian Helene Jahn in 4, then the Netherlands’ Mieke Ten Broek 14, -14, 20, 21, before losing to Di Scholer, 21, 15, 19. In Women’s Doubles, Duceppe-Marinko were quickly done in by West Germans. But Nesukaitis-Gero prevailed over a Swiss pair in 5, before losing to Ito/Miho Hamada, 10, 5, 10.


Men’s Singles/Doubles Highlights

            Defending Men’s Singles Champ Hasegawa was upset in the 8th’s, 17 in the 5th, by Yugoslavia’s Anton Stipancic who “just stood back and blocked Hasegawa’s loops.” “Tova’s” teammate, European Champion Dragutin Surbek (a spinner “so used to spinning and looping” that he doesn’t put away the high balls that he should), as well as Sweden’s touted Stellan Bengtsson, no longer so “Mini,” were stopped by Japan’s Shiro Inoue, next year’s Japanese Intercollegiate Champion, who’d lose in the quarter’s to Tasaka. Stipancic, meanwhile, in his quarter’s, had forced Japan’s Kenji Kasai into the 5th, after which Kasai, a world-class chopper with a world-class attack (he’s also a world-class Qualifier), wasn’t able to show the strength or skill necessary to challenge 24-year-old Shigeo Ito.

Of course, as usual, all eyes were on West Germany’s Scholer who’d advanced with just a bit of trouble—over Iran’s Houshang Bozorgzadeh in 4, Russia’s Anatoly Amelin in 5, and the Czech who’d 23-21 in the 4th ousted Sweden’s Alser, Jardo Stanek, in 4. That put Ebby into the semi’s, where, though armed with a 2-up lead, he still had to keep battling, on into the 5th, with Tasaka whose no-spin, pips-out play was giving him big trouble. And then, what crowd support Scholer had for his final, especially after winning the first two games easily. He would be the first German ever to win the World Men’s Singles title. But then…what was happening? Unthinkably, Ito had gone ahead in the 3rd…had “wisely stopped spinning and looping so much and started hitting flatter, more normal drives,” and had won game point. Now something went out of Scholer and into Ito. Shigeo began attacking with confidence, and Ebby couldn’t stop him. But it  wasn’t  Swaythling Club Award winner Scholer crying at the end, it was Ito. Here’s Rufford Harrison on the award presentation:


“…[Ito] stood on the dais, beribboned and trophies in hand, weeping like a child as he heard the warm acclaim of an unbiased crowd that had seen their Wunderkind thwarted in his best attempt at the cup. Back on the floor, Ito shook hands with his team as one of the girls attempted to dry his streaming face, and he collapsed into the arms of a trainer” (TTT, Aug., 1969, 7).


            Any collapsing in Men’s Doubles? Not from the Defending Champions Alser and Johansson. They retained their title by quickly straightening themselves out after being down 2-1 in the 8th’s to the Russian team of Sarkis Sarkhoyan/Gegam Vardonjan; thereafter they never had to go 5, and finally, convincingly, beat Hasegawa/Tasaka for the title.


Women’s Singles/Doubles Highlights

            Rufford, commenting on the Women’s play in his Aug. Topics article (7), said, “There are no longer any great names in women’s table tennis.” Japan’s Defending Champion Sachiko Morisawa lost her first match to England’s #5 Pauline Piddock; Russian Champion, 22-year-old Zoya Rudnova, was beaten 3-0 by Di Scholer who with good reason can’t stay retired; the South Korean #1 Jung Suk Choi, down 2-0, couldn’t quite recover and lost in 5 to West German Qualifier Rosemarie Seidel; and European Champion Eleanora Mihalca was beaten by Japan’s 16-year-old, shakehands High School Champ Miho Hamada.

In the quarter’s, Japan’s new World Champion, 21-year-old Toshiko Kowada, 18, -16, 19, -19, 19 barely escaped Rumania’s Crisan. Then, having picked up confidence, was able to hit through Maria Alexandru (whom she’d lost to in Cup play), after Maria had earlier eked out a deuce-in-the-5th win over Poland’s Danuta Samit-Calinska. Kowada’s final opponent, “ranked only ninth in Europe,” was19-year-old Gabriele Geissler, an East German “whom the crowd acclaimed as if she came from this side of the Wall.” Since Kowada won the Championship from her, –20, 4, 17, 8, with relative ease, we can but admire her plucky struggle to reach the final. She beat in succession South Korea’s Kim Soo Kyung 17 in the 5th; Russia’s Svetlana Grinberg in 4; West Germany’s Edit Buchholz 18 in the 5th (after being down 2-0 and at 20-19 in the 3rd); and in the semi’s Japan’s Hamada deuce in the 5th (after being down 2-0 and at 22-all in the 3rd).

Women’s Doubles went to the Russians Rudnova/Grinberg via two tense struggles: in the semi’s, -15, 26, -19, 19,17 over the South Koreans Choi Jung Sook/Choi Hwan Hwan; and in the final in 5 over the Rumanians Alexandru/Mihalca who’d eliminated the previous Champions, Morisawa/Hirota.

The Mixed Doubles almost saw 4 Japanese teams in the semi’s—but Denis Neale/Mary Wright advanced over both Shiro Inoue/Morisawa and Tasaka/Kasuko Ito before losing to the Japanese Champions, now the World Champions, Hasegawa/Yasuko Konno. The runner-up pair: Kohno/Saeko Hirota (from down 2-1 and at deuce in the 4th) over Ito/Kowada who’d 19-in-the-4th ended Europe’s hopes for a Gomozkov/Rudnova victory.

Thus, in China’s Third-World’s absence, Japan took home 4 Championships, Russia 2 (their first World titles), and Sweden 1.


USA in English Junior Open

            Captain John Read tells us (Topics, Sept.-Oct., 1969, 7) that two U.S. two-player teams of Martinez/Martin and Cowan/Tannehill were last-minute entries in the May 2-4 English Junior Open at Foldestone, Kent. In both the Girls Team event and the Doubles, Patty/Janice lost in the semi’s to English players. In the Doubles, they reportedly almost advanced to the finals—lost 19 in the 3rd to Jill Shirley/Sue Howard. In the Singles, Patty downed the #4 seed, Guntschof of Sweden, and England’s #2, Cornock. Then had to succumb in the semi’s to English Corbillon Cup player Shirley who in the Qualifying Singles at Munich had been up 2-1 on Japan’s eventual semifinalist Miho Hamada.

            In the Boys Team event, Glenn/John upset Czechoslovakians in the 1st round, then dropped “a very tough match to Sweden, losing six of seven deuce games!!!!” In the Doubles, they again beat the Czechs Dvoracek/Suchobar, then lost to the Swedes. Singles winner was Dvoracek over Sweden’s Stellan Bengtsson who against Tannehill had been down 14-18 in the 1st, 15-17 in the 2nd, but had won both. Read felt our juniors “were as good as any juniors there.” But I’d have to make the “Not quite” correction…for they didn’t win.

Still, John’s right on the money when he writes, “Let us…dedicate ourselves to finding a way to give these youngsters the coaching and playing opportunities they deserve….This is a must if we are to regain world class standing….”      



*German aficionado Peter Becker in an Aug. 25, 2004 e-mail to me said that D-J Lee probably played in European tournaments in the 1960’s, whether he was then giving exhibitions with Bergmann or not. Peter says D-J for sure played in the 1964 Dutch Open where he lost in 4 early to German defender Ernst Gomolla who went on to beat Stanek and 1958/1960 European Champion Zoltan Berczik before losing in the semi’s to the eventual winner Alser. This of course is the same Gomolla who we see 5 years later zip Dell. 







USA Table Tennis - Serving the Table Tennis Community