Third Annual Utah Valley Open

by John P. Pratt

The Third Annual Utah Valley Open Table Tennis Tournament was held on Saturday, March 15, 2003, sponsored jointly by Pleasant Grove City Recreation and the Timpanogos Table Tennis Club. Thirty-eight contestants participated in thirteen events. Table tennis is a very popular Olympic sport in Europe and Asia, and is gaining popularity in the United States because it is a life-long sport in which youth, men, women, the elderly and the handicapped can all compete together. The tournament was played according to U.S.A.T.T. standards, including the new 40 mm larger ball and the 11-point game. Matches were held in the popular modified round-robin format when feasible, which allows all players to play the same number of matches rather than being eliminated after only one or two losses.

Tournament Results

Players with national ratings have them listed in parentheses. The rating system is such that the national champions rating is about 2800, and a complete novice about 100. Usually a difference of 100 rating points means that the lower player has little chance to win. All 24 entrants to the round robin Open Singles have their final rank listed, other tournaments have only those who placed in the top 2-4 if the double elimination format was used. If there is a third person in the full picture, it is the third place place finisher. Here are the results in the order of events played.

14 & Under

No entrants.

18 & Under

  1. David Stoddard
  2. Joseph Pratt

Women's Singles

  1. Fei Cheng
  2. Yuki Ajioka
  3. Yoska Arata
  4. Carol Matsukaw

Mixed Doubles

  1. Wei Ren & Fei Cheng
  2. Wally McCormick & Yoska Arata
  3. Dean Richins & Yuki Ajioka
  4. Joseph Pratt & Ashley Halls

Open Doubles

  1. Noel Huermann & Ernesto Lo Russo
  2. Zorigt (Joey) Radnaased & Craig Zimmerman ****

Age 40-49

  1. James Loong (1725)
  2. Bart Williams
  3. Carol Davis (1492)
While in some sports the Senior Division for those over age 40 is designed to give retiring athletes a break from the young bucks, in table tennis older players can still maintain their edge. Last year the U.S. champion was also the Over 40 champion, and in Utah, the highest nationally rated player is George Majors, who is in the Over 50 category. Competion here was very tough, and dominated by James Loong who had been the champion of Hong Kong in his twenties. Carol Davis beat Bart Williams in the semifinals of this double elimination tournament, but Bart was able to beat her when she too joined the loser's bracket, so Bart secured the second place trophy.

Age 50-59

  1. Byron Davis (1898)
  2. Larry Newman (1620)
  3. John Pratt (1509)
No surprises occurred in the Age 50-59 Divison where the three entrants finished as expected from their national ratings.

Age 60+

  1. Lailing Ma
  2. Grant Misbach (1467)
  3. Wally McCormick (1023)
Lailing Ma, a top player in the state, found all he could handle in Grant Misbach of Provo, who is director of the Table Tennis division of the Huntsman World Senior Games every October in St. George. Ma had to defeat Misbach twice, and the final match went to deuce in the fifth game. Misbach, who is over seventy, is always a tough competitor.

Open Singles

  1. Noel Huermann
  2. Byron Davis (1898)
  3. James Loong (1725)
  4. Ernesto Lo Russo
  5. Lailing Ma
All five of the highest seeds maintained their "open" status by winning the preliminary round. Top seeded Byron Davis is ranked fourth in Utah by the national rating system. His principal challenge was expected to come from Utah Valley champion James Loong, rated nearly two hundred points below him. Noel Huermann was also expected to pose a threat, as he has come close to beating Loong in club play. Huermann, a B.Y.U. student, upset both Loong and Davis with stunning play by sweeping the division undefeated.

Class "A" Singles

  1. Bart Williams
  2. Zihiu Zhou
  3. John Pratt (1509)
  4. Larry Newman (1620)
  5. Carol Davis (1492)
Competition could not have been closer in the Class A Division. Top seeded Larry Newman is occasionally upset in club play by Tournament Director John Pratt, who in turn sometimes beats Ernesto Lo Russo who played in the Open Division. Pratt reports that all four of his matches in this round robin event required all five possible games! In fact, his final game with both Williams and Zhou, who took first and second, both went to deuce. Even though only a few points separated all five of these players final rank, there were no three-way ties; each player defeated all of the players beneath him or her. Carol, even though she placed last here, had defeated the first place Bart in an earlier match in the Age 40-49 category. That is about as close as the competition can get!

Class "B" Singles

  1. Rick Heilbut
  2. Sloane Bouchever
  3. Dennis Cao
  4. LeRoy Bybee
Rick Heilbut, Recreation Manager for Pleasant Grove, won the B Division by defeating Sloane Bouchever. Both are very close in weekly club play, and each sometimes defeats either Pratt or Newman, who played in Class A. Thus, the competition was exceedingly fierce across the B and C divisions.

Class "C" Singles

  1. Daniel Schuermann
  2. Wally McCormick (1023)
  3. Ken Severn
  4. Didier Bouchever
Close competition was also the name of the game in the C Division. It began with an upset in the preliminary round, when Didier Bouchever, who did not even win a trophy in the 14 & Under Division, defeated Anthony Davis, the 18 & Under winner, forcing him to the D Division. Skill level here was so close that there was a three way tie in matches between the top three seeds, with Daniel Schuermann defeating Wally McCormick, who beat Ken Severn, who in turn beat Daniel in five games. In such cases, the win-loss record in games breaks the tie, which gave Daniel the win and Wally second place.

Class "D" Singles

  1. Frank Krogh (1070)
  2. Anthony Davis
  3. Betty Raymond
  4. Celine Bouchever
When Anthony Davis was forced out of the C Division, he might have thought he could make a clean sweep of the D's. But here he found his nemesis Frank Krogh, who had defeated him in last year's Utah Summer Games, which is also the Utah Closed Table Tennis Tournament (for Utah residents only). Frank was able to sweep the division undefeated, but there was a three-way tie in matches for second place. Anthony's humbling by the Bouchevers continued as Didier's sister Celine (who also did not place in the 14 & Under) defeated him, demonstrating the high level of play in the 14 & Under Division. She in turn was defeated by Betty Raymond, who had played in the 60+ Division and whom Celine had beaten in the Women's singles. Betty lost to Anthony, resulting in a three-way tie. Counting games to break the tie gave second place to Anthony, so he was vindicated at last.

Thus, the level of play was excellent throughout and the closeness of competition lead to an extremely enjoyable tournament. All were grateful to Pleasant Grove City for making their Recreation Center available at no charge for this event, and for helping to provide the many trophies.