In the first annual Ann Van Vooren Memorial Cup, competition was furious. With hefty prize money and beautiful trophies at stake, 48 competitors gave it there all at the Houston Table Tennis Center on August 21.. Only 48 slots were available and any additional had to be turned away. Players could have a maximum rating of 1999 or be unrated. However, unrated players, if they advanced, automatically moved into an unrated division to compete amongst themselves.
A preliminary round robin seeded players into respective A-B-C-U single elimination groupings. Each RR group was 6 players assuring a minimum of 6 matches for each contestant. Top seeds were Claude Jones, Roland Schilhab, Randy Levy, Colin Nguyen, Amir Hormosi & Randy Medcalf. As D.G. Van Vooren looked on, the top 12 players all moved into the A division without many surprises.
This did not last as Gerald Kempa (on right) stunned Randy Levy in a tense 3 game match. At the same time this match was going on, #1 seed Claude Jones was facing a tough test against club mate Randy Medcalf. These players have faced each other countless times in club play. Claude is a powerful chopper with a deadly forehand loop. Playing with brand new 1:1 pips on his backhand, Claude seemed totally unaffected by the change over. "I can hit more with these", he said smiling.
Randy though, had recently won the Harlingen Open and was feeling confident.
He has been training much more than Jones recently, taking particular advantage
of the presence of Eric Owens.
Eric is back in Houston on vacation and to give an exhibition of his Pan Am Games gold medal form. Medcalf has made the change from pips on the backhand to fast inverted. His game has jumped as he grooves in on the new capabilities.
It was another battle as Claude became more and more frustrated at Randy's placements. He began forcing forehands that just were not there. Randy kept his concentration and started varying service and shot placement. The win by Medcalf put him in the semi-finals against his Harlingen opponent Amir Hormosi.
Gerald moved on from his win over Levy to face Roland Shcilhab. New dad Schilhab has recently started getting his game back together. Normally he dominates Kempa, but not today! Gerald was pumped up and playing at his best. Three games later, he too, mvoed on to the semi-finals to face Nguyen.
Colin was far too powerful and quick for Gerald's defence. Kempa's attack could not penetrate Nguyen's. It was over in three quick games. Colin now awaited the outcome of the Medcalf v. Hormosi Match.
Hormosi had advanced through the loser's bracket to reach the semis. Terry had played him in the prelims and was in the match all the way. Amir was not on his top game and Randy was quick to take advantage of this fact. With Buddy Melamed umpiring, it was over almost as quickly as Colins match 3-1. The finals was now set.
This was the first major meeting of these two. Colin had shown all day that he was the class of the tournament. His game was substantially higher than anyone else competing. Fro Randy to have a chance he would have to play as he never had before. What did Medcalf do? He did just that. Colin grabbed the first game but it did not deter Randy. He played even better to take the second.
Both of these attacking topspinners made spectacular shots that set
up long rallies that the crowd
loved. More than once announcement of the score had to be delayed
until the applause had died down. As the match progressed, the first/second
game scenerio repeated itself with each player stepping up their level.
When it finally reached the 5th, Colin was able to move it up one more
notch than Randy in order to claim the prize.