This country's elite table tennis players — including past, present and future champions — will have their rapid-fire games powered up this week for the U.S. Table Tennis Association National Championships at the Virginia Beach Convention Center.
This is a first for the area. Las Vegas had been the host site for the U.S. Nationals for the past 30 years until a delegation from the City of Virginia Beach pulled off a coup and won this year's bid.
The five-day event begins at 7 p.m. Tuesday with an entertaining exhibition put on by former champions of the game, trick-shot artists, comedians of the sport, junior whiz kids, disabled Olympians and standouts from Virginia.
Among those taking center stage will be former champion Marty Reisman, 81, U.S. National Coach of the Year Lily Yip, and female sensation Tao Li of Richmond. Reisman is hailed as an incomparable table tennis exhibitionist, quipster, writer and actor. Yip played on the 1992 and 1996 U.S. Olympic team, while Li, a former member of the Chinese National Junior Team, won the 2010 Joola Open in Newport News.
Regular tournament play begins on Wednesday in more than 60 events. The main events — the men's singles and doubles — begin at 9 a.m. Thursday, with the semifinals and finals set for around 4 p.m. Saturday. The men's and women's singles champions will receive a $3,500 cash prize.
Back to defend their national titles are Tim Wang, 20, of Texas and Ariel Hsing, 16, of California. Both will face tough challenges. Six-time champ David Zhuang of New Jersey has the top rating (2,657 points), Wang is No. 2 (2,577) and 2010 runnerup Pete Li of Maryland is No. 3 (2,566).
Gao Jung, the 2009 champ, has the highest women's rating at 2,656 but has played in only one tournament this year. She will have to be at her best to beat Hsing (2,492) and Lily Zhang of California (2,527), who met in last year's final..
The Newport News Table Tennis Club, the largest in the state, is the host organizing club and a sponsor of the event.
Ninety-three Virginians are entered, headed by Richard Doverman (2,229) of Woodbridge for the men and Li (2,291) for the women. Also entered is former Newport News TTC president and state champ Hiep Tran (2,180).
With the community's support of this year's event, Dean Johnson, the head of the local organizing committee, is hoping to bring the tournament back to Virginia Beach next year.
Daily admission is $10 except Saturday's semifinals and finals, which is $20. A five-day pass is $25. Children ages 12 and younger are free. For tournament information, go to usnationalsvabeach.com.
For Michael Moore, the unbelievable finally happened. After 36 years of his involvement in bowling, the Williamsburg resident finally rolled his first 300 game and his first 800 series — both coming on the same night.
And to make it more unbelievable, the 50-year-old turned around four days later and duplicated the feat — both at the AMF York Lanes.
He first found the machine-like touch on Nov. 30 in the Wednesday Night Classic League with games of 277, 300 and 225 for an 802 series. Then in the Sunday Morning After League on Dec. 4, he picked up where he left off with games of 248, 300, and 269 for an 817.
"I never thought I would bowl these kinds of scores, much less do it twice in one week," the Northrop Grumman nuclear inspector said.
For the 217-to-225 average bowler, his previous high game had been a 299 (twice) while his highest series had been a 777. ...
John Bibb of Hampton, one of the first to bowl on the newly-resurfaced lanes at Century Lanes, took an instant liking to them. In his first game trying them out in the Wednesday Handicap League on Dec. 7, he bowled a 300 game.
"In the beginning I was struggling with my approach but then everything fell into place," he said.
He followed with games of 158 and 210 for a 668 series.
For the 51-year-old Bibb, it was his third perfect game since he started bowling 23 years ago.
John Piggott of Williamsburg closed out his 2011 racing season by placing fifth overall and first among the masters runners in the 35th annual Kiawah Island (S.C.) Marathon on Saturday.
Against a field of more than 800 competitors, the 46-year-old Piggott finished with his best time of the year for the 26.2-mile race — 2 hours, 36 minutes and 38 seconds.
"I felt really strong on that course because it wasn't really, really hilly," the veteran Lafayette High School cross country coach said on Sunday.
In beating his closest masters challenger by more than 8 minutes, Piggott easily broke the Kiawah masters course record.
For winning the 40-and-over title, he won $500.
"It's been a really good year for me," Piggott said. "Now I'm going to take a break, give my legs a rest, and then start training again in January." ...
Joan Coven, 70, of West Point came up with another amazing performance on Saturday in the Sentara Sleighbell 5K in Williamsburg. This time, competing on a tougher course, she tied her own state record for the 70-74 age group with a time of 25 minutes and 17 seconds.
She first set that record on Nov. 19 at the Governor's Land 5K, run on an easier flat course.
Colonial Road Runners president Rick Platt called Coven's latest 5K a "superior" performance based on the toughness of the two courses.
In Saturday's overall race, Adam Otstot (15:58) of Williamsburg and Karen Terry (18:22) of Newport News emerged the top winners. Behind Otstot came Paolo Cavenaghi (17:25) of Williamsburg and Todd Kessler (17:27) of Newport News.
For the women, Mercedes Castillo-D'Amico (20:19) of Newport News and Connie Glueck (20:27) of Williamsburg placed second and third.
With their performances, Terry and Kessler finished as the 2011 CRR Grand Prix champions.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun