Charleston, WV Table Tennis

Harry Sands Memorial Teams Tournament


by Ryan Robinson

The 2014 Harry Sands Memorial Teams Tournament was held January 25, 2014 at the North Charleston Recreation Center.  Nine teams from around the State and across the border in Kentucky gathered to crown a new Team Champion.

Unfortunately for them I have to start the tournament synopsis off with the team from Beckley.  They returned players Jeremy Pizzino and Mike Sloan from last year’s team and added Butch Pizzino.  Due to worsening weather conditions they had to leave early before they had a chance to play the Concord team for 8th place.  I am certain it was purely coincidental that their departure coincided with the eating of the last piece of pizza.

One of the two new teams this year was from Concord University.  The Concord team comprised of Wes Blake, Daniel Rose and CTTC player DW Holstein.  Although Wes and Daniel show much promise they failed to secure a win outside of the forfeit by the Beckley team.  DW Holstein, playing from a wheelchair secured 2 of the 3 singles set wins for the Concord team. 

The 7th place team was CTTC Team Choi, made up of the players from the current 4th place CTTC League’s Team Zuniga:  Royce Zuniga, Dale Goff and William Miller.  Team Choi, after some very close games were only able to secure 2 wins finishing the tournament 2-6.  When interviewed, team member and current CTTC President said, “If I did not get distracted by having to order those pizzas I would have dominated.”  I am sure the poor lighting had an effect on his performance as well.

The second of the new teams this year was the team from the Ashland, KY TTC.  The Ashland Team comprised of Dan Clay, Dennis Purst and CTTC rising star Jonathon Lamp.    Although, Ashland finished 3-5 and in 6th place, they surprised several teams with their competitive level of play.  Jonathon managed an impressive upset against former State Champ Alexey Domokhin and played an inspiring match against Texas Wesleyan player Isak Spanjol, losing 3-1. We hope to see these players at future events.

The 5th place team, CTTC Attention Choppers, was led by veterans Arky Myatezh and Gretchen Workman and included another CTTC rising star, Jason Fuller.  Do not let their 4-4 finish fool you.  Arky managed 2 upsets by coming from behind to beat Igor Kappel 3-2 in a game 5 deuce match and Isak Spanjol 3-2, accounting for Isak’s only loss.  Jason managed to upset CTTC Team Choi captain, Royce Zuniga, 3-2, Dennis Purst 3-1 and played an incredible match with Jonathon Lamp and finally losing to him 2-3.  Furthermore, Gretchen and Arky only lost 2 doubles matches during the tournament.

2012 Teams Champion Greenbrier Valley TTC could only manage a 4th place finish this season.  Veteran players Mike Butts and Alexey Domokhin added newcomer Chris Richards to their team prior to the start of the tournament.  Despite playing some great matches the GVTTC could only manage a 5-3 finish.  Rumor has it that Alexey is moving out of State so it will be interesting to see what the GVTTC front office will put together for next year’s event.  During an interview conducted after Saturday’s event General Manager Mike Butts assured us that GVTTC will be fine and ready to compete for the Teams Title next year.

If you remembered after last season Teams Tournament I predicted a win, place or show for the Princeton Spinners this year.  Once again I was correct, they showed (3rd place) by finishing 6-2 losing only to the runner up and the eventual champion.  The Spinners returned all 3 players from last year’s team Allen Tinio, Joey Mencias and Kayla Anderson.  Allen played an excellent match against Isak Spanjol eventually losing a 2-0 lead and dropping the match 3-2.  Joey was able to beat Mike Butts to lead his team to victory over arch rival GVTTC.  Of some note Joey was the only player to take a game against John Tannehill (2246 USATT).  Asked after the tournament about his teams 3rd place finish Joey said, “I am just glad I did not have to go up against Ryan Robinson.  I cannot beat that guy.”

This year’s runner up was CTTC Team Shock and Awe.  The top team from the host club consisted of top rated club player Mike Corica, Igor Kappel and yours truly Ryan Robinson.  CTTC Shock and Awe finished 7-1 and lost the battle of the unbeaten in a complete anticlimactic loss to the Huntington Team 3-0.  Igor Kappel said after the final match, “In the end we just could not overcome the heavy hitters brought in by the Huntington Team.” Igor went on to thank Ryan Robinson for "having a heart of a champion."

For the second year The Huntington Team won the Harry Sands Memorial Teams Tournament.  The only returning player from last year’s team was Jay Nelson.  He added Texas Wesleyan player Isak Spanjol and John Tannehill of Ping Pong Diplomacy fame.  Team Huntington finished a perfect 8-0 dropping only one set on their way to a second straight title.

Once again it was a pleasure for the CTTC to host such a great event and all the great players from around the State.  A special thanks goes out to Nancy Sands for managing and recording matches and Eric Spang for driving down from Pittsburg to help organize the event.

Ryan Robinson