Memphis takes home another trophy
By Michael Wetzel
DECATUR, Ala. -- When Tai Long Tey didn't see an Olympian among the 78 players of the 13th annual Decatur Open, he gave a sigh of relief. Tey, a former world team member for Malaysia, breezed to his fourth Decatur Open crown knocking off Chandramouli Shankaren 4-1 in the finals. Tey is a seven-time finalist in the tournament -- losing only to Olympians Sean O'Neill (2 times) and Amy Feng. Tey of Memphis has won $1,375 in his seven Decatur tournaments.
Though the second-seeded Shankaren, a student at Spalding University in Louisville, Ky., was disappointed with his second-place finish, he had nothing but praise for Tey and the tournament.
"I realize Tai doesn't play many tournaments any more, but his game is still there," the Indian native Shankaren said. "After I won the first game, I thought I could get past him with the same strategy, but he is a smart player with a lot of experience, good serves and a strong forehand. He changed his game and just proved too strong for me. He is a class player and I am not ashamed losing to somebody of his caliber."
The tournament turned away more than 20 players again, selling out three weeks in advance. "The tournament treats all the players the same," Shankaren said. "It doesn't matter if you are a beginner or the top seed, the committee makes you feel special. I like the format. It provides quality matches for all players and finishes on time."
All players received a t-shirt, full-size Gatorade towel with "table tennis" screened in green and a Gatorade sport bottle, compliments of Decatur Pepsi. Also about 30 door prizes were awarded.
Players enjoyed free Pepsi products and pizza at lunch.
Again, the media coverage was excellent. Co-tournament director Michael Wetzel was interviewed by the Decatur ESPN sports talk radio WWTM 1400-AM for 12 minutes three days prior to the tournament. Staff writer Paul Huggins and photographer Dan Henry of the Decatur Daily did a front-page centerpiece on player Joe Mozur the day of the tournament. Dr. Mozur was a State Department Russian interpreter for President Reagan in Moscow in 1988. Mozur didn't let the extra media attention bother him. He won the tournament's Class AA.
Decatur Daily photographer Emily Saunders snapped several digital images of action and a color photo of Class AA semifinalist Yixi Tu ran in the Aug. 22 edition of the Daily.
Scott Theisen of NBC TV affiliate in Huntsville shot footage and interviewed Shankaren. The footage aired at 5 p.m. and 10 p.m. on WAFF-TV sports.
This year's tournament included 78 players from nine states. Stan Lim drove from Key West, Fla., 1,054 miles, to play in the tournament. Also, Danya Budiman flew in from Salem, N.H., to help call some matches.
13th annual Decatur (AL) Open
Aquadome Recreation Center
August 21, 2004
1st: Tai Long Tey, Memphis, Tenn., $250 and gold tie tack.
2nd: Chandramouli Shankaren, Louisville, Ky., $125
Semifinalists: John Mar, Lawrenceville, Ga.; Jens Kujat, Nashville, Tenn., $60 each.
Quarterfinalists: Jason Denton, Trinity, Ala.; Rafael Veliz, Baton Rouge, La.;
Billy Carlisle, Metarie, La., Terry Hamilton, Birmingham, Ala., $40 each.
1st: Joseph Mozur, Gulf Breeze, Fla.
2nd: Johnny Billy, Satsuma, Ala.
Semifinalists: Carl Lewis, Memphis, Tenn.; Yixi Tu, Nashville, Tenn.
1st: Glenn Johnson, Louisville, Ky.
2nd: Patrick Sullivan, Auburn, Ala.
Semifinalists: Herb Bennett, Hattiesburg, Miss.; Rehan Khan, Birmingham, Ala.
1st: Michael S. Harris, Anniston, Ala., $75.
2nd: Paul Holliger, Louisville, Ky., $40.
Semifinalists: Michael Garris, Oxford, Ala., Adam Hammonds, Alabaster, Ala.
1st: Keith Peterman, Dothan, Ala.
2nd: Chris Sharp, Pekin, Ind.
Semifinalists: Hunter Hammonds, Alabaster, Ala., Jason Stancil, Anniston, Ala.
1st: Aaron Sagraves, Murray, Ky.
2nd: James P. Johnson, McMinnville, Tenn.
Semifinalists: Emma Veliz, Baton Rouge, La.; Brandon Newby, Morrison, Tenn.
Sponsors of the 13th annual Decatur Open were Lane Music Co., Pepsi Cola, The Decatur Daily, Commercial Images Photographic Services, Robbins Table Tennis Specialties, BumperNets, Lang's Sporting Goods, Jimmy Smith Jewelers, Awards and Engraving Plus, Microtel Inn and Suites, Pfizer Inc., and Eisai Inc.
Hosts were Decatur, AL Parks and Recreation Department and the North Alabama Table Tennis Club. Tournament committee members were Walt Chenault, Michael Wetzel, Chip Patton, Fred Mitchell II, Jim Norris, Glenda Norris, Danya Budiman, Don Johnson and Ed Watts.