12th annual Decatur (AL) Open
August 16, 2003
Sean O'Neill df. Larry Thoman 5,4,4
John Mar df. David Landry 8,10,-4,8
Soon Chian Lim df. Ernesto Kawamoto 3,-2,7,7
Tai Long Tey df. John Beaumont 10,-6,6,6
O'Neill df. Mar 5,4,5
Long df. Lim 9,-9,9, 5
O'Neill df. Long 8, 1, 9, -7, 1
AA Semis: Chip Patton df. Tracy Hancock -8,12,3,3; Shelby Lane df. Albert
AA finals: Patton df. Lane 4,9,4,-14,9
A Semis: Herb Bennett df. Igor Kappel 7,6,7; Duke Stogner df. Girish Herekar
A Finals: (In a wild one): Bennett df. Duke Stogner -7,10,-8,9,7,-6,15!!!
Class BBB Semis: Bob Bowlander df. Andrew Strong 6,6,6; Jishnu Saha df. Dr. Ted
Class BBB Finals: Bowlander ($60) df. Saha ($40) 9,6,-10,9,-7,8.
Class BB Semis: Yixi Tu df. Ray Chet 5,7,7; Morgan Tang df. Mary Rutherford
Class BB Finals: Tu df. Tang 6,4,4,-4,12.
Class B Semis: Chris Sharp df. Stephen Wah 11,-4,7,12; Fred Mitchell df. Ray
Class B Finals: Sharp df. Mitchell -5,11,-9,7,6,5.
Sponsors of the 12th annual Decatur Open were Pepsi Cola, The Decatur Daily,
Commercial Images, BumperNets, SignFX, Lang's Sporting Goods, Lane Music Co.,
Jimmy Smith Jewelers, Awards and Graphics Plus,
China Town Restaurant, Robbins Table Tennis Specialties, Microtel Inn
and Suites, Pfizer Inc.
Hosts were Decatur, AL Parks and Recreation Department and the North Alabama
Table Tennis Club. Tournament committee members were Walt Chenault, Michael
Wetzel, Fred Mitchell II, Eddie Landry, Mike Lowder, Jim Norris, Dick Cloyd,
Chip Patton, Denita Denton and Ed Watts.
### Short story
O'Neill wins his second Decatur Open
By Michael Wetzel
DECATUR, AL -- In 12 years of the 2-star Decatur Open, nobody has ever
successfully defended their championship title. Former Malaysian World Team
member Tai Long Tey of Memphis has been a finalist for six consecutive years
and has only lost to Olympic entrants in the tourney. Unfortunately for him,
two-time Olympian Sean O'Neill was in this year's field.
The power outage in the Northeast and Midwest slowed O'Neill when his plane was
delayed for more than an hour in Detroit the day before the tournament. The
outage caused him to miss a Decatur radio talk show interview and dinner. But
he was still hungry to win his second Decatur Open title -- he won in 2001
He breezed through the field of 73 players from 12 states disposing of John Mar
at 5,4,5 in the semis and defeating three-time Decatur Open winner Long in the
finals 4-1. Game scores showed O'Neill's superiority over an out-of-practice
Long -- 8, 1, 9, -7, 1.
"It wasn't as easy as it looked," O'Neill said. "I was able to move Long early
in the first two games. In the third game, he jumped out to the lead but I was
able to counter a few forehands to win at 9."
O'Neill dropped the fourth game at 7 but left no doubt who was the better
player that day winning the fifth game at 1.
The win earned O'Neill $250, an acrylic trophy and gold table tennis tie tack.
Long, meanwhile, ran his Decatur Open winnings to more than $1,100 with a $125
second-place check. Semifinalists Soon Chian Lim and Mar each got $60.
Quarterfinalists Larry Thoman, John Beaumont, David Landry and Ernesto Kawamoto
each pocketed $40.
Each tournament player received a t-shirt, pizza, Pepsi and a chance at the
more than 30 free door prizes. The limited field sold out two weeks prior to
"We hate to turn folks away, but our format seems to work and taking any more
would hurt the tournament as a whole," co-director Michael Wetzel said about
turning away more than 25 players trying to get in. "I guess it is a good
problem to have."
The tournament garnered attention from media outlets throughout the Tennessee
Valley. Talk show host Jimmy Boy of ESPN affiliate WWTM 1400-AM in Decatur had
Wetzel on for 16 minutes the day prior to the tournament. (The station promoted
O'Neill's appearance all week but settled for Wetzel after O'Neill was delayed
in Detroit). Paul Stackhouse of The Decatur Daily did a full-page advance
feature with three photos. On tournament day, Scott Theisen of
Huntsville NBC affiliate WAFF-TV featured the tournament on the 5 p.m. and 10
p.m. Decatur Daily Photographer John Godbey spent 20 minutes at the tournament.
A feature photo of David Landry was published on D3 of the sports section of
the Aug. 17 edition of the Decatur Daily.