History of Huntsville/North Alabama Table Tennis Club

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Compiled by Michael Wetzel and Chip Patton

Other related articles/links:

NATTC Detailed Chronology

2001 Highlights

Past Alabama State Champions

Paddle Palace Article (1990)

Founding (1983):

The Huntsville Table Tennis Club (name changed to North Alabama Table Tennis Club in 1997) was founded in 1983 by David Wilder, Ed Griffin and Bill Mobley. Original members included now three-time Alabama State Champion Ralph Kissel and now 16-time Alabama State Champion Don Gaither. Dean Thomas was named treasurer. The HTTC originally owned four fine Detroiter tables and quality Imperial nets.
The state tournament that year was at the Don Hawkins Recreation Center in Roebuck. Rafael Zambrano defeated Joe Mitchell, both UA students, in the finals. Mitchell defeated Bunk Hanahan of Dothan in the semifinals. It was hosted by the Alabama Parks and Recreation Society.

HTTC hosts state tourney (1984):

In 1984, the Huntsville Table Tennis Club with the assistance of the Huntsville Parks and Recreation board held its first state tournament. The non-sanctioned tournament drew about 22 players from as far away as Dothan. Former Venezuelan junior champion Rafael Zambrano, then a student at Jeff State in Birmingham, defeated Huntsville club member Don Gaither in three games in the finals. Zambrano and Warren McNeil of Dothan defeated the Huntsville team of Gaither and Ralph Kissel for the championship doubles crown.
The tournament committee that year included Bill Mobley, David Wilder, Ed Griffin, Ralph Stone and Lou Bryant. The tournament site was Brahan Spring Recreation Center, the site of many future USATT-sanctioned tournaments. Two weeks later, Gaither defeated Zambrano in the first sanctioned state closed in Tuscaloosa. An NCAA swim meet at the University of Alabama filled all the hotel rooms the same weekend, causing Gaither and Kissel to sleep on the floor of the Foster Auditorium, site of the tournament. Foster Auditorium is known for the then-Gov. George Wallace's stand in the schoolhouse door on June 11, 1963. James Hood and Vivian Malone became the first blacks enrolled at the university despite objections from Wallace. The tournament directors were Joe Ed Mitchell and Bobby Marcus.

First Sanctioned Club Tournament (1985):

The HTTC hosted its first state sanctioned closed championships on Saturday, March 30, 1985 at Brahan Spring Recreation Center. Don Gaither df. Ralph Kissel in the finals to win his 16th state singles title. Warren McNeil and Mark Miller of Dothan won the championship doubles. Michael Wetzel of Dothan won Class A. HTTC member and Nigerian soccer player Ganiyu Bello of Huntsville teamed with Wetzel to win Class A doubles. Leslie Sistla of Huntsville won the women's title. Tim Miller of Dothan won the juniors. Thirty four players competed in six division. The tournament received a nice story and photo in the Huntsville Times on March 31. Ralph Kissel and Bill Mobley competed in the U.S. Open in Miami Beach in early July.


More Tables (1986):

In 1986, the club purchased more Nissen and Detroiter tables. The club hosted its third state championship with the Brahan Spring Recreation Center in Huntsville being the setting. Twenty-seven players participated. This year, chopper and anti-hitter Warren McNeil of Dothan won the singles title, edging HTTC members Ralph Kissel and Don Gaither in the round-robin format. In doubles, McNeil teamed with his practice partner former state junior champion Mark Miller of Dothan to beat HTTC's Gaither and Bill Mobley for the championship. Tournament committee members were Bill Mobley, David Wilder and Ed Griffin.

Bounced by Basketball (1987):

In 1987, Ralph Kissel defeated 16-time state champ Don Gaither to win his third state singles title. It was held at the Naval Reserve Center on Sparkman Drive in Huntsville the last weekend of March. The club played most of its weekly meetings at Brahan Spring Recreation Center, but during basketball season was moved to the lobby of Scruggs Recreation in downtown Huntsville near the Von Braun Center. Several times the club was forced to play with just 3 or 4 tables in the cramped quarters. This pattern of being displaced by the more popular sport of basketball would repeat itself for several years. The alternate site changed to the more spacious Jaycees' building in about 1991 until the popularity of the NATTC (and the availability of more basketball sites) has allowed the club to remain at Brahan Spring year round since 1997. Don Gaither, Ralph Kissel, Bill Mobley and Burt Zhang were the top players. Weekly membership attendance in 1987 was about 20 players.


(1988): A new king is crowned

Newcomer to the state from New Orleans, Louisiana, Keith LaFrance now of Montgomery, tore through the field at the Alabama Closed in April to win his first state championship. He defeated 16-time champion Don Gaither of Hazel Green in the finals. No championship doubles were held that year.

Volunteer Cup League Chartered (1989):

On Jan. 19, 1989, here are active members and their club ratings: Don Gaither, 1905; Friedhelm Schope 1850; Burt Zhang 1840; Bill Mobley 1830; Ralph Kissel 1799; Ming Zhu 1702; Mike Wetzel 1640; David Wilder 1609; Don Johnson 1521; Lamar Scott 1462; Walt Chenault 1444; Don McCrary 1376; Rod Richardson 1344; Steve Countess 1337; Andrew Strong 1307; Ed Watts 1304; Rick Pickett 1278; Matt Youngkin 1237; Ed Griffin 1225; Chau Do 1175; Tim Forde 1165; Richard Forde 1154; Dean Thomas 1138; Son Ngyuyen 1115; and Pawan Kumar 1046. In 1989, the club became a charter member of the Volunteer Cup Table Tennis league which featured 26 teams from about 10 cities throughout the MidSouth. The HTTC's elite and star teams each finished second in their respective divisions. Players on the Elite team were Gaither, Kissel, Mobley, German graduate student Friedhelm Schope from Bonn and Chinese native Ming Zhu. Later that year, Schope won the state championship in a close round-robin format. Michael Adeymo handed the defensive style German his only loss. Schope didn't drop another game and edged Gaither and Mobley in a tie-breaker. In July of 1989, the club got state support in the Alabama Reunion tournament. xxxxx of Murfreesboro, Tenn., defeated Don Gaither in the finals of the tournament which attract 22 players at Brahan Spring Recreation Center. The reunion tournament was part of a campaign by the Alabama Visitors and Tourism Bureau. Active HTTC members in the fledgling and popular Volunteer Cup league (Larry Thoman of Nashville, commissioner) were Walt Chenault, David Wilder, Bill Mobley, Don Gaither, Ralph Kissel, Friedhelm Schope, Charter Nicholson, Don McCrary, Mike Zhu and Michael Wetzel. The star division Huntsville Hawks hosted a tri-match at the Jaycee Building on March 4, 1989.
Huntsville fell in the first match 7-3 to the Memphis Racketeers. Robert Chamoun of Memphis df. Don McCrary 12, 11; Mike Bortner of Memphis df. Charter Nicholson 19, 16; Denis Fritchie df. David Wilder 17, -19, 19; McCrary df. Bortner -18, 20, 19; Chamoun df. Wilder 11, 11; Nicholson df. Fritchie 15, -21, 19; Wilder df. Bortner -15, 19, 20; Fritchie df. McCrary 16, 18; Chamoun df. Nicholson 15, 12; Bortner-Joseph Mahfood df. Wilder-McCrary -18, 16, 16. Huntsville won its second match vs. the Knoxville Stars 7-3. Dwain Kitchel of Knoxville df. Walt Chenault 13, -17, 13; Michael Wetzel df. Stan Wallen of Knoxville 17, 16; Charter Nicholson df. Wayne Maples of Knoxville 18, 9; Wallen df. Chenault 11, 11; Nicholson df. Kitchel 14, 11; Wetzel df. Maples, 10, -23, 16; Wallen df. Nicholson, -21, 15, 24; Chenault df. Maples 17, 17; Wetzel df. Kitchel -17, 18, 17; Wetzel-Nicholson df. Kitchel-Wallen 10, 16. Michael Wetzel was named Alabama State Coordinator by USATT headquarters in October.

LaFrance reigns (1990):

Keith LaFrance of Montgomery won his second state tournament in Huntsville at Brahan Spring. Michael Wetzel competed in the U.S. Open in Baltimore in June. He also worked on the tournament's press committee.

More of LaFrance (1991):

Keith LaFrance of Montgomery won his third state tournament in Huntsville.

Official bylaws of the club are ratified.

First Decatur Open (Point Mallard Open) (1992):

Keith LaFrance of Montgomery breezed through the field of the state closed to win his fourth state crown.
The inaugural Decatur Open drew 39 players to Decatur's T.C. Almon Recreation Center at Point Mallard Park. HTTC's Ralph Kissel was the tournament's top seed and fell in the finals to Ronald Pickett of Memphis. Players enjoyed free Pepsis and Domino Pizzas. The tournament was directed by Walt Chenault, Michael Wetzel and Jim Levy.


Keith LaFrance of Montgomery won his fifth state singles title. Donny Flowers of Memphis defeated Ralph Kissel of Huntsville to win the second annual Deatur Open played at the T.C. Almon Recreation Center in Decatur.


On April 23, Keith LaFrance of Montgomery won his sixth state singles title defeating Don Gaither of Hazel Green. Twenty-nine players played in the tournament at Brahan Spring Recreation Center in Huntsville.

George Cooper of Atlanta defeated Keith LaFrance of Montgomery in the third annual Decatur Open finals on Aug. 9. Sixty-three people participated in the tournament, which was played at the Decatur Aquadome Recreation Center for the first time.


In March, Ernesto Kawamoto, Ed Watts, Chip Patton, Walt Chenault, Don Johnson, Rodney Johnson and Michael Wetzel all competed in the 20th annual Louisiana Open in Baton Rouge. On April 22, Keith LaFrance of Montgomery won his seventh state championship title defeating Ralph Kissel in the finals. Kissel also won the senior singles title. Thirty-nine players participated in the tournament at Brahan Spring Recreation Center in Huntsville. In May, Kawamoto, Watts and Wetzel won first place in Class C of the Hall of Fame tournament in Augusta, Ga. In August, Michael Wetzel served as sports information supervisor of the World Team Cup in Atlanta and Brazilan exchange student Kawamoto was an athlete escort. Club member Ed Watts visited and chauffered the Brazilian team on a shopping excursion to Lenox Square Mall.

On Sept. 9, the 4th annual Decatur Open drew 52 participants. Donny Flowers of Memphis defeated Jay Sourinthone of Nashville in the finals. Flowers became the tournament's first two-time winner. He also won the 1993 Decatur Open.
In late November, Wetzel defeated Watts in a Hibbetts Sporting Goods Store tournament in November. Wetzel won a Harvard table for the championship. Two weeks later, Wetzel and Watts played in 2 tournaments at the Omni Hotel in Cancun, Mexico, with each of them defeating the other in the finals.

Atlanta Olympics Supported (1996):

In April, Keith LaFrance defeated Ralph Kissel and won his eighth state title at Brahan Spring Recreation Center. LaFrance and Jack Wise teamed to win the state doubles crown defeating Chip Patton and Michael Wetzel in the finals 2-0.
In the spring, Michael Wetzel of Decatur taught a six-week course in table tennis at Danville High School. Coach Charlie Gover had three of his physical education classes partcipate. Other club members helping were Chip Patton, Walt Chenault and Bob Countess.

In the year of the Atlanta Olympics, club members Michael Wetzel, Chip Patton and Ernesto Kawamoto did their share to promote table tennis.
Wetzel worked 16 days during the Olympics as the sports information supervisor. Kawamoto, who flew back to Atlanta directly from Brazil, worked as an athlete escort and field marshal. Patton put in 10 days of work at the Olympics as a statistician. Charles Kite of Dothan served as the escort supervisor. Joe Mitchell, a native of Anniston, was a field marshal.
Jeff Dykes of Birmngham was a field marshal, too.
The Huntsville Table Tennis Club was part of an Olympic exhibition at the Alabama Space and Rocket Center sponsored by BellSouth. Chip Patton, Ed Watts, Ralph Kissel, Don Gaither, Michael Wetzel and Walt Chenault conducted eight 30-minute demonstrations across three days, May 31-June 2. Others sports represented were fencing, bicycling and kayaking.
Chip Patton led a movement to purchase 500 club lapel pins. Wetzel and Patton each personally purchased 125 to swap during their Olympic work while the club bought the other 250 to pass out to dues-paying club members, special guests and members of the media doing features on the club. Olympic media coverage included Wetzel, Patton, LaFrance and Ralph Kissel being interviewed for a full-page story in the Huntsville Times. Also, Wetzel and Patton did interviews for Channel 48 WAFF-NBC TV in Huntsville and Channel 56 WAM-TV in Decatur. Wetzel and Patton put on an exhibition for the Channel 56 show. They were given 30 minutes of in-studio interview time a week later.
One of the nation's top juniors T.J. Beebe of Atlanta, 15, won the fifth Decatur Open at the Aquadome Recreation Center in September. He defeated David Williams of Atlanta in the finals. T.J.'s coach was Richard McAfee, the competition manager of the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta.
On Dec. 12, the club hosted a Christmas party at The Great Wall Restaurant in South Huntsville. About 20 members, their families and guests were treated to a free dinner. New officers were installed for the following year. Ed Watts was installed as the new president, Chip Patton and Jason Denton, vice presidents; Walt Chenault, secretary; and Dean Thomas, treasurer. Michael Wetzel, USATT State Coordinator for Alabama, emceed the banquet. He gave a 25-minute talk on the year's highlights for club members.

A New Name, A new Technology (1997):

Near the beginning of 1997 the Huntsville Table Tennis Club took its charter to promote table tennis in Alabama onto the World Wide Web. Chip Patton set up http://fly.hiwaay.net/~crpatton/httc under his personal account with HiWaay. Major components of the website include the club logo, playing times and places, tournaments (upcoming and results) and photographs -- lots of photographs. (See also the hits.txt file under "What's New" on the site for a history of the website.) Links were established to and from the USATT's website and a number of visitors to Huntsville found our club via searches on their computers.
This year also saw the Huntsville Table Tennis Club broaden its scope of recognition by changing its name to the North Alabama Table Tennis Club. While a core membership does reside in Huntsville, the club includes a large contingent from the greater Decatur area, including regular play at T.C. Almon and The Aquadome Recreation Centers in Decatur. Also some of our most regular members live well outside Huntsville. Phil Thompson makes the 60-mile (one way) drive from Stevenson every week. Average attendance at Brahan Spring on Thursday nights approaches 30 this year.
Alabama A&M marketing professor Dr. Jungki Lee of Huntsville won his first state singles title. He defeated Chip Patton in the finals.

The NATTC hosted a Southeastern Longtimers Reunion on Aug. 23, and feted Don Gaither. About 20 players from the 1960s and 1970s attended including Pete May of Augusta, Ga., Wendell Dillion of Atlanta, Jim McQueen of Raleigh, N.C., and Lance Rosemore of Dallas, Texas. Michael Wetzel, Ed Watts, Ralph Kissel and Phil Thompson coordinated the event.
Olympian Jimmy Butler of Augusta, Ga., easily defeated one of the nation's top juniors T.J. Beebe of Atlanta to win the sixth annual Decatur Open at the Aquadome Recreation Center.


Richard McAfee of Atlanta defeated Jungki Lee of Huntsville in the North Alabama Open at Danville High School. McAfee, who was assited by Chip Patton, put on a clinic the night before the tournament. Charlie Gover and Ed Watts were the directors.
Jungki Lee of Huntsville won his second state singles title disposing of Jason Denton of Trinity in the finals at Brahan Spring Recreation Center.
Tai Long Tey, a former Malaysian world team member and graduate student in Memphis, won the Decatur Open defeating David Williams of Atlanta 21-11, 18-21, 21-7 in the finals. Seventy-four players participated in the Aquadome event.


Atlanta's Lee McCool won the second North Alabama Open at Danville High School in February. Michael Wetzel and Chip Patton were the directors. The North Alabama Table Tennis Club co-hosted the state championship with the Birmingham club at Berry Middle School in Birmingham. Adam Brown of Riverchase defeated Terry Hamilton of Ensley in the finals. Chip Patton of Madison and Jungki Lee of Huntsville won the state doubles title. The pair defeated Homer and Adam Brown of Riverchase in the finals. At age 18 and 6 months, Adam Brown became the youngest Alabama singles champion on record.

During the summer, Michael Wetzel, a regional umpire, worked the World Special Olympics in North Carolina. The competition was at the Kern indoor tennis courts at the University of North Carollina in Chapel Hill.

Olympian Amy Feng of Marietta, Ga., defeated Tai Long Tey of Memphis in the finals of the Decatur Open.


The club web site has its own domain name, www.nattc.com ,with Anthony Dang serving as the new webmaster (11/2000). NATTC member Ernesto Kawamoto won his first state singles title by defeating Homer Brown of Birmingham, 21-12, 21-14 at the state tournament hosted by the NATTC at Brahan Spring on May 6. Kawamoto then teamed with Adam Brown of Birmingham to win the state doubles crown. The pair defeated Chip Patton of Madison and Jungki Lee of Huntsville in straight games in the finals. Club member and rising junior player David Landry of Huntsville won the juniors crown.

NATTC webmaster and vice president Chip Patton moves to Pittsburgh, Pa., on May 30. The club presented Patton with a plaque for
his 10 years as a club member and officer.David Landry, 13, was just one of a handful of players to walk away with two titles at the U.S. Open in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. in July. Landry earned top trophies in u-975 and u-1100 in his first national tournament. His family and coach Ernesto Kawamoto made the weeklong trip.

Sixty-three players from eight states and Canada attended the club's 9th annual Decatur Open in August. Tai Long Tey of Memphis
defeated defeated his practice partner Soon Chian Lim in the finals. Semifinalists were Mark Nordby of Chicago, Ill., and 13-year-old Michael Liu of Atlanta, Ga.

On November 1, the club votes to begin using the 40mm ball, approved for play by the ITTF two months earlier.

On December 12, Michael Wetzel, co-tournament director of the Decatur Open, was one of three speakers at the tournament directors' seminar
at the U.S. Nationals in Las Vegas. Wetzel spoke to 25 directors on the success of the Decatur Open. Wendell Dillon, Olympic referee, and Steve Schell of the San Diego Covention and Visitors Bureau were the other speakers. Wetzel gave away door prizes from sponsors and offered input into a roundtable discussion at the meeting held on the 24th floor of the Stratosphere Hotel.

Ralph Kissel of the NATTC had a successful tournament in Vegas after being delayed on his flight in St. Louis.

New officers were installed at the club's Christmas party of Dec. 19 at the Formosa Restaurant in Decatur.
Outgoing president Ed Watts and party coordinator Tammy Landry presided. New officers were Ernesto Kawamoto, president; John Lewis, Michael Wetzel vice presidents; Walt Chenault, secretary; and Dean Thomas, treasurer.



Ernesto Kawamoto, a senior electrical engineering student at UAH, finished third at the ACUI Region 6 competition at Florida State University in Tallahassee, Fla. in early February. His performance qualified him for his third ACUI National tournament in March at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md.
On Feb. 16, four NATTC members participated in the Gadsden City Open. Jason Denton, the tournament's top seed, defeated Tommie Daily of Birmingham in the finals. Denton then teamed with Michael Wetzel to win the doubles championship. They defeated Barry Putman of Attalla and Danny Bullock of Gadsden 4-1 in the finals.
On April 13, Jason Denton of Trinity breezed through the field to win his won his first state singles title. He defeated Adam Brown 4-0 in the finals. Three of the top four spots were won by NATTC members, Denton and semifinalists David Landry and Ralph Kissel. Ernesto Kawamoto of Huntsville won his 5th state doubles crown with four different partners. This time his partner was Michael Wetzel of Moulton. Five of the eight players involved in the doubles semis were from the NATTC. Kawamoto, Wetzel, David Landry, Jishnu Saha and David Wilder. Seniors winner was Jiang Gu of Mobile. Juniors winner was David Landry of Huntsville. Women's winner was Jane Ng of Birmingham. Players from as far as Dothan and Mobile played in the 2002 state closed hosted by the NATTC at Brahan Spring Recreation Center. Forty-seven players took part. The NATTC has hosted the state tournament every year since 1984.
The Huntsville Parks and Recreation May 1 newsletter featured the state tournament with a short story and three photos. The newsletter is distributed to all city departments.
David Landry, 15, and his family traveled to Fort Lauderdale July 3-8 where David competed in three events in the 2002 U.S. Open. He played doubles with Adam Brown of Birmingham, a criminal science major at Auburn University. NATTC's junior stars David Landry and Jishnu Saha won a bronze medal at the 2002 USA Junior Olympics in Knoxville, Tenn., in early August.

In the July/August 2002 issue of the USA Table Tennis magazine, Ralph Kissel was listed at No. 8 in the USA in the Over 60 Men. His rating was 1901. In the Under 16 Boys division, David Landry was ranked No. 15 nationally with his 1874 rating.
Michael Wetzel played at a club in Zurich, Switzerland on Aug. 5, while visiting 1989 state champion Friedhelm Schope in Buchs, Switzerland. Wetzel gave the club members a few pins and a club tshirt. On that same trip, Wetzel gave Swiss player Frederic Sallete a club pin and shirt while visiting in Montreux, Switzerland, on July 31.

The 11th annual Decatur Open was another sell-out. NATTC members competing were Chris Polycroniades, Dick Cloyd, Fred Mitchell II, Ralph Kissel, Ernesto Kawamoto, David Landry, Bill Mobley, Lamar Scott, James Norris, Jason Denton, Justin Davis, David Wilder and Christian Draghici. Tai Long Tey of Memphis, a former Malaysian World Team member, won his third Decatur Open title. He defeated former Jamaican national champion Keith Evans of Atlanta 4-0 in the finals. Kawamoto finished tied for fifth. Justin Davis finished second in class AA. James Norris won $50 with his Class BBB finish. Tournament directors for the 11th year were Walt Chenault and Michael Wetzel.
On Wednesday, Nov. 13, one of the club founders Bill Mobley won the club championship and $10. Finishing second was David Landry, who earned $5. Don Gaither, 16-time champion, finished third. David Landry and Ernesto Kawamoto participated in the National Team Tournament in Baltimore on Thanksgiving weekend as members of the Four Jedi's. The club celebrated with a Christmas party on Dec. 12 at the home of Mo and Martha Brooks. Winning $25 gift certificates were David Landry, Peter Jones, Christian Draghici and Michael Wetzel. Ed Watts, Walt Chenault and Greg won table tennis supplies. Mo and Chelsea Brooks gave lessons in foosball. Thirty-five members and guests attended the party.


Ernesto Kawamoto of UAH became the first state player to qualify for ACUI college nationals four times by finishing second in the ACUI Region 6 competition in Athens, Ga., on Feb. 7-8. He lost in the finals to John Mar of the University of Georgia 4-1. Michael Wetzel of NATTC was the Region 6 assistant director helping UGA's Sarah Woodall. The national ACUI tournament is at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Wetzel and Kawamoto enjoyed watching Jason Cruz of the University of Puerto Rico win his third billiards championship.

Don Johnson, Fred Mitchell, Mike Lowder and John Lewis each had succesful tournaments in Atlanta in early March.
Michael Wetzel served as press director and Ernesto Kawamoto, an athlete escort and drug committee volunteer, at the USA World/Pan Am Team Trials at the Sporting Club at Windy Hill in Atlanta March 16-22. Each shot photos for the USATT web site and national magazine. Morgan Tang and Duke Stogner of Birmingham also worked the the team trials.
Jiang Gu of Mobile won the 2003 state championships at Brahan Spring defeating Adam Brown of Riverchase in the finals 4-1. Ernesto Kawamoto and David Landry, both of Huntsville, won the state doubles crown defeating Justin Davis of Decatur and Jason Denton of Trinity in the finals 4-1. NATTC's Cristian Draghici of Owens Cross Roads won the seniors title. Landry won the juniors title. David's sister, Alisha Landry, won the women's title over Denita Denton of Trinity. NATTC's Jishnu Saha of Huntsville won the U-1500, U-1400 and Class A doubles crown. A half-page story with 2 photos on the tournament was featured on page 33 of the July/August 2003 issue of USA Table Tennis.
The end of April and early May saw Fred Mitchell, David Landry, Ernesto Kawamoto and Michael Wetzel conduct 4 table tennis exhibitions, clinics and tournaments at Lawrence County School, R.A. Hubbard Elementary in Courtland, Hazlewood High School in Town Creek, Mount Hope High School and Speake School. Don McPhearson was the coordinator. The group was paid $100 from Lawrence County's 21st Century After-School Program. At the May 3 Scenic Open in Chattanooga, Don Johnson won Class A and Jim Stark took home third place in Class C. The USA Table Tennis Magazine's July/August 2003 issue, page 35, read "In the A tournament, Don Johnson of Huntsville (actually Somerville), the self-proclaimed "bad kneed, slow motion, old man" managed to win the extra match from the second place spot of his RR to best Tommy Dailey in his semifinal. Simon Brain had take a hard fought 3-2 match from Priscilla Umel only to fall in straight games from the crafty, long pips, Deputy Dawg look alike.
Don Johnson, Mike Lowder, John Lewis and Fred Mitchell II each enjoyed big wins at the Atlanta Spring Open in mid May.
In June, Don Johnson has knee surgery. John Abraham of Danbury, Connecticut visits for two weeks while working at a seminar at Intergraph.
July 2-6, David Landry and Bill Mobley played in the U.S. Open in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Jishnu Saha traveled to Detroit to compete in the USA Junior Olympics.
Two-time Olympian Sean O'Neill of Charlottesville, Va., defeated Tai Long Tey of Memphis 4-1 to win the 12th annual Decatur Open on Aug. 16 at the Aquadome. NATTC's David Landry and Ernesto Kawamoto each finished as quarterfinalists. Former NATTC member Chip Patton of Pittsburgh, Pa., won Class AA over Shelby Lane of Memphis. Jishnu Saha finished second in Class BBB; Andrew Strong finished third in Class BBB and Fred Mitchell II was second in Class A. Click here for complete results of the 12th Decatur Open. About 30 players and guests enjoyed a post-tournament party at China Town Buffett.
On Sept. 6-7, Ernesto Kawamoto won more than $200, David Landry $141.50 and Michael Wetzel $30 at the $10,000 Spinmania tournament. David and Ernesto tied for the U-2000 event and second in U-4100 doubles. Wetzel and Warren McNeil of Dothan teamed to finish second in the U-3500 doubles.
On Sept. 15, 5-year-old Logan Michael Wetzel was featured in the USATT Photo of the Week wearing his table tennis hat with 33 balls and 2 mini-bats designed by his mom, Windy. He was also wearing a 2003 Decatur Open shirt.
Don Johnson, Fred Mitchell II and Bob Countess brought home hardware from the Alabama Masters Games in Valley on Oct. 6. Don won a gold in the 65-69 age division with Bob finishing second with a silver. Fred dominated the 55-59 division earning a gold. On Nov. 7-8, Andrew Strong, Bill Mobley, Mike Lowder, Fred Mitchell and Don Johnson went played in the Atlanta Giant RR. Andrew Strong won Class C. Don Johnson qualified for championship, Mobley for Class A. Fred Mitchell defeated a 1600 rated player for a nice adjustment in his rating.
On Nov. 24, David Landry's photo in action at the Spin Mania Tournament in Atlanta in September was selected as USATT photo of the week.
On Dec. 6, Club members Dr. Ted Edwards, Don Johnson, Fred B. Mitchell III and Michael Wetzel competed in the Anniston Army Depot tournament. Wetzel finished second losing to Tommie Dailey of Birmingham in the finals and then teamed with Dailey to win the doubles title and $50. Don Johnson got $10 for finishing third. In doubles Dr. Edwards and his partner John James won second place and $20. On Dec. 8, 29 club members and guests enjoyed the Christmas party at the China Town Buffett in Decatur. President Ernesto Kawamoto welcomed the guests and introduced the guests. Walt Chenault gave the invocation. Michael Wetzel revisited the club's activities for 2003. The club presented Wetzel with a gift basket for his work on club functions and tournaments. $25 gift certificates were won by Julia Chenault, Jo Whitten, Andrew Strong Jr. and Bill Mobley. Formerly Formosa, China Town Buffet is a major sponsor of the Decatur Open.
Bob Chew of Long Beach, Calif., visited the club for two week in mid-December.
Ralph Halladay is back at the club after a 10-year absence.
The club will not meet at Brahan Spring for two weeks due to Christmas Eve and New Years Eve playing dates.

Thirty-three players attended the first meeting of the year at Brahan Spring.
On Jan. 28, longtime treasurer and founder Dean Thomas and long-time club member Mal McGehee were honored before league play. Club vice president Michael Wetzel read the plaque context to the 25 members in attendance.
Ernesto Kawamoto won the Jan. 30 Bumpernets tournament. Michael Wetzel finished fourth.
Michael Wetzel served as press director and Ernesto Kawamoto as the field of play supervisor at the North American Olympic Doubles Trials at the Adamsville Recreation Center in Atlanta, April 3-4. Ilija Lupulesku and Mark Hazinski and Jasna Reed and Whitney Ping of the USA won berths to the Athens Olympics in August.
Chip Patton returned to the North Alabama TT Club on April 17 after four years of working in Pittsburgh, Pa. Chip was the original webmaster of the NATTC.com site and resumed duties as such.
On May 1 at the Anniston Army Depot, Adam Brown of Riverchase defeated David Landry of Huntsville in the finals of the state tournament. Others from the NATTC doing well were Ernesto Kawamoto and David Landry first place, championship doubles; Chip Patton and Michael Wetzel third place championship doubles; Ernesto Kawamoto, elite singles, first place; Bill Mobley seniors, first; Chip Patton, seniors, second place. All players received a T-shirt, pizza and drinks. It was the first state tournament hosted by the Anniston Army Depot.
The Decatur Open became an annual sellout. The 2004 winner was Tai Long Tey. It was his record fourth Decatur Open win.

Election of club officers was held during the regular club meeting at Brahan Spring on January 12. The following positions were filled (* indicates the winner(s); vote totals appear to the right of each candidate's name):

President (Incumbent: Ernesto Kawamoto)
* Bill Mobley - 17
Chip Patton - 6

Vice President (Incumbent: John Lewis)
* Chip Patton - 17
Bill Mobley - 6

Treasurer (Incumbent: Dean Thomas)
* Dean Thomas

Secretary (Incumbent: Walt Chenault)
*Walt Chenault

Tournament Committee (standing members):
* Mike Wetzel - 18
* Bill Mobley - 16
* Walt Chenault - 15
* Andrew Strong - 14
Chip Patton - 13
Fred Mitchell - 10

Club League / Activities Committee (standing members):
* Ed Watts - 20
* Bill Mobley - 19
* Walt Chenault - 16
* Chip Patton - 15
Fred Mitchell - 12
David Wilder - 1 (write in)

Results were certified by Club Member Collin Fullerton with Bill Mobley, Chip Patton, Mike Wetzel and Nathaniel Patton assisting.
At the state championships at the Anniston Army Depot, Adam Brown won the singles title. David Landry and Ernesto Kawamoto won championship doubles. Jane Wang of Hoover won the women's title. David Landry won his last of five junior titles and Chip Patton won his first seniors championship. Michael Wetzel and Mike Harris were the co-directors.
Michael Wetzel, regional umpire, worked the World Cerebral Palsy Table Tennis Championships in New London, Connecticut, in July. He became wheelchair certified at the event.
At the Decatur Open in August, Soon Chian Lim of Memphis took the overall title.
Michael Wetzel became a certified referee by passing his exam in Murfreesboro, Tenn., on Sept. 9 at the RoboPong Championships at Middle Tennessee State University. He also officiated the quarterfinals, semifinals and finals of the event. Chip Patton played seven-time US champion Danny Seemiller in the seniors event there. Ernesto Kawamoto served as scorekeeper in the semifinals.
Ernesto Kawamoto, Bill Mobley, Chip Patton and Michael Wetzel participated in the 2005 U.S. Nationals in Las Vegas in December. Kawamoto, who also worked as a staff member at the event, finished in the semis of the U-2000 event. He lost to Daniel Seemiller Jr., who won the division.
Wetzel passed his written and oral national umpire exams to become one of seven certified national umpires in the nation.


Adam Brown won the 2006 state singles crown and he then teamed with Patrick Sullivan to win the state doubles crown. The pair defeated Patton and Wetzel in the semis and David Landry and Kawamoto in the finals.
It marked the first time, eight-time doubles champion Kawamoto had not won the event. The tournament was held at the Optimistic Club in Huntsville on March 25.
In late May, the inaugural state team championships saw three NATTC teams sweep the top spots.
The Mr. Sushi team of Ernesto Kawamoto and David Landry won $412 as the champions. Jason Denton and Bill Mobley, playing as Spintech, won $200 taking second place. The third-place team of Oliver Demaneuf, Chip Patton and Michael Wetzel were sponsored by Robbins Table Tennis.
Kawamoto also won the hard bat singles championship defeating Duke Stogner of Hoover in the finals. Landry lost to Stogner in the semifinals.
The tournament was held at the Anniston Army Depot.

At the Decatur Open in August at the Aquadome Recreation Center, Didi DeSouza of Atlanta won the Decatur Open.
Sometime in the fall all files on the club website disappeared. Most of the text files and many of the photos had been backed up and were mostly restored by the end of the year. Some photos were lost, particularly ones from 2001 - 2004. Others are still being found and restored. As of the end of 2006 only the 2004 - 2006 Decatur Open tournament pages remained to be restored, plus a number of broken links need to be fixed. Chip is getting to them as he can. Thanks for your hard work Mr. Webmaster!


On January 10 the club held a meeting before club play and voted to donate 2 of our oldest tables to the Decatur Recreation Department. We donated tables numbered 10 and 12 on January 16. The club also voted to hold officer elections on January 31 (see below).

Elections 2007

(The new officers are Chip Patton, president; David Wilder, Michael Wetzel, vice presidents; Walt Chenault, secretary; and Ed Watts, treasurer.)
The positions listed below will be elected on January 31, 2007.
Nominations are due by midnight on Wednesday, January 24 and will be posted here. Any club member can nominate one other member for each position

Nominations (as of 1/24/2007):

If any nominee does not wish to run for that position, please inform

Notes: Bill Mobley has asked not to be listed for Vice President (nominated by Chip Patton); David Wilder has asked not to be listed for League / Activity Committee (nominated by Bill Mobley); Bill Mobley had nominated 3 people for VP but could only nominate 2 per the by-laws and he had also nominated Don McCrary for Secretary so he has withdrawn his nomination of Don McCrary for VP; Dick Cloyd asked to withdraw from the Treasurer race at the club meeting on 1/24 (nominated by Bill Mobley);
Also at the club meeting the current officers (less Dean Thomas) and most of the officer candidates met to set a few guidelines for the election: in order to be eligible to vote a person must have played in at least 5 league sessions at Brahan Spring in the last 12 months (these are posted with the league results); also Bill will make up the ballots and voting will be from approximately 6:50 PM and conclude 10 minutes later, no more ballots will be given out, and no more votes accepted after the 10 minutes, i.e. about 7:00 PM; the current Secretary Walt Chenault will collect the ballots and count them with club member Collin Fullerton.
Scans of written nominations: by Chip Patton | by Mike Wetzel

The Mr. Sushi team of David Landry and Ernesto Kawamoto won the State Team Championship at the Anniston Army Depot.
At the state championships in Dothan, Adam Brown won his fifth state singles crown. He then teammed with his father Homer Brown to win the state doubles title. It is the first time in state history a father-son team won the crown.
At the Decatur Open in August, Arjun Shankaren of Louisville, Ky. won the title.
Michael Wetzel, Jason Denton and Bill Mobley each participated in the U.S. Nationals at the Las Vegas Convention Center in December.
In March, Mr. Sushi (David Landry and Ernesto Kawamoto) won again at the state team tournament at the Anniston Army Depot.
On April 20, Michael Wetzel passed his international umpire exam. International referee Wendell Dillon administered the test to him at the Anniston Public Library. Wetzel became one of 25 active IUs in the nation.
In May, David Landry won his first state singles crown by beating Tommie Dailey in the finals at Spain Park High School in Hoover.

Ernesto Kawamoto and David Landry won the state doubles crown.
In August, the nation's sixth-ranked player Shigang Yang (2621) had an easy time winning the Decatur Open. He defeated Chance Friend of Crowley, Texas, in the finals.
In December, Michael Wetzel, Jason Denton and Bill Mobley took part in the US Nationals in Las Vegas. Wetzel was awarded the Dr. Michael Scott Award as the top umpire of the tournament. He receive $150 and a plaque. He also officiated the men's singles title match between David Zhuang and Cheng Ying Hua. Zhuang won.

Mr. Sushi (David Landry and Ernesto Kawamoto) won the state team title in Anniston.
David Landry defeated Ujwal Shresta of Birmingham in the first-ever state closed hosted in Decatur.
Chance Friend of Crowley, Texas, won the Decatur Open.
Bill Mobley and Michael Wetzel participated in the US Nationals in Las Vegas.
Mr. Sushi (David Landry and Ernesto Kawamoto) won the state team title in Anniston.
David Landry won the state singles title at the Anniston Army Depot. Ernesto Kawamoto and David Landry won the doubles title.
Bong Geun Kim of Atlanta won the Decatur Open.
Bill Mobley and Michael Wetzel participated in the US Nationals in Las Vegas.
Sakoa Sushi (David Landry and Ernesto Kawamoto) finished second in the state teams tournament at the Anniston Army Depot.
David Landry won his fourth straight singles title at the Aquadome Recreation Center in Decatur. David Landry and Ernesto Kawamoto defeated Adam Brown and Barnabas Gonzales in the finals for their record seventh doubles title.
Tournament referee Michael Wetzel competed in his 32nd straight state championships. His first was at the Gardendale Recreation Center in March 1980.
Logan Wetzel, 12, passed his club umpire exam to become one of the youngest certified umpires in the nation.

John Mar of Atlanta won the 20th annual Decatur Open. In 20 years, no player has won the event in consecutive years.
Club members Michael Wetzel (umpire) and Chip Patton (player) participated in the 2011 U.S. Nationals in Virginia Beach, Va. Wetzel served as the deputy chief umpire.
The BumperNets team of Adam Brown and Barnabas Gonzalez won its second straight Alabama Teams Closed title at the Anniston Army Depot, defeating Sakoa Sushi (David Landry and Ernesto Kawamoto) 3-1 in the finals.
David Landry won his fifth straight singles title and then teamed with Ernesto Kawamoto to win their state record eighth doubles titles at the Alabama Closed in early May at the Anniston Army Depot.
Former Egyptian team member Sameh Awadallah, now living in Nashville, had no problem winning the 21st annual Decatur Open.
He defeated former Togo champion Didi DeSouza of Atlanta 4-0 in the finals. The quarterfinals match between Corey Van Wagner of Atlanta and Amber Li of Tuscaloosa, was perhaps the most thrilling match in the Decatur Open history. Van Wagner won 3-2, with all five games close.
The tournament enjoyed excellent media coverage from the Decatur Daily and WAFF 48 TV from Huntsville. Sports anchor Carl Prather aired a two-minute segment which included interviews with several players including Scott Lane of Lane Music, Roger Dickson of Newgy and Reggie Wilson of Memphis.
During 2012, the North Alabama Table Tennis officially started a club night at the Aquadome Recreation Center in Decatur when it began meeting on Mondays. Some of the time about 10-20 club members played in the gym and other times in the meeting room with between three and five tables set up. A big thanks goes to club members John Ingouf and Shannon Bishop for establishing the Aquadome venue.
BumperNets won its third consecutive Alabama Teams Championship on March 23 at the Anniston Army Depot. Adam Brown, who went undefeated in the tournament, teamed with Barnabas Gonzalez to defeat Blazer Tide (Ujwal Shrestha and Amber Li) in the finals 3-1.
Amber Li, an University of Alabama student from China, had upset wins over Gonzalez and Landry in the tournament. Her lone loss was to Adam Brown, 3-1, the final match of the day.
David Landry of Huntsville, who received his Ph.D in astrophysics a month earlier, won his sixth straight singles championship in Decatur's Aquadome on May 18. Adam Brown and Barnabas Gonzalez won the state doubles title for the first time as a team. For Brown it was his fourth doubles title.
Michael Wetzel, tournament director/referee, competed in his 34ths straight state championships. He played doubles with Ed Watts. Because of work commitments in Miami, Tommie Daily of Birmingham missed his first state tournament after 26 straight years.
In June, Logan and Michael Wetzel served as scorekeepers and umpires of the Lady Antebellum charity table tennis tournament at the Fan Fair of the Country Music Festival in Nashville. NATTC member Gus Martinez, who was interning at NASA for the summer, won second place in the tournament and received a Newgy robot. Bumpernets' Adam and Homer Brown won the fan tournament and played Lady Antebellum's Dave Haywood and Charles Kelley in the finals in front of an estimated 500 fans at the Music Center in Nashville. They each received autographed guitars for winning the fan tournament.
In July, Wetzel served as the chief umpire of the ITTF World Tour's Americas Challenge in Las Vegas. He had 49 umpires from 16 countries under his direction. His son, Logan Wetzel, was a staff volunteer at the event and worked with registration and scoring for the internet live streaming of the matches in the center court. Adam Brown, Homer Brown and Barnabas Gonzalez all played in the US Open at the Las Vegas Convention Center, where both events were held.
On Aug. 17, Chinese college student Cheng Li, of Mississippi College, defeated Egyptian Sameh Awadallah, now living in Nashville, 4-0 in the finals of the 22nd annual Decatur Open at the Aquadome Recreation Center.
Club president Chip Patton and vice president Michael Wetzel met with Calhoun Community College athletic director Nancy Keenum on Jan. 19 about hosting the annual Decatur Open in the Carlton Kelley Gymnasium on the college campus, just north of Decatur. The gym offered more space and better lighting than the Aquadome Recreation Center.
On Tuesday, Feb. 4, Chip Patton and John Ingouf conducted a table tennis class at the college. Most students of the class were members of the college's softball and baseball teams.
John Ingouf has about 15-20 players showing up at the Aquadome Recreation Center on Monday nights.
Shannon Bishop starts a youth table tennis group at Decatur Heritage Christian Academy three times a week. On Saturday mornings, the school's gym is open to players of all ages from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Bishop has four top quality Joola tables at the school.
On March 29, at the Anniston Army Depot, the Edo Sushi team of David Landry and Ernesto Kawamoto defeat the BumperNets team of Adam Brown and Barnabas Gonzalez to win their sixth Alabama Team Championships.
On May 17, at the Anniston Army Depot, David Landry wins his seventh-straight singles title at the Alabama Closed. He defeated Adam Brown in the finals, 4-2.
In championship doubles, Landry and Kawamoto defeated Brown and Gonzalez in the finals to win their ninth title. It was the 14th overall doubles crown for Kawamoto. A state record.
Michael Wetzel played doubles with Chip Patton (lost in the semis to Brown-Gonzalez 3-0) for his 35th straight state tournament participation. A state record.
Barnabas Gonzalez and Homer Brown of Birmingham competed in the US Open in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Michael Wetzel and his son Logan worked the tournament as volunteer umpires and Logan worked on the results and video graphics staff.
On Aug. 22, Cheng Li of Clinton, Miss., won his second straight Decatur Open, to become the first back-to-back champion in the tournament's 23-year history. 2015
March 1: William "Bill" Mobley, North Alabama Table Tennis Club co-founder (Huntsville TTC at the time), former club president, Alabama state doubles, Seniors and Esquires champion passed away today. He loved to play here in North Alabama, over in Georgia, back in New York and at big tournaments all around the country. Bill and Don Gaither and Ralph Kissel dominated the top club table through the 80's and 90's -- it was those three and the "guest(s) of the week" on our top table. Bill continued to hold his spot against younger members well into the 2000's. Bill was always a competitor and fun to play.
The BumperNets team of Zhiqiao Joe Xie, Barnabas Gonzalez and Adam Brown won the state team tournament at the Anniston Army Depot on March 28. Bumpernets defeated the EDO Sushi team of Ernesto Kawamoto and David Landry in the finals.
On May 16 at the Anniston Army Depot, Joe Xie (2448) won his first singles crown, defeating David Landry (2122) 4-2 in the finals. In open doubles, Ernesto Kawamoto and David Landry won their 10th doubles title. It was a state-record 15th title for Kawamoto. Ben Hartwiger of Birmingham won his first juniors title defeating Shehzan Maredia of Birmingham in the finals. Ivan Skripnik of McCalla won his second senior crown beating Chip Patton of Madison, a five-time senior winner, in the finals 3-0. Tom Alexy of Jacksonville won his second esquires title. Michael Wetzel played in his 36th straight state closed tournament, teaming with Chip Patton in the championship doubles division (lost in the first round to Shehzan Maredia and Daniel Adkins 3-0).