Local table tennis plays win double championship

Staff Writer
Echo Pilot
Austin Stouffer and Jef Savage win the Baltimore tournament again.

Two local players from The Table Tennis Centre, Mercersburg, travelled to Baltimore to compete in the U3600 Single Elimination doubles event at the Chesapeake Open Table Tennis Tournament March 20. Austin Stouffer, 15, from Greencastle, and Jef Savage, 59, from Mercersburg, have been practicing hard for the past two weeks to prepare for the event.

Their first opponents were a young Chinese team with strong loops and good services. The hours of doubles practice paid off with a convincing 3-0 win. Using short serves and simple tactics the PA pair were never in trouble. Next up was TerriLee Bell and Keith Tademy (MD). This looked a tougher proposition for the debutante partnership, and it was. They took the first game, making the most of their serves. The second game saw Stouffer  punishing any high ball with his devastating loop and Savage attacking services to go 2-0 up. The third game proved more difficult, Savage having trouble against the tomahawk serve. The opponent pulled the match back to 2-1.

The fouth game had some high drama at 9-9, when one point looked completely lost. With Savage badly out of position and stranded, a dead ball return looked as if it was going to hit the floor. Savage scrambled across and chopped the ball six inches off the floor deep onto the table for a winner. The momentum and initiative had changed in favor of the PA pair and at 10-9 they were serving for the match. A missed return gave them the match 3-1 and passage into the final, where they faced Patrick Lui and Irving Goldstein, both from Eldersburg, Md.

Maryland versus Pennsylvania looked like another tough match with the Maryland rating of 3,539 being 234 above the PA pair's 3,305. Lui played with a hard bat and Irving had short pips on one side and smooth on the other — a real difficult combination for the unwary. The PA team focused on returning Lui's serves with Savage punching them straight back at him to force Goldstein to play his smooth side and crowd Lui's movement. When Goldstein served Stouffer ripped them at Liu, forcing weak returns for Savage to pick off. Neither of them could handle Stouffer's serves very well. The game sequence was 1-0, 1-1, 2-1, 3-1, with the two wins fairly comfortable keeping them below seven points. In the fourth game the Maryland team had to change tactics or lose. The PA team were expecting a change, making the game close at 10-9, with Goldstein hitting off to lose 11-9 making the Franklin County partnership champions.