Eagle River man wins table tennis tournament
Eagle River’s Dave DeMay won the Under 1500 Hard Bat title at the USA Table Tennis National Tournament, which was held Dec. 18-22 in Las Vegas.
Bringing gold back to Alaska from a tournament that featured nearly 800 athletes was a surprise to DeMay.
“It’s something you certainly don’t expect going in,” he said.
The competition was fierce, DeMay said, and he was satisfied simply advancing past the first round.
“Each match was really close,” he said. “I never really expected to win any of those matches.”
After defeating top-seeded Albert Blatt, of Florida, DeMay rallied to beat Arizona’s Tim Wright to earn a spot in the finals.
DeMay downed Roger Keely, of California, 21-18, 14-21, 21-17 to claim the championship.
“I was pretty exhausted but still pretty excited,” DeMay said of his reaction to winning.
DeMay’s fatigue was due to competing in the hard bat division.
Unlike modern table tennis, hard bat paddles don’t have a sponge behind the rubber exterior, DeMay said, which decreases the ball’s speed and limits the amount of spin players can put on the ball.
“It’s more of a strategy type game,” he said. “Moving people into different positions and trying to get them out of position.”
Hard bat games typically take more time than modern matches, DeMay said.
“The points are longer,” he said. “It’s like chess. You’ve got to work up to a future shot.”
DeMay usually plays with modern paddles, but likes to enter hard bat tournaments when he has the chance.
Though hard bat events are rare these days, DeMay said Fairbanks holds a tournament each March and the past few years he’s participated in North Carolina’s Cary Cup, another hard bat tournament.
DeMay, 57, played most of his table tennis during the late 1970s and 80s. He took a hiatus from the game while serving in the military for two decades.
Today, DeMay said most of his matches are played in the garage of a friend.
“It’s all for fun,” he said.
Contact Mike Nesper at 694-2727 or firstname.lastname@example.org.