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SATURDAY, AUGUST 18, 2007
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Third-seeded Chance Friend practices Friday at the Aquadome for the Decatur Open Table Tennis tournament, which begins Saturday.
Daily photo by Jonathan Palmer
Third-seeded Chance Friend practices Friday at the Aquadome for the Decatur Open Table Tennis tournament, which begins Saturday.

Decatur Open brings players from 10 states

By Michael Wetzel
mwetzel@decaturdaily.com · 340-2462

Not only has no Decatur area player ever won the Decatur Open Table Tennis tournament in its 16 years of existence, no Alabama player has been crowned champion either.

In the tournament's early years, state players came close. Three of the first four tournaments saw a state player in the finals, but none since the tournament's popularity has soared, attracting players from as far away as Canada, New Hampshire, Chicago and Key West, Fla. Now, three Olympians and former Malaysian and African champions own Decatur Open titles.

This year's annual USATT-sanctioned event at the Aquadome Recreation Center finds 71 players from 10 states competing for nearly $1,000 in cash prizes and trophies Saturday.

Soon Chian Lim of Memphis is this year's top-ranked player. The former Malaysian world junior team member won the 2005 Decatur Open after two second-place finishes. Last year, former African champion Didi DeSouza of Marietta, Ga., kept Lim from being the tournament's first champion to successfully defend his or her title. Lim fell 4-1 in the finals.

Pushing Lim will be Indian star Arjun Shankaren of Louisville, Ky., the current bluegrass state champion. Shankaren, who lost in last year's semifinals to Lim, fell 4-1 in the 2004 Decatur Open finals to four-time champion Tai Long Tey of Memphis.

The tournament's third seed is in the nation's top 20 for 16-and-under players. Chance Friend of Plano, Texas, brings his fast-improving game to Decatur with four other family members who also are all entered.

Alabama's best shot at winning rides on the shoulders of Jason Denton of Ardmore, the tournament's fifth seed. The 2002 Alabama champion brings his powerful backhand game to town looking for a couple of upsets to put him on the victory stand.

Three Birmingham players, Tommie Dailey, Terry Hamilton and Homer Brown, along with Madison's Chip Patton and Huntsville's Bill Mobley are hoping for top-eight finishes, guaranteeing them paychecks on the day.

Tournament co-director Walt Chenault said the tournament features some of the top players in the South as well as some beginners in their first tournament.

The North Alabama Table Tennis Club and the Decatur Parks and Recreation are tournament hosts. The event begins at 9 a.m. with finals scheduled for 7:15 p.m. There is no admission charge.

Decatur Open tournament draw

Super Six

(Receiving byes into the afternoon pool)

Soon Chian Lim, Memphis

Arjun Shankaren, Louisville, Ky.

Chance Friend, Plano, Texas

Liedy Handoko, Cordova, Tenn.

Jason Denton, Ardmore

Peng Liang, Brentwood, Tenn.

Preliminary groups

Tier I

Nucor

Tommie Dailey, Birmingham

Vijay Deshmukh, Lakeland, Tenn.

Warren McNeil, Dothan

Ruying Chang, Louisville, Ky.

Danny Crowson, Delta

Pepsi of Decatur

Terry Hamilton, Birmingham

Kin Chan, Madison

Danya Budiman, Salem, N.H.

Scott Landon, Marianna, Fla.

Scott Lane, Collierville, Tenn.

The Decatur Daily

Slawomir Waclawik, Nashville

Michael Harris, Anniston

Brad Williams, Mayfield, Ky.

David Budenstein, Niceville, Fla.

Andrew Strong, Decatur

Sutton and Associates

Roger Jett, Murray, Ky.

L.A. Johnston, Pensacola, Fla.

Barry Putman, Attalla

Ujwal Shrestha, Birmingham

Carl Lewis Sr., Memphis

Burningtree Country Club

Ricardo Abril, Nashville

Chuck Outlaw, Dothan

Wing Chan, Madison

Bob Bowlander, Waco, Ga.

John Todd, Metairie, La.

Bumpernets of Birmingham

Homer Brown, Hoover

Bill Mobley, Huntsville

Dinh Le, Memphis

Ted Melton, Pelham

Adrian Nuta, Brentwood, Tenn.

Lane Music Co. of Memphis

Chip Patton, Madison

Chris Crider, Mayfield, Ky.

Denis Fritchie, Cordova, Tenn.

Major Wang, Nashville

Prakash Prasai, Birmingham

Tier II

Lang’s Sporting Goods

Ed Watts, Huntsville

Andrew Davis, Boaz, Ky.

Dale Gardner, Mobile

Thanh Nguyen, Birmingham

Renee Chan, Madison

Jimmy Smith Jewelers

Yang Xiao, Northport

Paul Holliger, Louisville, Ky.

Trevor Chan, Madison

Brian LaBarre, Leland, Miss.

Cheryl Friend, Plano, Texas

Robbinstabletennis.com

Alex LeHocky, Smyrna, Tenn.

Richard Cloyd, Huntsville

T.J. Nguyen, Birmingham

Collin Fullerton, Huntsville

Aaron Posner, Collierville, Tenn.

Microtel Inn and Suites

Joseph Fonbah, Northport

Li Hok Ming, Madison

Robert McNeal, Fairfield

Bill Sutton, Montgomery

MacKenzie Friend, Plano, Texas

Awards and Engraving Plus

Fred B. Mitchell II, Athens

Chris Sharp, Chicago

Todd Friend, Plano, Texas

Jonas Boateng, Huntsville

Kim Nguyen, Birmingham

Decatur Parks and Recreation

Larry White, Lavergne, Tenn.

Kong Chan, Madison

Bob LaBarre, Vicksburg, Miss.

Spencer Friend, Plano, Texas

Chris Phillips, Mobile

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