You Had To Be There

There were only three teams competing in this year’s Georgia Cup team tournament. I imagined that it would go pretty quickly. We did manage to finish by midafternoon; but it was some of the most hard fought and grueling table tennis I’ve ever been a part of. The Atlanta International Table Tennis Academy was highly favored. Decatur had put together a strong team; and the T3 team came out of retirement to compete for the first time in five years. 

The three team round robin had our T3 team facing the Table Tennis Academy. I readily admit, I didn’t think we had a realistic chance to take three of the five matches against this significantly higher rated team. I suspect the International Table Tennis Academy didn’t think they had a realistic chance of losing. But, they didn’t count on our A player taking out their A and B players in consecutive matches. Daryll Dubal won two of the necessary three matches to give the T3 team a chance. Our C player was playing at a higher level than either of our competitor’s number threes, and was able to wrap up the unlikely victory. Pierre Dorcelly did not lose a game all day, and kept us alive against the Decatur team, ensuring T3 at least a second place finish.  

Decatur had patiently waited to play the T3 team and faced a mostly exhausted Daryll, Johnathan, and Pierre. Decatur was led by Dale Nembhard, who seemed to be playing well above his USATT rating of 1964. The tournament ended in a three way tie. The Table Tennis Academy switched up their lineup, and blew through Decatur in three straight matches. 

So, the T3 team won the silver. Decatur took bronze; and the International Table Tennis Academy won the gold – but had to work a little harder than expected to do so. T3’s Johnathan Harleston returned the next day and won the under 2000 round robin. The team tournament was table tennis at it’s best. There weren’t a lot of people to witness it, but it was almost as fun to watch as it was to play. Winning a gold medal would have been great. It would have been considered a huge upset. But nobody was too  disappointed with their tournament experience. You had to be there. 

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