Ping pong tournament draws players from near and far

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Fifty ping pong players, who compete in table tennis clubs from Columbus to Pittsburgh, converged in Belmont Saturday at the old Belmont school building for the Belmont Table Tennis Club’s 2nd annual open tournament. Forty nine men and one very talented woman competed in the tournament.

In the “A” division finals Columbus resident, Olena Sowers, who was the United States Open 13 and under singles champion in 2004 and has competed as a member of a number of national teams including the USA Junior national team, spun, blocked and smashed her way into the finals, where she ran into a mountain of a man named Rick Vesel. The two staged an exciting, crowd pleasing battle in the trophy contest with Vesel coming out on top, winning the championship 3-2, but the fifth game was extended several exciting minutes before either player could obtain a two-point margin to claim the victory. Vesel is from Hudson, Ohio and competes in a number of clubs in both Akron and Cleveland.

There were also B and C division competitions for the weekend warriors who couldn’t compete against nationally ranked players. In the B division Carl Eppley of Newark defeated Kent Mallatt of Newark. The C divison singles title went to John Rockwell of Beallsville who toppled fellow Beallsvillian Ted Cope. In the doubles division, singles champ Vessel teamed with Aaron May of St. Clairsville to take the trophy, downing Sowers and Paul Miller of Newark.

Barnesville resident Jon Thorton, one of the area’s best tennis and ping pong players, organized the event along with assistance from Aaron May of St. Clairsville. Trophies for the tournament were donated by Joe’s Tires.

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