The medal winners in table tennis are (top left photo from left) Ed Dilworth, Bob Taylor and George Levesque with tournament director Gerry Robichaux in the background; (top right photo from left) Velma Johnson, Vickie Mericle and Donna Cole, with Meet Referee George Esters in background: (bottom photo from left) Ken Hansen, Bob Bachman and Joe Rice, with District Chairman Ron Comstock in background.
YOUNGER PLAYERS HOPED TO RENEW GLORIES PAST
Bob Taylor, a veteran of many table tennis battles in NW La. District Senior Olympics Past, newcomer Bob Lachman and tactician Vickie Mericle won Gold Medals Thursday in the District Table Tennis competition at Bossier Recreation Office Complex.
Mericle had too much knowledge and experience in the female bracket. She swept Velma Johnson and Donna Cole in the best-of-five matches, utilizing different grips on her paddle and strategies to exploit the weaknesses of her foes.
"This is a great sport," said Mericle during the evening. "I'd like to see more seniors playing it. I think it should be taught to young people in school."
Like a poised cat Taylor, 74, waited to the right moment to strike in winning the Gold Medal over 73-year-old foes Ed Dilworth and George Levesque in their three-man round robin. He was content to trade shots with his two foes, waiting to fire a powerful forehand for winners at just the right moment.
The Levesque-Taylor match was introduced as Canada vs. Louisiana Tech by the tournament announcer. Levesque, a French Canadian, even stopped play and placed his hand over his heart when someone in the crowd broke into a chorus of "O Canada."
After they split four sets, Taylor won the decider over Dilworth 11-7.
Lachman, 57, won in a three-man round robin made up of himself, and 67-year-olds Joe Rice and Ken Hansen, all of whom wondered aloud if they could recall any of the skills they had in years past. "It's been a long time since I played. Back in college ," said Hansen when contacted about the tournament. "I don't know if I will be able to give anyone a game," said Lachman. "I can't remember when I played table tennis last," said Rice, a regular tennis player cajoled into playing in the tournament at the last minute. The bracket proved competitive, with Rice coming along throughout the course of play, showing more and more skill with each game, relying more and more on a forehand for winners. He managed to win split-setters in the second and third matches he played.
Hansen ran into a string of Lachman shots that barely nipped the baseline of the table at crucial moments.
The tournament went off smoothly, thanks to George Esters, who acted as Meet Referee and o kept an eye on several matches at once throughout the evening. "We couldn't have done this without George," said District Table Tennis Coordinator Gerry Robichaux.
Females Ages 55-69: Vickie Mericle. Silver Velma Johnson. Bronze Donna Cole.
Males Ages 55-69: Bob Lachman Gold. Joe Rice Silver. Ken Hansen Bronze. 70-74: Bob Taylor Gold. Ed Dilworth Silver. George Loevesque Bronze.