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Classic Hardbat World Championships: Over 60

Over 60 at the Classic Hardbat World Championships:
Randy Hou and Other Pips-Out Penholders Dominate

By Larry Hodges

At the US Nationals a month ago, Randy Hou won two golds (Over 70 Singles, Over 60 Doubles), a silver (Over 50 Doubles) and two bronzes (Over 50 Singles, Sandpaper Singles). Other than the sandpaper singles, it was with sponge. He has a USATT rating of 2269 . . . at the age of 71. You heard that right. So it’s no surprise that he won Over 60 Singles here at the Classic Hardbat World Championships.

He might have won more at the Nationals and given us a hint of his hardbat level . . . except he was defaulted. He had a conflict and told the umpire. He thought the umpire was going to let the desk know – but the umpire didn’t, and not knowing he had to go to conflict resolution, he was defaulted out of the event. So he was stuck with only five medals, and we were left unaware of his true hardbat level.

It’s not just table tennis that Randy excels at. He said he is interested in all sports, especially soccer and volleyball, which he says he plays at the same level as table tennis. He’s a realtor but says he’s “half retired.”

He’s a pips-out penholder, and the pips help in making the transition to sandpaper and hardbat. He plays a very aggressive forehand and both hits and blocks with his backhand. Now 71, he trains at the Texas Table Tennis Training Center. And the training has paid off.

In the preliminaries, he upset top-seeded George Guo. In the semifinals, he played . . . me. I had beaten him at this event one year ago, but alas, this time was not to be. Suffice to say that with my style, I live by the forehand and die by the forehand. I died, and Randy Hou was on to the finals, -7,9,6,9.

In the other semifinals, it was Bin Hai Chu over George Guo, -11,8,7,9, in another battle of penholders. (I was the only shakehander in the semifinals. The other three were all pips-out penholders with conventional penhold backhands – no reverse penhold backhands.)

In the final, it was Randy over Bin Hai Chu, 10,9,6. Not only did this give him the title (and $400), but it says about what might also have been at the Nationals, where the final was George Guo over Bin Hai Chu – and here, Randy “upset” both of them. And, against younger players, he made it all the way to the quarterfinals of Open Hardbat here, for another $150. There he played Alexander “The Flash” Flemming, the World Ping-Pong Champion (sandpaper). While he lost 3-0, in the first he had The Flash on his heels, leading 9-7 before losing that game.

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