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RHODE ISLAND TABLE TENNIS HALL OF FAME CLASS OF 2018

RHODE ISLAND TABLE TENNIS HALL OF FAME CLASS OF 2018

RHODE ISLAND TABLE TENNIS HALL OF FAME CLASS OF 2018

JOE POLSELLI

Joe Polselli Sr. ran the club for much of the 1970’s and 1980’s. He was an active member of the club for over 40 years. Joe was the first person to welcome a whole generation of Rhode Island players.

When you met Joe, he was usually the first one who would hit with a new player and was always a positive role model for sportsmanship and fair play. His love for the sport always showed through in his enthusiasm and commitment to the club. He could easily be found by his signature headband. Joe was the President of the club in the 1970’s and 1980’s,
was league operator of both the A and B leagues, and was there on most practice nights and weekends. He also ran tournaments and became a certified USTTA umpire. During the time Joe was President, there was also a time when there was a C League which ran on Wednesday nights. Joe attended many New England tournaments and travelled to the Easterns in New Jersey and to the US Open in 1979 and 1980. He
was one half of the Rhode Island State Intermediate Doubles championship team in 1978. Joe dedicated and spent many hours serving the club ensuring the continuance of table tennis in Rhode Island. For Joe, the sport of table tennis was a family affair including his children who also participated in leagues, tournaments and practice sessions.

When the Providence club lost the Westminster Street location, Joe spearheaded the effort to have the club continue and was instrumental in the move to RacquetTime facility in Warwick. Despite the move, Joe’s negotiations were able to keep the club fees from increasing and even included the advantage of using the tennis facilities at the new location.

Joe continued to stay active in the club through the move to the current location, and initially took on the responsibility of opening on Saturdays.

In his professional life, Joe retired from the fire protection business where he designed automatic fire protection sprinkler systems for large buildings. Joe currently lives in Warwick, RI and remains active in playing golf.

MARTA ZUROWSKI LACHCIK

Marta Lachcik’s table tennis journey started in 1980 when her father, Kaz Zurowski, brought home a table for their new home. After saving
up her money, Marta bought her own first Stiga paddle. Enclosed in the package was a brochure with information on local tournaments. Not wanting his daughter to fail, Kaz challenged Marta, “You can only enter into a tournament after you beat me in a game!” After a year of hard training, in 1981, Marta defeated her dad and it all started. At her first tournament in Fitchburg, MA in 1981 at the age of twelve, she won the women’s singles and junior’s singles and came in 5th overall. Little did she know that this was just the beginning.

Marta’s dedication led her to find clubs for practice – not an easy task since all of the clubs were an hour or more away. She found that the best club for her was the Rhode Island club. She trained three to four times each week, traveling to different clubs to get in all of the days. She played at RITTA and also sometimes at Waltham or MIT. The training started to pay off.

In 1983, Marta played at the Florence, MA tournament and placed second in the Women’s singles event. She played in the Junior Olympics and won a gold and silver medal. In 1985, whe won the New England championship, and afterwards received invitations to the Olympic Festivals which ran annually until 1993. Over the years, she won numerous medals; bronze in women’s, gold medals in teams, and silver and bronze medals for doubles and mixed doubles. In 1986, Marta was invited to train at the Olympic Training Center in Colrado Springs. She was one of five females in the U.S. who were chosen. Her best year was 1989 when she competed at the Olympic trials and made it to the final eight. Her highest US ranking was No. 14.

Marta competed in the North American Collegiate Table Tennis Championships representing Massachusetts College of Pharmacy. In 1990,
she placed 3rd and in 1991 she placed 2nd in women’s singles.

In 1992, Marta was the Rhode Island State Champion. She remains the only female to have ever won the title.

STEVE HOPKINS

Since arriving in RI in 2003, Steve has been RI State Champion five times and has finished second eight times. However, his contribution to this region are greater than just being a player: he has coached players and run clinics, he has arranged exhibitions, he has run leagues, and has encouraged players and companies to support our events. Steve has taken on the role of club historian (RITTA has records going back to 1937) and in 2017 Steve was a primary force behind a club remodel and fundraiser – where he donated more than any other individual and did so early to set the bar for others. He has arranged sponsorships and equipment deals and in recent years has aided us in becoming a WE ARE BUTTERFLY club.

Steve has not always been a Rhode Islander, and, in fact, has had some other regional and national impact in the sport. He won his first tournament at the age of 7 as a junior in Illinois and moved to the South at the age of 12 where he found that he was hours from the closest club. With the help of his father (who was President of Anderson College and had a facility available), Steve founded a juniors club in 1983. As Steve described; “We soon had 40 kids playing, and that expanded into regular tournaments and summer camps and was eventually the basis for starting an Anderson College team.” Beginning at the age of 12, Steve won the junior title in South Carolina six consecutive years and added a number of junior Olympic and adult singles titles during those years as well. In 1984, the USOC awarded several grants in anticipation of the 1988 Olympics and Steve received a grant to train at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. That same year, his junior team sent four players to the US Open where they won five events between them. Anderson became a hotbed for the sport with monthly tournaments, recognizable sponsors, and international-level players and coaches.

Steve was training full-time with the college team by 1986. That Anderson College team was the first working model for a true collegiate program in the U.S. and by 1986 it had scholarship players and a full-time coach. Augusta College followed quickly (with two of players leaving Anderson to start that program). And then the model went with Coach Lillieroos to Texas Wesleyan where it continues today. As Steve says; “I didn’t “DO” that – but I’m pretty proud of my part in it.” Steve went on to play for that college team and he is one of a small handfull of American players who has won a National Collegiate Championship in table tennis.

In 2007, Steve became Editor of USA Table Tennis Magazine along with his wife, Marie. Over his eight years in that role, Steve helped USATT produce 43 printed magazine editions, 10 electronic magazine editions, 17 tournament programs, prospectus and media guides for 3 Olympic games, USOC posters, and a variety of web content and social media articles. In 2012, Steve was selected as a delegate to the event in China honoring the 40th Anniversary of Ping Pong Diplomacy where he toured China with past Chinese world champions and the US Team. After leaving the USATT role, Steve was a part of the editorial team at Paddle Palace and in 2017 he became the Editor of the ButterflyOnline.com News and WAB Club Sections.

The Rhode Island Table Tennis Association is proud to honor Steve’s contributions to the sport both within our region and throughout the country.

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