Seemiller - The American: Cai Controversy - Butterfly Table Tennis
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Seemiller – The American: Cai Controversy

Seemiller: The American

(by Steve Hopkins)

One of the most storied players in American table tennis history, Dan Seemiller.  He first qualified for the US Team in 1972, was the top ranked player in the country by 1974, won five US National Championships, and logged an amazing international record that at one point included completing two consecutive World Team Championships without losing a match.  Later in his career, he became a highly decorated and successful coach, a tournament promoter and director, an author, and he also served as President of USTTA.

The signature grip and style that bears his name is still referred to by many internationally as “the American grip”.  Seemiller is the quintessential “American” player – with emotion and grit and heart.

In February, as Dan was training for the Olympic Trials, he began posting memories to his Facebook page.  Over the next few weeks, we are going to share some of those photos and quotes in this series “Seemiller – The American”:


I got a little excited (see photo) winning the 4th game.  The score was now 2-2 against World No.2 in Tokyo 1983. It was always my dream to beat the Chinese in the World Championships.  I was extra motivated in this match because Cai Zhen Hua was very disrespectful to me early on in the match.  He was always like that with other players but no one ever took him up on it.  Two times early on I popped up his serve and after he loop killed he did a full 360 – making fun of me. I walked right up to him and said if you ever do that again…..I’ll leave it at that.  I led 10-8 in game 5 before losing after the 20 minute delay.  The delay followed a fault serve called on Cai that was eventually taken away by the referee. The Chinese always got their way. Check out Cai walking away somberly in the background. When the main referee, not the umpire of the match, changed the score.  The score changed from 11-8 to 10-8 and I lost my focus. Cai was nervous before the break and I was nervous after.

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