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THE END OF ANNUAL LARGE BALL TABLE TENNIS

While most of Guam was out celebrating Mothers Day, some of Japan’s young at heart and less than a handful of local competitors where mixing it up at the UOG Calvo Field House for the last of the 10th Annual Large Ball Table Tennis tournament.

By Robert Balajadia

The 10th annual Large Ball Table Tennis has been a successful venue for Guam and Japan’s wisest and skilful in the sport, but getting the event together has been a voluntary effort by coordinator Hisamitsu Hamamoto, as he gave indications of the 2015 event being the last of it’s consecutive run.

The weekend event started on Saturday and ended on Mothers Day Sunday with all action going on at the UOG Calvo Field House.

“There were more than 100 people that came from Japan and they’ve really enjoyed themselves. We always get a lot of visitors from Japan who have been coming out in the past 10 years,” said Hamamoto.

Hamamoto’s history in table tennis can be tracked as far back as middle school. His reason behind getting started with the tournament was to give Guam’s table tennis players an outlet to compete in since not many events happen on island.

The competitors may be up in age, but their's nothing old about their game. (photo by Robert Balajadia)

The competitors may be up in age, but there’s nothing old about their game. (photo by Robert Balajadia)

That same reason has now become a factor in Hamamoto’s decision to discontinue the tournament given the pool of local players hitting its lowest points in the past two years.

Most locals were most likely celebrating Mother’s Day Sunday, which drew in a pool of just five local competitors for the tournament, the lowest draw that the tournament has seen in its existence.

“If more locals were encouraged to play then the sport could grow and we could bring more competitors to off-island competitions. The number of local competitors this time around was a little disappointing,” added Hamamoto.

Hamamoto’s connections and relations with Asia’s competitors will be almost irreplaceable, so a successor in pulling a tournament of this nature will be difficult with Hamamoto stepping down.

Lessons From The Paddle

Sunday’s singles matches were taken over by some of Japan’s most colorful characters with action beginning at 9 am. Of the group, local jiu-jitsu practitioner and owner of Spike 22 and the ever growing brand Cauliflower Culture Melchor Manibusan was deep in competition.

Although Manibusan has youth on his side compared to Japan’s older bunch, he openly admitted that the skill level of the island’s latest visitors were well overwhelming.

“This sport really works on your hand-eye coordination, and that can aid you in sports like wrestling and fighting. These competitors are really good and they’ve been playing this sport for years. I can barley score points against these competitors, I only score when they mess up. You don’t have to be young, fast, strong. You have to be smart and think fast,” admitted Manibusan.

Guam's own Melchor Manibusan has been a consistent competitor missing just one of the 10 events in it's lasting history. (photo by Robert Balajadia)

Guam’s own Melchor Manibusan has been a consistent competitor missing just one of the 10 events in it’s lasting history. (photo by Robert Balajadia)

Hamamoto is Manibusan’s father-in-law, so Manibusan was always more than willing to aid in the events success. More than that, Manibusan has been a participant in the event nine of the ten years and has been playing casually for over 20 years. But even so, Manibusan was no match for Japan’s youthful at heart.

“You have to be gracious in defeat and lose with a smile. You never want to go into a competition thinking you’re going to lose, but these guys are near professionals so you just have to learn how to take losses and be humble with it,” said Manibusan.

Complete results of the 2015 Tournament will be posted when available.

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Since forming the GNYFF in 2009, the league has never gone without a season until 2020. The league announced their plans to cancel the 2020 season amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Morgan McKenna (left with black face mask) poses for a photo with Guam Football Association Technical Director Sang Hoon Kim (seated, with blue face mask) and Guam Football Association Assistant Technical Director Ross Awa (standing) after signing his letter of commitment to play intercollegiate men’s soccer for Muskingum University in Ohio. The Fighting Muskies compete in NCAA Division III’s Ohio Athletic Conference.

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