The Words of the Kono Family
On Saturday, April 24, 2010, the New Jersey Ping Pong Club held its 1st annual ranking and competitive tournaments. Twelve local church members, young and old alike, gathered in the fellowship hall of the Clifton Church at 2 PM to get their game on and show their competitive side in what would prove to be more than just fun and games. The tournaments proved that the younger members of the New Jersey Congregation were on the rise, but the more experienced were still a force to be reckoned with.
The purpose of the first tournament -- a ranking tournament -- was to decide the skilled rank of each of the twelve members of the club, so that they may be equally matched during regular club play. This tournament took place over a three and half hour time period and all twelve players had the opportunity to verse each of the other eleven. Players were awarded one point for every win, in games to eleven points. When the dust settled, two players stood at the top, each with ten wins out of a possible eleven: Mr. David Hunter, the Youth and Young Adult Pastor for the New Jersey congregation, and Mrs. Masayo Bien, a New Jersey community leader. Mr. Hunter was given the higher ranking because he defeated Mrs. Bien in a close match during the tournament.
Surprisingly, when the ranking tournament was over, all the players still had a lot of energy. At this point, Mr. Kensho Kaneko (club president) and Mr. Mantoku Kono (club sponsor) decided to continue the day by organizing a championship, elimination-style tournament. Two more players joined at this time and players were seeded from one to fourteen. The tournament was structured as a single-elimination competition with games becoming progressively longer through each round of the tournament. Players had to be on their game from the get go, or they would be eliminated quickly.
While the games went by fairly quickly -- several less experienced players being eliminated in the first two rounds -- the matches became very intense in the semi-final round. In the semi-finals, elder members of the Second Generation, Mantoku Kono and David Hunter, were pitted against exceptional players from the First Generation, Mrs. Masayo Bien and Mr. Hirokazu Okazaki respectively. After "best of three game" matches, both Mr. Kono and Mr. Hunter were defeated by their opponents, proving that the first generation still has a lot of bite left in their bark.
The championship match between Mrs. Bien and Mr. Okazaki was nothing less than epic. In the first game to twenty-one points, Mrs. Bien made short order of Mr. Okazaki, winning the game in less than ten minutes. And while he fell behind again in the second game, Mr. Okazaki rallied to tie Mrs. Bien at twenty-one points each, or deuce. In this situation, players are required to win by two points, switching serves more frequently than in regular play. During this tie-breaker, the lead went back and forth at least eight or nine times. But Mr. Okazaki finally gained the upper hand, sending the match to a third and final game. After the last point was scored, we crowned our 1st annual champion, defeating everyone in her path - Mrs. Masayo Bien!
While the semi-final round proved that the First Generation are still on top of their game, the final match proved that we have truly entered the age of women!