Hall of Famer Si Wasserman wins first table tennis title at age 90
Oceanside, CA, United States (4E Sports) – At age 90, Hall of Fame table tennis player Si Wasserman finally achieved the only thing missing in his long list of achievements and accolades in the sport.
Wasserman won his first national title in more than six decades of competition after ruling the 90-above division in the World Senior Games held Oct. 8 in St. George, Utah.
Six years ago, Wasserman was inducted into the USA Table Tennis Hall of Fame for his varied contribution to the sport, including writing a book simply titled “Table Tennis” in 1963.
“Absolutely, a thrill,” Wasserman said of his first national title. “Overall, table tennis is mostly responsible for me reaching my 90s. It’s the exercise.”
Wasserman first took up table tennis as a recreational outlet while serving in the Army in 1942.
“It’s exhilarating to play and make good shots,” Wasserman said. “I look forward to my practice sessions all the time with great anticipation.”
The recreational pastime turned serious for Wasserman when he started to join tournaments in 1949 and the rest was history.
In 1959, Wasserman was selected as captain of the US team that competed in the world championships. As a charitable venture, he decided to write a book chronicling his experience working in various capacities for the sport.
Two years ago, Wasserman had a chance to clinch his first national title when he reached the final of the US Open’s 80-above category but lost to practice partner Rudy Hartmann.
“Si has such stamina at his age. It’s unbelievable,” Hartmann said. “His playing style is very unique. He’s very close to the plate, similar to the Chinese players, so the advantage is that his balls come very quickly since he’s so close. He just has super technique because he’s been playing so long.”
Earlier, Wasserman took a three-decade hiatus from the sport because of other commitments but he was summoned in 1994 to serve as board of director of the California Hall of Fame.
After that, Wasserman started competing again. “It took two years to get back to my old ways. It’s not easy,” he said.
Aside from competing, he established a scholarship fund that annually awards $5,000 split among top national junior players.
“It’s good helping junior development,” he said. “That’s the future of the game.”