The Huntsman World Senior Games is held annually in St. George, Utah. It is a multi-sport event for athletes 50 and over. Kevin and I entered in table tennis (my happy place) and had 4 wonderful days of competition.
I met some wonderful people, and came away inspired.
We arrived on Sunday October 8th and had to check in with both the Senior Games check-in AND at Table Tennis. (Both check in points were in the same location.) The lines for the Senior Games check in were long and included all athletes for the games.
Day 1 was the age events. For example: ladies singles age 50 - 54, or men's singles 65- 69 etc. This means you compete against players within that age group of any rating. I was the lowest rated in my age group, but I was pleased with how I played. For example, I managed to take 2 games off the top seed. (We ended up having to play 5 games - singles is best of 5, with the top seed eventually beating me.)
I also entered into a singles hardbat event. Hardbat table tennis is a small niche within Table Tennis. It is often referred to as a "classic table tennis" event which is characterized by the type of paddle used by players. (No sponge surfaces are allowed.) The rules are a little different - for example you have to play to 21 not 11, best out of 3 instead of best out of 5. And instead of serving every 2 points, you serve every 5 points. I like it because I can practice my chopping and pushes. For more information about this type of table tennis check out "Why Play Hardbat?"
Day 2 was "Doubles Day." I played ladies 50 - 54 doubles and mixed doubles 50-54. My partners for each event were players who I had been matched with, and who I had never played with before. It's kind of fun meeting new people and playing with them. For my mixed doubles event, my partner was a leftie. I have never played doubles with a leftie before, and it is a completely different kind of game. I got horribly confused, and kept forgetting, and moving the wrong way. Not helpful. We had a lot of fun playing. For my ladies doubles event my partner and I nearly caused an upset - we managed to get 2 games off a much higher seeded team and forced them to have to win 3 games in a row to beat us.
Photo below with my wonderful doubles partner. We ended up feeling very proud of our performance!
Day 3 was rating singles day. The rule is that you can always compete in ratings events for ratings higher than yours but can't compete in rating events below your rating. For example, if you compete in singles U1200 you will play anyone who is rated under 1200. Players rated above 1200 are typically not allowed to play.
I played in 2 rated events - the under 800 and the under 1000. (Since I am a novice and am new to table tennis I have quite a low rating.)
As you compete in more sanctioned tournaments your rating is adjusted based on who you beat and who you lose to. It makes sense. If you lose to players who are rated above you, that is expected and your ratings don't change. But if you lose to players rated below you, that is an "upset" and you will lose rating points, and the winners will gain. The USATT has a complicated methodology which they explain at length how this all works.
For the singles U1000 for the first round we were divided up into groups, with only the top player advancing to the quarterfinals. I was very pleased with my game and I managed to advance to the quarterfinals, where I lost to the player who eventually ended up winning that event. For the U800 I managed to advance and came 2nd.
The photo below is with my opponent, who took the gold medal and I took the silver.
Day 4 was Doubles super tier giant round robin day. Kevin and I teamed up for this one. It was a whole day affair with the morning round being the seeding round. This means that you are divided up into groups and you have to play all teams within your group for seeding purposes. Based on how you played in the morning round, you are then placed in groups in the afternoon. For example, if your team beat everyone in the morning round then you would be placed in Division A along with teams who performed similarly... In the morning round Kevin and I only managed to beat one team and so for the afternoon round we were placed with similarly ranked teams.
Usually doubles is best of 5, but at this event it was best of 3. That change does change the game somewhat, and makes it harder to come from behind to win.
In the afternoon, Kevin and I performed magnificently, and we ended up winning our division. I was completely exhausted. My legs hurt and ached and I could not think straight. But we played out of our minds with several games where we had to come from behind to beat our opponents.
It was AMAZING! I am so proud of us.