Edward Baffoe and Daniel Sanchez greet in front of coach John Stanson.
The little plastic balls were bouncing around this afternoon, but it’s not the lottery. It is table tennis intramurals at Richland.
When the bouncing stopped, Daniel Sanchez was the champion.
The competitive bracket featured a diverse array of players, all of them students or faculty with a wide range of ages, races and nationalities.
The bracket originally was created with 15 players, leaving Sanchez as the lucky holder of a first-round bye. Many players who had planned on attending were unable to make the tournament, but unanticipated arrivals filled most of the gaps, bringing the final total to 13. Six of those players were eliminated in the first round, but as a consolation they received Richland Intramural T-shirts. These shirts are given to participants in every event, but they are limited to one per semester.
One first round match was left completely open by the absent players, creating a second-round bye for Richard Thai. He said he had to miss a game and was a little sad about it but added that he hoped no harm had come to them.
The second round reduced the field from seven to four. In addition to Thai, the final four included Sanchez, Frank Adarkwa and Edward Baffoe. Baffoe defeated Thai in two sets 11-3, 11-7, while Sanchez defeated Adarkwa, also in two sets 11-9, 11-8, to finish out the semifinals and claim the second trophy T-shirt.
The final match was extended from best of three to best of five, pitting Sanchez against Baffoe for the title. Sanchez took a close first set 11-8 and demolished Baffoe 11-2 in the second set, but in the third set Baffoe fought back. After a double deuce (10-10 and 12-12), Baffoe missed the table and then failed to get over the net, giving Sanchez the third set 14-12 and the title.
Sanchez and Baffoe will receive their trophy shirts at intramurals on Thursday, followed by table tennis doubles in the gymnasium and tennis on the courts behind Kiowa Hall. All new participants will receive a free shirt!