Prof. Oliver Rutz Wins Yale SOM Ping Pong Tournament
The game went back and forth, with neither player able to mount much of an advantage. Oliver Rutz, assistant professor of marketing, and Srinath Sabapathy '12 fought to a 1-1 tie in the first two games of their best-of-three Yale SOM ping-pong championship. Now, in the final game of the match, the two were grunting with exertion as they fired shot after shot, their scores moving up only incrementally. "Iím exhausted," Rutz told the crowd of students, faculty, and staff. "Too much stress."
Sabapathy jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead in the final match, before Rutz reeled him back in. The two tied at 6, then 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, and 13. For two months they had battled through a field of 48 in the expert division to reach this point, while another 32 fought for the beginner/intermediate title. More than 80 matches were played in Donaldson Commons, where a new table was installed at the beginning of the school year. Earlier in the day, Dick Bascomb, director for finance and administration, had defeated Atith Pagdi '11 two games to none to win the beginner/intermediate division.
Dean Sharon Oster had suggested the tournament as a way to bring students, faculty, and staff closer together. "I think it worked," said Julia Serbulov '11, who organized the competition and competed in the expert division. "Ping-pong is one of those sports that is really common across the world. Itís like soccer ó you can always get people together for a game. And if you like ping-pong, the most exciting thing is to have a table at school."
A break came in the Rutz/Sabapathy match when Rutz turned back a crushing forehand smash from Sabapathy and snuck it past his paddle. The play gave him a 15-13 lead, the first two-point margin since early in the game. Sabapathy, though, quickly cut it to a single point. "Iím going to have a heart attack anytime soon," Rutz said. But the score never got closer, as Rutz ran off four straight before pulling out a 20-16 victory. The two shook hands as the crowd cheered. Oster presented Sabapathy with the second-place trophy (the first-place winners received their trophies at the studentsí Star Search competition that night). "Impressive match," she said. "That was fun."
After the beginner/intermediate championship match, Oster had challenged Pagdi to a quick game, joking that to get his second-place trophy he needed to defeat her. When it came to Sabapathy, though, she demurred. "He does not get to play me," she said. "Heís too good."