Player Profile – Jerry Schaub
Jerry Schaub has been a mainstay and one of the top players in both the South Park and Pittsburgh Oakland clubs. He has been an active player since the 1970’s, and has witnessed the rise to prominence of the Pittsburgh area. Jerry combines exceptional reaction time, great counter drives, ball control, and spin identification to play at the highest levels in our area. He also is regarded as one of the true sportsman of the game, an opponent who is admired for his positive attitude, amiable manner, and generosity.
Jerry, you have played many sports, so how did you come to decide to take up table tennis?
When did you start, and where?
In the fall of 1972, I was a freshman at Pitt. Perhaps for the first time in my life I did have a sport to play during the late afternoon hours, so I was kind of bored. Like many kids that grew up in the 60’s, I had played either baseball, football, or basketball almost every day of my young life. During my initial semester at Pitt I had become quite an accomplished squash player, but the courts were not readily accessible and I was not in love with the sport.
In 1973, the pong tables at Pitt were in an intimidating private room in the basement of the student union. When the tables were relocated to a busier area, I got up the nerve to ask for ‘winners’ at a table. I got beat 21-0, and he was not a gracious winner. I vowed that no one would ever beat me so easily again. After about 2 weeks of playing about 10 hours per day, I beat him 21-7 and never saw him again. After 2 months, I became the second best player at Pitt behind a young man from Venezuala named “Nando.”
Who were some of your greatest influences as you progressed?
In the early 70’s, Dan Seemiller had become US champ and his brother Ricky was not far behind. I joined a table tennis club in east Liberty to see how my game would match up against better players. I was warming up with a guy, pushing the ball to him, and he used a funny looking huge swing. I watched it go almost chin high, then drop almost straight down on the back line. That was my first exposure to the loop shot, and the guy was Ricky Seemiller. He and so many great young players put us on the map. They also deeply impacted all of our games and pushed us to get better.
How would you describe your playing style?
My game is basically that of a counter-attacker, so I need to learn the pace and tendencies of my opponent. I will often lose to a player a few times until I have adjusted to his style and shots.
What type of players give you the most trouble?
I have trouble with players that play without a great deal of pace as I prefer a fast and steady pace.
Many people think that you would be a great tournament player. Yet, you rarely, if ever, compete in USATT events. Why might this be?
I love playing in tournaments, but don’t usually have the time or money to commit. I played in a few US Teams, but stopped playing altogether from 82-94 to focus on my law practice. I will need to play in tourneys often to reach my potential, so it is up in the air. I will need to improve my serves, for high-level players can take advantage of them. Last, I stop playing between April and October due to golf season, so that puts more stress on possible tourney play.
In your opinion, what can our region do to advance the sport?
The region could us one more club, situated in the North Hills. The POTTC has been wonderful for the local game, but will take time and stability to bring long-lasting results. Hopefully, Mark Krotec will live to 90 so the club can flourish for years to come.
Last, tell us a little more about your hobbies. What else occupies your time and interest?
I am an avid golfer, and I enjoy watching sports. I also enjoy watching my nieces and nephews grow in their sports.