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Lakeland Table Tennis Association
Ray Spann-Information Officer/Webmaster
(352) 750-4286
1039 Aloha Way
The Villages, Florida

Dickie Fleisher
by Ray Spann (CFTTN)

Dickie Fleisher is not your ordinary ping-pong player. Perhaps that is an under-statement because the folks who know Dickie continue to marvel at his broad spectrum of talents. Many central Florida table tennis players first got a glimpse of Dickie at the First Annual Countryside USATT Open, held in Clearwater earlier this year. In that spectacular tournament, Fleisher came within the thickness of a concert harp string of winning the open division championship against Brian Pace, a well-known Florida player and former U.S. Collegiate Table Tennis Champion. Players from all over Florida and Georgia were held spellbound by the match that went the full limit and with Fleisher ahead most of the time, until the very end when Pace reached back for that little extra to get him over the top. Many players who saw the match continue to talk about it and characterize it as the best table tennis match they ever saw, bar none!

But Dickie is not just an outstanding table tennis player from Naples, Florida. In a SPORTS ILLUSTRATED full-page article from the April 3, 1995 issue, Dickie is lauded not only for his superior talent with a table tennis racquet, but his world-class expertise as a concert harpist. According to the article, Fleisher performs in close to 130 concerts a year. In an interview with Dickie at the close of the Countryside tournament, he said he was now touring with the world famous Doc Severenson and would miss the U. S. Open held in Ft. Lauderdale this year. He did say he would try to attend the Florida State Closed Championships in Orlando later this year.

Dickie's style as a table tennis player has been described as "one of the best off-speed players in the Western Hemisphere." Brian Pace made that observation after the grueling match in the finals at Clearwater in May of this year. Fleisher uses long-pips on one side of his racquet, somewhat unique with players rating above 2200 by the USATT. During play, the return of the ball is more difficult for many players who must adjust their timing and stroke in order to be successful. Dickie indicated that playing the vibrating strings of the concert harp has improved his hand-eye coordination, which in turn, has helped his table tennis play.

Fleisher got started in table tennis after jamming his fingers in a junior high basketball game and being blind-sided in a football game. Dickie insists that table tennis is fiercer than either basketball or football. He says, "It's got no gloves, no mats, no body armor, no teammates to bail you out on an off night, and you only get one serve per point."

Dickie Fleisher has style and according to Laszlo Bellak, a three-time runner-up for the world title in table tennis, "If Dickie practiced more, he would be national champ." Bellak could be right. In today's fast-paced game, filled with stunning drives and powerful loops, there may be a place for a champion with the style and grace of a concert harpist. So the next time that someone yells out, "Dickie Fleisher is in the house!"-you may very well be in for a treat, whether it is the sweet swaying, comforting music from his carved maple Lyon & Healy 24-karat gold gilded concert harp, or his sweeping, fascinating to watch, drives and returns with his well-preserved table tennis racquet. Dickie, you make all of Florida feel proud !

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