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YVONNE KRONLAGE

 2013 Mark Matthews Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient 

            In her 1985 USTTA Executive Committee Election Campaign Statement, Yvonne Kronlage showed very clearly her disillusionment at the continued passionate effort she’s made, and will continue to make, to further the sport, but always with so little personal recognition. She feels she’s so often ignored, her valid USTTA complaints on women’s issues not taken up. Why is that? Especially when back in 1972 she was named “Woman of the Month” by our National Publication, and in 1979 when, on her way to being elected USTTA Executive Committee Treasurer, her “Women’s World” article was very well received. Answer (so she’d been told) to her not being recognized: “Because no one knows you and what you’ve done.”

            Well, though it’s certainly not true she’s unknown—she’ll get over 400 votes this election—she doesn’t get elected either.

            But Yvonne is a combatant, is very persistent at going after what she wants. Two years later she has a new strategy, will let a man speak for her.

            Dennis Masters, well known as USTTA Tournament Chair, writes 51-year-old Yvonne’s 1987 Campaign Statement for Vice-President—and this time she is elected: 

            “Yvonne, he begins, “has worked for U.S. Table Tennis for over 25 years on the international, national, regional, and local levels. [Remember, this is being written by Dennis more than a quarter-century ago and he’s going back another quarter century.] Listed below are just some of her many efforts.

International:

            Team Manager and Coach in 1979 of the first U.S. Men’s and Women’s teams to the Pan Am Games—when t.t. was an exhibition sport.

            Women’s Captain and Coach to the 1983 World Championships—Women’s Captain for a Women’s Team had been one of her goals.

            Captain of the U.S. Girls Team to the 1981 Scandinavian Open Junior  Championships in Sweden.

            Trying to bring the World Veterans Championships to the United States. [In Apr. ,’88, Yvonne flew to the European’s and successfully got sanction approval (and consequently participation support) to run a super-tournament, a tripartite 1990 U.S. Open, World Veterans, and International Junior Championship. A dream for Yvonne that, because of mismanagement, will turn into something of a momentary nightmare.]

National:

            Has been involved in every U.S. Olympic Sports Festival in an official capacity [continuing in ’87 to be Women’s Team Manager].

            After being on a winning team herself (1983), she coached and captained U.S. Women’s teams at the annual Toronto CNE tournament, and also at the U.S. Open [and will do so in the future, as in the 1989 Open when she’ll also play for the U.S. Senior Women’s team].

             Chairperson of USTTA Committees.

            Raised funds for and has taken teams to many Junior Olympics.

Regional:

            Organized and has run Eastern Opens.

            Founded and is President of the Maryland TTA.

            Ran Regional trials for Junior Olympics and National teams.

            Was instrumental in getting table tennis in the Maryland Senior Olympics and Maryland State Games.

Local:

            Founded and ran clubs in Maryland for over 20 years.

            Taught table tennis in many schools.

            Coached many players of all ages. [“Why was there never a Girls’ Camp?” she asked. And then in 1980 ran one with over 20 participants.]

            Has always showed initiative--organized many exhibitions in schools, malls, and sporting events.

            Sponsored players and teams through her club and the MTTA.

            Worked to get women and juniors into table tennis. Instituted a Chaperone Program.

            Directed tournaments year after year and will continue to do so [the Maryland Open in ’88, for example). Yvonne founded the Howard County Circuit. [In the 1986-87 season, Yvonne awarded $9,000 for 9 Circuit tournaments in which 600 players participated. This Circuit will run continuously for 30 years!]” 

            Yvonne is also a player who holds a number of National titles. She has played in the Senior World Championships, and in many U.S. Open and National Championships over a half-century span.

            [At the 1961 National Team Championships she won the Outstanding Player Award. At the 1963 U.S. Open, Yvonne was a Mixed Doubles finalist (playing with English looper Derek Baddely, they defeated the strong Sol Schiff/Leah Neuberger team). And in the 1964-65 season, she was ranked #7 among U.S. Women.

            Later, with her customary vigor, she’ll continue playing competitively into her 70’s. Here are her consistent U.S. Closed later-years playing highlights:

             WON: two Over 40’s. After objecting publicly that there wasn’t any Women’s Over 40’s in the 1978 Closed, that event was first held at the both the 1979 U.S. Open and 1979 Closed and Yvonne took both titles. WON: two Over 50’s. WON: three  Over 60’s. WON: three Over 70’s (another event Yvonne, had initiated.] 

            In 1987, Yvonne will be re-elected USTTA Executive Committee Vice-President—her third successful term in office.  

            In 1989, she’ll see her Eastern Resident Training Program become a reality in Sykesville, MD—with Richard McAfee as Head Coach, assisted by China’s Zhi Yong Wang.

            In 1990, Yvonne embarked on her most ambitious venture, her gutsiest, the Baltimore Tournaments of Champions. She was the driving force that enabled the U.S. to stage a bona fide World (Veterans) Championship. Such a person is willing to take risks, get into trouble (Had “serious organizational, training, and staffing problems”), be criticized, fail….Succeed. (When much was chaotic, Yvonne coolly, courageously took the mike, and gradually provided a stable finish to the tournament, which brought forth a number of appreciative remarks from players.) 

            In 1994, Yvonne was inducted into the U.S. Table Tennis Hall of Fame. And thereafter has continued to lead an active, productive life. Currently she’s a member of the U.S. Hall of Fame Board of Directors.