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RETURN: John McDonough makes a return against Justin Melchick during the championship final of the Ron Francisco Memorial Table Tennis Tournament in Liberty on Monday afternoon. Melchick beat McDonough 2-1 in the best-of-three series.

Justin Melchick Wins Competition

By Ted Waddell
LIBERTY — March 24, 2000 -- This year’s edition of the Ron Francisco Memorial Table Tennis Tournament at Liberty High School pitted 32 students against each other in single elimination play.
In the quarterfinals, which featured best-of-three sets, John McDonough defeated Kyle Goldstein 2-1, Matt Stoddard defeated Gerald Isseks 2-1, Ian Orr defeated Oliver Olsen 2-0 and Justin Melchick defeated Nick Hoffman 2-1.
In the “Final Four,” McDonough defeated Stoddard 2-0, and Melchick emerged victorious over Orr 2-0.
Monday afternoon’s final match attracted quite a crowd of onlookers as McDonough faced Melchick to decide the championship. About fifteen minutes after the competitors stepped up to the table, it was all over as Melchick defeated McDonough 2-1. Both finalists are 17-year-old seniors.
According to Shirley Weigand, table tennis tourney coordinator and former AD at Liberty, the tournament is named after the late Ron Francisco, a physical education teacher and coach at Liberty Middle School, who passed away in 1995.
“He was a master of minor sports,” recalled Weigand. “In table tennis and badminton, he’d spot you ten points and still beat you. He was a great guy, and the kids miss him.
“Over the years, the table tennis tournament has really taken off to the point where the kids are practicing in the off-season,” she added. “Next year, we’re going to extend it to an eighth-grade tournament, and keep the high school format the way it is.”
Both finalists took a rather off-handed view of the title match.
“It feels great to win,” said second-seed Melchick. “Hard work and dedication will get you there.”
McDonough entered the single elimination tourney seeded fifth. “I was underestimated, but I came through strong. I’m runner-up, so I can’t complain.”

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