In 1991 Grand Prix Table Tennis was established after the dissolution of the Winning Table Tennis Association (WTTA), which had operated since late 1987. Joe Nevius, a pioneer of table tennis in Eastern Kentucky, became the first president; while O.J. Crase was named the new club's Vice President---he would go on to become the iconic leader of GPTT, serving 18 years and counting as the Chairman of the Board of Directors. A young player named Byron Risner was placed in charge of meet operations (club manager) in 1991. Mr. Nevius named the club, Grand Prix Table Tennis (Sept. 2, 1991).
The GPTT LOGO
Virgil Risner donated a tobacco storage room and a table tennis table to the club in 1991 and the ball began rolling (or spinning). Players eagerly showed up and played whether it was 100 in the summer, or 30 degrees in the winter. The club relied on an antique Porky Stove to fend off the winter chill, and fans provided some relief in the summer months (but not much!).
O.J. Crase Hall (1991-1992;1994-1997)
The club's first meet was held on September 4, 1991 at Wheel Rim KY. Brian Patrick became the first club champion, Byron Risner won the Top-10 Championship (the club's 2nd main title), and the 3rd Title, the club's third top championship (he later dropped the championship because no player was allowed to hold more than one title at a time). In 1992 O.J. Crase became GPTT President when Mr. Nevius resigned. Crase would go on to shape and mold GPTT into the club that would represent table tennis in Eastern Kentucky. Mr. Crase named Byron Risner as the new club vice president.
Chairman O.J. Crase ( tenure: 1992-2010)
The first league roster was comprised of Byron Risner (future 'Legend'), Brian "Hitman" Patrick, "The Reaper" Daniel Arnett, "The Rock" Steve Patrick, "The Ranger" John Perkins, "The Hammer" Charles Standifer, and several semi-regulars. Today these players combine for an amazing total of 138 GPTT Championship Title wins.
The club stayed at Wheel Rim, KY, at O.J. Crase Hall from 1991-1992. Sensing the need for expansion, and a better playing facility, the club was moved to the West Liberty Christian Church Fellowship Hall in 1991. Pastor Steve Bliffen was gracious enough to let the league play in the facility free of charge, and there was only one table (called the Iron Horse by many in the club due to the sturdiness of the frame). In 1993, "Dr. J" Johnny Johnson joined up with GPTT, he wold of course go on to become a Hall of Famer, and one of Eastern Kentucky's top players of all-time. The club moved back and forth from Wheel Rim to the Fellowship Hall until 1995...
In 1995, GPTT moved to the newly rennovated Morgan County Community Center. Langley Franklin and Lynn Nickell acquired two brand new Butterfly Nippon tables, and they were placed in the recreation room of the Community Center. The club began building from there, averaging around 10 players per week by 1996. In 1995, The Licking Valley Courier began featuring GPTT, which has sense become a staple of the sport's section of the paper. Mr. Earl Kinner, the owner of the paper, has been one of our most loyal and ardent supporters and sponsors ever since.
Morgan County Community Center (1995-2001; 2003-2012)
In 1996, the historic league split occurred when "Dr. J" Johnny Johnson, and Junior Gullett started their own club, West Liberty Table Tennis Club. It created quite a stir in the area. GPTT received an offer to move to Lees College Campus in Jackson, KY in 1998, and Mr. Crase accepted the offer.
The league stayed in Jackson for about 6 months; at that time the West Liberty Club folded, and rejoined GPTT, and all was well once again. In 1997, GPTT averaged 27 players per week (still a club best), drawing 44 players at the 1996 November to Remember event.
Lees College 1998
In 2000, the league began to experience some problems with Community Center directors booking over events, and raising rental fees. The club returned to O.J. Crase Hall for a brief time, then the GPTT Board took action and moved the league to historic Hazel Green Academy in Hazel Green, KY.
Hazel Green Academy ( 2001-03)
David Musser, the HGA Director, helped GPTT grow and supported the club at every avenue. GPTT developed a strong junior club (our best ever) at HGA (over 20). In 2003, the GPTT Board made the decision to move the club based on low attendance figures.
In 2003, GPTT returned to West Liberty, KY and the Morgan County Community Center. In 2008, GPTT secured three new Joola tables working in conjunction with Morgan County Judge Executive Tim Conley and the Morgan County Arts and Recreation Center; giving GPTT five tables. In 2011, Mr. Conley again stepped up for GPTT and supported the purchase of a complete set of table tennis court barriers.
On March 2, 2012, a tornado devastated the town of West Liberty, KY. The town and the Community Center (which housed our club) was decimated by the catastrophy. The league lost everything that it had acquired over a 20 year period. It would have been easy for the club to pack it in, and call it a great run, but the club leadership and members would have nothing of it.
On March 16, the GPTT Board voted to move the league to the Paintsville Recreation Center. GPTT stayed at the Paintsville Recreation Center from May until early August 2012.
On November 1, GPTT officially moved to the Index Community Church Gym, located in Morgan County, KY. GPTT is excited about moving forward into the future at this great facility.