Thelma Thall

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Thelma Thall
Thelma Thall "Tybie" Sommer- Forehand Slice.jpg
Personal information
Full nameThelma Thall "Tybie" Sommer
Columbus, Ohio, US
Height5 ft 6 in (1.68 m)
Weight70 kg (154 lb)
Medal record
Women's table tennis
Representing Flag of the United States.svg  United States
World Championships
Bronze medal icon (B initial).svg 1949 Stockholm Singles
Gold medal icon (G initial).svg 1949 Stockholm Team
Bronze medal icon (B initial).svg 1948 Wembley Doubles
Gold medal icon (G initial).svg 1948 Wembley Mixed

Thelma Thall “Tybie” Sommer (born 1924) is the only living American woman to have won two World Table Tennis Championships.


She received the USA Table Tennis Lifetime Achievement Award, and is in the Table Tennis Hall of Fame. She says that she excelled "because of her natural athleticism and her ability to analyze and remain objective."

Early career

Thall was born in 1924 in Columbus, Ohio, and is Jewish. [1] [2] A tomboy as a little girl, she played much football and softball. When she was 13, she won a tennis racket in a Bingo game. Never having had any lessons, and yet seeing the similarities with softball, she represented Livingston Park and won the City Junior Tennis Championship. At the age of 15, she was the Captain of the Varsity Boys' Tennis Team at East High School, the only girl ever to play on the boys' team, let alone be Captain. She graduated 1st in a class of 550 students. [3]

1940s achievements

In 1947, Thelma "Tybie" Thall won her first U.S. Open Women’s Doubles Championship with her sister Leah. They also won the Canadian Nationals that year. [4]

In 1948, Thelma and Richard Miles were the first Americans to win the World’s Mixed Doubles Title, in Wembley, London, England. [5]

In 1949, Thalla, as a member of the USA Team, won Singles and Doubles in the Corbillon Cup, a World Championship Event, in Stockholm, Sweden. That year, Thall and Miles won the English Open Mixed Doubles and Thall, with Peggy McLean, won the English Open Women’s Doubles. [6]

Thall and her sister Leah won three U.S. National Women’s Doubles, in 1947, 1948, and 1949. The Thall Sisters also won the Canadian National Doubles in 1947 and 1948. [7]

Thelma Thall "Tybie" Sommer standing next to "The Thall Sisters Loving Cup Trophy" 2012 Thelma Thall "Tybie" Sommer standing next to "The Thall Sisters Loving Cup Trophy".jpg
Thelma Thall "Tybie" Sommer standing next to "The Thall Sisters Loving Cup Trophy" 2012

Later years

Thelma "Tybie" Thall Sommer was inducted into the United States Table Tennis Association Hall of Fame in 1980. [8]

Married with children, she won several Singles Tennis titles in the Northeastern United States. In 1962, she was on the founding board that created the North Shore Women’s Tennis League on Long Island, NY. [9] In 2003, she was honored by that league at the Babe Zaharias Luncheon in N.Y., for creating the flourishing league, which now has over 2,000 participants. [10] She won Mother/Daughter Tennis Titles in the state of Arizona, as well as the city of Phoenix, with daughter Marilyn, now a USPTA Tennis Pro.

In 2005, Thelma "Tybie" Thall Sommer and Leah Thall Neuberger received the USA Table Tennis Mark Mathews Lifetime Achievement Award. [11]

In 2012, she presented "The Thall Sisters Cup,” a newly created trophy to the winner of the Women’s Singles in the U.S. Open Table Tennis Championships. This perpetual trophy lists the winners from 1933 to the present (sister Leah won the US Open 9 times and the World's once; Thelma won the World's twice); while the winner each year gets a small replica, the original sits at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, CO. [12]

Tybie won the first of many Gold Medals in 1987, the inaugural year of The National Senior Olympics. [13] She continues to compete and win Gold Medals, having attended and won the Arizona Senior Olympics, Rocky Mountain Senior Games, the Huntsman Games in Utah, and the National Senior Games with Marilyn.


She received the USA Table Tennis Lifetime Achievement Award, and is in the Table Tennis Hall of Fame. [14] Thall was inducted into the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in 2017. [15]

See also

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  2. Bernard Postal, Jesse Silver, Roy Silver. Encyclopedia of Jews in Sports
  3. 1924 Yearbook Staff of East High School (Contributor) (May 1, 1924). (Reprint) 1924 Yearbook: East High School, Columbus, Ohio (Paperback). Content provided by ASIN   B004W4YIYE.{{cite book}}: |last= has generic name (help)
  4. Boggan, p. 209.
  5. Boggan, p. 235-244.
  6. Boggan, p. 266-276.
  7. Boggan.
  8. "USA Table Tennis Hall of Fame". Archived from the original on December 6, 2013.
  9. "North Shore Women's Tennis League 50th Anniversary (click on 'Archive')". Archived from the original on 2014-01-26.
  10. North Shore Women's Tennis League
  11. USA Table Tennis Achievement Award 2005.
  12. "US Olympic Center in Colorado Springs". Archived from the original on January 26, 2014. Retrieved January 26, 2014.
  13. "Home".
  14. "USA Table Tennis Hall of Fame: Retrospectives". United States Olympic Committee. Archived from the original on June 21, 2012.
  15. Thelma "Tybie" Thall-Sommer