Blogs

Larry Hodges' Blog and Tip of the Week will normally go up on Mondays by 1:00 PM USA Eastern time. Larry is a member of the U.S. Table Tennis Hall of Fame, a USATT Certified National Coach, a professional coach at the Maryland Table Tennis Center (USA), and author of  eight books and over 1900 articles on table tennis. Here is his bio. (Larry was awarded the USATT Lifetime Achievement Award in July, 2018.)
NOTE - Larry is on the USATT Coaching Committee, but the views he shares in his blog are his own, and do not necessarily represent the views of USA Table Tennis.

Make sure to order your copy of Larry's best-selling book, Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers!
Finally, a tactics book on this most tactical of sports!!!
Also out - Table Tennis TipsMore Table Tennis Tips, and Still More Table Tennis Tips, which cover, in logical progression, his Tips of the Week from 2011-2013, 2014-2016, and 2017-2020, with 150 Tips in each!

Or, for a combination of Tales of our sport and Technique articles, try Table Tennis Tales & Techniques
If you are in the mood for inspirational fiction, The Spirit of Pong is also out - a fantasy story about an American who goes to China to learn the secrets of table tennis, trains with the spirits of past champions, and faces betrayal and great peril as he battles for glory but faces utter defeat. Read the First Two Chapters for free!

Tip of the Week
A Different Measure for a Match Coach.

Pan American Under 11 and U13 Championships in Ecuador
I'll be going down to Ecuador for two weeks in October as the coach of the US Under 13 Boys' Team. There will be four teams - Under 13 and Under 11 for boys and girls. The other coaches are Qiumars Hedayatian (U11 Boys), Wei Qi (U13 Girls), and Thilina Piyadasa (U11 Girls), with Daniel Rutenberg going as Team Leader, and he fortunately speaks Spanish. Here is the USATT news item, USATT Announces 2021 ITTF Pan Am Youth Championship U13 and U11 Teams. (Hope you enjoy my humorous quip!) There are actually two tournaments, both in Cuenca ("kwen·kuh"), Ecuador.

  • Oct. 18-24 is the Pan American Under 11 and U13 Championships, the main event. Each player will play singles, doubles, mixed doubles, and teams for their age group.
  • Oct. 25-31 is the World Table Tennis Youth Contender tournament. This is only singles, with U11, U13, U15, U17, and U19, with a maximum of two events. I'll be staying for that. The boys' events are only Oct. 25-27, so I won't need to stay for the rest of the tournament.

We had a 100-minute Zoom meeting on Friday for the four coaches, team leader, and USATT High Performance Director Sean O'Neill. (Previously there had been one for all of those interested.) Lots of discussion. The coaches are also working out doubles and team parings. The Under 13 Boys' Team I'll be in charge of is Stanley Hsu, Mu Du, He Xianyao, and Krish Gandhi. Initially I had thought they would be one team in the team event, but it turns out they can enter as two teams, so most likely Stanley & Mu Du will be a team, and He and Krish. (Same for doubles pairings.) Disclosure - Stanley and Mu Du are both from my club. (If both teams play at the same time, then one of the other coaches will coach one of the teams. The same for all events - if they send out, for example, four of the girls at the same time, the four coaches would be paired off with them.)

One big issue is the altitude, which I've blogged about. Cuenca is at 8400 feet altitude. The air pressure is about 74% compared to sea level, and oxygen content is about 15%, compared to 21% at sea level. The ball travels quite a bit differently, and so the players will need extra practice to prepare. (The kids will likely adjust quickly to the lower oxygen level - I'm more worried about the parents and coaches, who might find walking up a stairway exhausting!) The tentative plan is to travel down on Oct. 14, practice Oct. 15-17, and then the tournaments begin. Then I fly home on Oct. 28, along with the boys and parents who stayed for the second tournament.

There will be a USATT news item on this soon - perhaps today - and I'll link to it here when it comes up. I hope they use the quote I gave them - yes, they eat guinea pigs down there!!! (I won't.)

Fall Junior Training Season Begins
We started on Saturday, with a welcome party and parents info meeting. And then we started actual group sessions on Sunday, with another one tonight. So here's how my weekend coaching went.

We have 51 kids in our junior program, divided into four groups: Select, Progress, Intermediate, and Novice. But for simplicity, I just refer to them as groups 1-4. Group 1 is really strong, including many of the best players in the country for their age in the 10-13 boys' side. (Two are #1 for their age, and several others are in the #2-5 range.)

On Saturday, groups 1 & 2 came in for the party and info meeting, followed by groups 3-4. While head junior coach Wang Qingliang and others spoke with the parents, someone had to take charge of the 20-25 kids in the two sessions for one hour each - and that was me! But this wasn't a training session, this was a "fun" session, i.e. a welcome back party. So the kids had their choice of:

  • Playing on extra long tables. We moved two tables against each other, end to end, so we had an 18-foot table. We removed the nets, but put a chair on each side of the middle of the table, with a barrier between the tables, so that they got a roughly one-foot net in the middle. The kids were just smacking and looping the ball back and forth - and even lobbing!
  • Mini-paddles. I had five.
  • Frankenpaddle! (Here's a closeup.)
  • Rackets with long pips (one with sponge, one without), antispin, short pips, and four hardbat rackets. Many of the kids got to try out these new surfaces for the first time. Most had played against them, but playing with them gives a better understanding of how to play them.

On Sunday, the real training began! We have eight "official' group sessions scheduled each week, plus two others run separately. I'll be in five of them. I'll be there for all three of the group 1 sessions (including one joint group 1 & 2 session), plus one group 2 session, plus the one group 4 (novice) session. I'm working mostly with the elite and novice groups, less with the ones in between. Wang Qingliang runs most sessions. (I used to, but I'm semi-retired and so we have a new generation. I think of myself as a "head coach emeritus.")

On Sunday, for the group 2 session, I spent half the session as a "walk around" coach. The second half I was a practice partner for one of the players. Lots of focus on footwork. For the group 1 session (16 kids, roughly 1800-2350, with six coaches/practice partners), I was a walk-around coach. For both sessions, I told the kids I was mostly watching their feet - I wanted active feet! Much of the session was focused on serve & attack, and receive. We have another group 1 session tonight, 5-7PM, which I'll be helping with.

American Youth Table Tennis Organization Coaching Clinic
They held the three-day clinic at the Maryland Table Tennis Center this past weekend, taught by Sydney Christophe. I watched and listened in on a few sessions. It's a version of the former ITTF Coaching program that ITTF used to do, which I used to teach. (The ITTF version is currently on hold while they do some revamping of it.) Here's some info sent to me by the AYTTO CEO (and member of the USATT Board of Directors) Thomas Hu:

"In order to support the growing table tennis interest in the schools of Maryland area, AYTTO successfully completed the school base coaching certification course this weekend in MDTTC. Thanks to the support of MDTTC and JOOLA for providing and connecting the necessary resources, both the course and AYTTO program garnered much interest from coaches in our club as well as many parents. The course was taught by renowned ITTF course instructor Sydney Christophe. AYTTO is committed to building the supporting structure needed to capture new opportunities for the sport of table tennis in America. Anyone interested to start table tennis program in a school near them, please contact Thomas Hu at Thomas.hu@aytto.org."

ITTF Pan American Youth Championships (U19 & U15)
Here's the ITTF page for the event taking place in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Sept. 12-18, with complete schedule, draws, results, and articles. Team USA has 16 players and 3 coaches:

  • Under 19 Boys: Jayden Zhou, Aziz Zarehbin, Kai Jiang, Sid Naresh
  • Under 15 Boys: Nandan Naresh, Jensen Feng, Darius Fahimi, Daniel Tran
  • Under 19 Girls: Amy Wang, Rachel Sung, Angie Tan, Joanna Sung
  • Under 15 Girls: Emily Tan, Faith Hu, Sally Moyland, Sarah Jalli
  • Coaches: Gao Jun (U19 & U15 girls, Team Leader), Cory Eider (U19 boys), Samson (U15 boys)

Timo's Week #3 - Why my motivation is still high in 2021
Here's the video (4:35) from Timo Boll.

Your First Table Tennis Lesson
Here's the video (15:58) from Coach Jon.

New from Samson Dubina

  • 3:1 Principle - Learn to evaluate your training sessions!
  • Success - Quiz Yourself on the 12 Aspects of Mental Success!

Hand Speed & Footwork
Here's the video (3:16) featuring Rachel Wang, commentary by Brian Pace.

Footwork & Transition Drill For Beginners
Here's the video (2:07) from Jishan Liang, commentary by Brian Pace.

Are You a Drifter? Here's the Big Benefit of Playing Closer to the Table
Here's the article by Tom Lodziak.

Forehand Serve: Active or Forward Phase
Here's the video (2:44) from the Performance Biomechanics Academy Table Tennis. It follows last week's Forehand Serve - Pendulum Initial Phase (2:52).

New from Edges and Nets

New from PingSunday/EmRatThich

USATT News

New from Steve Hopkins

2021 Butterfly Cup Results and Photos
Here's the articles, pictures, and video by Tony Murnahan.

ITTF News

New from the Malong Fanmade Channel
Lots of new videos here.

Emma Raducanu, Tennis and Table Tennis Champ?
Here's a video (16 sec) of her hitting forehands - she's pretty good! This past weekend she won Women's Singles at the US Open Tennis Championships. Here's an article, Emma Raducanu – Who is Britain’s Chinese-Romanian teen tennis star?, which also mentions her table tennis.

Table Tennis Pillow
Here's where you can buy one!

1001 Excuses for When I Lose
Here's the cartoon! (Here's the non-Facebook version.)

Don't Do Drugs: Do Table Tennis
Here's the meme! (Here's the non-Facebook version.)

Ma Long and Qiu Yike Fight on the Roadside!
Here's the video (65 sec)!

Funniest Moments In Table Tennis History REVEALED!
Here's the video (8 min)!

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Send us your own coaching news!

Tip of the Week
Use Your Strengths, But Test Your Opponent.

MDTTC Open and Westchester Teams and 911 Museum, Oh My!
I had an action packed Labor Day Weekend, which can be neatly divided into three parts. Alas, Part 2 I had to write with my mouth clenched in disgust.

=>PART 1: MDTTC Open. On Saturday, I coached for half a day at the MDTTC Open. Here are the complete results. Perhaps the most interesting match was against a player with the Seemiller grip. The junior player I coached had barely beaten this opponent in a previous match one month before, but armed with better tactics, won easily three straight this time. I'm one of the few coaches left around who coached actively way back when that grip was relatively common. These days, many coaches give very bad advice on how to play this grip, leading to many unnecessary losses. Every player is different, but in general, against this type of player you:

  • Attack the wide forehand, then continue attacking the wide angles.
  • Rarely open to the backhand. Draw them out of position by attacking the forehand first.
  • Rarely attack the middle. Only go to the middle when you are out of position as that takes away an extreme blocking angle. They are at their strongest from the middle, which is different than for most shakehand and penhold players.
  • Serve mostly long to the backhand with spinny, breaking serves.
  • Mix in short serves to the forehand so they can't sit back waiting for the deep ones.
  • Focus on getting used to their "off" surface as early as possible. It's usually antispin, but sometimes long pips.

=>PART 2: Westchester Teams

It was a three-day tournament, with Under 3800 Teams on Saturday, U4400 Teams on Sunday, and U4800 Teams on Monday (Labor Day). I went up on Saturday afternoon from Maryland (five hours including lunch break) with Todd Klinger and his parents (Ron and Carolyn), and Todd's teammate, Christian Funderberg. They had a two-hour practice session at the club that night, then pizza for dinner. Todd and Christian were only playing on Sunday, in the Under 4400 event.

The Westchester Table Tennis Center is one of the finest facilities in the country. It's owned by Will Shortz, the NY Times puzzle editor, who's now played table tennis for 3,260 days in a row (since Oct. 3, 2012). I've been there probably a dozen times now for various tournaments, which have almost always been very positive experiences. Here are the complete results of the tournament. Here are pictures

Alas, we had some serious friction with the tournament referee, on multiple fronts. We had been told in advance (via email) that there would be a consolation event after the main event, and that they would be playing until about 6-8PM. So we were set for a full day of matches, and had paid a hefty $315 entry to do so, not to mention another $900 for three hotel rooms for two nights.

Under 4400 was scheduled to start at 9:30AM. So Todd and Christian were there at 8:30AM for a one-hour session. We were all set to play at 9:30AM, and their first-round opponents were also ready and waiting. But the referee wouldn't call any matches. There had been some accident on one of the local highways and so some players were going to be late. No problem, send out those who are available and wait on those few who are delayed. But the referee disagreed, and refused to send out any matches until 10:10AM!!! So the large majority of the players who had warmed up and were ready to play at 9:30AM were now cold from waiting around. We didn't get our clipboard until 10:15AM, 45 minutes late. Todd and Christian went out and warmed up again, but they were more primed to play at 9:30 then they were after 45 minutes of pointlessly waiting around.

They were seeded fourth in a group of four and lost all three team matches, though Christian pulled out a couple of upsets and they played great in the doubles, twice beating "stronger" teams. They pushed one team to five. (Best of five format Corbillon - singles, singles, doubles, singles, singles.) Each team match had two tables and they played the singles simultaneously, so each team match finished in about an hour or just over. They finished the third and final team match around 2:30PM. At that point the top two teams in each of the four groups moved to the quarterfinals. Meanwhile, we waited to play the consolation event.

After a time, we went to the control desk to check with the referee on when the consolation rounds would begin. We were told that they had cancelled it, saying the software wouldn't allow them to run a consolation event! This made no sense to me - if you can set up multiple team events on the software, then you can set up another team event for the consolation rounds, and simply put those teams in it that hadn't finished in the top two. (I also pointed out that you could simply run it on paper - very easy to do, I've done it many times.) But he insisted the software would not allow him to run the event and ridiculed the idea of running it on paper.

He said if we did the event, we'd be there all night, which also didn't make sense. If you take the nine teams that didn't finish in the top two and put them in a single elimination consolation event (run at the same time as the main event, which had eight teams), you'd have at most only one more round (since there were nine teams, and so you needed one preliminary to get to the quarterfinals), and at worse might finish an hour later - and still finish in time for dinner. But realistically, not all the teams wanted to play the consolation event, and so in reality they could have started the consolation event at the same time, quarterfinals on, and both would finish about the same time. So the idea that running the event "would take all night" simply doesn't make sense. (Ideally, of course, the consolation event would have been run RR so teams would get more matches, i.e. their money's worth for $315 entry fee for one day's play. If it runs late, so what? They paid to play for a full day. We'd been told we'd be playing until about 6-8PM. So, let's run it RR and let them play until about 6-8PM!!!)

And then we ran into an even more heated disagreement. When I pointed out they should be able to run the consolation event (either with their software by creating a new event or simply by hand), he insisted that, even if he could run it on the software, you can't run a consolation event unless every team agreed to play. In other words, he said it couldn't be run unless all nine teams that didn't finish in the top two agreed to play! THIS DOESN'T MAKE ANY SENSE!!! We argued on this, but he stuck to his guns. I asked him what he would do if he were referee at the US Open, and they had a consolation event with, say, 50 players, but one player didn't want to play. Would he cancel the entire event because of that? He wouldn't answer, and cycled back to arguing that the software wouldn't let him run a consolation event. (Do I really need to contact the creators of the software and ask if it will allow someone to simply create a consolation event and put those teams in it? That's sort of silly - of course you can.) In the end, as he repeatedly said, he was the referee and had ruled that there would be no consolation event. (It didn't specify on the entry from that there would be a consolation event, it was simply something they had planned, at least initially, and told us would happen.)

There was another interesting argument. At this point in the argument, some or most of the teams that might have played in the consolation had left. What if there were two teams that wanted to play a consolation team match, just so they could get a few more matches? That would be easy, right? But the referee ruled emphatically that if there were only two teams, then it wasn't worth running the event. I pointed out that it might be worth it to the two teams, but he again stuck to his guns, and once against said he was the referee and had made his ruling. At this point I was pretty angry, and even sarcastically pointed out that, as referee, he could rule that 2+2=5, but that wouldn't make it right.

Since they must have run into this problem the day before (when running U3800 Teams on Saturday), and knowing they weren't going to run a consolation event, perhaps they could have at least run the event with more teams per group? They ran U4400 Teams with three groups of four, and one group of five. Why not two groups of six and one group of five? Then perhaps we would have gotten more of our money's worth. (Ironically, despite not entering U4800 teams on Monday - that was a little strong for them - they were mistakenly put in the draw, in a group of four. So they are listed as defaulting those matches, and the other three teams only got two team matches in the preliminaries. The team that finished third paid $315 to play two team matches.)

So: we traveled five hours each way to play three team matches, it started 45 minutes late (10:15AM), and by 2:30 PM we were done, with a whole afternoon and night now unexpectedly open. The entry fee for this? $300 plus $15 registration, so $315 to play three team matches. (Plus three hotel rooms for two nights - another $900!) For perspective, on Saturday, Todd or Christian could have entered four round robin events at the MDTTC Open - Open Singles, U2400, U2200, and U2000. Total entry fee would have been exactly $100, less than 1/3 the $315 we paid for the Team event - and they would have played far more matches. (They went to Westchester so they could play lots of different players.) So, yeah, if you are going to charge $315 for one day's play, then give them one day's play!!!

As you can see, we were a bit peeved by all this. (And when I say "a bit peeved," I am way, way understating.) I will be very hesitant to bring players to future tournaments run by this referee, not unless we get incredibly firm agreements in advance on what to expect. As a coach and player, I am tired of these shenanigans. (This is not the first time I've had "differences" with this referee.) Note that while he was listed as the referee, with someone else listed as director, in reality he ran the tournament. (And if he wants to defend his actions, I'm up for a very public debate on either Facebook or Zoom.)

After hanging around the hotel the rest of the afternoon, we went out to dinner with the Wu's (William and Winston and parents), who are also from MDTTC and also finished up early. They were playing on Monday, however. We went to a nice Greek restaurant. (I had a huge Greek salad and tried not to watch as most of the others ate octopus as an appetizer.) Afterwards we took the kids out for ice cream (okay, we all had ice cream). Then we went for a long walk along the Hudson River at Tarrytown.

=>PART 3: 9/11 Memorial and Museum.

The Klingers, Christian, and I spent Monday at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. We were in the museum for several hours - I sort of lost track of time. It's a rather somber experience. Lots and lots of exhibits of things from the Twin Towers, pictures, a long timeline along the way, and lots of videos. What else is there to say about it? When 9/11 happened in 2001, I was busy moving into my new townhouse I'd just bought (and still live in). I spent three days unpacking while watching everything on TV. Afterwards we went for another long walk along New York Harbor, where we could see the Statue of Liberty.

Tickets for the Worlds - Still No News
Here's the World's ticket page, which is still essentially blank. As I blogged last week, we were told tickets would be on sale in August (for the Worlds in Houston in November), and it's now Sept. 7. And, as I also said last week, the bigger problem isn't that they are late, it's that they simply won't communicate. They could easily put up a news item explaining there's been a delay, perhaps because of Covid or other issues. But silence is not the answer, though it seems to be the USATT's and ITTF's answer. (And now I'll have The Sound of Silence stuck in my head for the rest of the say.)

Life After Tokyo – What’s Next?
Here's the article by USA Olympian and 5-time US Women's Singles Champion Lily Zhang.

New from Sean Zhang

Serve Return With Banana Flip
Here's the video (2:12) from Ojo Onaolapo.

Forehand Serve - Pendulum Initial Phase
Here's the video (2:52) from the Performance Biomechanics Academy Table Tennis.

New from Samson Dubina

New from Ti Long

What Makes A Great Table Tennis Player
Here are the two videos (1:58 and 2:45). Fresh off their Olympic success in Tokyo, Germany's Dimitrij Ovtcharov (Silver Medal – Men’s Team | Bronze Medal – Men’s Singles) and Patrick Franziska (Silver Medal – Men’s Team) demonstrate what it takes to be a great table tennis player.

New from PingSunday/EmRatThich

Videos (some overlap with the above)

The Chinese Table Tennis Masters all Grew Up From These Kids!
Here's the video (7:07).

New from Edges and Nets

New from USA Table Tennis

New from the National Collegiate Table Tennis Association

New from Steve Hopkins

Tournament Refund Policies – No Way! No How!
Here's the article by Coach Jon.

Happy Birthday, Dima!
Here's the video (3:15) as Germany #1 Dimitrij Ovtcharov turns 33!

ITTF News

New from the Malong Fanmade Channel
Lots of new videos here.

New Season Begins! TableTennisDaily Team
Here's the video (25:58)!

Vlog - The Return of Tiger Boll
Here's the video (4:18)) from Timo Boll. (No actual table tennis - it's Timo playing golf - and the lefty TT player plays golf righty!

Most INSANE Behind-the-Back Shots Ever!
Here's the video (1:56) - the first one is a long counterlooping rally that ends with a Timo Boll behind-the-back winner!

Fear My Racket Table Tennis T-shirt
Here's where you can buy it on Amazon!

$5 Racket Vs. $140 Racket
Here's the video (6:16) from Pongfinity!

How to Suck at Table Tennis
Here's the video (6:06) from XOLAY!

Table Tennis Mascot Images
Here's a page of them!

Misdirected Serve
Here's the video (8 sec)!

Adam vs. USA no.1
Here's the video (11:54)!

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Send us your own coaching news!

Tip of the Week
How To Play Fast-Attacking Junior Players.

Paralympics
I believe the table tennis singles events are done - and USA won two medals, with Ian Seidenfeld winning a gold and Jenson Emburgh a bronze. Tahl Leibovitz lost 11-9 in the fifth in the quarterfinals. (Semifinalists get medals.) Here's the schedule, with table tennis scheduled for Aug. 25 - Sept. 3. Here's more info on table tennis at the 2020 Paralympics. (It's still considered 2020, just postponed one year.) Below are some links.

USATT Coverage of Paralympics

Paralympic Coverage by Steve Hopkins

ITTF Pan American Under 11 & Under 13 Championships
Here's the info page. They will be held Oct. 18-24, 2021, in Cuenca, Ecuador, population 330,000. USA will likely have up to 16 players going - four in each age event: Boys and Girls, Under 13 and Under 11. There will also likely be four coaches and a team leader going. I've already volunteered to go as the coach of the Under 13 Boys' Team, but they haven't made selections yet. The reason I volunteered for this one is that at the Under 13 Boys' Team Trials, players from my club (who I've worked with extensively) finished #1, 3, and 6. (Stanley Hsu, Mu Du, Ryan Lin.) Since #2 finisher Patryk Zyworonek isn't going, so that means the top two finishers will be Stanley and Mu Du. Finishing #4 and #5 were He Xianyao and Krish Gandhi, so if they both go, they'll join Stanley and Mu Du on the team. (If one of them doesn't go, then Ryan Lin would be able to go. But I know all of them well - including their games - and can work with any of them.)

We had a 90-minute Zoom meeting last Friday night on this, with nearly 30 parents, players, and coaches attending. It was hosted by High Performance Director Sean O'Neill and High Performance Manager Daniel Rutenberg (who I believe is going as Team Leader). Before that we also received an info letter from Sean.

Players will be in four events: Singles, Doubles, Mixed Doubles, and Teams. As emphasized at the meeting, in the Teams, we are playing to win, so we would be playing our strongest players. This doesn't mean the #1 and #2 player would always play - the coach has to see how well the players are playing and make a judgment call. But - and this is key - regardless of who plays in any specific team match, or even if a player doesn't play at all, they have ALL equally earned the right to be on that team, and are all just as much a part of it. The goal is Medals (hopefully Gold) for them all!

USATT will be providing uniforms and the team leader, and paying the entry fees. Alas, the players and coaches have to pay their own way - it's self-funded. So if I do get selected, I'd have to pay for my flight, hotel, food, and any other expenses. Being insane, I'll probably do it. It's either that or stay home and play shuffleboard. But hopefully I'd get a snazzy uniform!

HOWEVER . . . there's a huge complicating factor that didn't come up in the Zoom meeting, presumably because nobody knew about it. After the meeting, I looked up the elevation of Cuenca - and found that it's at 8,400 feet!!! Playing table tennis at that elevation is almost insane - it's very different than playing at sea level. The air pressure is about 74% compared to sea level, and oxygen content is about 15%, compared to 21% at sea level. The thin air means the ball plays VERY different. Roughly speaking, the ball jumps at you far quicker than you expect; topspin balls don't drop as fast, so the ball is often higher than you expect; the ball doesn't curve as much; there's more spin on the ball (since there's less air to slow it down), so players constantly misread serves while struggling against spinny loops or backspins; and "short" serves don't just go long, they go way long. Basically, all of your trained instincts and reflexes are going to be off at first.

I've played at high altitude, and it takes a lot of training to adjust to such changes. For example, nobody from sea level can play effectively in Colorado Springs, CO (6,000 feet) without at least several days of practice. Your typical shot in Colorado Springs goes over a foot deeper than you expect. And we're talking 8,400 feet!!! A key thing to adjusting to high altitude play is to put aside any frustrations and take it as a challenge. But to meet such a challenge effectively means getting enough practice to adjust. (Interestingly, many players, including me, find it much easier to adjust to low altitude than high altitude. It's going up that's much harder to adjust to.)

By a strange coincidence, Samson Dubina just created a new video, Playing Table Tennis at High Elevation (7:02). He estimates it takes one day to adjust to every thousand feet of elevation. Based on that, we'd need eight days, which likely isn't feasible. But I think we need three days (two sessions per day) at minimum to be at least competitive. Others will be in the same situation - but many players from South American likely play at high elevation, or can more easily go to such a place to train, and so will be more used to it. The Ecuador locals will be feasting on those who just show up to play without serious high elevation training first. (I was at various times the manager/director/one of the coaches for the Resident Training Program for Table Tennis in Colorado Springs, 1985-1990, and there were many examples of players who came up and simply couldn't play without extensive practice.)

I've communicated the problem to the HPD and HPM, and requested that they look into our team going down early so they can get, at minimum, three full days of training at that elevation. (The coaches can run those sessions.) Hopefully this will be feasible. I've also looked into the possibility of sending our players to train in high elevation clubs in the US - there are several possibilities, especially in Colorado. But one of the Maryland parents looked into that, and trying to add a trip to Colorado before going to Ecuador dramatically increases the cost and time. So, I'm hoping we can keep it simple, and perhaps arrive in Cuenca on Oct. 14, train Oct. 15-17, and then be ready to play Oct. 18-24.

The original plan, before we knew of the elevation, was to arrive on Oct. 16, practice on the 17th, and play on the 18th. There is little chance of playing effectively if we went with that, and I'd recommend to the parents and players that if that's the only option, it's not worth going. It'll be setting our kids up for a predictably bad experience. For many (and I think all of them), it would be their first time representing USA in international competition. Hopefully we can turn it into a great experience.

US Open and Worlds
Still no news on when or where the US Open will be, other than mention at the last USATT board meeting that it would be around the second week in December "as always." There's no entry form or other info available. I'm pretty sure we've never gone this long without even basic info on the Open or Nationals, not to mention no entry form.

Similarly, with the first World Championships to be in the US (Nov. 23-29), there are many who are interested in attending as spectators - but again, no news. (Here's the World's ticket page, which is essentially blank. I found the page by Googling, since it's not listed on any USATT page I can find. Here's the ITTF Worlds info page, but no ticket info there either.) There's nothing in the USATT Tournament Page or Tournament Calendar. There was an ITTF/USATT news item on July 15 that said, "Fans will be able to attend the event with tickets going on sale this August." Technically, it's still August for two more days, but really? Instead of telling us they will be on sale in August and then just keeping everyone on hold, let us know when they will actually go on sale.

The bigger problem here is COMMUNICATION. I've blogged about this a number of times - USATT gets an F in communications. The bigger problem here isn't that the entry form for the Open isn't available or that the tickets for the Worlds aren't on sale, though both are problematic. No, the bigger problem BY FAR is that USATT chooses to keep us in the dark on these issues. If there's something that's delaying these issues, then TELL US. I've blogged about this repeatedly. C'mon, USATT, you have a news page - talk to us!!!  

=>BREAKING NEWS - US Open will be in Las Vegas, Dec. 17-22. Here's the USATT news item. (It was posted Friday night, Sept. 3.) 

World Ping Pong Championship
Here's the info page! This hardbat tournament is being held in Sugar Land, Texas, just outside of Houston, on Sunday, Nov. 21, two days before the World Table Tennis Championships begin in Houston. Steve Claflin, a former top junior star, is running it. You can enter via Omnipong. As I write this, there are 28 entries - including Jimmy Butler, AJ Carney . . . and Larry Hodges! Yep, I plan to go. The rest of you can battle for second. :) Alas, I have a 2248 hardbat rating, and that makes me (so far) only the 12th seed. But anyone who wants to win this thing will have to face the wrath of Hodge, the current US Over 60 and Over 40 (seventh time) Hardbat Champ! (Not to mention two Hardbat Singles titles at the Nationals and Open way back in 1991-92, and 14 Hardbat Doubles Championships.) I'm normally a sponge player, but will have to find some time to practice some hardbat soon.

MDTTC Open and Westchester Teams
Next weekend I'll be coaching on Saturday at the MDTTC Open in Gaithersburg, MD; on Sunday coaching at the Westchester Teams just north of New York City; and then, on Monday (with two MDTTC juniors and parents), visiting the 9/11 Museum. (I visited the 9/11 Memorial when I was in New York City the week of Aug. 16-21, but wasn't able to fit in the 9/11 Museum.) Hope to see some of you at the tournaments!

Reads Per Blog
Some of you might have noticed that my blog no longer shows the number of reads. It gets around 30,000 each time. But ever since I did an update to Drupal 9, the reads haven't showed up - and I haven't yet figured out why. It's on my todo list, but there are a lot of other things ahead of it.

Google Table Tennis Game
Today's Google heading (Monday, Aug. 30) features a table tennis game - but they put you through a hassle first. Using the arrow keys, go onto the island, and you'll come to the "Olympic" table tennis game. Enjoy!

My Texas Table Tennis Road Trip
Here's the article by Will Shortz. Yeah, that Will Shortz. Besides his puzzling background (enigmatology, to be specific), he's the owner of the Westchester Table Tennis Club, and as of today, has played table tennis 3,253 consecutive days, not missing a day since Oct. 3, 2012.

New from Samson Dubina

New from the Performance Biomechanics Academy Table Tennis

New from Ti Long

Overcoming Challenges
Here's the article by Natalie Chan.

Forehand Loop & Cover The Table With Patryk Zyworonek
Here's the video (2:02) with commentary by Brian Pace.

New from PingSunday/EmRatThich

Videos (some overlap with the above)

Filip Zeljko vs Kanak Jha (Selected) | Saison 2021/22
Here's the video (4 min) of this German Bundesliga match.

New from Steve Hopkins
(See also his articles on Paralympics above.)

Tournament Refund Policies – No Way! No How!
Here's the article from Coach Jon.

New from Edges and Nets

2021 ITTF Czech Open
Here's the ITTF page for the event held Aug. 21-25 in Olomouc, Czech, with results and articles.

ITTF News
Here's their news pagevideo page ("World Table Tennis") and home page.

New from the Malong Fanmade Channel
Lots of new videos here.

Thin Table Pong
Here's the video (10 sec)!

Insane Ping Pong TIC TAC TOE CHALLENGE!
Here's the video (15 sec)!

Cat Ping Pong Shirt
Yes, it's what you have all been waiting for!!!

***
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Tip of the Week
Forehand Position for Backhands.

New York City Sightseeing and Tim's Basement
It's been a LONG week for me - I'm exhausted! Why? Because I spent Mon-Fri last week on my feet almost continuously, touring New York City. And then, on Saturday, Will Shortz and I explored USATT Historian Tim Boggan's basement, a literal table tennis treasure trove! I did daily Facebook postings of my adventures in New York. Here's the entire report. Or, if you want to see the many comments and discussions, here are links to the Facebook postings:

  • Monday - Times Square, Bubba Gump Restaurant, Hershey Chocolate World, Empire State Building, and Table Tennis at Bryant Park. (Only a half day as I arrived Monday afternoon.)
  • Tuesday - Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, Circle Line Sightseeing Tour (boat trip around Manhattan), Washington Square Park (the chess players), United Nations Building.
  • Wednesday - Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and Immigration Museum, Castle Clinton, 911 Memorial, World Trade Center, Wall Street and the Charging Bull, Walking Across the Brooklyn Bridge.
  • Thursday - The Metropolitan Museum of Art ("Washington Crossing the Delaware," "Self-Portrait with a Straw Hat" by van Gogh!, "The Temple of Dendur" from 10BC!), the American Museum of Natural History (Lucy! The Bandaged Blue Whale! "Worlds Beyond Earth" video!), Central Park (including Belvedere Castle, Cleopatra's Needle, and the Turtle Pond), and the Spyscape Museum.
  • Friday - the Bronx Zoo and Coney Island (I rode the Cyclone!).

When I sightsee, I always collect souvenir magnets. Here's this week's haul! (Missing - Castle Clinton was out of souvenir magnets, so I ordered one online.)

On Saturday morning, Will Shortz (of NY Times Crossword fame) picked me up at my hotel in Manhattan. It was about an hour's drive to Tim's house on Long Island. Tim Boggan was waiting for us, as was Eric Boggan (2-time US Men's Singles Champion and formerly #17 in the world - the US's top ranked man since the hardbat era). Then we went to the basement.

With Tim supervising, we went through box and Box and BOX, and shelf after Shelf after SHELF of table tennis stuff! We were like Bilbo in Smaug's lair. The only downside was that, at some point last year, Tim and son Scott (also a former US Men's Singles Champion) had cleaned out some of the basement, and his huge collection of past magazines was gone. But there were carloads of stuff of historical interest. We spent nearly all of Saturday going through it. (We took a lunch break at a local diner - Will and I had waffles, Tim had a shrimp sandwich.) We loaded up Will's car; he's a serious TT collector, and puts some of it on display at the Westchester Table Tennis Center, which he owns. I took about 20 old table tennis books, about half in English, half foreign language, to add to my table tennis book collection. (None of this will be sold - it's for historical purposes. I'm still trying to decide who and where to will my TT book collection to so that it stays together. I left the box of books with Will, and will pick them up when I go to coach some of our MDTTC players at the Team tournament at his club in two weeks, Sept. 4-6. So I have not yet updated my online listing.)

I also grabbed a couple of odds and ends, such as a weird racket with four holes in the base to put your fingers through, and some table tennis playing cards. We also found three boxes of VHS tapes and a film reel, all labeled, much of it vintage film/video of Eric and Scott Boggan in their peak years, and many others. Those we are sending off to Scott Gordon (former long-time chair of the USATT Classic Table Tennis Committee) - he collects those and will likely digitize many of them.

Then Will gave me a ride back into Manhattan and Penn/Moynihan Train Station (75 min ride), where I could catch Amtrak back to Maryland. Alas, I should have reserved a spot - every train to Maryland was full! So I had to check back into my hotel and take an 11AM train on Sunday morning.

I did have two "exciting" moments at the train station. When I first got there on Sunday, just outside the station's entrance, two police officers were arguing with what appeared to be a homeless person - who was screaming at them semi-coherently. He was black; the officers were white; dozens of people were videotaping it. I stayed and watched. After above five minutes, the homeless person walked off, still screaming. (So I don't think it'll make the news.) Then, just 15 minutes later, while I was waiting for the train to arrive, I glanced to my right where I had my luggage bag - and it was gone! Someone pointed, and sure enough, about 50 yards away some homeless person was wheeling it away. I chased after and caught him, and he immediately gave it back, saying, "Sorry, sorry, thought it was mine." (And before anyone jumps to conclusions, the second guy was white.) Moral - never take your eyes off your belongings when out in public!!!

USA Table Tennis Board Meeting
=>Skip this if not interested in the inner workings of USATT!
There was a USATT Board Teleconference on Aug. 11, which I attended. There were 23 people attending. Here's a brief rundown. (Most interesting part - see #6!)

  1. Approval of Minutes of previous meeting.
  2. Report from Bobby Sharma, chair of Nominating and Governance Committee. Arjun Chowdri was nominated and approved to the board as new independent Director. He's from the sport of golf.
  3. CEO Report by Virginia Sung. She went over the Nationals. The turnout was only 490, the second lowest in our history (lowest since 1986). There were 177 men, 94 women, 219 juniors. (Which, by the way, is a HUGE turnaround from the past - go back 20 years and there were probably 1/3 as many junior players - but many more adults.) There were 48 events on 45 tables. Due to scheduling problems, many players had to default and leave early (I blogged about this on July 12); a total of 53 players received refunds. The US Open was also mentioned, but still nothing on where it'll be. It will most likely be held the second week in December, and will be combined with the Pan Am Team Trials. She also said there should soon be info on tickets for the Houston Worlds, to be held in November. (See separate segments below on this.)
  4. High Performance Director Report by Sean O'Neill. He spoke about the various team trials, Olympics preparation, Olympics report, athlete grants, Kanak Jha going back to play in the German Leagues, Lily Zhang maybe.
  5. USATT Foundation report by Carl Danner. There is currently $1.28 million in the USATT Foundation, up about $100,000 this past year. They have sent about half a million to USATT in past ten years, so about $50,000/year.
  6. Umpire and Referee Committee Report by Roman Tinyszin. The ITTF has approved more racket colors. One side will still have to be black, but as of Oct. 1, you will have a selection for the other side, including pink, violet, green and blue. Here's the ITTF report on this, from February. Here's more info from PingSunday. The new wording from the ITTF rules (2.4.6) now says, "The surface of the covering material on a side of the blade, or of a side of the blade if it is left uncovered, shall be matt, bright red on one side and black on the other. With effect 1st October 2021, the surface of the covering material on a side of the blade, or of a side of the blade if it is left uncovered, shall be matt, black on one side, and of a bright colour clearly distinguishable from black and from the colour of the ball on the other."
  7. Update on the Proposed Amendments to the Bylaws, by Brian Moran. He reported on the upcoming Player Rep election, which should take place soon now that the Olympics is over.
  8. Update on the Athletes Advisory Council – First and Second Athletes – Third and Fourth Athletes, by Brian Moran.
  9. Approval of New Committee Members and Chairs. Marco Makkar was appointed to the Nominating and Governance Committee. Alfred Adjei was appointed to Tournament Committee. There was a strange incident regarding this. They were about to have the vote, but someone asked a question. After that, they went on as if the vote had already taken place, but the chair hadn't yet called for the vote. I pointed this out in the online chat section, and later they came back to it and had the actual vote. Not a big deal, as it was obviously going to pass, and did unanimously.  

Chief Tribute - George Braithwaite
Here's the video (6:04), brought to you by Thomas Hu. (I show up at 2:24.)

Paralympic Table Tennis Schedule
Here's the schedule, with table tennis scheduled for Aug. 25 - Sept. 3. Here's more info on table tennis at the 2020 Paralympics. (It's still considered 2020, just postponed one year.) Meanwhile, here's highlights from the table tennis action from the 2016 Paralympics (12 min)!

Countdown Begins as Houston Marks 100 days to Go until the World Table Tennis Championship
Here's the article from World Table Tennis.

World Championships in Houston - Ticket Info
Here's the ticket info page - but no info is up yet. Presumably it'll be up soon. The Worlds are in the US for the first time ever, Nov. 23-29 in Houston.

World Ping Pong Championship
Here's the info page! It's being held in Sugar Land, Texas, just outside of Houston, on Sunday, Nov. 21, two days before the World Table Tennis Championships begin in Houston. Steve Claflin, a former top junior star, is running it. You can enter via Omnipong. As I write this, there are 18 entries - including Jimmy Butler, AJ Carney . . . and Larry Hodges! Yep, I plan to go. The rest of you can battle for second! :)

Upcoming Tournaments in the Maryland and DC Area
There are ones in our area the next two weekends:

Tokyo Vlog #6 - Arigato Tokyo!
Here's the Vlog from Timo Boll (13:27).

New from Jinxin Wang

New from Samson Dubina

New from the Performance Biomechanics Academy Table Tennis

PingSunday/EmRatThich
Lots and lots of new stuff here:

Creating More Time for Yourself by Preparing Whilst Moving
Here's the video (56 sec) from Eli Baraty.

New from Ti Long

New from Table Tennis Central

New from Steve Hopkins

New from Coach Jon

Nationals 2021-My Search for Gold
Here's the article by Darryl Tsao.

NCTTA Parties Together From Coast to Coast, Alumni Sign-up, and Fundraiser
Here's the article.

USA Table Tennis Announces 2021 ITTF Pan Am Youth Championships Teams
Here's the info page.

Two-Time Olympian Kanak Jha Visits Cary, Shares His Love for Table Tennis
Here's the article and video (2:12) from WRAL.

Which Sport Requires the Most Hand-Eye Coordination?
Here's the video (3:39), where famed physicist Neil deGrasse Tyson is asked this question. His response? Table tennis! It comes up three times in the video.

ITTF News
Here's their news pagevideo page ("World Table Tennis") and home page.

New from the Malong Fanmade Channel
Lots of new videos here.

New Funnies 237 Woody Woodpecker Ping Pong
It's for sale!

Hello Kitty
Here's the Hello Kitty table tennis page! What, you don't know who she is? Here's info on the Japanese character Hello Kitty.

Adam vs. Anastasiia
Here's the video (14:30)! "Anastasiia grew up here, on Earth. Yet her forehand smashes might lead you to believe otherwise."

Trick Shots
Here's the video (4:23) from MLFM!

Table Tennis Expectation vs. Reality
Here's the video (6:45) from XOLAY!

Sideways Pong
Here's the video (4:02) from Pongfinity - where they play with the table on its end, as well as with a hula hoop and while juggling!

Political Game
Here's the cartoon - no "!" on this one.

***
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Alas, no blog this week. I'm visiting New York City this week for sightseeing and some table tennis business, which I'll write about next week. I was planning to go up after doing my blog, but due to a scheduling issue I have to leave early Monday morning. But the Tip of the Week is up, The Seven Links of Table Tennis. And to tide you over, here's a new video of Roger Federer playing table tennis against a backboard - could you match this? (Here's my blog from August 12, 2019 - skip to the end and you'll see lots of links of Federer playing table tennis. Some are pretty funny.) See you next Monday!

Tip of the Week
Relax Your Arm During Backswing

US Open, Worlds Tickets, and Elevation
It's nearly mid-August and we still don't know where or when (presumably sometime in December) the US Open will be. We also don't know when or how to buy tickets for the Worlds to be held in Houston in November. We've been told they'll be on sale in August, but that's pretty vague - when in August? Or is their hesitancy about whether spectators will be allowed? If USATT has a reason why they still don't have the answers to these, then there's a simple solution - TELL US!!! USATT has a news page. Communications is a huge part of leadership, and as I've blogged before, USATT gets an F in communications. Just give periodic updates, and if good reasons for the delays are given, people accept them.

I have heard rumors of five cities that are being considered for the US Open. At this point, lots of people seem to know them, so it's no longer a real secret. The five cities that rumored to be in the running for the US Open (most likely in mid-December, just before Christmas) are Las Vegas, Houston, Reno, Salt Lake City, and Palm Beach, FL. (Addendum: Tampa, FL has joined the rumors.) Regarding this, Reno and Salt Lake City are likely great cities, but with respective elevations of 4500' and 4200', that's just too high - the thinner air plays havoc with the ball. You'd probably need about a week to really adjust. (Las Vegas is 2000', which takes 1-2 sessions to mostly get used to, and the other two are about sea level.)

I have a separate reason I wish they'd get us the dates soon. I'm supposed to be a panelist at the World Science Fiction Convention to be held Dec. 15-19, 2021, in Washington DC, about a 30-minute drive from me. If this conflicts with the US Open, I need to let them know I can't make it, or perhaps that I can only make a few days. We'll see. (The US Open has precedence - I'll be coaching there.) 

MDTTC Open
Here are the results of the tournament held this past weekend at my club, the Maryland Table Tennis Center. I used to run their tournaments - I've run 203 USATT tournaments in all - but they have a new group now. Tournament director was Wang Qingliang, with John Miller, Chris Li, and James Zhang assisting. I advised on some issues, but mostly spent the tournament coaching.

I coached around 20 matches - Stanley Hsu (who made the final of the Open), Ryan Lin (who won U2000 and made the final of U2200), Mu Du (who won U2200), Todd Klinger, Kurtus Hsu, and one match for Riley Yang (who made the U1900 final). Lots of tactical and sports psychology things went on. One match was won mostly on a simple tactic: serve short to forehand (with long serves to backhand mixed in), first attack to middle to force a weak return and draw opponent out of position, then relentless attack to backhand and middle and look for chances to end it to the wide corners. (The opponent will recognize this - the tactic was somewhat obvious. There were other more subtle tactics used that I won't go into.) In another match, against a chopper, it was all about patience (never go for a risky shot), decisiveness (when the shot was there), and go after the middle. (Here are the rating results.)

National Collegiate Table Tennis Association Summer Party
On Sunday night, 8-9:30PM, they had a Zoom meeting for members, alumni, and guests. I attended, though just as a quiet onlooker. It was hosted by longtime NCTTA president Willy Leparulo. About 50 people attended. Here are some highlights.

  • NCTTA Scholarships were announced. One of them was Stephanie Zhang, who will start at University of Maryland this fall. She started out in my Beginning Table Tennis Class!
  • They gave out their first Alumni Achievement Award, to Richard Lee. Besides being the worldwide owner of JOOLA, one of the owners of my club (MDTTC), and a top player (who won most of the junior events during his junior years), Richard was very active in NCTTA's beginning.
  • There was an East vs. West competition, sponsored by Stupa Analytics, where three players from the west took on three players in the east in . . . ball bouncing off the bottom of their racket handles! The East won easily because Adam Hugh bounced around 300 in a row! (No one else had more than about 30, and most were under ten.)
  • They held a number of trivia contests - though they were all too easy!
  • There was a commemoration of Hall of Famer George Brathwaite, who died last year, with Thomas Hu putting together a nice presentation. It started off with a roughly one-minute tribute from me, where I talked about an amazing tactical adjustment he made against me in a match I lost to him. They announced the new George Braithwaite Community Service Scholarship.
  • They had a talk about the College Table Tennis Coaching Certification.
  • They showed videos of the voted on top moments of past NCTTA events.
  • They livestreamed NCTTA parties that were taking place at the 888 Table Tennis Center in California and at Spin New York.
  • While the party was going on, some pointed out that the real party was in the chat box, where lots of discussion was taking place.
  • And much more!
  • Here's the link to their National Fundraiser.

USA Table Tennis Board of Directors Meeting
They will meet online on Wednesday, Aug. 11, at 8PM eastern time. Here's the USATT Agendas and Notices page, which links to the info page for the meeting, which includes the agenda. Members are welcome to attend. 

Olympic Table Tennis Coverage
Interesting tidbit - Japan upset China in the final of Mixed Doubles to stop a Chinese sweep. If they had not done so, then China and the US would have tied for most golds at 39 each! So table tennis was the deciding factor in the US prevailing, 39-38. (Here's the medal table.)

NBC Sports Table Tennis Olympic Video Coverage

Best of Pro Table Tennis Players Training at Tokyo 2020
Here's the video (4:34) from Table Tennis Central.

Jun Mizutani Retires
Mizutani, 32, just announced his retirement, due to vision problems. He had just won Gold at the Olympics in Mixed Doubles. Though his world ranking had dropped to #20, from 2010-2017 he was almost always ranked in the top ten in the world, reaching a high of #4 in 2017. How consistent was he? In the monthly world rankings, he was #5 seventeen times, #6 twenty-one times, and #7 eighteen times. He was also the Japan Men's Singles Champion five years in a row. 2007-2011.

Table Tennis Strength & Power Online Bootcamp
Here's the info page from Peak Performance Table Tennis. "Want to improve acceleration, move faster, and dominate your opponents with overwhelming POWER? If so, join the Strength & Power Online Bootcamp by Peak Performance Table Tennis. This fully-remote, online bootcamp is for table tennis players of all levels who are looking to upgrade their game with a table tennis specific physical training program. In this self-paced 'bootcamp' you will follow a carefully designed training program with coaching support along the way. This program has been tested and perfected on table tennis athletes the world over. Stop wasting your money on overpriced modern generation rubbers and upgrade yourself instead!" Here's a video from them, Strength & Table Tennis (60 sec).

New from Timo Boll

Serve Receive Techniques For Beginners
Here's the video (2:06) featuring Olympian Wang Huijing.

Forehand Block
Here's the video (2:02) featuring Truong Tu.

Backhand & Forehand Attack
Here's the video (2:23) featuring Zelin Ye.

New from Samson Dubina

New from Edges and Nets

New from Ti Long

New from the Performance Biomechanics Academy Table Tennis

New from Table Tennis Central

New from PingSunday/EmRatThich

Videos (some overlap with the above)

New from Steve Hopkins

Ping Pong Diplomacy: Artifacts from the Historic 1971 U.S. Table Tennis Trip to China
Here's the article from diplomacy.state.gov. "In April 1971, nine players from the U.S. Table Tennis team took a historic trip to China, becoming the first delegation of Americans to visit the country in decades. Following the 1949 Chinese revolution, there had been no diplomatic ties, limited trade, and few contacts between the United States and the People’s Republic of China. Their trip was the start of what became known as “ping pong diplomacy” and helped lay the groundwork for establishing official diplomatic relations between the United States and the People’s Republic of China. Ping pong diplomacy also led to improved people-to-people understanding and cultural exchange. Connie Sweeris, one of the nine players who traveled to China, recently donated a collection of personal mementos from that 1971 trip, as well as subsequent anniversary trips, to the National Museum of American Diplomacy’s permanent collection. The museum is thrilled to share these items with the public and to include them in future exhibits and programming."

Kate's Progress: An Inspiring Table Tennis Story
Here's the Amazon link where you can buy this new table tennis novel by Graham Frankel. "Kate Beavis and her elder brother, Oliver, live with their parents, Mark and Helen, in Shawton, a typical suburban town in the south east of England. Kate is obsessed with football and is the biggest fan of her brother, who dreams of becoming a professional footballer. Their love of sport provides a welcome distraction from a world struggling with an unprecedented global pandemic. Kate’s discovery of table tennis changes everything for her and her family and friends. Meanwhile, the Shawton Project, initiated by a dedicated group of local pioneers, marks the beginning of a significant era in establishing table tennis as a major force in the area and beyond. Kate is on the threshold of a new adventure..." Graham is also the author of PING!: A personal perspective on table tennis. You can read about both books on his website

The Hog Blog
Here's the article from Coach Jon.

ITTF News
Here's their news pagevideo page ("World Table Tennis") and home page.

Tokyo Olympics: a 58-year-old Table Tennis Player is Finding Online Fame as the "Shanghai Auntie"
Here's the article featuring Ni Xialian of Luxembourg (former Chinese team member) from the South China Morning Post. (Back in my days as editor of USATT Magazine I knew her pretty well - did several interviews, and she even coached me in one of my own matches! She speaks good English.)

The Most Thrilling Olympic Sport Is Played in Basements Nationwide
Here's the article and video (72 sec, links to other videos) from Slate.

Once a Tool for Diplomacy, Table Tennis Now Viewed by China as So Much More
Here's the article from NBC News.

New from the Malong Fanmade Channel
Lots of new videos here!

Inside Pre-Season: Liverpool's Table Tennis Tournament
Here's the video (9 min) of this football (soccer for Americans) team. "Go behind the scenes from LFC's ping pong competition in Evian, as part of their pre-season training camp, with Mo Salah aiming to make it three tournament wins."

Great Exhibition Point
Here it is (44 sec)!

Doonesbury Table Tennis
Here's the cartoon for August 7, 2021 - "Have you tried table tennis?"

No Pug Pong
Here's the cartoon!

Ambidextrous Ponger Baby
Here's the video (15 sec)!

Funny Table Tennis Shirts from Spreadshirt
Here's the page. How can you not buy a Ping Pong Master shirt - unless, of course, you aren't a ping pong master?

Kevin Hart & Snoop Dogg Get DESTROYED at Table Tennis by this LADY
Here's the video (2:03, table tennis only the first minute) as they take on Soo Yeun Lee.

Twenty Funniest Moments in Table Tennis
Here's the video (8:06)!

***
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Tip of the Week
July 26: Don't "Guide" Your Loop.
Aug. 2: Practice Service Spin … on a Rug!

Writing and Table Tennis Advice
I just finished up a nine-day TNEO online science fiction & fantasy writing workshop, an annual event I go to nearly every year. (This was my twelfth one and ninth in a row.) It's nine days of total writer immersion, with story critiques, master classes, readings, brainstorming & problem-solving sessions, plot breakout sessions, and writing salons on various topics. (Think of it as a training camp for writers.)

There was a discussion about when a story is done. Some writers spend way too much time trying to "perfect" a story, sometimes holding onto it for years as they keep rewriting and reworking it, trying for that absolutely "perfect" story. The result is they don't write much else (and so don't improve as a writer nor have other stories to sell), and (reality check) the story doesn't actually get much better after a certain point. I spoke up and pointed out this was similar to what happens to some table tennis players. They constantly try to fix even their best shots, trying for "perfect" technique, and so never can really groove the shot, since it's always changing. Or they play a match where they keep trying find the "perfect" tactics, rather than finding and using ones that work, and so end up losing.

You should strive for "perfection" - but there is a point where it becomes counter-productive. Find the right balance.

One small tidbit - the participants keep track of funny statements made by others in the various sessions, and they are all published at the end of the week. Here are three quotes from me - all completely out of context, of course!

  • "I was glad that Diane died early." -Larry
  • "If you put a cicada named Bob on the table, you have to use him." -Larry
  • "The fastest rejection I ever got was 4 minutes." -Larry

1800th Published Table Tennis Article
One week ago I had my 1800th published table tennis article: Don't "Guide" Your Loop. It's also published on the Butterfly page.) This is in addition to over 1800 blog entries - if you include both, it's over 3600. Overall, I've had exactly 2040 published articles in 173 different publications and 17 books. Outside table tennis, the articles include 63 non-table tennis articles on various topics, including science, writing, and 33 on the Baltimore Orioles. It also includes 119 science fiction & fantasy stories (plus 40 reprints) that I've sold. The books include nine on table tennis,, eight science fiction & fantasy (four novels and four short story collections), and one travel book (Larry's Adventures in Europe and Egypt: Seven Weeks Following Tour Guides with Little Flags and Funny Hats, and the Quest for the Elusive Dr Pepper). That adds up to 18 books because my fantasy table tennis novel "The Spirit of Pong" counts twice, as both table tennis and SF & fantasy.

Maryland Table Tennis Center Featured in Chinese World Journal
Here are the three stories published on July 21. They are in Chinese, so I can't read them directly, alas. (I did an online translation, but it comes out poorly.) They have a number of pictures. (I put this in my previous blog, but it went up several days late.)

MDTTC Opens
After a nearly two-year break, the Maryland Table Tennis Center is back to running tournaments in Gaithersburg. (See the Maryland entry in Omnipong.) They will hold one next weekend, Aug. 7-8, and others in Sept, Oct, and Nov. I ran them for many years - I've run exactly 203 USATT tournaments (almost all of them two-day events), but I'm now retired from that. I trained Klaus Wood to take over a few years ago, but now he's off to college. So Coach Wang Qingliang has taken over as tournament director. I'll be there to help out if needed and to coach some of our players. (I'll probably be showing up coaching at various upcoming regional tournaments - not sure which ones yet.)

2021 US Open
It's August, and we still don't know when or where the US Open will be. It should be in December, usually the week or so before Christmas. I've heard rumors about five cities interested in holding it, but if I list them, I'll probably get a call from the USATT lawyer. :) Since I don't know if the list is correct, I'll hold off. I hope USATT decides on this soon - people do need to make plans, plus you get more entries if people know well in advance and you can keep advertising it.

Tragic 'Spy' Who Sparked China's Table Tennis Domination
Here's the article featuring Rong Guotuan, from barrons.com. "In 1959, Rong became China's first world champion in any sport when he won the men's table tennis title, before committing suicide in his early 30s during the country's chaotic Cultural Revolution." He was "framed as a suspected spy." (He also coached the Chinese Women's Team to their first team title in 1965.) Rong is featured in my fantasy table tennis novel, "The Spirit of Pong" - he teaches "The Mind of Pong," but extracts a heavy price in return - he forces the student to relive what he went through during the Cultural Revolution.

USA Table Tennis Olympic Coverage by Mark Thompson

Olympic Table Tennis Links

Table Tennis Links
Rather than put together a somewhat comprehensive list of all the table tennis articles and videos that went up over the last two weeks while I was away, here are links to some of the major sites that had lots of things going up during that time. Enjoy! Next week I'll go back to listing them more individually.

NCTTA’s Summer Party - Sunday, August 8th @ 8pmET!
Here's the info page for the National Collegiate Table Tennis Association party.

Coaches Corner - How to Prepare for An Important Tournament
Here's the article by Wang Qingliang.

Multiball - Elevating Your Game by Training Under Uncomfortable Realistic Conditions
Here's the video (47 sec) from Eli Baraty.

Table Tennis with an Olympic Player
Here's the video (5:16) featuring 9-time Finland Champion Benedek Olah, from Pongfinity. Some very nice drills demonstrated here, especially the ones that start with a serve.

Interview with Matt Hetherington
Here's the video (11:20) by Samson Dubina. Topic is Matt's experience with the Chinese National Team.

3 Reasons Why Table Tennis is an Awesome Sport to Watch
Here's the article by Matt Hetherington.

2021 USA National Championship VLOG
Here's the video (5:53) from Seth Pech.

Left-Handed Tom Forced into Retirement!
Here's the article by Tom Lodziak.

Table Menaces: Why do so many top-level athletes have a need to be the best ping-pong player in the room?
Here's the article from Sports Illustrated. I wish they had contacted me - I could have told them about the ping-pong battles that went on in the Baltimore Orioles clubhouse a few years ago, with three of them taking lessons from me - Brady Anderson, J.J. Hardy, and Darren O'Day.

Soon Yeon Lee: Table Tennis Star Turned Hollywood Celebrity Coach
Here's the article.

The Art and Sport of Table Tennis
Here's the video (1:48) featuring Scott Preiss.

Table Tennis Prank
Here's the video (15 sec)!

Snakeman Unleashed!
Here's the video (8:13) from Adam Bobrow!

China vs. Germany - Funny Table Tennis Stereotypes
Here's the video (8:37) from XOLAY! "We tried something different today. How do you like it? Please don´t take it too serious."

Comedy Table Tennis & Funniest Moments
Here's the video (8 min) from Table Tennis Central!

***
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Tip of the Week for July 19
What Do You Do That Threatens Your Opponent?

Tip of the Week for July 26
Don't "Guide" Your Loop.

No Blog Next Week (July 26), But There Will Be a Tip
From July 23-31 I'll be in an intensive online science fiction writing workshop, "The Never-Ending Odyssey," which I attend each year, along with other graduates of the Odyssey SF Writing Workshop. (This is my 12th TNEO, including nine in a row. They normally are in Manchester, NH, but now they are online.) As many readers know, outside table tennis I'm also a science fiction writer with four novels (including my fantasy table tennis novel, "The Spirit of Pong," which you must read) and 119 short story sales (159 if you include resales). I'll be involved in writerly activities pretty much all day and night for those nine days. Don't worry, I'll make sure to shadow practice between sessions and will even wear various table tennis/science fiction shirts I've picked up over the years, such as my Pongsaurus shirt! So next blog will be Aug. 2. However, I will put up a Tip of the Week next Monday, July 26. (And while 119 short sales may seem like a lot, but it's dwarfed by my 1799 published articles on table tennis - not including another 1800+ blog entries! Yeah, my next published TT article will be #1800. Here's my complete bibliography.)

Olympic Table Tennis
It takes place in Tokyo, July 24 - Aug. 6, though few will see it since no spectators are allowed. Here's where you can follow the table tennis action from the ITTF.

Since the ITTF hasn't yet put up the schedule, here's the schedule directly from Olympics.com. Also, see the section on Olympic Table Tennis below.

BREAKING NEWS - This NBC site will be streaming table tennis live

Long Pips and Short Pips and Antispin, Oh My!
At the Nationals, one of our top juniors, Stanley Hsu, had to play someone with antispin who he'd lost to previously in an upset. As I wrote in my blog last week, I searched the playing hall and found Dan Seemiller Jr., who lent me his backup racket with anti. I practiced with Stanley for almost half an hour with the racket, and it paid off - he went into the match comfortable against the anti this time and won easily.

But I shouldn't have had to search for an anti racket - I already had one made up. I simply hadn't packed it for the Nationals, to save on baggage. We also had several matches where our kids played against short and long pips players. I had brought long pips rackets (both with and without sponge) but not short pips. I've now made a vow to never show up at a tournament as a coach where I don't bring the entire collection. I have a large four-racket case, and I filled it up with four rackets, each with inverted on one side, and an "off" surface on the other - long pips with sponge, long pips without sponge, short pips (a new sheet I just got), and antispin. I also always have my hardbat in a separate case, in case that comes up. Including my regular inverted racket, that's six rackets I'll be bringing to all tournaments, not to mention having handy in practice. (I used to do this at major tournaments, but sometimes got lazy to save on baggage.) 

Maryland Table Tennis Center Featured in Chinese World Journal
Here are the three stories published on July 21. They are in Chinese, so I can't read them directly, alas. (I did an online translation, but it comes out poorly.) They have a number of pictures.

RIP Charles "Bubba" Butler
Here's the legacy obit. He was a top ten player in the US in the late 1970s/early 1980s before moving to Germany to play in the German leagues, and later to coach. (He also apparently played TT at halftimes with the Harlem Globetrotters.) I hadn't seen or heard of him until this came up. There's little info in the obit other than the note on lower left from Merle Grall. He's been hiding under the radar - I couldn't find a picture of him online, not even from long ago.

Tokyo Vlog #1 - My Final Preparations
Here's the video (3:25) from Timo Boll.

Backhand Topspin Your Biomechanical Description, Part 1 of 3
Here's the video (1:51) from Performance Biomechanics Table Tennis.

How to Do an ADVANCED Forehand TOPSPIN/LOOP
Here's the video (6:23) from Dublin TTC.

Why You SHOULD Be Making Excuses!
Here's the video (5:07) from Louis Levene.

Seth Pech vs Sid Naresh $3000 Open FINALS 2021
Here's the video (6:23) as Seth gives great point-by-point analysis.

Developing Tough Placement
Here's the video (34 sec) from Eli Baraty.

New from PingSunday/EmRatThich
Here's his video page with LOTS of new stuff this past week!

New from Ti Long

New from Samson Dubina

New from Edges and Nets

Left-Handed Challenge - Match Report 1
Here's the article by Tom Lodziak.

Mostly Messy Tournament Experiences
Here's the article from Coach Jon.

Binghamton University Student is Table Tennis Phenom
Here's the article from the Bing U News, featuring Kai Zhang and Will Shortz. "By the time he started his freshman year at Binghamton University, Kai Zhang had been the subject of scrutiny, speculation and a story in The New Yorker. He is a table tennis phenom who started playing at age 6 in Beijing, China. At 15, he moved — by himself — to the United States to pursue greater opportunities for both his sport and his education. His guardian is Will Shortz, a man who has not missed a day playing table tennis in more than five years. And yes, he's that Will Shortz: NPR puzzle master and New York Times crossword editor."

I've Outlasted Them All': the Spectacular Life of the World's Most Powerful Crossword Editor
Here's the article from The Guardian that features Will Shortz - puzzlist and table tennis player & owner.

New Guinness World Record for Longest Table Tennis Serve Set in Pleasantville
Here's the video (1:53) from the News 12 at Westchester, featuring Eric Finkelstein.

Adam Bobrow on His Love for Table Tennis
Here's the article from The Telegraph India. "'The Voice of Table Tennis', in a candid chat opens up about his Olympics debut as a commentator."

Katy Table Tennis Academy Starts 'em Young in Hopes of Producing National Champion
Here's the article from Khou 11 in Texas.

74-year-old Table Tennis Paralympian Coaches, Inspires Younger Players
Here's the article and video (2:19) from News 7 in Miami, featuring Terese Terranova.

=>BEGIN OLYMPIC TABLE TENNIS

Chinese Table Tennis Team Arrives for Tokyo Olympic Games
Here's the article form Xinhua Net.

What Makes China a Dynasty in Table Tennis, Particularly at the Olympics
Here's the article from First Post.

South Korean Table Tennis Legend Ryu Tests Positive Upon Arrival for Tokyo 2020
Here's the article from Xinhua Net on the 2004 Olympic Men's Singles Gold Medalist Ryu Seung-min.

The African Table Tennis Star Hoping to End Chinese Dominance
Here's the article from DW featuring Aruna Quadri.

Aruna Quadri Makes Top 15 Seeding List In Table Tennis
Here's the article from Complete Sports. Also talks about the other top seeds.

Five Table Tennis Stars to Watch Out For
Here's the article from Sport Star: The Hindu.

Tokyo Olympics: Indian Table Tennis Players Profile, Ranking, Opponents, Form Guide
Here's the article from Sports Star: The Hindu.

India's Table-Tennis Contingent For Tokyo Olympics Best Ever, Says Sharath Kamal
Here's the article from NDTV Sports.

How Table Tennis Player Manika Batra Didn't Even Have a Table to Practice on During Lockdown
Here's the article from India Today.

Olympic Glossary: Pimpled Rubber, Acne of the Table Tennis Kind
Here's the article from the Indian Express.

=>END OLYMPIC TABLE TENNIS

New from Steve Hopkins

Table Tennis Amidst the Pandemic

Here's the article by Angie Tan.

2021 World Table Tennis Championships is Ready for Lift-off in Houston

Here's the ITTF article. They take place Nov. 23-29 - alas, during the North American Teams, where I'll be coaching, with 1000 players and lots of other coaches and parents, all missing the Worlds in the US because they scheduled the Worlds at the same time as the Teams. Tickets go on sale in August.

ITTF World Rankings

Here are the July 13 World Rankings, and here's an ITTF article that features six top players: Mima Ito (JPN, world #2), Ma Long (CHN, #3) Cheng I-Ching (TPE, #8), Dimitrij Ovtcharov (GER, #9), Petrissa Solja (GER, #20), and Prithika Pavade (FRA, #390, age 16).

COVID-19 Disruption Sees New Qualification System Adopted for World Table Tennis Championships
Here's the article from Inside the Games.

ITTF News
Here's their news pagevideo page ("World Table Tennis") and home page.

2021 Nationals Highlights from Aziz Zarehbin
Here's the video (4:35). Aziz won Under 2450, made the semifinals of Under 19 Boys, and quarterfinals of Under 17 Boys.

New from the Malong Fanmade Channel
Lots of new videos here!

8 Minutes of Drop Shots in Table Tennis
Here's the video from Rational Table Tennis Analysis.

New from Table Tennis Central

X GOAT - Greatest Of All Time
Here's the video (14:21) from XOLAY!

"I Like Table Tennis & Maybe 3 People"
Here's where you can get the shirt at Amazon!

"I Literally Do Not Even Remember What We Do Here"
Here's the cartoon!

Home Depot Pong
Here's the video (21 sec)! (While it looks like a Home Depot, the two players are wearing some uniform with what looks like the top of a hammer as a logo. Let me know if you know what store this actually is.)

Non-Table Tennis - Science Fiction & Fantasy Story Sales
I've sold three short stories in the past two weeks. They are:

  • "Madam Hitler" to New Myths Magazine. What happens if a time traveling tourist shows up as Hitler is about to shoot himself on April 30, 1945, and inadvertently gives him a device that allows him to trade bodies with someone else, allowing him to escape? Story has a huge climax with Hitler, Stalin, and Mao all in a room together. (Don't worry, things won't go well for these baddies.)
  • "Prototype Solar System with Strings Attached" to Galaxy's Edge. We finally find out how and why God (and his overworked angel engineers) created gravity, dark matter, strings, and other strange things when He created the universe. Nothing controversial here!!!
  • "The Devil's Backbone" to Alternative Deathiness Anthology. What happens when an ice cream man dies and is forced to live his "afterlife" in a colony on the backbone of the Devil himself? It starts with the craziest chase scene I've ever written - the ice cream man in his truck trying to evade the huge hand and incredibly long arm of the Devil.

***
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Tip of the Week
Playing the Non-Adjuster. (There was no blog last week while I was at the US Nationals, but in case you missed it, there was a Tip - Changing the Pace.)

2021 US Nationals
I had a great time at the Nationals last week in Las Vegas, July 4-9. The players I coached did very well, and in between coaching I managed to squeeze in two gold medals myself!!! However, as usual, due to my coaching and hardbat, I didn't get to see as many high-level matches as others. (When they were playing the Men's and Women's Finals I had to go online to find out who they'd beaten in the semifinals.) A great thanks to the many staff who did an INCREDIBLE job, given the difficult parameters they had to work under.

Here are a few links:

I was one of the coaches from the Maryland Table Tennis Center (along with Cheng Yinghua, Jack Huang, and Qingliang Wang), which dominated the Under 13 Boys' Singles. Stanley Hsu won it, Mu Du made the Semifinals, and Ryan Lin and Winston Wu made the quarterfinals. (The latter two will still be eligible next year.) I coached many of their matches and have worked extensively with them in the past. A lot of our other players also had great results, with James Zhang and Todd Klinger both having breakthrough tournaments. Can't wait for the new ratings!!! (They might be out today.)

Temperatures hit a high of 114 F during the tournament, but we never noticed as the Mandalay Bay Hotel is connected directly to the Mandalay Bay Convention Center, so it was a brisk ten-minute walk each way. (In fact, the AC was almost too high - I had to wear my warmup jacket most of the time.) There were a number of restaurants at the hotel, but more importantly an eatery a few hundred yards from the playing site, so that's where I had nearly all my breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. (Subway was open 24 hours and served breakfast, and between that, the Chinese place, and the pizza place, I was happy with the food - though it was pretty expensive.) One problem - there was no water available at the playing hall. This likely had to do with the Pandemic, but they really should find some way around this. Players had to choose between paying extremely high prices for bottles of water, or making a special trip to nearby stores for cases of water. Fortunately, I was in an entourage (ten kids, ten parents, four coaches), and the parents went out and bought everyone cases of water.

I heard there were various types of entertainment in Las Vegas, such as gambling, huge swimming pools, shows, and so on, but I will never know for sure as I was at the playing hall every day from 8AM to at least 9PM.

We arrived on Friday so the kids could get a day and a half to get used to the conditions. There was some confusion about when the playing hall would open. We were initially told setup would take place on Sunday morning, and that the hall might not be open for practice until near 1PM, which is when the first event was scheduled. So we contacted the two local full-time clubs, conveniently named the Las Vegas TTC and the Vegas TTC. We ended up doing a three-hour session at the Vegas TTC on Saturday morning and early afternoon. And then we received word that USATT had started setup early, and that the playing hall would be open Saturday after all! So we arranged a 90-minute session that night as well, along with a session on Sunday morning. Yeah, we work the kids hard!

We ran into some issues with the scheduling. We had four kids in Under 13 Boys' Singles, the primary event for all of them. Three of them were seeded out of the RR groups, but we didn't know that until I think Saturday night or Sunday morning. And so, rather than play at 1PM Sunday, as scheduled, they didn't play until Wednesday at noon! They were all primed to play, so that was a bit disappointing. So they focused on other events. This was because of the decision to run all of the RR groups in all events first, and then run the single elimination portion. This meant that players who won or were seeded out of their RR groups had to wait days before they played the SE part. In the case of Under 13 Boys, they had to wait three days. (More on this below.)

I singlehandedly averted the largest crisis ever to face USA Table Tennis. On Sunday, I had pizza for lunch. I went to the long row of tables at the back of the hall to watch a match that one of our other coaches was coaching. After finishing, I looked around and discovered there were no trash cans in the back of the hall. Others were also having lunch and had the same problem. So, what do you do when you have trash and no trash cans? Yes, it gets piled onto the floor. So, being a superhero wannabe, I emailed USATT COO Mark Thompson - and lo and behold, the following morning, there were trash cans in the back! Trashcangate was averted. Once again, I am an unsung hero.

Lots of crazy things happened in the matches I coached. I wish I could give some of the tactical stuff, but that would be giving away trade secrets that could hurt our players! Here's a rough rundown:

  • Stanley Hsu, rated 2311 at age 12, had a bad loss a couple of months ago to a shakehands player who dead-blocked everything with antispin. He had to play him again. I frantically raced about the playing hall looking for someone with an anti-racket - and found Dan Seemiller Jr.! (He's head coach at the El Paso TTC.) He lent me his spare racket. I blocked for Stanley for almost half an hour - and this time he won at 5,4,1. Yes, practice makes a difference.
  • I coached Stanley in the semifinals of Under 13 Boys, against He Xianyao. He'd beaten him at the Under 13 Team Trials a few weeks ago - I'd also coached that match - and we had a good game plan. But things didn't go quite as planned. Stanley lost the first two at 7 and 9 (leading 9-7 that last game). He won the third 11-8. In the fourth, down 6-8, I called a timeout - and once again, we picked the right serves and tactics as he won five of the next six points to win 11-9. He came alive in the fifth to win the match, -7,-9,8,9,6, and make the finals. Only - his opponent in the final, Patryk Zyworonek (2214, the second seed), had to default to catch a flight. More on that below.
  • James Zhang had been going five games over and over in recent tournaments with players rated from 2200 to 2400 but hadn't been able to pull out the fifth. He finally had his breakthrough - but in hilarious fashion! He beat a "2087" player deuce in the fifth. I was the one who got to tell him the player was actually rated 2337! (The 2087 was an old rating and the player had played a recent tournament that had just been processed.) Here's video of his match with the 2337 player (13 sec). James, Todd Klinger, and Christian Funderberg all had breakout tournaments.
  • Lance Wei (2015) played a 2189 player. He lost the first two and was down 8-10 match point. I called a timeout. After a sports psychology pep talk, I called two serves. The opponent missed both! Lance won the next point, and reused one of the serves I'd called earlier - and the opponent missed it again! (Sometimes the magic works.) It went into the fifth, with Lance up 6-2. Alas, it was not to be. But he'd later beat a 2157 player. He's going to shoot up over the next year.
  • One match I coached was a bit crazy. Suffice to say he was down 6-10 in the second and 2-8, 8-10 in the third and won both.

As I usually do, I also played in the hardbat events at the Nationals. (I'm normally a sponge player but play hardbat on the side.) I won Over 40 Hardbat Singles for the seventh time, and won Over 60 Hardbat Singles in my first time eligible. (Here are the USATT Leaderboards.) Didn't lose a game in either event, the only two I played. I've won Hardbat Open Singles twice, but that was long ago, when I was much younger. I've also won Hardbat Doubles 13 times, but due to the pandemic, they had no doubles events this year. I had to default out of Hardbat Singles due to conflicts with my coaching, and twice I came very close to getting defaulted from the other two events due to showing up late because of coaching duties.

On Thursday night I attended the USATT Hall of Fame Banquet. Inductees this year were Roman Tinyszin (contributor), Christian Lillieroos (contributor), Sebastian DeFrancesco (athlete), and Pam Fontaine (athlete). (The latter two are para athletes.) Getting the Lifetime Achievement Award was David Sakai - who, circa 1981-1985 and again in the early 1990s, I practiced regularly with. (These were actually last year's inductees, but they had to cancel the Nationals due to the pandemic, so they were honored this year.) I've been doing the Hall of Fame Program Booklet every year starting in 2009 - here is this year's! (If you want to browse all the past years, go to the USATT Hall of Fame Annual Dinner page, and scroll past the bios at the start. All of the programs are there, from 1979 to present - I scanned all the old ones myself.) The banquet went well and was efficiently run by Hall of Fame Chair Sean O'Neill. 

Covid wasn't really an issue. Most (like myself) were vaccinated, and masks were not required. Fortunately, the tournament did not enforce some of the Covid restrictions on the entry form, such as, "No more than two persons [other than tournament officials] are permitted inside the field of play while preparing for competition or actual competition play at any time," "Participants are not permitted to be closer than six feet to the Tournament Director's work area," and "No food is allowed inside the competition venue." I and pretty much everyone else broke these rules.

And now we get to the problems of the tournament - and the following is meant both as reporting and a todo list of things that USATT can do to improve their future major tournaments. (Though much of it is more about this specific tournament and the unique situation that the threat of Covid caused.)

Way back in January or February USATT decided that, because of Covid, they would run the entire tournament single elimination. The reasons given seem contradictory. (I've blogged about this.) I was initially told it was because they were worried about a small turnout because of the pandemic, and so didn't want to lock themselves into a larger hall that they couldn't afford without a large turnout. But if they rented a smaller hall and then got a large turnout, they'd be stuck trying to run it with the usual RRs. So they decided to rent a smaller hall and run it all SE. (They also scheduled most of the SEs to start early, on Sunday or Monday, which makes sense if you are running all SE events.) I argued with them at the time, pointing out that by the time of the Nationals all non-juniors who chose to would be vaccinated, and that with no Nationals or Open since 2019, there was a hunger for the Nationals and there would be a large turnout in Las Vegas if they ran it like normal. They didn't agree, and so we were stuck with a hall that had room for only 45 tables, less than half the norm. Then, at the April USATT board meeting, CEO Virginia Sung said, "The reason for running all single elimination is to better manage schedule and conflicts more efficiently." This seemed to contradict the initial reason given. Communication does not seem a strength of this administration.

Since they were not running doubles events (due to Covid), that helped with time scheduling. Players were limited to only six events, which was disappointing to players who wanted to play both age and rating events and had to pick which ones to skip. However, about a week before the deadline to enter, with entries very low, they decided to go RR after all. There was a last-minute influx of entries, which brought them to the current listing of 526 players. (Earlier the listing had 557 or more, but apparently many of those were regional winners who never entered the Nationals and so were taken out after email queries, though others were left in since USATT wasn't sure if they meant to play or not and were not able to contact them.) The ratings show that there were 490 players in the tournament (which included players who only played in hardbat or sandpaper events). Historically, this makes it the second smallest Nationals ever, less than the 502 at the 2011 Nationals in Virginia Beach, but more than the 335 at the 1986 Nationals in Pittsburgh, and by far the least ever at Las Vegas, where it is traditionally held. (The ratings aren't actually up as I write this, but it appears in the rating list with the number of players. Presumably, it will be processed today. I'll link to them in the bullet list above when they go up.)

But now they were stuck trying to run all of these events, with RR, with about 500 players on just 45 tables, with most of the events starting early in the tournament rather than spaced throughout, as was usually done. Normally, an RR event is followed closely by the SE portion, so that most events start and finish within two days.

Since all of the junior events started on Sunday and Monday, it was assumed they'd be done on by Tuesday or Wednesday. So the rest of my "entourage" (ten kids, ten parents, and the other three coaches) were all scheduled to fly home on Wednesday night or Thursday morning. I was the only one scheduled to stay to the end, on Friday, since I was planning on playing in the hardbat events scheduled to start on Thursday. Alas, the only way the tournament could stay on time, with the scheduling from when they planned all SE, was to run all the RR groups first, and then run the SE's. And so many of the events our kids were playing on Monday wouldn't finish until Thursday! Result - I was the only one in my entourage who didn't have to change his flight. The other 23 all had to change theirs, often paying additional fees to do so. The same thing was happening to players, parents, and coaches from all over the country.

Initially, two players were to advance from each group. But due to the table shortage, they had to change that to only one advancing, which made a lot of people unhappy. Also, to save time, a lot of top seeds were seeded out of the preliminaries.

Suffice to say that all of these changes left a number of people unhappy. One player told me he was entered in two senior events, both on Sunday. He was seeded out of the preliminaries in both. He had to fly out on Wednesday morning, which was when the SE started, and so had to default both events. Others had similar problems. As noted above, Patryk Zyworonek and his parents assumed that Under 13 Boys, starting at 1PM on Sunday, would finish by Wednesday afternoon, and when it didn't, they had to default the final. I didn't mark down the exact times of the match, but like many events, it was held up due to conflicts, and the final, scheduled for 4PM Wednesday, didn't play until I think a few hours later.

Other problems include:

  • No live streaming. This had become the norm for major USATT tournaments, so this left a lot of USATT members unhappy. USATT did later upload videos of the Men's and Women's final, which I linked to above.
  • Not enough chairs. (Many of us spent six days battling for chairs.) We need about 1.5 times as many as provided.
  • As noted above, water should be provided.
  • As noted above, players were limited to only six events in a tournament that lasts six days. Most players want to play about two events per day. The limit used to be much higher - the limit was nine in 2016, for example, and at one time it was ten. In 2018 and 2019 they lowered this to seven, and now six. Why not let players play more events? They were able to do this before, and it means more revenue for USATT, and a better experience for the players.
  • With only 45 tables and about 500 players, finding a table to practice on was difficult. Four to a table became the norm. The entry form restricted play to two to a table, due to Covid, but fortunately that was not enforced.
  • Players who were competitive in multiple events often had to play almost continuously, often with no lunch break. (Because of this, I twice went without lunch as I was coaching continuously.) Sarah Jalli was scheduled to play 18 matches in 6 hours. The kids I coached mostly relied on snacking throughout the day rather than an actual lunch.
  • Matches were played rather late at night. Our junior players were at the playing hall at 8AM, practicing for their 9AM matches, played matches throughout the day, and often were sent out again at 7PM for RR matches that often didn't end until near 10PM. The Under 17 Boys final (Sid Naresh over Darryl Tsao) was scheduled for 8PM but (according to Sid's Facebook posting) didn't finish until after midnight. These late-night matches had a dramatic effect on some players, especially those from the east coast - kids who normally go to bed at 9:30PM were often playing at what, to them, was 1AM or later, after being at the hall for up to 14 hours. (This tournament had unique problems that required this, but normally all play at Opens and Nationals has been done by dinner time, other than a few times where they've scheduled doubles events afterwards.)
  • New schedules were given out on Wednesday for Thursday and Friday. This caused problems for some, and for me in my coaching schedule. Twice on Thursday I found myself committed to coaching a match at the same time as I was scheduled to play a hardbat match and (as noted above) I came within minutes of getting defaulted.
  • They no longer separated junior and adult rating events. That had been done for a reason - up-and-coming juniors are often way underrated, often much better than the rating cutoff, and so completely dominate rating events. There were years where juniors swept all the rating events, despite making up less than half the entries. And this year, boy did they dominate! There were eight rating events. Of the 16 finalists, 14 were junior players. The two non-juniors? Top-seeded (2541) Earl James Alto won the highest event, Under 2550, which is a tough event for juniors to win - congrats to Earl! (He beat Under 17 Boys' Champion Sid Naresh in the final.) Under 2000 was won by Diego Gallardo, an obvious ringer from Mexico. (He'd played only one USATT tournament and got a rating of 1891, despite going five games with players rated 2179 and 2138, and getting games off players rated 2284 and 2146 - though he also somehow lost to a 1919 player. Addendum: He came out rated 2133.)

And now we get to a serious problem that USATT needs to really investigate and fix. I've been going to US Nationals and Opens since 1976 and have been to every one starting in 1984 - and (other than the disastrous 1990 US Open), have never seen so many defaults. A parent told me that while the events were run mostly with groups of four, they were essentially groups of three, since so many defaulted. He was right.

For example, in Under 2200, there were 53 groups with 209 players entered - but 46 didn't show (22%). When they got to the SE stage, 16 of the 52 players defaulted (31%). For perspective, at the 2019 US Open (the last major USATT tournament), in Under 2200 there were 208 players, and only 13 didn't show (6%). In the SE portion, of 52 players, only one defaulted (2%). The number of defaults this year were insane!

I checked a few other events, and while Under 2200 was one of the worst, there were other similar events, especially in the SE stage. In Under 2300, in the SE stage, 16 of the 52 players defaulted (31%). It wasn't just rating events. In Men's Singles, in the SE stage, 10 of 49 players defaulted (20%). In Under 11 Boys' Singles in the SE stage, 4 of the 15 players defaulted (27%).

Keep in mind players don't generally pay for an event and fly across the country for it with the intent to default. So what was happening here? It was a combination of the following:

  • Players flew in for the RR groups but didn't realize the SEs would come several days later, and so had to default to make their flights - either they couldn't change their flight, couldn't afford the fees to do so, or had other commitments.
  • Players were too exhausted from playing multiple events and so defaulted some to focus on others. For example, as noted above, Sarah Jalli was scheduled to play 18 matches in six hours (!), and there's no way you can do that while playing at a high level. So she ended up defaulting out of the 2550 SE stage to focus on her other events. (She ended up winning Under 17 and Under 15 Girls, and made the semifinals of Women's Singles, Under 21 Women, and Under 19 Girls - but she might have done even better if she hadn't had to play so many high-level matches almost back-to-back.)
  • I'm told that a number of players who won regional events were automatically entered into the Nationals, even if they did not enter or pay and had no intention of playing. Around the deadline and afterwards USATT was contacting these players, trying to find out if they were playing or not, but couldn't reach them all. Some may have noticed that at one point, entries for the Nationals hit 557 (and I think higher) - but then dropped down to the current listing of 526, and the actual total of 490, as noted above. I'm told this was the reason.

Given the situation, the staff did a great job in keeping things going properly. Scratch that; they did an INCREDIBLE job in keeping things going. What I heard over and over from staff members, worded in various ways, was essentially, "It is what it is." (Which is a direct word-for-word quote from two of them.) Given the parameters (only 45 tables for about 500 players, with starting days and times mostly set months earlier when they planned for all SE), there was no way to schedule in a way that wouldn't cause many of the problems outlined above.

The irony is that, with all the defaults and the rescheduling for Thursday and Friday, everything finished by around 1PM or so on Friday. I don't have the exact time as I was done coaching by that time and already on my way to the airport.

Thanks again to all the people who put this together and ran it, and congrats to all the new Champions, including new Men's and Women's Singles Champions Xin Zhou and Amy Wang! And now, it's on to the Teams in November and the US Open in December - can't wait to find out where and when it'll be.

[Meanwhile, while I was away, in my other world, I sold two science fiction/fantasy stories, one to New Myths Magazine and one to Galaxy's Edge Magazine. I can afford to eat now!!! The first, "Madam Hitler," is about a bumbling time-traveling tourist who shows up as Hitler is about to commit suicide in 1945 (asking for his autograph and a snippet of his mustache) and inadvertently gives him access to a device that allows him to switch bodies with his secretary (Traudl Junge, his actual secretary) - leading to the secretary (in Hitler's body) being captured by Stalin, who thinks he/she is the real Hitler, while Hitler (in the secretary's body), goes on to become chancellor of West Germany. Don't worry, things do not end well for Hitler, or for Stalin and Chairman Mao either. The other story, "Prototype Solar System with Strings Attached," is a humorous satire on the creation of the universe, and how and why God and a harried angel created gravity, string theory, and other marvels of the universe. Yeah, one's about Hitler, the other a satire on God - nothing controversial here, right?]

ITTF Hopes Around the Clock
Here's the USATT article by Joshua Dyke, featuring USATT Under 12 stars Mandy Yu (Rochester TTC), Tashiya Piyadasa (CA Table Tennis), Ryan Lin (MDTTC), and Charles Shen (Topspin TTC). I assisted with the first online session on Tuesday, June 29, as the coach/practice partner for Ryan Lin (US #1 Under 12). Basically, we alternated between listening to the ITTF coaches (including Massimo Costantini) as they gave instructions, then we'd go out to the table and do the drills as instructed, with a camera on us and all the other players around the world, with the ITTF coaches watching. Periodically they'd call us over with suggestions. The two-hour session was pretty rigorous - I was exhausted afterwards, while Ryan was still jumping up and down. The second session is tomorrow - not sure yet if I'll be doing it or Coach Wang Qingliang. The timing is tricky as the sessions take place during our summer camps, when all or most of the tables are in use and the coaches are rather busy. Winston Wu, the US #2 rated in Under 12 and also from MDTTC, may join in and do the drills with Ryan Lin.

Navin Kumar Training Session with Wang Cheng
Wang Cheng (rated 2417, a coach in Virginia) is getting his ITTF certification, but part of it involves coaching para players. And so he joined me and Navin Kumar for a session just before the US Nationals. (Navin is a silver in doubles and bronze in singles medalist at the Parkinson's World Championships, plus has a partially artificial heart.) Here's the Facebook posting by Navin, with links to three videos: video1 (37 sec), video2 (6 sec), video3 (20 sec).

How to Watch Tokyo Olympics Table Tennis: TV & Live Streaming Schedule
Here's the article from NBC Sports.

Table Tennis Legend Vladimir Samsonov Retires
Here's the article from Belta.

New from Timo Boll

New from Samson Dubina

New from Louis Levene

New from PingSunday/EmRatThich

Videos (some overlap with the above)

Seth Pech vs Jabdiel Torres 2021 AND Sneaky serve by Lin Yun-Ju Tutorial
Here's the video (10:23) from Seth Pech.

New from Ti Long

Performance Biomechanics Academy Table Tennis
They have a number of new videos.

Bay Area Table Tennis Olympians Ready for Tokyo
Here's the video (1:53) from NBC Bay Area, featuring Nikhil Kumar and Kanak Jha.

Indian Americans Paddle US' Table Tennis Dream at Tokyo Olympics
Here's the article from The Quint featuring Nikhil Kumar and Kanak Jha.

Ojo Onalapo in Action!

Eleven Years and Counting
Here's the article by Joanna Sung.

2021 National U19 Team Trials
Here's the article by Rachel Sung.

Aditya Sareen Captured Under 2500 Title at Westchester
Here's the article, photos, and video (6 sec).

New from Coach Jon

New from Steve Hopkins

New from Edges and Nets

Table Tennis Top
Here's their new blog (8 entries) and skills section (one entry so far, Table Tennis Skills for Beginners). It's in English, and run by Petroj Sorin, a top player and coach in Serbia. It also has a lot of equipment reviews.

ITTF News
Here's their news pagevideo page ("World Table Tennis") and home page. It's been two weeks since I blogged, so they have a lot of new stuff. Perhaps the most interesting is The History of CHO (5:41)!

New from the Malong Fanmade Channel
Lots of new videos here!

Flowery Table Tennis "Nature" Shirt
Here it is - wear this to a party, work, wedding, you know you want to! And don't forget the matching shorts!

Adam vs. The What Happened Guy
Here's the video (10:30) from Adam Bobrow!

Pongfinity's Otto vs Miikka
Here's the video (10:51) from Pongfinity - "Otto and Miikka battle against each other in a ping pong game where they add a piece of clothing after each won point!"

Best Player in Europe
Here's the cartoon! (Timo Boll fans will like this.)

Ping Pong Funny
Here's the video (15 sec) - it's only peripherally TT, but those are ping-pong ball heads!

New from Table Tennis Central

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No Blog Next Week . . . But There'll be a Tip!
I'll be at the US Nationals in Las Vegas coaching away . . . but there will be a Tip of the Week!!! (It's already written, I'll put it up on Sunday night, July 4.) The next blog will go up on Monday, July 12. See you then!

Note - the July 5 Tip of the Week is up, "Changing the Pace." 

And note the new look - I just migrated from Drupal 6 to Drupal 9!

Tip of the Week
Forehand Attackers Should Serve & Backhand Attack.

US Nationals
I leave this Friday for the US Nationals in Las Vegas, along with about 30 others from my club (players, parents, coaches). It's 2800-mile flight. Originally I'd expected to coach only the first few days, since all of the junior events start on Sunday and Monday, with some rating events on Tuesday. (Nationals is July 4-9, Sun-Fri.)

So I figured they'd all be done by Wednesday, and on Thursday I'd play the three Hardbat events - Hardbat Singles, Over 40 Hardbat, and Over 60 Hardbat. (I'm normally a sponge player, but play hardbat on the side.) Alas, it's not likely.

We just got the USATT Notice on the scheduling at the US Nationals. I also contacted them directly about scheduling, and was told, "Basically, the first few days will be all round robins, with the single elimination rounds to come several days later. So events that start on Sunday might not finish until Thursday or Friday." I wish we'd know this earlier! So I'll almost for certain be coaching Thursday. Goodbye $240 I spent in entry fees!

But it's not just me that's facing problems. Historically, events end within a day or at most two of when they start. (I've been playing US Opens and Nationals since 1976, and all of them since 1984. Men's and Women's Singles are sometimes an exception to this.) Most of the kids and parents going have all or most of their events on Sunday and Monday. So most were flying home on Wednesday night. This morning they are frantically changing their flight and hotel plans to stay until Friday night. They are not happy. (The MDTTC parents and coaches stay in contact via a large WeChat group. The messages this morning are non-stop.) I expect this is happening all over the country - and will happen even more once people learn that events that start on Sunday or Monday may go until Friday. (I only know because I asked. I'm told more detailed schedules are to be emailed to all the players soon, and then we'll have a better idea of the scheduling.)

The root of the problem is simple - they are trying to run a US Nationals on 45 tables, when historically they have normally had at least twice that many. The result? No matter how they schedule, there are going to be problems. Events may fall behind. They may have to call matches late into the night after dinnertime. They may have events starting on Sunday and not finishing until Friday, possibly with entire days with no matches in the event. We just don't know - but we'll find out soon. Hopefully, we'll be pleasantly surprised. If so, that's what I'll report when I return.

So let's just say I'm a bit nervous about what's going to happen next week. 

The playing site is the Mandalay Bay Convention Center, "...the fifth largest convention center in the U.S., with 2.1 million gross square feet of meeting and exhibit space." For perspective, let's assume USATT has 45 full-sized courts (40'x20'), though they are likely to be smaller than that. That's 36,000 square feet. Double that to make room for the control desk, aisles, lounges, equipment booths, etc. and we're at 72,000 square feet. Let's round that up to 100,000 square feet. That's 1/21 of the space at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center - and with the pandemic, they are likely to have lots of space available, and cheaper than normal. All we have to do is rent, say, another 1/21 and we'd have a first-class Nationals. We'd be able to have larger RR groups, with two advancing (only one will advance this year), with events finishing within a day of their starting time, and events would safely be on time, etc. So the first thing I'll be looking at when I get there is if there's lots of space that's just sitting there, unused, while we're all jammed into half the space of a normal Nationals.

The USATT notice says that the rescheduling is being done, "In order to accommodate higher than anticipated level of participation in the US Nationals." Putting aside that this is actually one of the lower turnouts for a Nationals (552, compared to the normal 700+), this also means that there will be more revenue "than anticipated." So use that extra revenue to rent more space. Yes, it cost money for a larger hall, but the alternative is the risk of doing a halfway job.

If you are going to run a Nationals, then you have to rent enough space to run a Nationals.

'Chess At Light Speed': 3 MD Kids Make National Table Tennis Team
Here's the article from patch.com! I'm proud of these kids - they've put in an incredible amount of training - at the table, physical training, and mental training. (After the Junior Trials, I sent out a press release, and this was one result. The other? We have a reporter coming in on Wednesday afternoon from the China World Journal, the largest Chinese newspaper in the US.)

Historical Table Tennis Stuff
I spent much of the last week going through old boxes and shelves and cataloguing all my old table tennis stuff. Here's my complete collection! (I may be donating or trading some of it to Will Shortz this Thursday - see below.)

Busy Week
This is a busy week. Putting aside that I'm in the middle of preparation for my annual nine-day science fiction writing workshop (which means reading and writing extensive critiques of a total of 17 stories, which average over 4000 words each), we're also preparing our players for the Nationals. Here are other table tennis activities this week, starting yesterday:

  • Sunday: We had a big party for the junior program at the club on Sunday night. It started with an award ceremony, where we gave out numerous prizes for things like Most Improved, Hardest Worker, and Best Teammate. Then, while some of the coaches and staff met with parents, my job was to take 30+ kids and lead them in various activities! So I taught them table tennis tricks: speed bouncing on the table; racket twirling; smacking a ball out of the air; and a series of "trick" serves (i.e. illegal ones that are fun to do in practice), such as double hit serves, fingertip serves, under the leg serves, long distance serves, and so on. Then we played "King/Queen of the Table" - but with gnip-gnop (where you hit the ball down on your side and over the net, rather than directly over the net). Twelve of our top juniors also got together and played sextuples - and before you get any ideas, that's just double, except with six on a side! Then everyone had ice cream. I ate way too much.
  • Monday: After I finish this blog, I'll be pending at least an hour with a coach at the club who is working on his ITTF coaching certification.
  • Tuesday: Two hours at the club (starting at 4PM) with Ryan Lin (US #1 in Under 12), who is in an ITTF online program that I'll be helping with and observing.
  • Wednesday: A reporter and photographers from a major national media will be at the club 3-6PM to do a feature both on the three MDTTC kids who made the USATT Under 13 Boys' Team, and the club in general. More on this later.
  • Thursday: Will Shortz is stopping by MDTTC during one of our training sessions, circa 3PM. Besides hitting some with me or others (to continue his 3,193 day streak of playing table tennis every day), we'll be doing some trades/donations to each other's table tennis collections. I recently did an extensive inventory of all my table tennis historical stuff, and we've compared notes. So I'm going to donate a bunch to him, and hopefully vice versa!
  • Friday: Fly to Las Vegas for the Nationals!

Kanak Jha Discusses Olympic Preparations, New Club, and More
Here's the interview at Edges and Nets. (This went up a few days late, but it's timely.)

USATT Announced 2021 US National Youth Teams
Here's the news item. I'm especially proud of Stanley Hsu, Mu Du, and Ryan Lin, who all made the Under 13 Boys' Team - all three are from my club and I've worked extensively with all three. (It's a team effort - Wang Qingliang, Cheng Yinghua, Jack Huang, and Lidney Castro are the MDTTC full-time coaches, and since these days I'm semi-retired, they spend more time with them than I do.) Here's a news article on the three! (See segment above on this.)

Adjustments to 2021 US National Table Tennis Championships Preliminary Round Schedule
Here's the USATT news item. See also my commentary above.

Grand Opening Team Challenge at 888
Here's the info page with complete results of their tournament held this past weekend.

New from Timo Boll

Top 5 Secrets of Chinese Table Tennis Forehand Topspin Contact and End
Here's the video (7:15) from the Performance Biomechanics Academy Table Tennis.

Timing Points for 3rd & 5th Ball Attack Forehand
Here's the video (32 sec) from Eli Baraty.

New from Samson Dubina

Seth Pech vs Daniely Ríos 2021 Paddle Palace June Open
Here's the video (6:37) where Seth gives expert point-by-point commentary.

Zhang Jike's Reverse Pendulum Serve
Here's the video (6:57) from Ti Long.

New from Edges and Nets

Can I Win With My Left Hand?
Here's the article from Tom Lodziak.

National Collegiate Table Tennis Association

Sally Moyland Trip to the U15 and U19 US Team Trials
Here's the article by Sally Moyland.

The LYTTC Main Event Final Four Highlights
Here's the video (6:05) from Jim Butler. Here's the Butler-Leibovitz match (7:09).

"Tahl Tales": The Life of the United States Most Decorated Para-Table Tennis Athlete
Here's the article from Wheelchair Sports Federation Media (though Tahl is Standing Disabled, not Wheelchair).  

Liebherr 2020 ITTF European Individual Championships
Here's the ITTF info page for the event held June 22-27 in Warsaw, Poland, with complete results and news articles. Hard to believe - 40-year-old Timo Boll won men's singles for the eighth time!

New from Steve Hopkins

ITTF News
Here's their news pagevideo page ("World Table Tennis") and home page.

No Specific Medal Target for Singapore's Table Tennis Team at Olympics, But Expectations Remain 'High'
Here's the article and video (2:54) from Channel New Asia.

Nepalese Table Tennis Player Smashes Traditional Gender Roles
Here's the article from SportandDev.com.

New from the Malong Fanmade Channel
Lots of new videos here!

Paddles from Pretty Pattern Gifts
Here they are! (Not high-level stuff, just souvenir ones with funny or interesting pictures.)

Meeting The What Happened Guy
Here's the video (10:16) from Adam Bobrow! This is a follow-up to last week's Finding The What Happened Guy (12:57).

Beer Pong Table Tennis 2.0
Here's the video (10:56) from XOLAY!

Football vs. Ping Pong
Here's the video (4:02) from Pongfinity!

New from Table Tennis Central

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