March 17, 2011

Off to Cary, hardbat and coaching

Tim Boggan and I are leaving for Cary, NC for the Butterfly Cary Cup Table Tennis Championships this morning. It's about six hours away. He's doing the coverage for USA Table Tennis Magazine, and then continuing on to South Carolina, where he'll meet his wife for a vacation through March 28. I'm playing the hardbat event on Friday (roughly 10AM-3PM - I'm the defending champion), and then I'm coaching the rest of the way. I'll mostly be coaching Tong Tong Gong, a member of the USA National Cadet Team and MDTTC, though I may coach some other Marylanders when I'm free.

Though I'm normally a sponge player, I've been playing hardbat for many years. At the U.S. Open or Nationals, I've won Hardbat Singles twice, Hardbat Doubles ten times, and Over 40 Hardbat four times. (I'm the current champion from the Nationals in December in the last two.) I'm basically an all-out forehand hitter, with five types of forehands: smash, quick hit, counter-hit, roll, and off-table counter-hit. (I also have deceptive placement - basically, all my forehands look like I'm going to the left, so I mostly hit to the righty, i.e. a righty's backhand.) I'm weak on the backhand - that's no secret - but I cover that side by mostly chopping. I tend to attack most serves with my forehand, relying on deep, aggressive returns to keep my opponent from counter-hitting an aggressive, angled return, since at age 51 I don't have the mobility I used to have. While hitting is my strength, I'm more proud when I win points by chopping. (It's amazing how often players hit off when I give them a no-spin chop.) One of my favorite tactics is to chop until I get a weak topspin to my backhand or any type of attack to my forehand, and then I counter-attack with my forehand. On my serve, I use almost the same serves as with sponge - forehand pendulum serves, with a fast, varying contact, followed by forehand attack.

European Stars Practicing

Here's a nice video (7:12) of European stars practicing at the European Top Twelve. How many can you name? More important, are you doing the same type of drills they are? These drills got them to where they are, so why not follow in their footsteps?


Send us your own coaching news!