February 12, 2016

Clinics and Demos and Other Activities
Things are getting incredibly busy. Tonight, after I finish the afterschool program/tutoring/coaching, I'm off to the nearby Potomac Community Center (home to the Potomac TTC), where they have a regular Friday night Youth Activity Club from 7-9PM (for grades 3-6), though it turns out they really start at 6:30PM. I visited it last Friday, and there were over 300 kids there. Tonight from 6:30-8:00PM (and on two more Fridays, Feb. 26 and Mar. 11) I'll be running a table tennis program for them in the big gym, with 14 tables. I'll be assisted by Cheng Yinghua and several other locals, but I'll be doing all the talking and organizing. I've run a number of such programs. We'll start with a short demo and exhibition, then do a short clinic on the basics. Then we'll send them out on the tables to play – I'll explain how to play Brazilian Teams and King of the Table. For the younger ones I'm bringing a huge amount of paper cups, which they'll build huge pyramids out from and then knock them down as I or the volunteers feed multiball. (This is unpaid, volunteer work.)

Tomorrow morning I'll be at Montgomery Mall for an 11AM-2PM exhibition/demo for the Girls & Women in Sports Day Expo. Assisting will be 11-year-old Jessica Lin (or is she 12 now?), who's about 1900, as well as organizer Wen Hsu. (We're hoping to get one or two more local girls to help out, but two of them have come down sick.) (This is also unpaid, volunteer work.)

As usual, Sunday is my busiest coaching day . . . I won't even get into that. Monday's looking pretty busy too. Recently I've been focusing a lot on simulated games, where my students serve backspin and I push back, either to one spot or randomly, they loop (forehand or backhand), and then we play out the point. It's a nice game-type drill that allows the player to focus on developing this aspect of their game. Several have been having trouble against fisher/lobber styles, so I've been doing a lot of fishing and lobbing recently – that's one of the more fun parts of coaching. In the beginning junior class, several have finally "mastered" the basic forehands and backhands, and are now learning spin serves and looping. One did his first "come-back" backspin serve ever a few days ago – serving so the ball hit the other side of the table and bounced back onto his side on one bounce! Not bad for someone who had never heard of backspin before one month ago. I'm also using the adjustable serving bar (thanks John Olsen!) for a different purpose – we set it on high, and practice pushing under it.

Meanwhile, I spend more table tennis time at my computer than at the table – all sorts of upcoming activities, such as setting up upcoming MDTTC tournaments on Omnipong (I'm running them), various Capital Area League issues, sending out press releases on our local Talent Development Program and on two of our juniors on National Teams (Derek Nie and Ryan Dabbs), as well as helping with an upcoming article (hopefully) from the Baltimore Sun on our top juniors. (We're actually much closer to the Washington Post's area, but they have never been as table tennis-friendly as the Sun.) Plus, of course, the usual private and group coaching, plus this blog and the weekly tips.

Once again I'm frustrated because I haven't been able to put as much time as I wanted into my USATT activities, especially regional team leagues and state championships. I plan to focus more on them next week. (More unpaid, volunteer work, alas…)

But it's hard to find time since not only am I doing all these table tennis activities, but I'm also really busy on the science fiction writing front, with my new novel coming out March 8, Campaign 2100: Game of Scorpions. (It's also up on Goodreads, still with the original January publication date.) My publisher is running me ragged with numerous promotional activities (that's a good thing – I could write several blogs on all the stuff we're doing to promote it), as well as the ones I'm working on. I've also got a science fiction convention publicity tour coming up, with stops at Lunacon (March 18-20 in Rye Brook, NY), Ravencon (Apr. 29-May 1 in Williamsburg, VA), Balticon (May 27-30 in Baltimore, MD), Con Carolinas (June 3-5 in Concord, NC), TNEO (writing workshop in Manchester, NH, July 22-30), the World Science Fiction Convention (Aug. 17-21 in Kansas City, MO), Eeriecon (Oct. 2-4 in Grand Island, NY), Capclave (Oct. 7-9 in Gaithersburg, MD, ten minutes from me, five minutes from MDTTC), the World Fantasy Convention (Oct. 27-30 in Columbus, OH), and Philcon (Nov. 18-20 in Philadelphia, PA). Others might be added later. All these conventions complicate my table tennis life as I have to cancel or get substitutes for all my coaching activities.

But the novel has a lot of table tennis, so it's all for table tennis, right?

I'll also be traveling for a lot of table tennis activities as well – USA Nationals, U.S. Open, two upcoming USATT board meetings, Junior Olympics (yes, we're back in – more on that later!), and a few others, plus the local Capital Area League meets (though I'm not playing in it). I'll likely post my combined schedule at some point, sort of a USA TT & SF tour.

Interview with Massimo Costantini
I linked to Part I last week, and again below. Now we have Part II! Both are interviews by Samson Dubina.

  • Part I: The Physical Side of Table Tennis (27:48)
  • Part II: The Mental Side of Table Tennis (26:22)

Jan-Ove Waldner Retirement
Here's an article on the all-time great's retirement at age 50. Here's a video (very long – 3hr 16 min) of the broadcast (in Swedish) of his final professional matches, in the Swedish elite league, Pingisligan. He played two singles matches, winning one of them. Here are direct links to videos of these last two matches, against Simon Arvidsson (7:49), and in the final professional match of his career, against Andreas Törnkvist (6:32). Here's video of the last point he scores of his career (watch the crowd go crazy!), followed by the last two points of his career – alas, two misses.

Yeshiva Girl Has Olympic Dreams
Here's the story on Estee Ackerman in the Jewish Star.

Patient DFAT Officials Defend Ping-Pong Diplomacy, Yet Again
Here's the article – ping-pong under attack!!! (DFAT is Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Australia.) Their tax dollars paid for a $6300 table???

Las Vegas Reunion Will Unite 300 Elite Athletes
Here's the article about the event to take place Feb 19-21 in Las Vegas – note the table tennis tournament mentioned in paragraph three! USA Table Tennis will be represented by Anne Cribbs (member of USATT Board of Directors), Sean O'Neill (USATT Director of Communications/Webmaster/two-time USA Olympian), and Las Vegas Table Tennis Host Carmencita Alexandrescu. Will they let Sean or Carmencita play in the table tennis tournament? (They'll probably be running it, and perhaps give a demo.)

You’d Never Know This Ping-Pong Playing Vet Fought in World War II
Here's the video (1:50) on News 5.

Nice Shots from an Eight-Year-Old Girl
Here's the video (14 sec).

Ghost in Pajamas Racket
Here's the picture! (Here's the non-Facebook version.)

Tyrannosaurus Rexes Playing Table Tennis
Because who among us has not wanted to play table tennis with a TRex? (TRex1 through TRex3 pictures are pretty spectacular. TRex4 is a still image from the TRex videos.)

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