December 13, 2017

Last Blog Until Friday, Dec. 29
I leave tomorrow for two days of USATT board meetings, the US Open, and then Christmas with family, so this will be my last blog until Dec. 29. (I originally said Dec. 28, but after being out of town two weeks, my todo list has reached epic size and I need another day to catch up.) 

USA Open, Meetings, and Christmas
I’m leaving tomorrow morning for two weeks, which I’ll divide into three parts below. Here’s the US Open home page, where you can follow all the action. Here’s the player listing, the event listing (showing who is in each event), and perhaps most importantly, the results page (where the draws will go up in a few days, and then results). Here are the two USATT articles that might be of interest for your US Open viewing:

PART ONE: Meetings

  • USATT Board of Directors Meeting
  • USATT Coaches Education and Certification Meeting
  • USATT Assembly

=>USATT Board Meetings
We will be meeting Dec. 15-16 (Friday 1-6PM, and Saturday 8AM-5PM) in the Diamond 3 & 4 rooms at the Las Vegas Convention Center, near the playing hall. (I’m a member of the board.) The meetings are open to all USATT members, except for occasional closed sessions when legal or personnel issues come up. There’s a LOT of material on the agenda, so I’m gearing myself up for an action-packed two days of sitting around a table and solving the major problems of our sport, and perhaps adding a few major commas to the bylaws. I’ll be giving the USATT Coaching Committee Report. (I chair the committee.)

Major items on the preliminary agenda include: Approval of Past Minutes; Committee Reports; NCTTA Update; Approval of the Foundation Board; Committee Assignments; Fundraising; North American Ratings System Proposal; ITTF-North American Initiatives; Club and Membership Discussion; Financial Update; USATT Events Discussion; High Performance Program Discussion; USOC Update and Discussion; ITTF Update and Discussion; SafeSport; Legal Update; Athlete Support and AAC Involvement; Discussion Regarding General Assembly; and Old and New Business.

=>USATT Coaches Educaton and Certifciation Meeting
After dinner on Friday I have a follow-up and less formal meeting (with High Performance Director Joerg Bitzigeio) regarding USATT Coaches Education and Certification. On the agenda there is USATT Coaches Education and Certification Program; Review of Current Requirements; New Requirements for Each Level of Certification; Team USA Mobile coach; “National” Coach Name Conflict; Recertification; English Requirement; and Grandfathering.

=>USATT Assembly
It is on Tuesday at 8PM, for about two hours, in Room N250 at the Las Vegas Convention Center (near the playing hall). Here is the description of this from the USATT Bylaws:

“There shall be an annual USATT Assembly at which all individual and organization members and other USATT constituencies in the United States Table Tennis family shall be invited to gather and provide input to the Board on important issues confronting the organization. At USATT’s Assembly, the Board of Directors shall provide a report on the “State of the USATT.” The Chief Executive Officer shall provide a managerial report addressing issues of concern and importance to USATT. Individual and organization members and other constituencies may be permitted to pose questions to the Board and Chief Executive Officer for response. The annual USATT Assembly shall be purely advisory and shall have no rulemaking, budgetary, legislative, or other authority, though it, or some of it, may be involved in some appropriate way in the nomination of individuals to serve on the Board as otherwise set forth in these Bylaws. The Board shall determine the agenda of the annual USATT Assembly.”

My first US Open was in 1976 in Philadelphia, and I’ve been to every US Open and Nationals starting in 1984, so this is my 34th year in a row. (I also went to the Teams in 1976, and last month attended for the 42nd year in a row.) On the other hand, Homer Brown is practicing up for his 49th US Open in a row. This year, as usual, I’ll be both coaching and playing. Though I normally play and coach with sponge, at major tournaments (where I’m primarily coaching) I play the hardbat events, with pretty good success. This year I’m entered in four events:

  • Hardbat Singles. I’ve won this event at the Open or Nationals twice, but alas, it’s been a few years – yeah, I’m getting older. But hopefully I can still battle with the top players. We’ll see.
  • Hardbat Over 40 Singles. I’ve won this event at the Open or Nationals five times, and am the defending champion from the USA Nationals in July.
  • Hardbat Doubles with A.J. Carney. We’re top seeded – I’ve won this event 13 times, nine times with Ty Hoff, four times with Steve Berger.
  • Hardbat Mixed Doubles with Estee Ackerman. We’re top seeded, but this is the first time I’ve played this event, which is relatively new.

PART THREE: Christmas
This year we will be gathering in San Francisco, hosted by my nephew. I fly there from Las Vegas on Friday, Dec. 22, and then fly back to Maryland on Wednesday, Dec. 27.

Christmas Table Tennis Camps
Here is a rundown on Christmas or Holiday Training camps at the end of the year that I know of – but I’m sure there are others I don’t know about. (If you know of a camp I left out, send me the link and I’ll add it.) Many of these camps are geared toward kids, but most or all take adults as well, if you don’t mind training with hard-working kids. (Note - Samson Dubina is also running a Christmas Camp in Ohio, but he advertised early and already maxed out.) 

Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals
Here’s the home page for the event in Astana, Kazakhstan, Dec. 14-17, with draws, results, articles, photos, and video.

Distractions! Learn How to Focus During an Intense Match
Here’s the article by Samson Dubina.

How Do You Control Your Nerves at Big Tournaments?
Here’s the article from Pong Universe, which I linked to previously. I’m linking to it again to emphasize one of the quotes which happens to match exactly what I do, and what I recommend most players should do. Here’s what four-time U.S. Men’s Singles Champion Jim Butler says:

“I try and clear my mind, not thinking about it much other than game planning a strategy in my head versus my opponent.”

New from EmRatThich at PingSunday

Table Tennis Tidbits #13
Here’s the article and video (5:34) by Robert Ho – “2016 World Team Championships: Retroactive Telepathy.”

Training With Jeong Sangeun and Lee Sangsu at 2017 World Cup
Here’s the video (16:24) from Arnaud Scheen. They are ranked #23 and #10 in the world, respectively.

Table Tennis and the F Word
Here’s the article from Coach Jon. (No, it’s not that word – but read if you are frantically focused on finding the facts, and want to know about Funktapuss.)

Ask the Coach
Questions answered at PingSkills.

12 Years On – Can Timo Boll Reclaim Title Glory?
Here’s the ITTF article.

Table Tennis Quotes by Renowned Players
Here’s the article from Table Tennis Spot.

One Match From Number One
Here’s the ITTF article on how Dimitrij Ovtcharov of Germany is just one match away from being world #1. In fact, Dimi will be #1 as of Jan. 1 unless he loses first round at the upcoming ITTF World Tour Grand Finals AND Fan Zhendong wins the tournament, in which case Fan becomes #1. (Dimi plays Koki Niwa in the first round. Here’s the Men’s Draw.) Either way, the reign of Ma Long, who has been world #1 since March, 2015, will end, mostly due to lack of participation, which features more prominently in the new ITTF ranking system. If Dimi becomes #1, he’ll be the first non-Chinese world #1 since teammate Timo Boll was #1 for three months in 2011.

A First for India, Government Support for Coach Education
Here’s the ITTF article. "Led by Richard McAfee of the United States, the course had a special significance; it was the first to be held in the country with government support; the fees of all the students were paid, previously the cost at fallen on the shoulders of the individual."

Tournament Software
Here’s the article Table Tennis Tournament Software. The other major option on the market that I know of, the one I use, is Omnipong.

RIP: San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee
Here are pictures of him playing table tennis and posing with players. Here’s his obit.

History of USATT - Volume XX - Chapter 6
Here’s chapter six of Tim Boggan’s latest volume, which covers 1991-1992. Or you can buy it and previous volumes at

5 Unique Serves in Table Tennis
Here’s the video (2:13).

Kjell Johansson vs. Olof Palme
Here’s the video (1:23) of Sweden’s former star Kjell Johansson playing Sweden Prime Minister Olof Palme. The clip comes from the 1972 Swedish table tennis video “Pingis - Allas Idrott” (“Table tennis – everybody’s sport”). Here is the entire movie (in Swedish). (That’s 1971 World Men’s Singles Champion Stellan Bengtsson, now coaching in San Diego, at the start.) Johansson was three-time World Men’s Doubles Champion, one-time World Team Champion, two-time European Men’s Singles Champion, and lost 21-18 in the fifth in the final of Men’s Singles at the 1973 Worlds to China’s Xi Enting – the last two points on net balls. Palme was prime minister twice, totaling over ten years, sadly ending with his assassination while in office in 1986. Bengt Grive, former Swedish champion in Men’s Singles, Doubles, and Teams, and former world #9, is the umpire.

Around the Table
Here’s the video (44 seconds) as three kids circle the table.

The Seventeen Guide to Table Tennis Reaction
Here’s the video (11:12).

Cow Pong

How to Play Table Tennis During the Holidays
So you want to play table tennis around Christmas, but the wife (or husband or parents?) won’t let you? A student of mine had this very problem. And that got me thinking how he should have responded. Here’s my top ten list of things to tell the wife (or husband or parents) so you can get to the club during the holidays. (And for the love of God – or rather Jesus – don’t miss the Santa vs. Jesus video, #10 below!!!)

  1. “Honey, you know that table tennis is number one for me. But you’ll ways be number two, or at least top five.”
  2. “I need to work off all the calories from Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. And so do you, you’re starting to put on some pounds, so why don’t you join me? Hey, stop hitting me!!!”
  3. “But honey, the rackets are Christmas colors, with red for berries and black for dead, rotting leaves!”
  4. “But all my rivals are training on Christmas and New Year’s, and gosh, 365 days a year, and so I have to! You want me to lose to them?!!! Why do you hate me so???” (If you prep with a raw onion in advance, you should be able to fake crying at this point.)
  5. “Oh sorry, honey, I left the Christmas presents at the club last night, again. So I guess I’ll have to go there, again. Darn it. Sorry.”
  6. But even Santa Claus plays table tennis!”
  7. Really, Santa plays table tennis!”
  8. See, Santa’s playing table tennis!” (Wait, he’s a fake, ignore this one.)
  9. Seriously, if Santa can play, why can’t I?”
  10. In fact, Santa and Jesus play table tennis all the time!!! Can’t I be like Santa and Jesus?” (Here’s where you give a big puppy-eyed look.)

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