April 18, 2018

USATT Hall of Fame Inductions and Lifetime Achievement Award
They have been announced, and so today is sort of a "WOW!" day. Why?

I'm this year's recipient of the USATT Lifetime Achievement Award! (The official title is "Mark Matthews Lifetime Achievement Award," named after 1931 and 1932 U.S. Open Men's Champion, then called Marcus Schussheim.)

This year they are inducting five new members to the USATT Hall of Fame - most years it's two or three, but this year we're inducting a basketball team!!!  This year's inductees are Li Ai, Dhiren Narotam, Norm Bass, Henan Li Ai, and Doru Gheorghe. The induction ceremony for all six of us will take place at the USA Nationals in Las Vegas, on Thursday night, July 5.

This could also be called the "Resident Training Program" (RTP) induction ceremony, as four of the honorees were from that program at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, circa 1985-1992. I was part of it from 1985-1990, at varying times the manager, director, and (mostly at the end) one of the coaches, and as chair of the RTP Committee. Li Ai and Dhiren Narotam were players there. Henan Li Ai was the head coach for about five years.

I worked closely with Doru Gheorghe during his years as USATT Executive Director and as Chief Operating Officer and High Performance Director. However, I don't believe I've ever met Norm Bass, but I'm dying to meet him at the induction ceremony - he's not just a table tennis player, but he's a former major league baseball player (a pitcher) and NFL football player! (Here's his autobiography, Color Him Father: An American Journey of Hope and Redemption.) Maybe he can show me how to throw a slider?

Since I mentioned basketball above, I must mention that Dhiren was good at it - very good, as I played with and against him many times during our years at the RTP. I have many fond memories of playing on Dhiren's team. I couldn't dribble to save my life, and when I'd get the ball, if I was covered, I'd be stuck - but Dhiren, aged 13-16 during those years, would always get open so I'd have someone to throw the ball to. But I was, and always will be, the King of the Two-Footer, as long as I wasn't covered and had enough time to take careful aim.

Since this is my "day" (along with the other five), I'm going to go ahead and post the bulleted list on me from the USATT announcement. Feel free to skip ahead to the more interesting articles afterwards!

2018 Mark Matthews Lifetime Achievement Award:
Larry Hodges

This year's recipient of the annual Lifetime Achievement Award goes to Larry Hodges. He has done just about everything in the sport, despite starting at the late age of 16 way back in 1976. However, it was as a writer, a coach, and a table tennis entrepreneur that he truly made his name. Rather than a long narrative, a simple bullet point list will suffice to show his credentials. (Previous recipients are on the Hall of Fame Profiles page, at bottom.) 

Writer and Editor

  • Author of 8 books, about 1600 articles, and (at tabletenniscoaching.com) over 1800 blog entries on table tennis.
  • Editor of USA Table Tennis Magazine for 12 years, 71 issues.
  • Editor of nearly 200 table tennis program booklets and newsletters.


  • USATT Certified National Coach and ITTF Level 2 coach.
  • Two-time USATT Coach of the Year (Developmental and Science Awards), three-time runner-up for Coach of the Year.
  • Many-time coach of USA Junior National Teams, coaching them at camps and at tournaments around the world.
  • Coached over 250 gold medalists at the U.S. Junior Nationals and Junior Olympics.
  • Ran over 100 five-day training camps. That's 500 days just running table tennis camps, and is in addition to running weekly group sessions for many years.
  • Manager/Director/Coach, USATT Resident Training Program at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, 1985-1990.
  • The majority of his 8 books and 1600+ articles on table tennis are coaching related.
  • Founder, head coach, and daily blogger since 2011 at TableTennisCoaching.com.
  • Professional coach at Maryland Table Tennis Center since 1992 with about 30,000 coaching hours. He's been late for a session exactly two times.  

Promoter, Director, and Official

  • Pioneered the idea of full-time table tennis training centers by opening the Maryland Table Tennis Center in 1992 (with Cheng Yinghua and Jack Huang), the first successful full-time table tennis center in the country. The model has been copied all over the U.S.
  • Instigated & created (with Robert Mayer) the USATT League Rating System, now used in clubs all over the U.S., processing more matches than the USATT tournament rating system.
  • Created the Club Catalyst and Creation Program, which in 1990-1991 increased the number of USATT clubs from 226 to 301, and membership from 5500 to over 7000.
  • Arranged over 100 TV showings on CNN, Headline News, ESPN, Nightline, and on local stations, and many hundreds of newspaper articles.
  • Director of over 200 USATT sanctioned tournaments, nearly all of them two days long. That's over 400 days just running tournaments.
  • USATT certified umpire
  • Wrote the original draft to cancel the infamous Paddle Point Rule.


  • Reached #18 in the country, won Open Singles at 18 tournaments, and was National Collegiate Doubles and 2-time Team Champion. Though he normally uses sponge, at the U.S. Open and Nationals he was 2-time Hardbat Singles Champion, 5-time Hardbat Over 40 Champion, and 14-time Hardbat Doubles Champion.
  • Has played or coached at 42 consecutive North American/U.S. Open Teams (1976 to present), 34 consecutive U.S. Opens, and 34 consecutive U.S. Nationals.
  • Is about 2100 with a clipboard!!!

USATT Positions

  • Member of USATT Board of Directors, 1991-1992, 2015-2018 (current)
  • Chair of USATT Coaching Committee, 1991-1995, 2017-2018 (current)
  • Editor of USATT Magazine, 1991-1995, 1999-2007 (12 years, 71 issues)
  • USATT Club Programs Director, 2000-2007
  • USATT Co-Webmaster, 1999-2005
  • Assistant to the USATT Executive Director, 1989
  • Chair of USATT League Committee, 2015-2017
  • Chair of USATT Club Committee, 1990-1991
  • Chair of USATT Resident Training Program Committee, 1990-1992
  • Member of USATT Coaching Committee, 2010-2013
  • Member of USATT Club Committee, 2012-2013
  • Member of USATT Junior Committee, 1990-1995
  • Member of USATT Senior Committee, 1990-1995
  • Member of USATT Grassroots Committee, 1990-1995
  • Member of USATT Ratings Committee, 1990-1995
  • Member of USATT Hall of Fame (inducted 2003)
  • 2007 USATT President’s Award for Contributions to Table Tennis

Butterfly MDTTC April Open
Here are the results, are of Omnipong. I ran the 3-star tournament this past weekend. (I should have linked to the results in my mini-Monday blog - they were up already.) The tournament has already been processed - here are the ratings. I did one thing at this tournament I hadn't done before - I set up a table next to the control desk and exhibited and sold all 13 of my table tennis and science fiction books - I ended up selling 18.

USATT News Items
The USATT news page has 12 new items since my last blog. Here they are!

New from Samson Dubina

  • Setting Goals (2:41)
  • Ten Tactical Timeout Tips. "Many international matches have been won or lost based on WHEN the timeout was called and WHAT was said during the timeout.  In this short article, I’m going to give some brief tips about timeouts…"
  • Spin Videos. "Most of the questions that I receive are about spin - importance of spin, types of spin, how to read spin, how to generate spin, how to generate more spin, etc... Today, I wanted to share some of my best videos on spin."

Table Tennis Grips: Pros and Cons
Here's the article by EmRatThich.

New Videos from EmRatThich

Training with Calderano Hugo - Serve, Backhand, Forehand, Slow Motion
Here's the video (3:53) from Arnaud Scheen. Calderano is the world #12 from Brazil.

I’m Now a Full-time Table Tennis Coach!
Here's the article by Tom Lodziak.

Candidates for ITTF Athletes Commission
Here's the ITTF article. There are 21 candidates for five positions, including USA's Jasna Rather and New Zealand's Matt Hetherington (who currently coaches and trains at the Lily Yip TTC in New Jersey and is USATT's Media & Communications Director). USA's Ashu Jain is currently the Vice Chairman of the Commission, with Vladimir Samsonov the Chairman. Others of interest among the 21 include Wang Liqin, Zoran Primorac, Jean-Michel Saive, Krisztina Toth, and Claude Bergeret.

Who Will Create History at the 2018 World Table Tennis Championships?
Here's the ITTF video (46 sec). The World Team Championships are April 29 - May 6, in Halmstad, Sweden.

Grand Opening of Glen Head Table Tennis Center & Chess Academy
Here's the video (14:18). I linked to two previous ones, but this is probably the best of them.

Table Tennis and Soccer Have Fused into Headis
Here's the video (65 sec). But don't they get a lot of concussions? Unless it's a ping-pong ball or nerf ball, I'm going to say no to hitting a ball with my head. You also head the ball in soccer - no thanks - but that's only occasionally, while this is nonstop.

A Small Outdoor Tournament?
Here's the picture! (Here's the non-Facebook version.) As near as I can count, there are 57 rows of ten tables (including that block of tables on the back right), or 570 tables, but there might be more above or below the picture. I'm guessing this is in China.

Your Next Opponent
Here's the picture! Click on it for more versions. (Here's the non-Facebook version.)

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