May 7, 2018

Tip of the Week
Serve and Attack . . . Almost Always.

World Team Championships
The World Team Championships finished yesterday in Halmstad, Sweden, April 29 - May 6. SPOILER ALERT! Yes, China won Men's and Women's Teams (again, for the 21st time each), this time over Germany and Japan. So it was more of the same, but also more of the new. (See the numerous links on this below, as well as Team USA info.) Basically, only three men's team can give any serious challenge to the Chinese right now - Germany, Japan, and South Korea - but they are big longshots. It's unfortunate that Germany's Dimitrij Ovtcharov (world #3) was injured and couldn't play in the final, but it's unlikely that would have changed the final result. It's easier for a ping-pong ball to go through the eye of a needle than to beat a team that has Ma Long and Fan Zhendong.

On the women's side, Japan (and perhaps Hong Kong) are the only countries that can challenge the Chinese, but it'd still be a sizeable upset if anyone were to beat the Chinese women, a team that includes world #1 Chen Meng, #2 Zhu Yuling, Liu Shi Wen and Ding Ning. Guess what all four have in common? All have been ranked #1 in the world in the last 20 months. (Liu and Ding are currently ranked #10 and #11, but those aren't realistic and says more about the new ITTF system which favors participation more than before. Ding was #1 as recently as October 2017, Liu in September 2016. Many still consider Ding the best in the world. China didn't even play world #1 Chen Meng in the semifinals or final.) But the Japanese women have one thing going for them - a younger team that could get better.

The biggest news at the Worlds might have been the Unified Korean Women's Team (which I blogged about extensively on Thursday and Friday), but they were no match for Japan's women. (Korea didn't unify the Men's Teams, but the North Korean Men don't look to be nearly as strong as South Korea's so it wouldn't have helped.) On the men's side, we saw the resurgence of England and Sweden, with the latter getting a bronze, the first time they've contended this far since their golden age when they had Waldner, Persson, Appelgren, Lindh, Carlsson, and so on. (Shashin Shodhan writes about this in his blog, including his experiences training in Sweden.)

China has won Men's Teams the last nine times in a row, and 11 of the last 12. The last non-Chinese winner was Sweden in 2000. Overall, China has won Men's Teams 21 times. Hungary is second with 12, winning in 1979, 1952, 1949, and nine times in the 20s and 30s. Japan is next with seven, all from 1954-1969. Next is Czech Republic, but all their wins came from 1932-1951. Sweden is next with five (1973, 1989, 1991, 1993, 2000). Only three other countries have won Men's Teams - Austria in 1936, USA in 1937, and England in 1953.

China has won Women's Teams four times in a row. They first won it in 1965. Their dominance began when they won it a second time in 1975, and since then have won 20 out of 22 times, including 12 of the last 13. (The exceptions were Singapore in 2010 and a Unified Korea in 1991.) Overall, China has won Women's Teams 21 times. Next best is Japan with 8, all from 1952-1971. Next is Romania with 5, all from 1950-1956. Next is Czech Republic with three from 1935-1938. Winning two each are England (147, 1948), Germany (1933, 1939), and USA (1937, 1949). Only four other countries have won Women's Teams - Soviet Union in 1969, South Korea in 1973, Unified Korea in 1991, and Singapore in 2010.

You can find all these results in the List of World Table Tennis Championships medalists in Wikipedia, which include the following:

Here are some World Championships links:

Team USA did pretty well - USA Women especially. They went in ranked #23 in the world, but finished #13, which means that at the next World Team Championships in two years they'll be playing in the Championship division! USA Men also did well. They were ranked #44, but finished #33. Here are links involving Team USA.

And now we go on to other table tennis news of the day - except there's very little! It's been nothing but Worlds, Worlds, Worlds all weekend.

Ajmer Once Again the Focal Point
Here's the ITTF article featuring USA's Christian Lillieroos in India. "A hot bed for coaching courses, Ajmer in India’s Rajasthan province was the recent home for yet another initiative organised under the auspices of the ITTF Development Programme."

Successful High Performance and Development Workshop staged in association with the ITTF Foundation
Here's the ITTF article.

Collegiate Table Tennis: Best of the Best Nominations
Here's the info page. Nominations are open for Male Athlete of the Year, Female Athlete of the Year, Rookie of the Year, Coach of the Year, Rookie Team, Most Improved Team, Division Director of the Year, and Regional Director of the Year

"I Love You So Much I Would Do Anything For You!" "Quit Table Tennis."
Here's the cartoon to see panel three! (Here's the non-Facebook version.)

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