April 1, 2019

Tip of the Week
Positioning After Serve.

Donald Trump Visits MDTTC
We were all excited to welcome the President of the United States to our club. He played some matches, bragged about how good he was. Here's a picture of him playing

ITTF and USATT Rule Changes and Announcements and a Board Brawl
And so this is what happens the minute I leave the USATT Board of Directors? The ITTF
proposed and approved a new rule that says that the umpire, at his discretion, after a great
rally, may award both players a point. This has got to be the single most ridiculous rule
idea ever, and yet has been approved, first by the ITTF, and now by USATT. And so,
literally right after winning an incredible point, your opponent will now also get a point!
Foolishly, when I first heard about the proposal, I assumed it would be voted down,
or perhaps laughed into oblivion, but it passed unanimously. Suppose there is no umpire,
only you and your opponent, and you win a great point - and your opponent applauds and
laughs, and says, "We each get a point!" I just hope they will rethink and revote on this
silly new rule.

Also, USATT made three other announcements. First, because rallies are getting too fast for
players to even react, we will be switching to a 40.1 mm ball. This will lower ball speed and
reduce spin. Second, former ITTF President Adham Sharara has been hired as a USATT
intern, in charge of accounting. While he is serving a four-year ITTF suspension, we are
lucky to have someone with his experience and history, who can help us tremendously.
Finally, USATT announced suspensions for the fight at the last USATT board meeting. It's
only now that some of the details of the infamous fistfight are coming out. I was in the middle
of it, arguing with the USATT Board of Directors that we needed Oxford commas in our by-
laws. I lost track of how many of them I punched, but I admit I was way, way out of line, and
so I have agreed to a serve another term on the USATT coaching committee as penance.

Cary Cup
The tournament was held this past weekend at the huge, 32-table Triangle Club in Cary, North Carolina. Here are the results! I was there to coach five Maryland junior players - James and Stephanie Zhang, Lance Wei, Todd Klinger, and (on Friday night) Nicholas Nash. I went down with Todd and his parents, Carolyn and Ron. I coached 27 matches, 18 of them on Saturday.

It was sort of a weird tournament for Stephanie, Lance, and Todd. They each played eleven matches on Saturday, with Lance also playing five on Friday night, and Todd three on Sunday (playoffs). Well over half the players they played either had long pips, short pips, or played with the Seemiller grip (with long pips or anti on one side). Lance played three Seemiller grip players, something he'd never played against before, and Todd played two. As I explained to them, the key isn't to learn how to play every single type of style - though you should know the general way to play each style. The key is being able to flexibly adjust your game for any opponent, which leads to you forcing your game on them. But it's easier said than done!

There was also a small scheduling problem on Saturday. For the "Big Round Robin," players started out in groups of five, with the top finisher to advance to Group A, the second finisher to Group B, and so on. For their first matches, it had B vs. E and C vs. D, with A getting a bye. This meant that for every C player, the first match was their most important match of the tournament. Lose it, and they'd almost for certain be down a division the rest of the tournament.

Todd, 14 and rated 1683 (but recently over 1800 until one bad tournament…), was a C player, and his first match was against the D player (1607), who had long pips. Todd lost the first, easily won the next two, was up 11-10 match point in the fourth, but ended up losing in five. And so he went down to the D's. But in this case, this actually led to a good thing! He followed up that loss by going 7-0 in the D Division, and then winning his quarterfinal and semifinal matches - nine consecutive wins against players who, while mostly rated lower, were all competitive, with some of them rated about the same or higher. Twice he was pushed to the end, only to play very well in the pressure points to win deuce in the fifth. In the final, he played a "ringer" rated 1448 but actually at least 400 points better than that. But the second-place trophy was HUGE! So was the $125 prize money check. So Todd was pretty happy. Here's a picture of the finalists, with Todd on the left. (Here's the non-Facebook version.)

James, 12 and rated 1896, was seeded for the B division, but the 2600 A player didn't show, and was replaced by a 2039 player from a waiting list. James beat the 2039 player 3-0 to advance to the A division. He had some great matches there, and gave at least two much higher rated players a good battle. Stephanie, 15 and rated 1967, a chopper, got stuck with some rather unorthodox players, including a long pips player who rolled ball after ball. But she got better and better, and pulled off two nice wins in her last two matches. Lance, 12, and rated 1790, also got stuck with lots of unorthodox players, plus he kept losing 11-9 games - but toward the end he was playing better and better, even getting his rapidly developing backhand loop into play. On Sunday, Lance also volunteered to help at the control desk, since he was hugely experienced with Omnipong from helping at MDTTC tournaments for the past year or do, without any mistaken results - and so, with Referee Wendell Dillon's permission, got to do data entry at a 4-star tournament for a couple of hours.

My Upcoming Tours
I've got a busy upcoming schedule - both work and travel. This is sort of my sightseeing year.) I just returned from coaching at the Cary Cup in North Carolina. Next weekend I'll be at the Ravencon Science Fiction Convention in Richmond, Virginia, where I'll be a panelist, and doing both a reading and a signing session. (Here's my Ravencon bio, where I make my claims that I'm the best science fiction writer in USA Table Tennis, and the best table tennis player in Science Fiction Writers of America!) I plan to go down early on Friday and visit the Edgar Allan Poe Museum. On Sunday, almost when I return from Richmond, USATT Historian Tim Boggan moves in with me for another 10-12 days to work on his latest History of USA Table Tennis, Volume 23. We'll be interrupted in the middle as I'll be running, along with Klaus Wood (who is gradually taking over) the MDTTC April Open, April 13-14.

But this really is my year of sightseeing. I'll be coaching at the US Nationals in Las Vegas, June 30-July 5, and then plan to spend a day at the Grand Canyon. (I'm told I was there when I was one year old, but strangely don't remember this.) From July 19-27 I'll be at my annual science fiction writing workshop vacation in Manchester, NH - this will be my eleventh one. But I plan to go up a few days early to tour Boston, which is one hour away: the Freedom Trail Tour for certain, and possibly some or all of the following: John F. Kennedy Presidential Library (I'm a presidential history buff), Museum of Fine Arts, Museum of Science, New England Aquarium, USS Constitution and Bunker Hill, Franklin Park Zoo, and perhaps visit the three local full-time table tennis clubs: Boston Table Tennis Academy, Boston Table Tennis Center (in Medford), and Massachusetts Table Tennis and Badminton Club (in Waltham).

And now we get to the BIG TOUR. After the MDTTC August Open (Aug. 10-11), on August 12 I'm flying to Dublin, Ireland, for the World Science Fiction Convention, Aug. 15-19. I'm going up early both to make sure things like my cell phone works (apparently a new SIM card), and also to tour Dublin and other parts of Ireland a bit. On Aug. 20 I'm on an official tour of ancient Ireland castles. And then the real fun begins. I'm doing a roughly 4-5 week tour of Europe and Egypt. (I especially want to visit historic sites. I've been to China, Taiwan, Japan, Canada, Mexico, the Bahamas, and all 50 U.S. states, but never to Europe.) I have rather detailed plans now for travel and tours, etc., with the idea that I will not set dates in stone so I can stay in any place as long as I choose. I'll be traveling mostly by Eurail, though I will likely rent a car in some areas.

The planned itinerary includes sightseeing in and around London (lengthy itinerary there), Edinburg (Scotland), Paris (lots of things there!), Omaha Beach, ITTF headquarters and other sites in Lausanne (Switzerland), Italy (Florence, Pisa, Sienna, Rome, Pompeii), then I fly from Rome to Berlin (historical sites and perhaps a Bundesliga match), then back to trains for Warsaw, Krakow (including Auschwitz and the Oskar Schindler factory), an unknown number of Eastern European countries (still undecided on this, but possibly quick stops in Prague and/or Vienna, maybe others on the way to Athens), and then many of the ancient sites in Greece (a driving tour of Athens, Sparta, Corinth, Mycenae, Olympia, Delphi). Then I fly from Athens to Cairo on a tour of the Great Pyramid and Sphinx in Egypt and a Nile cruise. After returning to Athens, I fly home. My expectation is that it will be toward the end of September before I return.

Youth National Ranking Tournament
It was held this past weekend at the ICC club in the Bay area. Here are some links.

Qatar Open
Here's the ITTF home page for the event held this past weekend in Doha, Qatar, with results, articles, pictures, and video. Lots of great stuff to watch and read, much of it featuring the return of Ma Long, who (SPOILER ALERT!) won Men's Singles. Here's the article 2019 World Tour Qatar Open Recap by Steve Hopkins. Here's the ITTF article, All hail Ma Long, the Comeback King of Qatar!

The Life of a Full-Time Table Tennis Coach
Here's the article by Tom Lodziak. "I’ve completed my first year of being a full time table tennis coach. Whoosh! The past 12 months have flown by. But what has it been like? Am I bored of table tennis yet? Did I earn enough money to pay the bills? Has my body survived the hours and hours of coaching? And what are my plans for the future?"

New from Eli Baraty

How to Maintain Mental Toughness in Table Tennis
Here's the article.

Out of SYNC
Here's the article by Samson Dubina. "After not playing for a few weeks, you might feel a bit sluggish or out-of-sync with your game.  In this article, I want to explain why and give a few helpful tips that you can use to quickly restore and build your playing-level!"

New from EmRatThich

Forcing Forehands and Believing in Backhands
Here's the article by Coach Jon.

5 Key Secrets to Improve Your Consistency
Here's the video (6:51) from Table Tennis Daily.

Inside My Mind | Hugo Calderano
Here's the ITTF video (61 sec) featuring the world #6 from Brazil.

Werner Schlager - Unconventional Playing Style
Here's the video (3:02).

Ma Long & Fan Zhendong Training | World Team Championships 2018
Here's the video (7:58).

Kanak Jha vs Alexey Liventsov | 2019 ITTF Challenge Oman Open Highlights (R32)
Here's the video (11:40).

Akron Entrepreneur Hopes Table Tennis Academy Is a Hit
Here's the article featuring the new Samson Dubina Table Tennis Academy.

USATT Announces Recipients of 2018 Pong 4 Kids Grant
Here's the USATT article.

National Collegiate Table Tennis

This Orthodox Female Teenager is a U.S. Ping Pong Champion
Here's the article featuring Estee Ackerman. "She’s 17-year-old Estee Ackerman, winner of multiple gold medals at the U.S. Table Tennis championships and ranked #22 in the country. She’s the media sensation who, at age 11, beat tennis champion Rafael Nadal in ping pong. And she’s the one profiled in a lengthy article in the New York Times for prioritizing Judaism over sports, refusing to play on Shabbat or Jewish holidays."

SoCal Schools United in Table Tennis Competition
Here's the USATT article.

8 Questions with Kasumi Ishikawa!
Here's the ITTF interview with the world #4 from Japan.

WAB Club Feature: Houston International Table Tennis Academy
Here's the article by Steve Hopkins.

TT Dream Building Fund: Successful Candidates Revealed!
Here's the ITTF article, with the National Youth Table Tennis Association in Milwaukee one of the six winners.

Denver Table Tennis Alliance’s 2nd MENSUAL Tourney of 2019… Went GREAT!
Here's the article by Angelo Gandullia.

Southern Calif. Schools Table Tennis Tournament
Here's the article.

History of USATT – Volume 22
Here is Chapter Fifteen of Tim Boggan's History of U.S. Table Tennis, subtitled "Members Speak." Or you can buy it and previous (and future) volumes at www.timboggantabletennis.com. Volume 22 is 469 pages with 1447 graphics, and covers all the wild things that happened in 1996-97 - and I'm mentioned a lot! Why not buy a copy - or the entire set at a discount? Tim sells them directly, so when you order them, you get it autographed - order your copy now!

UCD Table Tennis: Nationals Campaign 2019
Here's the video (6:15) featuring the UC Davis TTC. (They are also asking for donations to go to the Collegiate Nationals.)

Another Incredible Secretin-Purkart Exhibition from Long Ago
Here's the video (3:31)! They were the Champions of France for many years, and Secretin was top five in the world.

Upside-Down Car Pong
Here's the picture! (Here's the non-Facebook version.)

Don't Do Drugs; Do Table Tennis
Here's the "Before and After" cartoon! (Here's the non-Facebook version.)

Fireman Water Pong?
Here's the picture!

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