December 2, 2019

Tip of the Week
What to Watch During a Point.

JOOLA North American Teams
When I tell the kids I'm coaching at the Teams that this is my 44th consecutive Teams (starting in 1976), I can't tell if they are in awe of my experience or that they just think I'm really old. I probably sound and look it. My throat is still a bit sore from cheering and my hands hurt from clapping.

There were 1083 players on 272 teams (3.98 per team) on 154 tables, the biggest Teams in history. Wow!!! It's especially fun watching the reactions of new players when they first walk into the venue and see all this. Their eyes go wide, they look side to side as they pan everything, and then they get a big grin on their faces. Here's a camera pan (25 sec) of the whole arena from Pongmobile.

Here are complete results. Here are the results for the Final. Here's the Live Streaming of Quarters, Semis, and Final (10 hr 56 min). Alas, I didn't get to see the finals, or any matches in top division. During the semis and finals there I was coaching in the semis and finals of various divisions, where I was one of the coaches for the seven junior teams from the Maryland Table Tennis Center, with the junior teams and training sponsored by HW Global Foundation.

NOTE added Monday night - you should watch at least the last game of the finals, between Eugene Wang and Xi Wang, which starts at 10:39:47. SPOILER ALERT - Eugene won the first two games at 9 and 5, then got killed the next two at 4 and 3. In the fifth, Eugene leads 6-1, 7-2, 8-3, 9-5, and 10-7 triple match point - but Xi wins the last five in a row!

I ended up coaching at least one team match for six of our seven teams (most of them ages 9-13), but mostly was assigned to coach our #2 junior team, Ryan Lee, Mu Du, and Stephanie Zhang, coaching eight of their eleven team matches. All three had very good tournaments, as did nearly all of the players on our seven junior teams - most of them took part in the six-day USATT camp just before the tournament and were primed and ready. The #2 team went 6-1 in their division, with the top two teams advancing - but alas, two other teams also went 6-1, and in the three-way tiebreaker (where you take matches won and lost just among those three), they came in third and did not advance.

Each team played four team matches on Friday, starting at 9AM and finishing by dinner time. That was a relatively relaxing day!

On Saturday I arrived at the playing venue at 7AM to help warm up our players, who had to play at 8AM. There were six time slots in the day (8AM, 10AM, 1PM, 3PM, 6PM, 8PM), with each team playing five team matches and getting one bye. However, many matches went long, including our own. Our #2 team included a chopper - Stephanie - and her matches often went very long as players struggled to find ways to get through her defense. And so our final 8PM match didn't start until about 9:30PM. And then it went on . . . and On . . . and ON!!! We were down 2-4, and the huge arena was nearly empty. Ryan and Mu Du won their matches, and it went to the ninth match, where Stephanie (under-rated at 1855) took on a 2021 player.

The final match started at one minute to midnight - as I pointed out to the team, her match started in November and ended in December! The opponent was patient, picking his shots carefully, and it was a dead even battle. The first three games all went deuce. But finally at around 12:25AM, Stephanie pulled out the match, 11,-10, 11, 7! The players went crazy - they had gone 5-0 for the day - or should I say two days? I was in the playing hall from 7AM to 12:30AM, 17.5 hours.

On Sunday each team played two more matches finish their divisional play. The #2 team was disappointed when they didn't advance - for about an hour we thought we would, until a team we had beaten upset the team we had lost to, forcing the three-way 6-1 tie. Alas, the #1 team knew they had clinched advancing and knew they could lose 2-5 and still advance in first. So they didn't play their strongest team and ended up losing 3-5. It's understandable as if you play your strongest three every match, then the others don't ever get to play, and they had five players on the team. I helped coach one of our two teams that did make the playoffs. Both won in the semifinals but lost in the final. The highlight for me, and perhaps for one of our players, about 1600, was down 0-2 against an 1800 player. I told him to 1) start serving to the guy's forehand, and 2) look to forehand loop every chance. He won the next three easily! (Ironically, it was just before this match that I received the irritating email and text that I mentioned at the end of this segment, so I was getting rather impatient that our player, down 0-2, kept dragging the match on and on!)

Craziest match I coached was Winston Wu (age 10, rated 1747, on Team #3) vs. a 2014 player, a powerful two-winged looper. Playing steady and smart, Winston goes up 2-1 in games and leads 8-3 and 10-9 match point in the fourth, but can't pull it out. He's almost inconsolable, and immediately falls behind 1-5 in the fifth. I call a timeout, he gets his emotions in check, and ties it at 5-all. Then he loses five in a row and is down 5-10 quintuple match point! Yep, he wins five in a row, deuce! Then he's down 10-11 and 11-12 match point (missing an easy smash that would have won it for him), then is up 13-12 match point, then 13-all, finally wins 15-13 in the fifth!

There were some funny moments. Here's a recap:

  • On the first day in the first team match, we lost the pen we'd been given by the desk for keeping scores. So I went up and borrowed another. In our next team match, that one was lost, so I sent up a member of the team to get a new one. Later that day we lost that pen, and so I sent another member of the team to borrow a pen. Sure enough, that pen was also lost, and so I had to send up the third member of our team to borrow another, our fifth, and we were only on the second day. If we lost it again, one of us would have to go up a second time, and none of us wanted to do that. So this time I assigned one of the players to keep the pen - he became our team's penholder. (He did a good job - managed to avoid losing any more pens.)
  • We had to play a team that had three 1900+ players and a player rated about 1500. But we all knew the player and knew that he was actually better than 1900 as well. They jokingly confronted him on it, saying, "You're no 1500 player!" He kept insisting that he was just a 1500 player. I finally leaned over and said, "If you're a 1500 player, let's keep it that way."
  • At one point I told one of the parents, "There's no crying in baseball, but there's a lot in table tennis." (But only if you coach junior teams.)

There were the usual less-happy moments, when players lost close ones and otherwise faced diversity. As I told the kids, after playing the Teams, college will someday seem easy! But there was one really irritating moment - see final paragraph below in segment "USOPC Requests USATT Board Resignations."

USOPC Requests USATT Board Resignations
Last week the USA Table Tennis Board of Directors received a rather ominous letter from the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee. (That's USOPC - they were USOC, but recently added the "P".) I first heard about this last week when someone prominent in our sport (but not directly connected with USATT) emailed me about it. It turns out that USOPC had brought in an independent firm to investigate USATT. (I'd previously heard rumors about this.) Alas, the report apparently found many alleged problems. I have seen the five-page letter, but not the roughly 100 pages of attachments that went with it, which give the specifics of the alleged problems. (The attachments are likely confidential because of personnel matters. Perhaps a redacted version will go public later.) I am not going to quote from the letter as it is somewhat confidential at this time, although I'm told it will likely go public later. (Apparently SafeSport is NOT one of the "major" problems they found - some have guessed that might be the issue.) One board member I spoke with vehemently disagreed with the findings and said that the report had many mistakes.   

The news has already gone public at the forum. (No, it did not come from me.) The news there is primarily correct - USOPC is asking that all nine members of the USATT Board of Directors resign by Dec. 18. While I am not going to quote the letter yet, it does say specifically that they do not blame any individual members. 

If all nine resign by Dec. 18 (day 2 at the US Open, the day after the USATT Assembly meeting there), the USOPC will appoint three interim members, and two would be appointed by the Athlete's Advisory Council, giving us an interim five-person board. The full board of nine members would be created next year via our bylaws, including USATT elections for two spots. Other than the two current athlete reps, none of the current board members would be eligible for election or appointment.

If any of the nine refuse to resign, then the USOPC will likely move to decertify USATT as the National Governing Body for table tennis in the USA - they apparently have the authority to do so. They'd create a new one, which would essentially take over from USATT, and ITTF would almost certainly recognize the new one. Regardless of how it happens, from a player's point of view, essentially nothing would change - the USATT staff would continue doing their jobs, tournaments would continue to be sanctioned, ratings processed, and so on. The USATT CEO (also a member of the staff) would continue as she is not a member of the Board. I'm not sure of the details, but I'm told that the new one would likely simply take over our membership and ratings database, hire our staff, and so on. But I don't know if this is correct, if the USATT board were to fight this and refuse to turn over anything. But at this stage this is mostly conjecture.

At the North American Teams on Sunday, just before I was about to coach one of our junior teams in the semifinals of a division, I received an email and a text saying that someone was claiming that I had a printout of the confidential attachments and was showing it to people. This is completely false - I do not have a copy and have not seen it. This was really irritating. I had to grit my teeth and coach matches for the next two hours before I was able to respond that someone was making up stuff.

TTTeam USA Training Camp at MDTTC
Here's my article on the USATT camp, held Nov. 23-28 at MDTTC. I was one of the coaches.

ITTF Men's World Cup
Here's the home page for the event held this past weekend in Chengdu, China, with complete results, articles, pictures, and video.

Kanak Jha at the Men's World Cup

World Junior Championships
Here's the ITTF home page for the event held in Korat, Thailand, Nov. 24 - Dec. 1, with complete results, articles, pictures, and video.

North American Open
Here's the ITTF home page for the event to be held in Markham, Canada, Dec. 4-8. (Dec. 4-5 are preliminaries.) 

Top Ten Men in the World, 2001-2019
Here's the video (5:37) - it's fascinating! "Respect to Timo Boll and Vladimir Samsonov! Almost 20 years in Top 10! And then no one can beat Ma Long around 2013-2017! The Dragon! The prime of Zhang Jike! and then the rise of Fan Zhendong!" (And let's not forget Wang Liqin's domination at the start.)


Section 9 Complaint against USATT
Here's the Complaint filed by Wang Chen against USATT over the US Olympic Trials Selection Procedures, which she posted on Facebook last week. It's about 50 pages. If you are not on Facebook, you might not be able to read it.

How to Forehand Loop Like a Pro
Here's the video (5:47) from Feel the Game.

New from MLFM Table Tennis

New from Samson Dubina

This is How We Start Our Day
Here's the video (19 sec) of counterlooping from a great angle.

How to Overcome "3rd Game Syndrome"
Here's the article by Tom Lodziak.

New from EmRatThich at Ping Sunday

MIA Table Tennis (The Two Ingredients to Grow Table Tennis)
Here's the article by Coach Jon.

WAB Club Feature: Los Angeles Table Tennis Association
Here's the article by Steve Hopkins.

Thailand Hosts Its First ITTF Level 3 Course, A Dream Realized!
Here's the article by Richard McAfee, who ran the course.

Team World Cup - 2020 Olympics Test Event
Here's the article by Shashin Shodhan on the team match between China and Korea, with a link to video of Korea's Jeoung Youngsik and China's Liang Jingkun (12:04).

Timo Boll Exclusive Interview | German Table Tennis Legend
Here's the video (12:53).

Mattias Falck: Behind the Table
Here's the ITTF article with links to video.

History of USATT - Volume 23 - Chapters 18 & 19
Here is Chapter 18 and Chapter 19 of Tim Boggan's History of U.S. Table Tennis, "1998 U.S. Open," Parts 1 and 2. (Page includes links to previous chapters.) Or you can buy it and previous (and future) volumes at Volume 23 is 491 pages with 1841 graphics, and covers all the wild things that happened in 1997-1999 - 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!

MALONG Fanmade Channel
They've seven more videos in the past week, many of them players training at the World Cup.

Lily Zhang vs Matilda Ekholm
Here's the video (5:03) from the German Bundesliga.

Highlights of the South Shore Sports Butterfly Open
Here's the video (4:21).

Westchester Table Tennis Center November Open Final
Here's the video (17:25) of Sharon Alguetti vs. Kai Zhang.

Adam Bobrow vs. World #3 Lin Gaoyuan
Here's the video (5:23)! Adam's rated 2143.

2019 - The Year that the ITTF Invested in its Future!
Here's the ITTF Press Release.

Interview with Nenad Bach - Ping Pong Parkinson

Funny Table Tennis Match
Here's the video (4:16), from the Philippines!

One-Eyed Shock Collar Table Tennis
Here's the video (6:02)!

Table Tennis Trick Serves
Here's the video (2:21) from Pongfinity!

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