Tip of the Week
How to Fix a Weakness in Your Game.
Classic Hardbat World Championships
I had an adventurous weekend in Sugar Land, TX, just outside Houston, where I played in the first Classic Hardbat World Championships. It was held on Sunday, Nov. 21, just two days before the start of the "Sponge" World Championships in Houston. (Results are not yet online - they may go up later on Omnipong or Facebook.) Thirty-seven players competed, including nine over 2400. (Draw included Mario Genovese, who flew in from Malta, plus a number of players from other countries who now live in the US.) Prize money was 1st $2000, 2nd $1250, 3rd $750, 4th $500, 5-8 $150. (Here's the single elimination stage; RR group results should go up later.)
Special thanks goes to Director Steve Claflin (who organized all this), referee Dan Reynolds, the many sponsors (including sponsor and presenter "We R Table Tennis," a new startup - no web page yet - that "will endeavor to put a FREE ping pong table into every school in America." I had a great time and can't wait to return next year! (Did I mention the free pizza they served for lunch? They also had free shuttle service from the very nice Marriott hotel in the Sugar Land Town Square.)
The final, between top seed Jimmy Butler and current US Nationals Champion AJ Carney, was a classic - an incredibly entertaining and well-played match that got better as it went on. Here's video - go to 2:33:30 for the Final. Jimmy is a steady attacker from both wings, who normally stays relatively close to the table, counter-hitting consistently from both wings. (But late in the match he added in chopping, and played his aggressive forehands more off the table as the rallies got faster.) AJ also mostly attacks from both wings (sometimes close to table, other times backing up), but also chops a lot.
It looked like AJ had it wrapped up in the best of five to 11. Jimmy wins the first, 11-9, but AJ wins the next two at 7 and 6, and leads 7-2 in the fourth. It's over, right? From here on, Jimmy played like a champion . . . and also had a bit of luck. Jimmy switches to a super-steady countering and chopping game, and AJ makes four straight mistakes, and it's 7-6. Then AJ smashes . . . and Jimmy chops back a net dribbler! (AJ lunges for it and pops it up, Jimmy kills.) It's now 7-7. Jimmy misses his own serve, then AJ puts Jimmy's next serve into the net, 8-all. But Jimmy misses a backhand kill, and AJ smashes a forehand, and he leads 10-8 match point. Jimmy hits a forehand off, the match is over - but no, it just nicked the edge! (See it at 3:05:49.) He then deuces it. AJ has five match points before losing that game, 16-14. The only net/edge point - at 13-all, AJ gets a net, except instead of winning the point, it popped the ball up, giving Jimmy an easy kill. So, we're into the fifth!
AJ goes up 2-1, and smashes one - but Jimmy chops it back on the edge! Jimmy wins four in a row, 2-5 (AJ missing his own serve at 2-4) - and Jimmy then gets another net dribble winner, and it's 2-6, and then scores a sixth in a row to make it 2-7 - the same score that AJ led the previous game. But no comeback this time. At 4-9, AJ gets a net dribbler (5-9). Jimmy scores the next point to go up 10-5, and yells, "That's it!", just about the first thing he's said all match. He wins, 11-5.
As to me, I was in Group C with five others. I went 4-1, including a win over Randy Hou, a 2125 pips-out penholder, which is almost like hardbat, so very tough. I had a struggle with mostly-chopper Rick Mueller (1880), who caught me off guard early with his aggressive chops, almost chop-blocks but coming fast. After losing the first, I won the next two pretty easily. In the fourth, he began pick-hitting like crazy, but I'm up 10-9 match point - and he pops up my serve on the edge to deuce it! He wins in deuce with more pick-hits, and then - by continuous pick-hitting (should be illegal for choppers!), has me 10-8 match point. But I smack in two winners and win in deuce. Whoo!
Against the top seed in my group, Vlad Farcas (2450, with a win over Jimmy Butler in sandpaper), I was up 8-4 in the first and had a few game points before losing the first on a net ball, 14-12. I won the next, then he won the third, and the fourth, 11-8. If I'd pulled out that first game, we'd might have been in the fifth!!!
In the single elimination, in the round before the quarters, against Mishel Levinski (2576), I had several games points in the second before losing it, 14-12. He won the other two games pretty easily - it's not easy playing all-out forehand attack at age 61 against a near-2600 player!!!
It was a great and fun weekend adventure. I initially hoped to stay a few days and tour Houston, but alas, I needed to get back to help prepare our players for the Teams, and so flew back on Monday morning. Steve promises to run it again next year, and so that time I will schedule a Houston tour either before or after.
World Table Tennis Championships
- Here's the ITTF World Championships Page, with schedules, results, and news items. It began today in Houston. (I would be there, but I have to be here in Maryland to prepare and coach players for the North American Teams this weekend.)
- Here is the World Table Tennis Video page, where you can watch live videos of tables 3-10. (There doesn't seem to be video of tables 1 & 2 there, but apparently they will start showing those matches on Day 3. Here's the video schedule. See note below on Tables 1 & 2 videos.) USA's Barbara Wei, Adam Bobrow, Jimmy Butler, Timothy Wang, and Roger Dickson will be doing commentating on some of these tables.
- Tables 1 & 2: To see the action on these tables, I'm told you have to subscribe to World Table Tennis, then click on Live or download the World Table Tennis App.
- ITTF Worlds: Watch the Draw (37:58), in case you want to see how the draws at the Worlds were made.
- Houston, The Trophies Have Landed.
USA-China Ping-Pong Diplomacy
- Historical China-USA Pairs Enter World Table Tennis Championships on 50th Anniversary of Ping Pong Diplomacy, from ITTF news
- Training Match of Joint Chinese-American Pairs: Lily Zhang (USA)/Lin Gaoyuang (CHN) and Kanak Jha (USA)/Wang Manyu (CHN) (11:51)
- Great Power Competitions: How ping-pong redirected diplomacy between the United States and China, from The Baffler
- Jeff Moon on U.S.-China ping pong diplomacy (3:04) from CGTN
- Can the US and China Ping-Pong Their Way to Peace Again?, from CNN
2021 ITTF Pan American Championships
Here's the ITTF page, with complete results and news for the event held Nov. 13-19, 2021, in Lima, Peru.
North American Teams and US Open
- Here's the 2021 JOOLA North American Teams page. The event will be held Nov. 26-28, 2021, in Washington DC. There are 160 teams. I'll be there! My first Teams (then in Detroit) was in 1976, my first year playing. I've been to every Teams since (Detroit, Baltimore, now DC) ever since - this will be my 45th in a row (not counting 2020, when it was cancelled due to Covid). Originally I always went as a player, then as a player/coach, now just as a coach. I'd likely be at the Worlds in Houston except I'm committed to coaching at the Teams. It's silly that USATT/ITTF chose the same time frame to run the Worlds as the Teams, which were already scheduled.
- Here's the 2021 US Open page. The event will be held Dec. 17-22 in Las Vegas. There are currently 680 entries. I'll be there! My first US Open was in 1976, in Philadelphia, my first year playing. I've been to every US Open and US Nationals starting in 1984.
New from Timo Boll
- Houston Vlog #2 - Early Blockbusters (3:41)
- Houston Vlog #1 - Getting ready for the states (4:20)
- Last live update before World Championships (34:29)
2 Backhand Loop & 2 Forehand Loops
Here's the video (1:35) from Jishan Liang.
Game Play Drills
Here's the video (60 sec) from Ted Li.
How to Hit the Powerful Backhand Rocket Against Backspin
Here's the video (10:15) from Ti Long.
New from Samson Dubina
New from Tom Lodziak
- "That is horrific!" How did players react to my new purple rubber?
- Interview with Dave Harvey, 7 times national veteran champion
New from Coach Jon
- Learning to Spin (4:55)
- One Joint…One Serve: It’s all about a more focused approach to serving (4:57)
- All About Backspin (11:18)
New from PingSunday/EmRatThich
- Who Will Win Gold for the 2021 World Table Tennis Championships in Houston
- Shang Kun Will Be Absent in TTBL 2021
- Best Professional Table Tennis Coach in China
- Ma Lin speaks English (12 sec)
- Why 0 is called love in table tennis? (4:30)
- Ma Long, Xu Xin withdrew from World Table Tennis Championships in Houston (8:12)
- Who will win the 2021 WTTC in Houston? (3:27)
- China vs Japan World table tennis championship (41 sec)
- What is a let serve in table tennis? (13:06)
- Beautiful girl with hammer forehand (Shanghai transportation university) (7:23)
- Zhang Jike training in 2021 (6:21)
- He Zhiwen the legend in table tennis at 59 years old (45:21)
- Amazing junior level in China (4:32)
- Choreiking - the smartest table tennis racket in the world (7:11)
- Cao Wei vs Sun Yingsha (Men vs Women) (72 min)
New from the Performance Biomechanics Academy Table Tennis
- Team China lineup for world table tennis championships Houston (1:48)
- Video analysis of the point (1:21)
- Technology in table tennis (6:32)
Worlds Visa Issues
Here are three somewhat cryptic ITTF news items involving visa issues at the Worlds and USATT.
- Executive Committee Meeting: Decisions Taken (Oct. 22, 2021)
- ITTF Emergency Executive Committee Meeting Called (Nov. 15, 2021)
- Statement following the ITTF Executive Committee Meeting on 18 November (Nov. 19, 2021)
Two Sisters Tashiya and Tiana Excel at Pan Am TT Championship
Here's the article from The Daily News ePaper.
Ping-Pong Phenomenon Estee Ackerman Visits Hempstead Town
Here's the video (3:40).
Young Hockey Goalies Tried Table Tennis to Improve Coordination - It Worked
Here's the article and video (2:55).
New from Steve Hopkins
- World Championships Houston: Preview
- World Championships Houston: The Draw
- WAB Club Feature: Gold Coast Table Tennis Club
- 2021 PanAm Results: Calderano and Diaz Take Singles Titles
Call for Nominations: The Center for SafeSport Athlete Director
Here's the USATT info page.
Help Wanted: ITTF High Performance Manager
Here's the ITTF help wanted info page. "Main Responsibility: The High Performance Manager will be responsible for the development, management, improvement and monitoring of various programs and projects within the High Performance Unit that aim at establishing a high performance platform within the international Table Tennis community in the pursue of the related strategic objectives set in the ITTF Strategic Plan."
Presentation of the Candidates for the ITTF Executive Committee
Here's the article and video (73 min) from the ITTF. Sixteen people are running for eight positions, including USATT CEO Virginia Sung, China's Liu Guoliang, and French coach Michel Gadal (Jean-Philippe Gatien's coach).
New from the Malong Fanmade Channel
Lots of new videos here.
Cartoon Ping Pong Paddle Shirt, Anyone
Here it is!
Fiery Table Tennis
Here's the video (50 sec)!
Here's the video (3:57) from XOLAY!
Playing Table Tennis With Your Wife - With Anything!
Here's the video (37 sec)!
Superheroes Playing Ping-Pong
Here's the video (3:51), with Batman, Spider-Man, Deadpool, and Wonder Woman!
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