Tip of the Week
Quicker Drives with the Forehand-Backhand Drill.
Weekend Coaching, a White House Halloween, and Humongous Technical Issues
I coached in five group junior training sessions over the weekend. I was scheduled for four, but when my appointment with a computer guru at the Geek Squad on Sunday was postponed (more on that below), and they needed me for a session at that time, I stepped in, mostly feeding multiball for 90 minutes with players in the session rotating in and out.
I showed several of our advanced players how to serve a short, spinny side-top serve that looks like backspin. How do you do it? With a forehand pendulum serve, you serve as if it’s a regular backspin serve, with a vigorous downward motion, open racket, and contact near the bottom of the ball. Should be backspin, right? But if you change the axis of rotation just before contact to the center of the racket (a little toward the handle), then you can rotate the tip of the racket downward vigorously, making it appear that the entire stroke was downward, but the inner part of the racket (near the handle) is now moving up – and that’s where you contact the ball. If you brush the ball finely, you get lots of side-top, and yet can still keep it short so that, if given the chance, it would bounce twice on the far side. Most players push this straight up when they first see it, and if not overused, do so repeatedly. Even when they read it better, they are usually tentative.
I was a practice partner for one session, where I worked one-on-one with players, who rotated to me every 10-15 minutes or so. One drill was a simple they serve backspin, I push, they loop, and play out point. Two players had trouble lifting against backspin, so I explained to them The "No Net" Rule Against Heavy Backspin, and it really helped. Another good drill was where I either served short to the forehand or long to the backhand, and the player had to flip or loop the serve, then we played out the point. I had a pretty good practice as well, as I got work on looping against the flip, and counterlooping against the loop.
Tomorrow is both Halloween and White House Tour Day. I’ve done tours of every major landmark and museum in Washington DC except the White House. Unlike the others, it’s a huge hassle to arrange one – you have to go through your local congressperson to do so, and I had to go back and forth for months before finding a date available. I’m all set for Tuesday at 11AM. Afterwards, I’ll probably walk around the mall, perhaps again visiting the Washington and Lincoln Memorials, and perhaps some of the Smithsonian museums that I’ve visited many times before. (I practically grew up in the Natural History Museum, where both of my parents worked.) Then I’ll get home in time for Halloween, with lots of candy to give out.
Now, about those technical issues. If I gave a blow-by-blow description, I’d be writing all day and you’d be reading all night. Here’s the short version of each problem I faced this past week. If not-interested in these non-TT issues, skip ahead.
- Email Issues. Starting last Monday night, over the course of two days, I was barraged with over 14,000 emails. At one point, for several hours, they were coming in at twelve a minute, or one every five seconds. Fortunately, about 99% went into my “junk” folder. It turns out some really bad person or group did a massive spam emailing, using my email as the return address. All the emails I was receiving were, at first, bounce-back emails of various types. Then the spam emails were blocked and all of them bounced back – to me. Since the apparent source of the spam emails was my email address, my emails were blocked. Result? Since Tuesday afternoon I haven’t been able to send emails, which is my primary source of communication. Any I send are automatically sent to my “deleted” folder. (I still receive emails.) And so I’ve been responding to emails, when I can, with text messages, Facebook Messenger, or phone calls to let people know I can’t email back.
But it gets worse. I spent over two hours on the phone with Godaddy and two different technicians, but they were unable to fix the problem. They figured out what had to be done to fix it, but all sorts of weird issues kept coming up that kept them from fixing it. A local friend and computer expert tried to fix the problem, running me through the procedure to fix it over the phone, but it didn't work. I then went to Best Buy. Their Geek Squad techie tried for half an hour and couldn’t figure it out, and so made a 1PM Saturday appointment for me with their email expert, who only comes in once a week. I came in at 1PM (between coaching sessions), but at the last minute, the email expert had to reschedule for 1PM Sunday. Another techie then spent an hour trying to fix the problem, couldn’t figure it out. And then, on Sunday, the email expert again couldn’t come in for reasons unknown. I’m now scheduled to see him today at 12:40 PM, so it’s a race to finish this blog and tip before I leave for that. So far five computer techies have been unable to fix it. I’ve also spent many hours on it. The gist of the problem is every “fix” seems to put us in an unending cycle that brings us right back where we started, plus it keeps giving password problems. I’ve changed my password on various accounts over twenty times this past week.
=>UPDATE1 (Monday afternoon): For the third day in a row, the infamous email expert didn't show. Another techie helped out. We spent 90 minutes on it - much of it messaging back and forth with a Microsoft techie - and I'm told I'm now unblocked. But it will take 24-72 hours for it to take effect.
=>UPDATE 2 (Monday night) - I should have read the fine print closer. What it says is, "This process is normally completed within 24 to 72 hours from our end, but may take longer like 7-10 days as per Microsoft escalation and checking." So this could take TEN DAYS!!!
- Phone. Out of the blue, for no apparent reason, people could no longer hear me on my phone. With some experimenting, I randomly discovered that if I put them on speaker, then they could hear me. But that doesn’t make sense – putting them on speaker should affect how I hear them, but not how they hear me. And yet it did. It’s not good to talk on the phone in a public place with the phone on speaker! I finally went to the T-Mobile I’d bought it from, half a mile away, only to find they’d closed. Using GPS, I found the closest T-Mobile, about two more miles away – only to find they’d been mislabeled, they were a phone store that was affiliated with T-Mobile, but couldn’t do anything about my phone. Using GPS, I found the next closest T-Mobile, another 2.5 miles away, so I’m now five miles from home. I go there, and they have no idea how to fix the problem, but tell me I need to call Samsung. So I go home, call Samsung, and they aren’t sure what’s causing it. Finally, not wanting to deal with the problem anymore, and knowing my current phone had some small cracks developing and was running short of storage, I bought a new phone from Samsung. It came in a few days later – and nothing worked. Using GPS, I found a T-Mobile about two miles from my house in the opposite direction. I went there, and they chided me on buying directly from Samsung, said I should have just come to them at the start and I’d have avoided all the hassle. (If I’d used GPS from my house at the start, they’d have been the first on the list.) Because I didn’t get the phone from them, it took an hour for them to set it up, and then another hour or so to migrate all my info to it. I later ran into more problems and had to visit them again, but I finally got it all sorted out. (Remember, I’m doing all this while dealing with the email issues and the below.)
- Laptop. Somehow I’ve gotten some sort of grit under some of the keys on the laptop. When I press those keys, there’s a crunch sound, and it slows down my work. According to an online article, I can fix this by simply turning it off, prying the key off with a screwdriver, and cleaning it. So I pried off the backspace key – and it immediately broke off, leaving loose wires behind. So I had to take it to Best Buy to get fixed. I still have the grit, but may take it to Best Buy at some point to have it “professionally” cleaned.
- Refrigerator. About once every six months or so, my freezer freezes over. I’ve always fixed this by simply turning it off, putting in a hair dryer for ten minutes to melt it, and then drain the water and pull out any remaining ice. (I actually bought the hair dryer for that purpose – I’ve never used one on my hair.) However, for the last month something’s gone wrong, and its freezing over within a few days. Each time this happens I have to spend about fifteen seconds prying the freezer door out of the ice, and then do the hair dryer thing. Worse, the inside of the freezer is even worse now, with everything covered in icy frost. I still haven’t fixed this, so when I need something from the freezer I have to pry the door free, pry the frozen food item out of the frost inside with a screwdriver, and then pry the ice off the package, again with the screwdriver again. I’ll deal with this after the email issue is fixed.
Bruno and the Change of Direction
Here’s a great shot and lesson. Go to 52:30 on this video (link should take you directly there), and watch Bruno Ventura dos Anjos’s receive in this Major League Table Tennis match this past weekend. (They have a unique format, and this match was best of three to 11.) Bruno’s receiving, up 10-9 match point. His opponent has been serving and stepping around a lot. So what does Bruno do? Watch closely – he aims crosscourt to the backhand again, but at the last instant, changes direction – instant ace receive! And so he wins the match on that shot. It’s an example of Last-Second Changes of Direction on Receive. (Bruno, rated about 2550, is a fellow coach at the Maryland TTC, where he coaches full-time. His prematurely white hair makes him look older, but he's actually only 38.)
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