U.S. Open Ratings Champions - No Fear!
When I looked over the rating champions at the U.S. Open, what jumped out to me was that, for once, most of the champions were actually players that were seeded very high in the event. Often players like that avoid playing in such events in order to protect their ratings (sigh...), leaving the event to lower-rated "ringers." Not so much this time! Here's a rundown of these champions - congrats to all these fearless champions! (Note that in three cases, a player is actually rated over the cutoff, but that's because the ratings used for eligibility purposes is well in advance of the U.S. Open; otherwise, players wouldn't know until the last minute what events they were eligible for.)
- Under 2600: Gao YanJun (2607) over Adam Hugh (2570). Over by 7 and under by 30 points.
- Under 2400: Raghu Nadmichettu (2390) over Mark Croitoroo (2319). Under by 10 and 81 points.
- Under 2250: Klement Yeung (2239) over James Therriault (2206). Under by 11 and 44 points.
- Under 1950: Cameron Siou (1930) over Jeremy Hazin (1631). Under by 20 and (gulp) 319 points.
- Under 1800: Marina Leitman (1811) over Edmundo J. Lozada Salazar (1759). Over by 11 and 41 points.
- Under 1650: Natasha Carr-Harris (1535) over Alex Bu (1530). Under by 115 and 120 points.
- Under 1500: Edward Guo (1328) over Rohan Mannem (1283). Under by 172 and 217 points. Mannem didn't win here, so he got his revenge in...
- Under 1350: Rohan Mannem (1283) over Paul Scobey (1267). Under by 67 and 83 points.
- Under 1200: David Stone (1167) over Wilson Chen (1209). Under by 33 and over by 9 points.
- Under 1000: Anton Berman (641) over Michael Gustafson (798). Under by 359 and 202 points. Someone's a bit under-rated? And just for the record, the fearless Gustafson, with the 798 rating, also played Under 800 but didn't reach the final - but he did get revenge on the girl who took him out of Under 800, beating her in Under 1200.
- Under 800: Anton Berman (641) over Wang Yee (756). Under by 159 and 44 points.
The Evil Fayed: Nuking U.S. Cities and Terrorizing Hardbat
Here's Abu Fayed discussing the destruction of America on "24." Here's Adoni Maropis (at the U.S. Open) terrorizing the hardbat community, where he's achieved a 2110 hardbat rating. He reached the semifinals of Over 40 Hardbat at the U.S. Open. (He made the final at the Nationals in December.) Yes, he has knee problems, and is a little soft on the backhand, but he has that look that says I will tear out your liver and feed it to your children. So try to catch him in a good mood. (Table tennis pictures are by Steve Hopkins.)
Hidden Serves - not always noticed
I wrote yesterday about some of the problems with hidden serves. One irony I didn't mention is that often a player doesn't even notice when an opponent hides his serve. Like all other shots in table tennis (at least for a well-trained player), you don't consciously react to shots. Your subconscious reflexively reacts to the various incoming spins. So when returning a serve, it's the subconscious that's actually reacting. When the serve is hidden, the subconscious doesn't see contact, and so often misreads the spin - but the conscious mind doesn't always notice since you don't normally consciously react to the contact. A well-trained player learns to blank out his conscious mind while playing, and so doesn't consciously see contact unless he makes an effort to look for it. Of course this doesn't change the fact that at the higher levels, many players hide their serve and most umpires don't call it, so for now, players will just have to learn to read hidden serves by watching the ball, as players used to do before hidden serves became illegal.
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