Hook Loop

October 29, 2013

Tip of the Week

Start Drills with a Serve.

Butterfly South Shore Open

It was an exhausting weekend, but so is every tournament I coach at. There's no question - coaching is far more tiring then playing. Seriously!!!

Here are results and pictures. I didn't get to see much of the tournament since I was busy coaching.

I traveled to and from the tournament with Nathan Hsu (17) and his mom, Wen; Crystal Wang (11) and her dad, Quandou; and Derek Nie (12) and his mom, Jenny. (Derek and his mom traveled separately going out, but were on our flight coming back. Roy Ke, 14, another top junior from my club (MDTTC) also went but traveled separately.) We flew to Chicago, and then rented a car to drive to South Shore, about 45 minutes away. We arrived at the playing hall (Lincoln Center Fieldhouse in Highland, IN) around 8PM on Friday night, just after they'd closed the gym. We found an open door and were able to look over the place and survey the draws before they shooed us out.

Crystal, rated 2267, was top seed in all three junior events she was in - 13 & Under, 15 & Under, and 18 & Under - and she swept all three events without losing a game to anyone, capturing $1700 in prize money, care of the Nate Wasserman Junior Championships. She played Anushka Oak (13, rated 2091) in all three finals.

I was mostly coaching Nathan this tournament. (I'll be coaching him and Derek at the Nationals.) He mostly played well this tournament, but didn't have the results to show it. He went in rated only 2303, well below his norm - he was 2397 just a short time ago. In the Open, he upset Patricio Perevra of Lindenwood University in Missouri, the 7th seed, to reach the quarterfinals. There he faced the unrated Wang Zhao, a former member of the Chinese National Team and only 28 years old. He'd easily dismantled a 2300 player 4-0 in the previous round, and his level was estimated at 2650. The story I was told was that injury problems had ended his career in China, but while no longer Chinese-team level, he was very good, with an unreal forehand, and everything else almost as good.

But so was Nathan!!!

Nathan used his backhand loop to dominate, often with off-the-bounce counter-loops, and a nice inside-out forehand flip to take out Wang's forehand and set up Nathan's own attacks in this best of seven. He also counterlooped surprisingly well. They battled right to the seventh game. Finally, Nathan found himself up 10-9 match point with the serve! So what happened? Nathan served short, and Wang returned it with a net-dribbler. Jeeez!!! But Nathan's not through. Wang had one or two match points, but Nathan deuced it, and had another match point with the serve. He served long to the backhand, and Wang, caught off guard, made a soft topspin return to Nathan's wide backhand - which Nathan had anticipated. He was already there, and ripped a forehand down the line that would have been a match-winning shot - but it just missed. Then Wang won the next two points, and it was over. (In the semifinals, his racket - the same one he'd used against Nathan - was ruled too thick, and so he had to use an unfamiliar racket, and lost.) 

Nathan had another nice match in the semifinals of Under 18 in a best of five, against top-seeded Jonathan Ou, rated 2472. (Nathan was seeded fourth.) I can't go over the tactics here - they will likely play many times in the future and Jonathan might be reading this (Hi John!), but once again it was a battle. Jonathan won, 11-8 in the fifth. (Jonathan would win the final 3-0.) And so, despite playing two great matches, Nathan had nothing to show for it, other than the knowledge that he can compete with these players.

During the tournament we lived on McDonalds for lunch (chicken sandwiches for me) and Cracker Barrel for two dinners (though Crystal and I had to miss one when she had some late-night matches). There was a breakfast buffet at the hotel, and I had freshly-made waffles and scrambled eggs for breakfast both mornings.

On the way back we had to wait at the airport in Chicago for over an hour. So the kids and I grabbed our paddles, and walked about until we found some tables. Then it was time for Airport Pong!!! I didn't actually play any this time (knee problems), so I was just the ball boy as Nathan, Derek, and Crystal took turns. I don't have video, but here's Airport Pong video (1:43) from after the 2012 Junior Olympics/Southern Open at Houston Airport, with Nathan, Amy Lu (the lefty), and Lily Lin.

It was a fun tournament, and we had a great time. The lighting was great, with wooden floors and lots of room. Great thanks goes to Director Dan Seemiller; to the tournament committee (Brad Balmer, Steve Betts, Jason Denham, and Pam Hazinski); to referee Kagin Lee; and to the local South Bend Table Tennis Club.

Why Today's Blog Was Late

Why, you ask? Well . . . this'll sound crazy, but blame the TV show "The Walking Dead." I missed this past Sunday's episode (coaching at the South Shore Open in Indiana). I was up late last night working on other things, and went to bed around 1AM. Just before I went to bed I had checked on when I could see replays (Fri 11PM and Sun 8PM). Well, I had perhaps the most vivid and definitely the most physical nightmare of my life, and probably the longest as well.

I dreamed I was fighting the walking dead - and it went on and On and ON!!! I was on a balcony overlooking a large gymnasium (now that I think about it, I think it was the South Shore Open gymnasium!) filled with the walking dead, and they were streaming up a stairway to get at me! My only weapon was a sharpened pencil, and it kept breaking - but then I'd find another one. (Strangely I was killing them by stabbing them in the belly, when in reality - well, Walking Dead reality - you have to stab them in the brain.) And then (of course) I had a ping-pong paddle and began swatting them away. At some point the paddle went back to a pencil, and then back again - it kept changing in my hand, and at the time, this seemed perfectly normal. Anyway, the whole time I was fighting them I kept thinking about how painful it would be if they got at me (yes, they eat you alive), and so it was an all-night adrenalin-packed episode. When I woke up in a sweat, I was exhausted and had a massive headache. It's very tough to write with a massive headache, alas.

Men's World Cup

Xu Xin of China defeats Vladimir Samsonov of Belarus in final.  Here's the ITTF Men's World Cup Page, with results, articles, and photos.

Quality over Quantity - Training Smart

Here's an article from Table Tennis Master on choosing your drills when you practice.

Ultimate Hook Loop

Here's the video (10 sec) of a super-sidespin loop. My only critique is that it would be even better if it went wider. If you are a looper and don't have a hooking loop to the forehand, you need to develop one.

Mikael Andersson, Messages from Paris 2013

Here's a video interview (13:11) with Mikael Andersson, an ITTF Senior Consultant - Development, Education & Training, and one of the main designers of the ITTF Global Junior Program.

Epic Ping Pong Fail - Spinning Face Smack

Here's the video (33 sec) - and watch where the ball actually hits!

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