The Roads to Hell

November 7, 2014

USA Table Tennis Hall of Fame

For the sixth year in a row I'm putting together the program booklet for the USATT Hall of Fame Banquet to be held at the Nationals. This year's inductees are players Tawny Banh and Lisa Gee, player/official Sheila O'Dougherty, and official Dick Butler. The Mark Matthews Lifetime Achievement Award goes to Donna Sakai - she joins previous winners (in order since 1999) Bobby Gusikoff, Sol Schiff, Jimmy McClure, Dick Miles, Mary Reisman, J. Rufford Harrison, Leah Thall Neuberger, Thelma "Tybie" Thall Somner, Tim Boggan, George Brathwaite, Dan Seemiller, Houshang Bozorgzadeh, Fred Danner, Mal Anderson, Dick Evans, and Yvonne Kronlage. That's a heck of a list! A great mix of players and officials who have greatly contributed to our sport.

Here is ticket information for the Hall of Fame Banquet at the Nationals (Thursday night), where they will be inducted. Dick Evans is the Master of Ceremonies, with Tim Boggan and Sean O'Neill doing the induction talks this year for each inductee. If you are at the Nationals and miss this, you are making a big mistake. This is your chance to hobnob with the stars, both past and present, where you can meet and talk with them, have an excellent meal, and browse the Hall of Fame exhibits. Going to the Nationals and missing the Hall of Fame Banquet is like going to an ice cream social and skipping the ice cream!!! (I'll be there - see you there!)

The USATT Hall of Fame was created in 1966 by Steve Isaacson, and after sort of disappearing for a time, was revived in 1979. Here's the history. I'm proud to be a member, inducted in 2003 as a contributor, for my coaching, writing, editing, and promoting. (But I was a pretty good player too!!!) I was inducted along with David Zhuang and Eric Boggan, with Marty Reisman getting the Lifetime Achievement Award that year - what a group to be associated with! At age 43, I was youngest person ever inducted as an official/contributor. Here's my profile. (I've done a lot of stuff since then, so I may lobby to have it updated!) After this year's inductions there will be 142 of us, including an even 50 officials/contributors, dating back to USATT creation in 1933.  

The Hall of Fame Committee is chaired by Dick Evans. Others on the committee are Tim Boggan, Dean Johnson, Sean O'Neill, Scott Gordon, Mal Anderson, Dick Hicks, Donna Sakai, and Yvonne Kronlage. Tim Boggan is in charge of preparing the exhibits for each year's inductees - come to the Banquet and see what he's put together this year! (He also annually raids my photo files, along with Mal Anderson's, for pictures to use.) The minimum age to get into the Hall is 40. Induction requires a 2/3 vote by the Hall of Fame Committee. Many top players are first-ballot inductees, getting in the year they turn 40. Officials/Contributors usually have to wait until they are older. Lifetime Achievement Award Winners have to wait even longer!

Here's an interesting thought: Among current players, who are the future Hall of Famers? Suppose everyone retired right now; who already has the credentials? (Sorry, Kanak Jha and Crystal Wang, you've both done a lot, but you've got a bit more to do if you want to get into the Hall in 2040 and 2042, respectively!)

In general, if you win Men's or Women's Singles at the USA Nationals, you someday make the Hall of Fame. On the women's side, Ariel Hsing (2010, 2011, and 2013) is a lock. So probably is Wang Chen (2006 and 2007). Crystal Huang (2008) and Lily Zhang (2012) are also likely ones. 

On the men's side, Timothy Wang (2010, 2012, 2013) is a lock. Eric Owens (2001) is pretty much a lock to be inducted next year when he turns 40. Other future possibles are Peter Li (2011) and Michael Landers (2009). Others include Mark Hazinski (Olympian, 4-time Men's Doubles Champion, I think 3-time Men's Singles Finalist, and National Collegiate Men's Champion multiple times) and Han Xiao (4-time Men's Doubles Champion, National Collegiate Men's Champion, Men's Singles Finalist). There are, of course, arguments for and against each of these players. For example, Wang Chen, Peter Li, and Michael Landers had rather short USA playing careers (though of course Peter and Michael are still young enough that, when they finish college, they may change that).

As to the Lifetime Achievement Award, there are a number of possibles coming. I'm guessing Dell Sweeris will win it next year or very soon afterwards. Sean O'Neill is in the running, when they decide he's old enough. (He'll be 48 next year. The youngest winner by far has been Dan Seemiller, who won it in 2008 at age 54. All other winners were well into their 60s or beyond.) I can make arguments for several others - but I'll leave that to readers.

And my apologies to others I might have missed. Feel free to comment below.

Another Full-time Club

Here's the website for the e4Hats Table Tennis Club of Fullerton, CA, the newest full-time club in the USA. (Here's the complete listing of all 78.) Here's a press release from their Butterfly sponsor. "The facility features a play area that is over 6,000 square feet, professional Butterfly tables and is open seven days a week. e4Hats offers a world class coaching staff, which includes Head Coach Scott Malek and Head Coach Bong Geun Kim, private and group lessons, and a table tennis robot for independent practice." The one question not answered - where did they get this interesting name?

"World Champions Camp" in Duluth, Georgia

Here's info on the Nov. 22-26 camp with coaches Wang Hao (the top-ten-in-the world chopper/looper from the 1990s, not the penholder), Zhang Chao, Xu Rui Feng, and Lin Cheng. (Duluth is about 25 miles from Atlanta.)

Killerspin Skill

Here's their coaching page that covers pretty much everything.

Ask the Coach - Training with a Robot

Here's Episode 21 (12:50):

  • Question 1 - 1:36: What exercises should I do so that my legs move effectively while playing? Anushka Chavan
  • Question 2 - 3:52: How should i play forehand loop from off the table should I stand lower or when contact give the ball more lift. Overall how should i play attacking forehand and backhand shots from off the table? Nick Persad
  • Question 3 - 6:24: I had two tables in my garage, one for my son and I to play and the other table had a robot for when one of us was not around. What are your ideas about using a robot as a training device and what do you see as its greatest good? Larry Winn
  • Question 4 - 9:36: Being a beginner I bought a new tt racket. When I play with my racket, the tt ball slows down and it seems like the ball sticks a bit on the tt racket. What could be wrong? Amit Shah

World Rankings, and Nigeria's Aruna Quadri Highest Ranked African in History?

The Nigerian star moved up to #30 in the world - here's the ITTF press release. However, according to this article, Atanda Musa, also of Nigeria, reached #20 in the world, which is roughly what I remember as well. (Here's more on Musa.) I believe Musa now lives (and I think coaches) in New York City. Here are the complete men's and women's world ranking lists.

Top five in the women's ranking are unchanged. On the men's side, former #2 Fan Zhendong and #3 Ma Long switched places; former #5 Dimitrij Ovcharov of Germany dropped to #6 while Jun Mizutani moved up to #5. Former #6 Wang Hao dropped out of rankings due to inactivity. Marcos Freitas of Portugal moved from #12 to #9.

USATT Athlete of the Month - Kanak Jha

Congratulations to Kanak Jha as USATT's October Athlete of the Month. And here's where you can vote for him as USOC Athlete of the Month.

International Articles

As usual, you can read lots of international articles at Tabletennista (which features the elite players) and the ITTF page (which does more regional coverage).

Uberpong Custom Paddle Editor App

Here's the custom app from Uberpong. Here's the app at itunes from Apple. This allows you to create a paddle with your own pictures on it.

Ping Pong Fitness Psychologically Speaking

Here's the article.

Omron Table Tennis Rallying Robot

I linked to this video (41 sec) once before, but now it seems to be trending online, so I thought I'd link again. Is this the future of table tennis? The main problem with current robots is that you aren't playing against a ball hit at you with a racket, and so don't develop reactions against a ball coming off a racket. If a robot can be developed that can really rally at higher levels, that would be something. I'd like to hit with this robot and test just how high a level it can play at. I'm guessing it couldn't react well to loops yet, but I've read they are working on the software for reading and reacting to spin.

Kellam High School Kicks Off Ping Pong Club
Setting Stage for First Annual 'Battle of the Paddles' & Scholarships
Teaching Brain Fitness, Leadership & Offering
 Scholarship Opportunities
Setting TableTennisCoaching.com Record for Most and Longest Headlines for a Single Story

Here's the story!

Colorado College Hockey Players Play Pong

Here's the news video (1:45).

Lob Winner!

Here's the video (18 sec) as one player hits an "unreturnable" backspin lob off the edge of her racket. I do this type of lob all the time with beginning students, but it's rare that a world-class player gets caught this way. (The player needed to go around to the side of the table to reach the ball, but didn't realize this in time.)

Mini-Pong

Here's the picture - I have no idea what the situation is or who the players are, but it certainly is getting a lot of press coverage!

Angled Table Pong

Here's the picture!

Non-Table Tennis - "The Roads to Hell"

Here's my dark fantasy story about what happens to political ideologues after they die. (This was my 71st short story sale.) Feel free to leave comments on the story in the comments section underneath it!

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November 5, 2014

Ready Stance

What is a proper ready stance? Any decent coach could go over this in great detail. I've written about it before, such as in Grip and Stance and Use a Wider Stance. But there's a simpler way. (This might be expanded later into a Tip of the Week.)

Next time you are trying to show someone the proper ready stance in table tennis (or trying to work out your own), imagine playing basketball. Pretend to dribble a ball, and tell the person to cover you. Invariably he'll go into a perfect crouch that allows him to move quickly side to side - he'll widen his stance, with his feet aimed slightly outward, knees slightly bent, and bend slightly forward at the waist. (You can also tell someone to imagine being a shortstop in baseball or a goalie in soccer - same thing.) Other than not holding the arms up (as one does when covering in basketball), the player is now in a proper table tennis stance, and you didn't have to go into all the specifics.

Have the player do some side-to-side movements, and he'll quickly realize the benefits of playing in such a stance.

Table Tennis Authors Unite!

I've self-published my last few table tennis books on Createspace.com, a subsidiary of Amazon.com. Along the way I've become something of an expert on it. I've been advising a few other writers on it, and at the upcoming USA Nationals I'm doing an informal demo for three prospective table tennis authors who are writing table tennis books. If you also are interested in this (i.e. are writing a book on table tennis - or perhaps some other topic - that you'd like to self-publish), email me and I'll see if we can find a time at the Nationals where we can all get together.

Mostly Non-TT - World Fantasy Convention and Stupefying Stories

I'll be spending much of the next four days jumping back and forth between table tennis and the World Fantasy Convention, which is happening nearby in Arlington, Virginia, at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City, Thur-Sun. I have a reading scheduled Saturday at 1:30 PM. I have a lot of coaching on Thursday and Friday nights, and Sunday all day, but I'll likely spend my free time over there, plus I've got Saturday completely off. If anyone wants to join me, email me.

On a related note, at 5PM today (Eastern time) my dark fantasy story "The Roads to Hell" will go live at Stupefying Stories. It's a political story about what happens to political ideologues after they die.

The Powerful Backhand Loop of Werner Schlager

Here's video (42 sec, including slow motion replay) of Schlager ripping five backhand loops in a row against chopper Joo Se Hyuk. Many top players use backhand loops as variations against choppers, but five in a row, like this? Wow! (Ironically some of our top up-and-coming stars at MDTTC are also experimenting with backhand loops when playing local chopping star and coach Wang Qing Liang.)

Cast Your Vote for USOC Athlete of the Month - Kanak Jha!

Here's where you can vote.

Plastic Ball Testing

The Preston Table Tennis Association has put together a pair of videos that test the new plastic balls. Here they are:

Zhang Jike's Prize Money Goes to a Fund for Annual Fair Play Award

Here's the ITTF press release.

Table Tennis Rock & Roll

Here's the inspirational music video from the ITTF (1:32). However, there's a problem with this. Go to 1:09, and you'll see they are using highlights of the infamous Zhang Jike scene where he's destroying the barriers after his World Cup win. How can they fine him his entire $45,000 prize money for this, and then use it for promotional purposes? I'm guessing this is a case of the right hand not knowing what the left hand was doing.

Table Tennis Daily & Editingsports Trick Shots

Here's the video (1:28) that shows some great trick shots. One of my great sorrows of life is that my shoulder is too stiff to do any of the behind-the-back shots they show here!

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