December 13, 2012

USA Nationals Entrants

This year's Nationals (Las Vegas, Dec. 18-22) has 782 entries, a nice increase over last year's near-record low of 502 in Virginia Beach. In actuality, the numbers last year were a bit higher than 502 since that number, taken from the online ratings database, doesn't include players who entered only doubles, hardbat, or sandpaper events. So they probably had closer to 550 last year - but that's still the lowest number ever for a USA Nationals since the 1980s.

What do these numbers say about location, location, location? But the numbers are also a bit higher than the Nationals in Las Vegas two years ago, which had 686 (again, players in rated events only). We still have a ways to go to return to the heydays of 2005 and 2006, which had 829 and 837 players in rated events.

Here's a chart showing the number of entries in rated events at the Nationals every year from 1994-2011. I have not included the 2012 figures yet because they include all entries. When the tournament is processed and the number of players in rated events is known, it'll be a bit lower than 782, almost for certain under 750. We'll see. (While we're at it, here's a chart showing the number of entries in the U.S. Open, 1994-2012.)

How many players only enter in doubles, hardbat, or sandpaper? This year's U.S. Open had 611 total entries, but only 564 in rated events. So 47 played only doubles, hardbat, or sandpaper, about 7.7% of the total. Based on that, of the 782 entries in this year's Nationals, about 60 will only play doubles, hardbat, or sandpaper, leaving about 722 in rated events.

The number of entries listed on the charts for earlier years is closer to the actual number. After I won the Hardbat Open at the 1991 Nationals and 1992 U.S. Open, the event was discontinued. (They must not have liked me.) The event was restored in 1997. Now there are six hardbat events - Hardbat Open, Over 40, Over 60, Doubles, Under 2000, Under 1800, and Under 1500. And over the last couple of years they've added the sandpaper event. (At the Open, they had two sandpaper events - the Open, and Liha Sandpaper, which has somewhat different rules.) So there are more and more players entered these days in non-rated events. I wish there were a way of getting actual entry numbers for all these U.S. Opens and Nationals, but all I have to go on are the online ratings lists.

Crystal Wang and Lily Yip

Yesterday I linked to the ITTF article that featured Crystal Wang. Now they've done a video interview of Crystal (2:26, she's a bit nervous) and USA Junior Coach Lily Yip (2:43). Poor Crystal and the others on the USA Junior Team (eight of them) just spent a week in India at the World Junior Championships, and will have exactly two days to travel halfway around the world to play in Las Vegas at the USA Nationals. When they play a match in Las Vegas at, say, 4PM, which is middle of the night for them this past week. (And the same for their matches in India, where their daytime matches were like middle of the night matches in U.S. time.)

Petition for Table Tennis in School Curriculums

Here's a petition to do the following:

Include and recognize the sport of Table Tennis Aka "Ping Pong" as part of a school's athletic curriculum of choice.

Table Tennis should be included as part of a school's athletic curriculum of choice to participate and play. The sport isn't only a recreational past time but also an Olympic sport. The sport is considered and recognized relevant by other cultures. The sport is cost effective, fights the obesity problem among young Americans, and is non discriminatory. The sport can be easily incorporated in a schools current athletic curriculum, and easily be taught. Tables should be put on all middle schools to encourage start up programs. There are plenty of qualified coaches in the United States that would love the opportunity to teach and coach this fast growing sport. Starting in middle schools will also identify talented kids and Olympic hopefuls. This is the way It's done in China and Europe.

It just got started, and I went ahead and signed it. (I'm the fifth signee; they need 25,000 by Jan. 11, 2013.) Let's see if it takes off.

Return Boards

Here's a video (2:03) highlighting their use. (The first two players shown are USA Junior Team Members (and sister and brother) Prachi Jha and Kanak Jha.) I have to get one!!!

1998 Olympics Gold Medal Match

Here's a highlights video (2:04) of the Men's Singles Final at the 1988 Olympics, the debut of table tennis as an Olympic Sport. It was held in Seoul, Korea, and (coincidentally?), it was an all-Korean final, with Yoo Nam Kyu defeating Kim Ki Taek in the final, 3-1. Players back in those days had great forehands and footwork, and lobbed more, but backhands were generally weaker, though most Europeans were looping their backhands. (Both of these penholders were backhand blockers, using conventional penhold backhands, which has mostly died out at the world-class level.)

Humans are Awesome

Here's a video (4:29) that shows humans doing various spectacular stunts. It includes a great table tennis rally from 0:21 to 0:33. (The player on the near side is Dimitri Ovtcharov. Anyone recognize the Asian lefty shakehander on the far side?)
Addendum: Julian Waters, and a few minutes later Bruce Liu, both informed me that the player on the far side is Mizutani Jun of Japan. Julian also corrected my original belief that the player on the near side was Primorac - oops!

Another Four-Person Table

Here it is!

Table Tennis Birthday Cake

Here it is!

Send us your own coaching news!

I suspect the somewhat high turnout for this Nationals is due to the lack of an Open or Nationals west of the Mississippi in for the last three tournaments.  It is easier for those out west to justify the expense if they haven't been in a while.  Of course, Vegas is a generally good location as well for a variety of cost reasons.