June 26, 2017

Tip of the Week
One Point at a Time.

Table Tennis Protests and Walkouts
Below, in the segment on the China Open, you’ll read about the Chinese players refusing to play their matches in protest of the removal of Liu Guoliang as head coach. The top three men in the world, all from China, refused to play in their country’s “premier” event – Ma Long, Fan Zhendong, and Xu Xin, with support from many other players and coaches. World #4 Zhang Jike, also withdrew, due to an apparent injury, but at least early on also joined the protest. How this will unfold is anyone’s guess, but from what I’ve read (and there are many links to articles and discussions below), I have a feeling Liu Guoliang will be hit hard, while the players will likely get something like a three-month suspension. We’ll see.

Here are three other major table tennis protests that led to players refusing to play, all in the U.S. Here’s a summary.

  • 1976 U.S. Open. This was my first big tournament, held in July in Philadelphia – I started playing earlier that year, and came in rated about 1150. I was completely caught off guard when I got to the tournament site to find most of the top players picketing, refusing to play due to low prize money – only $200 for first place in Men’s Singles. Among the picketers were U.S. #1 Dan Seemiller, Charlie Wuvanich (Australian and Thailand champion, who had move to the U.S. a year or so earlier and already had developed a huge rivalry with Dan), Ricky and Randy Seemiller, Tim Boggan, future USATT president Sheri Pittman (then only 14 years old), Fuarnado Roberts, and many more. Despite the low prize money, they had some top players, with world #3 Dragutin Surbek defeating English star Desmond Douglas (also top ten in the world) in the final or semifinals (not sure which), deuce in the fifth. The protest led to some increase in prize money, but more importantly might have led to the creation of the U.S. Nationals, held for the first time that December.
  • 1994 U.S. Open. I’m a little fuzzy on the details here, but many of the top players were very unhappy with the conditions and scheduling at this U.S. Open. When they tried to protest, they couldn’t find the tournament director, who had seemingly disappeared, and the tournament referee was out playing matches. Finally, in exasperation, many of the top players dropped out.
  • 2009 USA Nationals. Early in the tournament there was a growing frustration among the top players at the low prize money in Men’s Singles. It boiled over before the quarterfinals, where the eight players met, and six of them threatened to withdraw if prize money wasn’t increased– Fan Yiyong, David Zhuang, Ilija Lupulesku, Mark Hazinski, Han Xiao, and Raghu Nadmichettu. Han Xiao, who was the player rep, worked out an agreement with then-USATT CEO Mike Cavanaugh for increased prize money in future years, but couldn’t get the other five to agree. So Han felt he couldn’t continue either (since he was the player rep), so all six defaulted. The other two played the final, Samson Dubina and 15-year-old Michael Landers, with Landers coming back from down 1-3 to win 11-9 in the seventh.

Shoulder Scare
On Saturday I had a scary time with my shoulder. I’d coached way too many hours on the previous Saturday-Wednesday, and spent all of Thursday and Friday pretty much at my desk working or in a lounge chair reading or writing on my laptop, barely moving at all. When I got to the club to coach on Saturday, I was stiff as a frozen rock. I loosened up somewhat while doing two hours of coaching. Then I did nearly two hours where I mostly fed multiball. At the end, I started to play a practice game with one of the players – and on the very first point he popped up my serve, I smashed, and I felt something hurt in my shoulder. I’ve had injuries in the same spot before, and I could feel I’d strained it again, but wasn’t sure how bad. I stopped playing immediately – fortunately, my only coaching the rest of the day was a two-hour group session where I wouldn’t have to hit – and was able to rest it.

The next day I had three hours of private coaching. I came in a bit early, made sure to stretch it out and got a good warm up, and while I could still feel the sore spot, I was able to play without problems. Hopefully it won’t act up at the coming USA Nationals (next week), where I’m entered in Over 50 Men’s Doubles, Hardbat Singles, Hardbat Doubles, and Over 40 Hardbat. (I normally use sponge, but play a lot of hardbat at national events along with coaching, meetings, and seminars.)

2017 ITTF-Pan Am Junior Championships
Here’s the home page for the event, held June 20-25 in Buenos Aires, ARG, with results, video, and lots of articles. USA did pretty well there, sweeping Junior Boys’ and Girls’ Teams. Kanak Jha won Boys’ Singles and Boys’ Doubles with Sharon Alguetti. Crystal Wang and Amy Wang both made it to the semifinals of Girls’ Singles, and made the final of Girls’ Doubles. Victor Liu/Rachel Sung made the semifinals of Junior Mixed Doubles. Team USA was Sharon Alguetti, Kanak Jha, Victor Liu, Jack Wang, Rachel Sung, Amy Wang, Crystal Wang, and Grace Yang. 

China Open
Here’s the home page for the event, held in Chengdu, China, June 22-25, with results, video, and lots and lots of articles. The big news, of course, was the withdrawal of the top four Chinese players, ranked #1-4 in the world – Ma Long, Fan Zhendong, Xu Xin, and Zhang Jike. In other news, Ding Ning defeated Sun Yingsha in the all-Chinese Women’s Final, Dimitrij Ovtcharov was up 5-2 in the seventh, then down 6-10 match point but comes back to win against Timo Boll in the all-German Men’s Final, and 13-year-old Japanese sensation Tomokazu Harimoto made the semifinals by defeating World #9 Noki Niwa and #12 Vladimir Samsonov, and won the first game against Boll in the semifinals before losing 1-4. (See video of Boll below discussion his matches with Harimoto and Ovtcharov.) Here are articles and links mostly on the Chinese Player Withdrawals.

Timo Boll on His Matches at the China Open

New from Samson Dubina

Advanced Serving
Here are five new videos from PingSkills. They include: Service Tactics (2:49), Variation of Spin (3:08), Variation of Placement (2:37), Variation of Speed (3:01), Service Disguise (4:33)

How To Play A Forehand Loop
Here’s the article from PingPoolShark, with links to video.

Ask the Coach
Questions answered at PingSkills.

How to Choose Best Setup in Table Tennis
Here’s the video (15:59) from EmRatThich. “What is the best combination (racket + rubber) in table tennis? Best paddle for a beginner? top bat for spin or for speed? These are the common questions that you asked. Today, coach EmRatThich will explain 3 types of setup in table tennis.”

Upcoming USATT Coaching Courses and Seminars
Here’s the USATT news item, which was also my blog on Friday.

How Big was the Liebherr World Championships?
Here’s the ITTF article.

Kenta Matsudara Block
Here’s the video (1:45) of the world #18 from Japan. It’s not in English (I assume it’s Japanese), but it shows both his topspin and sidespin blocks in slow motion.

Pong Universe Video of the Week
Here’s the video (83 sec), featuring the best players serving in slow motion.

Greatest Flip in History?
Here’s the video (35 sec)!

Serving Cup Challenge at the Worlds
Here’s the video (31 sec). I posted links to other versions of this during the Worlds, but I think this is a new one.

Table Tennis: Amateurs vs. Young Professionals
Here’s the video (12:14). Guess who wins? It’s pretty funny as the kids absolutely annihilate the comedic adults. The boys are Edwin Bai and Vincent Lo (rated 1519 and 1681, respectively), but I couldn’t catch the name of their club when they mentioned it. I don’t think the girls were introduced. (Comment below if you know the name of the girls or the club. They are all from California.)

Sherman’s Lagoon and the Ping-Pong Theory
Here’s the cartoon from Saturday, June 24!

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