August 8, 2017

Pong Road
On Friday night I saw Pong Road, a roughly 30-minute video (in three parts), “an episodic documentary that follows Rocky [Wang] along his journey. Get ready to see ping pong that you've never seen before.” Alas, it’s not online yet so you’ll just have to wait until they do so, or there’s a showing in your area. They do have more segments planned. Here’s their Facebook page, here’s “The Story,” which explains more about Pong Road, and here’s their About Page, with more on Rocky Wang, and on Mark Weismantel, who was the “director, cinematographer, editor, sound designer and art director.”

I’ve known Rocky since he was 13, in 1987. He’s also from Maryland, but strangely I first met him in Colorado. I was (at various times) the manager, director, and one of the coaches for the Resident Training Program for Table Tennis at the Olympic Training Center from 1985-1990, where many of the best junior players in the U.S. lived, went to school, and trained, from 1985 to sometime in the early 1990s, when the program ended. My first memory of Rocky was when he joined us that September in 1987. I walked into the dorms and saw this little kid doing a split between the two walls, holding himself up like this! (The walls were a little closer – and yes, that’s Jean Claude Van Damme demoing here.) Rocky would reach about a 2500 level before quitting in the early 1990s for 12 years. He started up again around 2006, and since then has been coaching (often at Spin NY – see video ad below) and running table tennis events for a living.

In Segment #1, Rocky visits the Maryland Table Tennis Center, my club, where Rocky coached for a time. He is filmed playing Raghu Nadmichettu, “his nemesis,” about a 2350-2400 player. Alas, I’m not there during filming, but you do see our other coaches in action.

In Segment #2, Rocky visits Asheville, NC, and takes on players at a store that has a ping-pong table set up. You meet some interesting characters, and see Rocky take them on . . . with his shoe. Guess who wins? And did I mention he travels in a van he calls Myrtle the Turtle?

In Segment #3, Rocky plays in a tournament in Knoxville, TN, where the winner gets $600, the runner-up $300. He plays twelve matches, some in highly dramatic fashion – but I won’t spoil it for you.

Here are two pictures taken at the showing. In the first, you see Rocky (on left, green shirt) and Mark giving a talk before the viewing. In the second you see some of the spectators, including me (in blue Butterfly shirt, third from left). Sitting to my left is John Wang, Rocky’s father and one of the most influential table tennis people in Maryland during the 1980s and 1990s.

I’ll post here when there are future showings and when it goes online.

Pips and Anti
Here’s the article by Samson Dubina.

Backhand Drive
Here’s the video (2:37) by Georgina Pota of Hungary, world #32 (formerly #14).

How to Move in Table Tennis Like a Pro
Here’s the video (7:06).

Liu Guoliang Comments on Finals Match: Ma Long vs Fan Zhendong
Here’s the video (5:52).

PingSkills Show #287 - Return of Serve
Here’s the podcast (27:28).

Here are two new articles.

Thoughts on Table Tennis
Here’s the page with links to many table tennis articles, called . . . "Thoughts on Table Tennis." 

Rising Above the Challenge, the Inspirational Story of the Shetty Brothers
Here’s the ITTF article.

History of U.S. Table Tennis, Volume 19 (1991-1992)
Here's chapter twenty! Or order your own print copies at, Volumes 1 to 19! (Volume 20 should be out within two weeks.)

Spin Table Tennis Ad
Here’s the video (94 sec) – they now have seven locations in the U.S. and Canada, and this ad shows the fun they have. They even have a bathtub of ping-pong balls for patrons to bathe in!

Zhang Jike With an Ice Racket
Here’s the video (22 sec)!

Table Tennis Wall Clocks
Here’s a new one! Here are many more.

Eight-Two, Brute
Here’s the cartoon!

Send us your own coaching news!