January 18, 2018

USA Nationals Dates
As announced yesterday in USATT Insider, the USA Nationals this year will be July 1-7 in Las Vegas. For most of us, those are probably fine dates. However, for the large number of U.S. players attending the World Veterans Championships, June 18-24, also in Las Vegas, it poses a dilemma, since there's a week between the two. Do you attend both? If so, do you fly home and back in between, or stick around for a week?

Ideally, the two would have been back to back, with perhaps one day rest between. That's what USATT would have liked, but it was not to be, for several reasons. The main problem is that the World Veterans Championships has built into the contract that no other major tournaments can be run locally at the same time or the week before or after, since that could draw away entries from them. This makes sense, as it is a large undertaking, and the last thing they want is a competing local tournament. There was some discussion of making an exception, but apparently they didn't agree. (I wasn't in on the discussions.)

Another reason not to run them back to back was the hotel cost. Apparently the July 4 week is one of the worst weeks in Las Vegas for tourists, and so around July 1 the hotel costs plummet to something like one-fourth what they normally charge. The hotels don't really need high hotel rates to make money; their primary source of income is from their casinos, and so they do whatever is needed to bring in customers during slow periods so they can get those customers to give them money gamble. (This also happened at the U.S. Open in December, where the hotel costs were about $30/night for most of the tournament, then right at the end went up to about $120. This was in addition to the infamous "resort fee.") So by not having the tournaments back to back, you'll likely save something like $90/night in hotel fees. That should make up for your air costs if you have to fly home and back.

Another reason brought up not to run them back to back was staff issues. It's not easy spending 10-12 hours/day running a tournament for a week – and to do it for two weeks straight is mind-bogglingly difficult! However, this was less important to me as we'd have had a day in between for rest, and likely given staff a few extra days off afterwards, and perhaps schedule other breaks as well. But it was a concern.

Personally, my plan is to attend the World Veterans (June 18-24), where I'll be doing daily coverage for USATT and ITTF, as well as playing in the 55-59 age event. Then I'll attend two days of USATT Board Meetings (June 25-26). Then I plan on taking a reading and writing vacation (June 27-30) – paradise to me is sitting in a hot tub reading a great science fiction novel. And then I'll be coaching and perhaps playing in the USA Nationals (July 1-7).

Of course, none of this answers the age-old question (or at least since 1976, when we first had a USA Nationals in addition to a U.S. Open): Why do we generally call it the USA Nationals, while the other is the U.S. Open?

Hungarian Open
Here's the ITTF page for the event, Jan. 18-21 in Budapest, with draws, results, articles, photos, and video. Fan Zhendong (CHN, world #2) and Chen Meng (CHN, world #1) lead the men's and women's draws.

USATT 2018 Team Selection Procedures Pave Way for Unified National Team
Here's the USATT article.

Who Should Use Thin Sponge Rubber?
Here's the article by Coach Jon.

Portland Hosts Second Successful Course, Ideal Premises in Oregon
Here's the ITTF article on the ITTF coaching course taught by Christian Lillieroos.

Table Tennis Teen from West Hempstead Hopes to Make U.S. History
Here's the article featuring junior star Estee Ackerman. She's also the feature picture on the cover this morning.

Jörgen Persson to Address Sports Science Conference
Here's the ITTF article.

National Collegiate Table Tennis Newsletter
Here's the new January issue.

Not a Game for Boys
Here's the table tennis novel by Simon Block. (I just ordered a copy – at 104 pages, it'll be a quick read.) "Once a week, three cabbies seek respite from their lives in a local table tennis league, and tonight they must win, or face the unthinkable oblivion of relegation. Deeper rivalries and competitive obsessions emerge as the team try to survive the pressure, but the real game takes place anywhere but at the table." The novel is based on the play of the same title, also by Simon Block, from 1994. Here's a review of the play, which was apparently was running last summer in Dublin, Ireland.

Sun Yingsha Best Points 2017
Here's the highlights video (8:32) of the world #1 junior girl from China. (Here's the ITTF Under 18 Girls ranking list.)

Sunny Bunnies in Kung Fu Ping Pong
Here's the cartoon video (3 min 11 sec). The link should take you to 15:09, and the table tennis cartoon goes until 18:20.

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