May 13, 2019

Tip of the Week
First Block and First Counterloop.

USA Nationals
Here's the home page for the event to be held in Las Vegas, June 30 - July 5. Final deadline is May 20. You can see the current list of entries by player or by event. There are currently 673 players entered, and if you aren't there, we will be talking about you - and it won't be nice! I'll be coaching there, and playing in Over 40 Hardbat. (I normally use sponge, but hardbat is a sideline.)

Here are two articles by Matt Hetherington on players who will be competing at the Nationals:

Here's another article on the Nationals from NCTTA, Play or Volunteer in US Nationals at Vegas!

There are 96 events this year. They include:

  • Men's and Women's Singles, Doubles, and Mixed Doubles.
  • 24 junior events, ranging from Under 10 to 21 and Under, for boys and girls, with numerous singles, doubles, and team events. (This is in addition to the various junior rating events.)
  • 34 senior events, ranging from Over 30 to Over 80, with both singles and doubles, for men and women.
  • 17 rating events, from Unrated and Under 1000, to Under 2400, including the ever-popular Under 2200 tiered Super Round Robin (lots and lots of matches!). Most of them are divided into Adult and Junior rating events, so adults can avoid those way-underrated kids, and kids get to play other kids.
  • Under 4200 and Under 3200 Doubles/
  • Ten hardbat and two sandpaper events.
  • Open and Women's Para events for Classes 1-11.

But the Nationals is much more than just playing and competing. You also get to mingle with your friends and peers from around the country, as well as perhaps a contingent from your club - a built-in cheering section when you play. (But make sure to cheer for them when they play as well!)

You get to spectate as the best players in the country battle it out, with you right there at courtside. You can follow your favorites around like a groupie! (Okay, go easy on that.)

There's also the equipment booths. It's like the Garden of Eden for table tennis players as the various manufacturers and distributors exhibit their stuff on huge, seemingly endless tables - Butterfly, JOOLA, Paddle Palace, Newgy, and more! There will be unending rows of sponge, rackets, shoes, balls, clothing, books (including mine!), robots, playing bags, and all sorts of knick-knacks from towels and racket cases to mini-paddles and keyrings. Plus there's the "shirt shop," where all players get a free US Nationals t-shirt, which (for additional cost) you can upgrade to something really nice. (I always do.)

There's also the Hall of Fame Banquet on Thursday night (July 4). Come and see Michael Ralston, Li Zhenshi, and Sharon Brooks as they are inducted into the USATT Hall of Fame, and Richard Hicks receive the Mark Matthews Lifetime Achievement Award. You'll get to meet and hobnob there with the greats of our sport - Dan Seemiller, Sean O'Neill, Insook Bhushan, the Sweeris's, Sakai's - heck, seemingly half the people from the USATT Hall of Fame will be there! (Here are links to the annual Hall of Fame program booklets from 1979 to 2018, which show that year's inductees and their credentials, etc.)

If you want to be pampered, for just $50 you have access to the Players' Lounge: Unlimited snacks, drinks, Wi-Fi, Games, and a place to relax between matches. Or the VIP package for $99, which includes the Player's Lounge plus a personalized locker and a Finals ticket.

There are also other reasons to go to Las Vegas, something about gambling and shows, but I wouldn't know about that as I'm always at the hotel or playing hall, or traveling from one to the other - well, mostly.) This year I plan on doing a bit more sightseeing, perhaps doing a Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam trip or visit the Mob Museum or the Mandalay Bay Shark Reef Aquarium.

There's also a USATT Board meeting during the Nationals - feel free to show up and watch as they solve the problems of our sport (or don't)!

Now admit it - you are either going, or you are thinking about going. C'mon, you're a table tennis player, you don't want to miss the Nationals!!!

Weekend Coaching

  • In the Thursday Beginning Class we had a general practice session, with the players rotating from station to station, working with different coaches, the robot, with each other, or practicing serves. In my station I focused on the backhand, while I also oversaw the players on the robot, which was on the adjourning table. We ended with games.
  • During the Friday night league I spent two hours scouting out our players, noting what needed to be worked on. For example, I noted one player had a tendency to go off balance after looping, leading to problems with the next shot. Another was way too passive on the backhand. Another had no variation on his serves. 
  • On Saturday in the Junior League, there were a number of adjusted games, where players had to start out each rally with specified serves or scores. Lots of serve and attack games!
  • On Sunday in the Beginning Class, the focus was on pushing. We also spent about 30 minutes doing regular drills, and ended with games.
  • On Sunday in the advanced Talent program, I was in charge of the ten players in Groups 3. Lots of table drills! Lots of footwork! And then I rushed home to watch Game of Thrones (of course).

Slovenia Open
Here's the ITTF home page for the event held this past weekend in Otocec, Slovenia, with results, articles, pictures, and video.

History of U.S. Table Tennis, Volume 23
You can now order your copies! Vol. 23 (by Tim Boggan) covers 1997-1999. It's 491 pages with a new record of 1841 graphics! As some USATT Hall of Famer once said, "How can any serious player not buy these books?" Note that Tim Boggan signs each volumes you buy!

History of USATT – Volume 22
Here is Chapter Twenty of Tim Boggan's History of U.S. Table Tennis, subtitled "Viewpoints." Or you can buy it and previous (and future) volumes at Volume 22 is 469 pages with 1447 graphics, and covers all the wild things that happened in 1996-97 - and I'm mentioned a lot! Why not buy a copy - or the entire set at a discount? Tim sells them directly, so when you order them, you get it autographed - order your copy now!

Belgian Jean-Michel Saive Ends Table Tennis Career
Here's the article from Xinhuanet. Here's video of Saive's last league match (7:36), with some great lobbing points and audience participation, from Arnaud Scheen.

Retired Justice John Paul Stevens Talks History, His New Book and Ping-Pong
Here's the article from MPR News. "When you interview a 99-year-old Supreme Court justice, one who has written some of the landmark opinions of modern times, you don't imagine in advance that the subplot of the interview is going to be Ping-Pong."

New From Samson Dubina

New from Eli Baraty

New from EmRatThich

Serve + 3rd ball attack – with Craig Bryant
Here's the video (10 min) from Tom Lodziak.

Liu Guoliang on Who's Better: Jan Ove Waldner or Ma Long!
Here's the article.

The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Table Tennis
Here's the podcast (48:32) from Expert Table Tennis.

Table Tennis Calculus
Here are a series of videos from Geoffrey Cheng covering a number of table tennis (and a few other) topics.

New from Coach Jon

New from Steve Hopkins

Report on the ITTF-PTT Level 1 Coaching Course: Flushing New York
Here's the article by Sydney Christophe.

Houston's Tim Wang Excited About 2021 Table Tennis Championships Coming Here
Here's the article from the Houston Chronicle.

2019 World Table Tennis Championships Recap
Here's the article from PingSkills by Matt Solt.

Encouraging Participation and Young Talents Crowned at 2019 USA Hopes Week and Challenge
Here's the USATT article by Mike Lauro.

Lily Zhang is All In on the Road to Pan Ams and Tokyo 2020 Qualification
Here's the USATT article by Richard Finn.

Van Emburgh Solely Focused on Making 2020 Paralympics
Here's the USATT article by Richard Finn.

Table Tennis Tidbits #45: Mattias Falck nee Karlsson ’19 World Runner-up to Ma Long
Here's the article by Robert Ho.

RACVB, RAVE and ITTF North America Announce First-Ever Olympic Trials in Rockford
Here's the article.

Adriana Diaz vs Zhang Lily | 2019 ITTF Challenge Slovenia Open (R16)
Here's the video (13:23) as USA's Lily (world #81) upsets Puerto Rico's Adriana (world #31).

Dimitrij Ovtcharov vs Fang Bo | Champions League 2019 (FINAL)
Here's the video (10:46).

DHS Top 10 | 2019 ITTF Qatar Open
Here's the video (6:04).

2018 ITTF Year in Review
Here's the video (2:20).

Ping Pong Literacy Promo
Here's the video (5:30).

President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart​ Tokaev Plays Table Tennis
Here's the video (43 sec). He comes in about 17 sec in.

Ball-Bouncing on Side of Table
Here's the video (46 sec) of a whole class doing it! Can you?

Sid & Nandan on Pickler and Ben TV Show
Here's the video (5:24) of the Narash brothers.

Aruna Quadri TATATrickshot
Here's the video (33 sec) of the Nigerian star!

Top Best of Blocking Magic
Here's the video (4:17) of mostly humorous blocks!

Ma Lin Poker Joke
Larry Bavly emailed me this one: "2008 Olympic gold medalist Ma Lin joined a poker table. Once the cards were dealt and it was his turn, he introduced himself to the table and everyone folded. They heard him say "I'm Ma Lin." (Okay, you may groan now.)

Best Table Tennis Jokes and Funny Memes
Here's the listing from EmRatThich!

Non-Table Tennis - Science Fiction & Fantasy Short Story Sales and Publications
I had a flurry of recent sales (yes, I get paid for these!) and publications in my other life as a SF writer. Here's a rundown.

  • Flame Tree Publications (one of the big ones) published my story, The Apocalyptic Wormhole Video, about an alien who comes to earth to sell us video of our planet's destruction in 50 years.
  • Alternative Truths: Endgame came out, a series of stories that satirize Trump, with two stories by me, "The Ballad of Cadet Bone Spurs" (new lyrics for the opening song to the old TV show the Beverly Hillbillies that foretell Trump's future) and "The Great White Wall" (which satirizes the future of the Mexican wall).
  • The upcoming anthology Space Opera Libretti, which features humorous science fiction stories, announced its table of contents, which includes my story, "Confederate Cavalry on a Plane." A physicist on a plane argues with another that anything you can imagine must have happened somewhere in the multiverse, and the titles tells you the rest - and the story tells how it came about. One of the funniest stories I've ever written. It should be out this month.
  • The upcoming anthology Tales of the Old Black Ambulance came out with the cover and table of contents, which includes my story, "Ded Society." (Yes, "Ded.") It tells the story of a 12-year-old Charles Darwin, who in this reality died as a kid (as he almost did in real live) and lives with other Ded in a graveyard, where he tries to figure out where the origin of the Ded. It should be out this month.
  • A super-short story of mine got honorable mention and was published at On the Premises. Alas, no payment for this one.

Send us your own coaching news!