January 6, 2020

Tip of the Week
How to Develop a Nasty Forehand Flip.

Tim and Sally Boggan Need Your Help!
Sally, wife of USATT Historian Tim Boggan (and former president, editor, father of two U.S. Men's Singles Champions (Eric and Scott), Hall of Famer, and pretty much everything else table tennis-wise), had a stroke last year. She is paralyzed on one side and unable to speak. The medical bills are huge, and not all covered by insurance. Sheri Cioroslan (formerly Sheri Pittman, former USATT president) created a GoFundMe page for them, with the goal of raising $20,000. It only opened yesterday (Sunday), but has already raised $700. Can you pitch in? (Tim will be a young 90 this September.)

USOPC Letter and USATT Board Resignations
I wrote about this in my Dec. 2 (third segment) and Dec. 9 (fourth segment) blogs. Here's a rehashing.

First, here's the actual USOPC letter itself. Attached to it were over 100 pages of confidential material, and unfortunately, that's not public and I haven't seen it either. But the letter gives a gist of the USOPC's thinking. The letter itself demands that all nine USATT board members resign by Dec. 18, 2019, or USATT would be decertified. (Here's a screen shot of the listing, since it'll likely be changed soon.) Here's the Dec. 31 USATT news item, USATT CEO Makes Announcement on Current State of Affairs.

As of Dec. 18, two board members hadn't resigned - Carolyne Savini and Ed Hogshead. 

Technically, Rajul Sheth and Tara Profitt were still board members as of this morning (Jan. 6). They had turned in resignations that would take effect the moment all other board members had resigned. They did this since, if they didn't, then the holdouts at the end would essentially be the USATT board and could vote and pass anything - all you need to pass something is a quorum -  a majority - of the current board, and if they had both resigned, then Carolyne and Ed could, in theory, pass anything they agreed on - including putting whatever they wanted in the minutes, and board members were still in disagreement over what should be in them. (More on that in the next segment.)

What did this mean? We were told that USOPC would start the Section 8 proceedings against USATT this morning, Jan. 6, and that once it started, it wouldn't not stop, even if the rest of the board resigned. (We were lucky in this - USOPC essentially shut down during the holidays, or they would have started the proceedings sooner.)

Carolyne refused to resign until all minutes from recent board meetings had been approved and put online. This was accomplished just yesterday, Sunday, Jan. 5. (See January 5 minutes.) Last night (Sunday) Carolyne resigned. Ed, however, did not resign last night. And so I wrote an entire blog based on that.

Ed had written, "I will resign as a member of the USATT Board of Directors when the missing board minutes are posted and when the current financial statements are posted." (Italics are mine.) CEO Virginia Sung agreed in writing to post the financial statements, saying they were still incomplete but promising they would be up by Jan. 31. Ed at first wouldn't agree to this, and as of this morning, he hadn't resigned.

However, the breaking news today, shortly after lunchtime (so a little after 10AM Colorado time, where USOPC and USATT headquarters are located) was that Ed had resigned. So I deleted the stuff I'd written.

What happens next? Virginia messaged me that they had informed USOPC that all nine had resigned, and that all was well. So at this point it is likely USOPC will not follow through with the Section 8. (I still think it is funny that it's called a Section 8, which has a different meaning in the military.)

What happens next, now that USATT has no board of directors? I covered that in my Dec. 2 blog. I'll blog more about this as things unfold and may add updates here this week.

=>BREAKING NEWS (12:36 AM Tuesday morning) - USATT CEO Virginia Sun released the following news item: 
USATT Statement to Membership on Reform Process

USATT Minutes
The USATT Minutes, from October to the present, went online yesterday (Sunday). There are ten different items. There's a LOT of material, much of it controversial - there's a reason why getting them approved was delayed as board members and others often disagreed on what should be in the minutes. The December 15 minutes were taken essentially verbatim and are 63 pages long, with the USOPC letter discussed on pages 41-51. (I was mentioned once, in regard to the USATT Strategic Initiatives, where it says, "It was brought to the board for approval and Larry Hodges challenged us to get something done.") There are four items October 15 items alone on the Rajul Sheth expulsion move.

US Open
It was held in Fort Worth, Texas, Dec. 17-21. It's sort of ancient news now, so I won't go into it too much. I was there as a coach. Here are some notes and links.

  • Complete Results
  • Defense Turns Offense as Miuchi Takes 2019 Seamaster US Open Men's Singles Crown by Matt Hetherington.
  • Lily Zhang Brings it Home at the 2019 Seamaster US Open by Matt Hetherington. My short analysis - Lily was excellent in attacking the middle.
  • I coached nearly all of Nicole Deng's matches at the Open, including her matches in MiniCadet Girls' Singles, which she won. Here's a picture - L-R Wang Cheng (who gives her private coaching), Nicole, and me.
  • I think I set a personal record for most comeback wins after a timeout while coaching. Nicole Deng was down 2-6 in the fifth in one match, I called a timeout, and she won nine in a row! (I told her to do more deep serves, including fast down the line; to stop attacking the serve; and to open more with her backhand loop.) In another, she was down 1-5 in the fifth, I called a timeout, and she won 11-8. Todd Klinger was down 2-6 in the fifth when I called a timeout, and he won 11-8. There were several others but I didn't record them.
  • Coaching is not only telling players things, but knowing what not to tell them. In one match, 1775-rated Ryan Lin (age 10) upset a 2046-rated player. Throughout the match I was amazed at how well Ryan returned serves - and so the single best thing I did in that match was not to mention his return of serve between games. If I had, he would have started thinking about it, and instead of instinctively doing what he'd been trained to do (and was doing so well), he'd have started making mistakes. I just talked about what serves he should use and where he should place the ball, and everything worked.
  • Coaching can get complicated. I had three primary students - Nicole Deng, Todd Klinger, and Ryan Lin. Each had entered the maximum number of events. So each night I put together a schedule for the following day. Since we didn't know in advance how far each player would advance in each event, I had to assume they advanced. As the day went by and they lost matches (no!), I'd cross those matches off my schedule. The toughest part was choosing which match to coach when they had conflicts. Sometimes, when I knew who my player was playing, I'd go to youtube (on my laptop at night, on my phone at the playing hall) and see if I could find videos of the player to study.
  • Here's something you don't see too often. Many of the tables at the Open were in barriered groups of three. One time I was walking by one of these groups and did a double-take. Something looked weird, like I was looking into a mirror or something. And then I realized why - all six players playing were lefties!!! About ten percent of people are left-handed, so the chances of all six would be one in 10^6, or one in a million!!!
  • I saw and heard players talking about a guy named Vasyl Kushnir. His first US Tournament was the South Shore Open in November, 2019. He went 0-6, losing to players rated 866, 706, 569, 503, 492, and 452. In those six matches, he was 2-18 in games. He lost to the 436 player at 1,3,4! Based on those results, he deservedly got a rating of 415. And then, at the Open, one month later . . . he beat players rated 2440, 2289, 2283, 2246, 2241, 2208, 2193, 2160, 2155, 2145, 2141, 2132, 2113, 2017! His losses were to players rated 2552, 2565, 2407, 2356, and 2291. A couple of days into the tournament I brought this to the tournament director's attention, and that the player was entered in Under 1800 and Under 1900! After conferring with USATT CEO Virginia, he was taken out of those two events. This may be the most extreme example of dumping I've ever seen. His new rating after the Open? 2616!!! Now he's probably over-rated, but he should be somewhere in the 2400 range. 
  • The USATT Assembly took place on Thursday at the Open. There were about 50 people. The main topic was the USOPC's letter, demanding that all nine USATT board members resign. I write about that elsewhere in this blog.
  • We had a new group running the tournament, and with that, there were problems that, hopefully, will be fixed next time. Matches were often late, with the tournament falling 1-2 hours behind each day. There were technical problems that kept them from putting results online in a timely fashion the first few days. There were also a number of rating events where, instead of the standard of groups of four, they had mostly groups of three. The program listed all the participants, but didn't list their player number, rating, or state. (People use the program to identify players, which means they need the player number listed - all players are required to either wear their player number or have their names on the back of their shirt.)
  •  After coaching essentially all day and into the night for four straight days, I discovered I was free on the last day, Saturday. So I took an uber to Dallas (about 30 miles away), and visited the Sixth Floor JFK Museum, the Dallas Holocaust Museum, and the Dallas Aquarium.

Weekend Coaching
Now that holiday break is over, it's back to coaching! This past weekend I coached in the Talent Development Program on Saturday (5-7PM) and Sunday (5:30-7:15PM). In the Sunday session I was in charge of eleven players with three coaches - and the kids were animated after their break.

I also coached the Sunday Beginning Class (4:00-5:30 PM), which was the tenth and final week of the session, with a new ten-week session starting next Sunday. Focus was Player's Choice (player chose what they needed to work on, with consultation with the coach), and smashing lobs.

2020 US Nationals in Salt Lake City
They will be held in June 29 - July 4, in Salt Lake City, Utah. (They announced this at the USATT Assembly at the US Open.) One thing of concern - Salt Lake City has a 4200-foot elevation. This means the air will be considerably thinner than at sea level. I have considerable experience with this, as from 1985-1990 I was at various times a player/manager/director/coach for the table tennis program at the Olympic Table Tennis Center in Colorado Springs, with an elevation of 5200 feet. Using this online Air Density Calculator, I find that Colorado Springs has an air pressure of .83 atmospheres, and Salt Lake City .86, while sea level is 1.00. (The numbers don't go up linearly.) My experience in Colorado Springs is that the ball travels typically about six inches further on the table, so it'll be close to that in Salt Lake City. Topspins don't drop as fast and backspins don't float as much. Balls shoot at you faster than expected. Balls are spinnier than expected as there's less air friction to slow the spin. Also, of course, if you are out of shape you get less air with each breath. It takes time to adjust to these differences.

USATT, ITTF, and Butterfly News Items
There have been a LOT while I've been away. Rather than link to them all, why not browse over them? (I'll link to a few of them directly. Disclaimer - I'm sponsored by Butterfly.)

U.S. Ping Pong Legend Hopes for 2020 Olympics...
Here's the CBS video (4:35) featuring the legendary five-time US Men's Singles Champion Dan Seemiller! Here's his GoFundMe page ($12,135 raised out of $15,000 needed as of this writing) and his book, Revelations of a Ping-Pong Champion. And here's the article, Technique Over Age Is Mantra for Dan Seemiller’s Inspirational Tokyo 2020 Run, by Michael Reff

New from Samson Dubina

New from Tom Lodziak

New from PingSkills

New from Coach Jon

How to Identify Fake Butterfly Products
Here's the article from EmRatThich/Ping Sunday.

USATT Year in Review

2020 US Olympic Table Tennis Trials
Here's the info page for the event to be held at Santa Monica College, CA, Feb. 27 - Mar. 1, 2020.

USATT Adopts New Slogan - "Keep Life in Play, Keep Play in Life"
Here's the USATT article by Matt Hetherington.

ITTF World Rankings
Here are the January 2020 world rankings. Here's January 2020 ITTF Rankings: Fan Starts 2020 On Top by Steve Hopkins.

2020 NCTTA Divisional Winter/Spring Schedule is Out!
Here's the info page from the National Collegiate Table Tennis Association.

MLFM Table Tennis
They have lots of new videos featuring the Chinese Team.

Ma Long Faulted for Hiding Serve, Unsuccessfully Challenges
Here's the video (2:27) from the 2019 ITTF Grand Finals. The serve in question is shown in slow motion at 0:43 (time is played backwards, so that means 43 seconds from end). Obviously the serve is illegal, as are most of the serves of most world-class players - see how the ball goes behind his head, which is of course illegal (ball must be visible to opponent throughout the serve).

First Ever Table Tennis Review Challenge
Here's the video (2:16). "The FIRST EVER challenge to an umpire's call using Table Tennis Review technology is made by Lin Gaoyuan at the 2019 ITTF Grand Finals." Leading 10-9 in the third (1-1 in games), Lin's serve was faulted for the toss being more than 30 degrees from vertical, and so he challenged it. However, video replay showed the toss was about 52 degrees, and so the call stood.

History of USATT - Volume 23
Here are links to all 23 chapters that have gone up so far (out of 31 total). Or you can buy it and previous volumes at www.timboggantabletennis.com. Volume 23 is 491 pages with 1841 graphics, and covers all the wild things that happened in 1997-1999 - 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! (Alas, Volume 24, while mostly complete, is on hold while Tim tends to his wife Sally - see segment above.)

"Ping-Pong Diplomacy" and China-US Relations: Judy Hoarfrost Recalls History
Here's the article from China Plus (in English).

They Came to Play Table Tennis. They Were Deported at Gunpoint in the Dark
Here's the story from the New York Times. Here's another article, from the Croatia News.

Ron Rivera Removes Ping Pong Table from Redskins' Locker Room
Here's the article. Yep, that was the source of the Redskin's woes last year. "The source of turmoil and losing has been identified in the Washington Redskins’ locker room, and new head coach Ron Rivera has successfully rid of it less than a week after taking the job."

Best Ping Pong Shots 2019
Here's the video (10:12). "It has been a truly incredible year and these are our favorite clips of 2019!"

Table Tennis- If Were Not Filmed, Nobody Would Believe (around the net edition)
Here's the video (5:23)!

Behind the Back Shots Master
Here's the video (3 min)!

Cat Pong
Here's the new video (3:35)!

Two-Bat Juggling and Dancing Routine
Here's the video (15 sec)!

T-Rex Multiball
Here's the video (12 sec)!

Santa Claus vs MLFM Table Tennis
Here's the video (5:52)!

Hope You Had a Smashing Christmas!
Here's the Rudolf vs. Santa graphic. (Here's the non-Facebook version.)

New from Pongfinity!

Non-Table Tennis - My 2019 Books and Movies Listing
I read a lot and see a lot of movies. (I'm on the Regal Theater Unlimited plan - about $25/month - and there's a Regal theater one mile away, and so I see about two movies per week.) Here's a complete listing of the 68 books I read and 104 movies I saw in theaters in 2019.

Non-Table Tennis - Lancer Kind Interviews Chip Houser
Here's the science fiction podcast (11:52) that went up Dec. 11 at Lancer Kind's SciFi Thoughts. At 3:08, they talked about me for about 30 sec! Chip Houser said, "I do not write like Larry [Hodges] writes, he comes up with a thousand ideas, and he has very specific, wild, way-out-there stuff." Lancer said, "I interviewed Larry in Episodes 53 through 56. You'll find those in the show archive if you want to hear from the brainstorm that is Larry Hodges."

Non-Table Tennis - "Releasing Hitler"
My story, "Releasing Hitler," was published by Galaxy's Edge on Jan. 1. (See links on left.) What if, one million years from now, Hitler is paroled from Hell?

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