May 24, 2021

Tip of the Week
Inside-Out Backhands.

Olympian Lily Zhang at MDTTC
On Sunday, May 24 (yesterday), at 5PM, Olympian and 5-time (and current) US National Women's Singles Champion Lily Zhang visited the Maryland Table Tennis Center to give a talk, answer questions, do a demonstration and exhibition, and signed autographs. It was arranged by Richard Lee (owner of JOOLA and part-owner of MDTTC). The event went off great, with about 100 spectators. Here are pictures:

After a short talk, Lily took questions from the audience, and there were many! I even asked one - "Since you are about to play a chopper/looper in an exhibition, in general, how would you advise players on how to play a chopper?" She answered that playing choppers was not her strength, but that the key was patience. After the Q&A, she and MDTTC Coach Wang Qingliang did an exhibition, best two out of three to 11. It was spectacular!!! Wang won game one, 11-8; Lily game two, 11-9. They started the third game at deuce. Lily won the first point to have match point, but Wang won, 13-11. (But remember, this was an exhibition. But they really went at it - some points featured Lily attacking and Wang chopping, others had Wang ripping forehands while Lily blocked, plus a few counterlooping rallies.)

Afterwards, there was a LONG line for autographs. Everyone got a free autographed paddle and table tennis keychain. Lily personalized each autograph. She also spoke at length with each player, asking them about their table tennis, how long they've played, who their coach was, and so on. She was extremely gracious and made a lot of new fans! (There might be a video up soon - if so, I'll post it here.)

Weekend Coaching
I ran or helped run three group sessions. In the first (Group 3, players up to about 1200), they sent players to me, three at a time. I put one on the robot, one on ball pickup, and did multiball with the other - with the focus on forehand and backhand looping against backspin. Each got about four minutes, rotating. So I fed nothing but backspin for about an hour, side to side. If a player had trouble on one side, then we'd focus on that. Once I was done with a group of three, three others rotated in. I think we are going to run more sessions this way, where three are sent to me for multiball, while the rest do drills run by Lidney Castro. Also assisting, as always, was practice partner Mu Du (just turned 13, rated 2139).

Next up was Group 2 (players up to about 2000). I acted as a practice partner for this one, with players rotating to my table every five minutes or so. Lots of footwork drills!!!

Next up was the Lily Zhang event - see above!

Next up was Group Four, which is five girls, all ages 7-8, plus a 6-year-old boy who joined the session and may be permanent. All six of them had been there for the Lily Zhang exhibition and all six had gotten autographs, and were still in awe!!! Helping out as a practice partner was Kurtus Hsu. The focus for the session was forehands down the line, which always give beginning kids trouble - unless taught otherwise, they almost always want to tilt their racket back with their wrist and just pat the ball rather than stroke it. (Key: rotate shoulders back, contact ball a little later, in front of right leg for righties.) They also each had a turn with Kurtus, where they had a competition to see who could get the most forehands or backhands (their choice) in a row - the winner got 98, while most of the rest got at least 30.

USATT Hall of Fame Program Book
I spent much of last week putting together the 2021 USATT Hall of Fame Program Book. (Actually, it's for those selected for induction in 2020, but postponed because of the pandemic.) The induction will take place on Thursday, July 8, at the US Nationals. Here's info on the induction banquette and the five honorees - David Sakai (Lifetime Achievement Award) and Hall of Fame inductees Sebastian DeFrancesco (athlete), Pam Fontaine (athlete), Christian Lillieroos (contributor) and Roman Tinyszin (contributor).

This is the eleventh year in a row (starting in 2009) I've done the program book, which I do for free, other than a ticket to the banquet. (Technically, I get paid $100, but I donate that to the Hall of Fame Boosters.) This year's was the most difficult to put together since the first time. First, for years I've been doing it in Pagemaker, using the previous year's as a template. (I used Pagemaker to do all 71 issues of USATT Magazine when I was editor.) But not only has Pagemaker been phased out, but it's so out of date it doesn't even run on my new computer. Plus, no one else can make changes to the program when I did it in Pagemaker. So I had to redo it from scratch in Word. Second, the profiles for the inductees were very long, and so I had to do a lot of cutting and consolidating - which is tricky and tedious. But it got done!

2021 National Team & 2021 Pan Am Junior Games Team Trials
They are going on right now, May 21-26 in Fort Worth, TX. A number of videos and live play are on the USATT Facebook page. Here's the info flyer. Men's and Women's Trials are first, ending today, with the Pan Am Junior Games Trials starting today. (Kanak Jha and Lily zhang made the team automatically as the #1 players by their world ranking and so didn't need to try out. A number of other top players didn't try out, including Xin Zhou, Yijun Feng, Juan Liu, and Wu Yue.)

Breaking News - here's the top four finishers in Men's and Women's:

  • Men's: 1st Sharon Alguetti; 2nd Nikhil Kumar; 3rd: Jishan Liang; 4th Dan Liu.
  • Women's: 1st Amy Wang; 2nd Sarah Jalli; 3rd Huijing Wang; 4th Tiffany Ke.

Here's a graphic from USATT showing the Men's and Women's National Team - 8 men, 8 women. (Here's the non-Facebook version.)

The National Under 19 and Under 15 Team Trials will be held at ICC in Milpitas, CA, June 3-6, and the National Under 11, 13, and 17 Team Trials will be held at the Westchester TTC in Pleasantville, NY, June 18-21. Info is at the top under USATT Events at Omnipong. I'll be coaching at both of these events.

Kanak Jha vs Benedikt Duda | FINAL | 2021 Düsseldorf Masters V
Here's the video (9:23).

USATT Announces Updated Policy and Protocol for 2021 US Nationals
Here's the USATT news item. Spectators will now be allowed.

Help NCTTC Raise $200,000 to Strengthen College Table Tennis in North America!
Here's the GoFundMe fundraiser.

New from Timo Boll

Managing Sports Aggression: Four Tips for Athletes
Here's the article by Dora Kurimay.

New from PingSunday/EmRatThich
He has many new items on his Video and Articles pages.

Forehand Loop From Underspin
Here's the article and video (1:26) from Jabdiel Torres, narration by Brian Pace.

Tips on Reading Service Spin
Here's the article by Tom Lodziak.

How to Learn & Play the Forehand Flick
Here's the video (7:33) from Dublin TTC. (Note - flick and flip are the same thing.)

New from Eli Baraty

New from Ti Long

New from Samson Dubina

New from Performance Biomechanics Academy Table Tennis

Table Tennis Exercises At Home
Here's the video (90 seconds) from Huijing Wang.

New from the ITTF

New from Steve Hopkins

Tremendous, Terrific, Tournament Time
Here's the article by Coach Jon.

$5000 Barbara Wurster Memorial Open Recap
Here's the article by Jabdiel Torres.

Goodbye Ding Ning - She's Retiring
Here's the new video (9:16) that highlights her career, from inMotion Table Tennis.

China Table Tennis Facing 'Unprecedented Threat' at Olympics
Here's the article from Yahoo Sports. "China have won 28 of 32 table tennis gold medals awarded at the Olympics, but their supremacy could face its biggest test yet in Tokyo this summer." "Home advantage for fierce rivals Japan, inconsistent form among China's top players and uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic suggest the world's most populous country might not have it all their own way when the delayed Tokyo 2020 Olympics start in just over two months."

Four-Year-Old Talent in Chengdu Practices Table Tennis Blindfolded
Here's the article and video (2:22) from - but the key thing to note here isn't when he does the blindfold thing, but that he's playing on a raised platform, allowing him to start at a much younger age than most kids, who usually aren't tall enough to play on a normal-sized table until they are at least five or six years old.

Catching Up with Michael Godfreys: Swinging for the Games
Here's the article from Pro Rodeo, on this former pro bronc and bull rider's journey to wheelchair table tennis.

New from the Malong Fanmade Channel
Lots of new videos here!

Stashka - Dreams in One Ball
Here's the table tennis music video (3:23).

My Lucky Ping-Pong Shirt (Do Not Wash)
Here's where you can buy this at Amazon!

Funny Table Tennis Fight Anime Style VFX
Here's the video (2:45)!

These are somewhat funny as three kids battle it out in what is the very definition of basement ping pong.

Jan-Ove Waldner Imitates Liu Guoliang
Here's the video (20 sec). I'm guessing some will find his facial expressions offensive, but the movements are dead-on, with only a bit of exaggeration. Waldner and Liu were huge rivals in the 1990s, and Liu is now the head coach for China.

Kangaroo Pong
There is a serious shortage of kangaroo table tennis pictures or videos. This is all I could find. I'm very disappointed.

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