June 7, 2021

Tip of the Week
What to Do in the "Big Points."

BREAKING NEWS - 2021 US Nationals Preliminary Rounds to Play RR Format, Masks Not Required
Here's the news item that went up Tuesday night. Deadline to enter the US Nationals is in one week, June 15. Note the changes in starting days and times listed at the end. (At the time this went up, there were only 328 entries. I'll write more about this next week.)

US Junior Team Trials - Under 19 and Under 15
I spent last week at the US Junior Trials at the ICC Table Tennis Center in Milpitas, CA, in the Bay area, June 3-6. Here are complete results, care of TTLive. (Besides the Trials, for boys and girls, they also had separate events for Under 17 and a combined Under 11/Under 13.) Here is the USATT graphic showing the members and names of the players making the four teams. A total of 101 players competed in 516 matches. (The rating results are already up.)

Special thanks for the event goes to USATT, ICC, to the staff who put it together: High Performance Director Sean O'Neill, Tournament Director Gao Jun, Referee Yelena Karshtedt, Josh Dyke (who did the streaming and helped with results), Umpires Steve Lee and Sophie Chen, Tiffany Lam and Purvi Soni (who helped at the control desk), and the many scorekeepers, many of them players in the tournament - I don't have a complete listing, but email me of others you know or of any corrections: Sid & Nandan Naresh (who would come 1-2 in the Under 19 Trials, with Nandan winning the Under 15 Trials), Nicole Deng, James Zhang, Winston Wu, Isabella Xu, and others.

I arrived along with most of the Maryland Table Tennis Center contingent on Tuesday night after a 2800-mile flight (about six hours). On Wednesday, we had two training sessions. Since they were running a training camp at ICC and using all the tables, we had arranged in advance to train at nearby Table Tennis America. The second session was at ICC. Throughout out stay, we ate a lot of Chinese food for lunch and dinner; one of our players, Mu Du, who "lives" for McDonalds, lamented at the lack of McDonalds cuisine, saying, "This is a slight disaster." Then the action began on Thursday morning!!! Since the six boys from MDTTC were all in the Under 15 event, that was their primary focus, but the Under 19 event was a great training and a warmup for them.

The MDTTC players were Stanley Hsu (12, 2313), Ryan Lee (14, 2216), Mu Du (13, 2139), Nicole Deng (15, 2125), James Zhang (14, 2091), William Wu (15, 2061), and Winston Wu (11, 2018). The coaches were Wang Qingliang, Cheng Yinghua, Jack Huang, Wang Cheng, and Larry Hodges (me!). Including parents, we had 17 in our group.  

Stanley Hsu, 12, rated 2313 coming in, had a nice tournament, making the Under 15 team as the youngest member - all the others are 14 or 15, except for Daniel Tran, who turns 14 in July. Stanley finished fifth, which actually makes him the #6 player on the team - see explanation below. But he had a weird tournament. He lost deuce in the fifth in Under 19 to Kai Zarehbin (2420), and beat a number of others in the 2250-2350 range, and mostly played like a 2400 player. Against Under 15 #1 Nandan Naresh (2442), he was up 10-8 in the fourth and missed a pair of forehands or it would have gone into the fifth. But the truly weird match was against Keenan Zhou (way, Way, WAY underrated at 2091 - more accurately rated afterwards at 2254). Stanley wins the first 11-5 and goes up 9-0 in the second . . . and lets up. As I later told Stanley, that was the worst thing that could happen - because right then, at the same time, as Stanley started to let up, Keenan, having nothing to lose, started to play really well. Stanley had to take a timeout to win that game, 11-8. Keenan continued to pour it on while Stanley struggled to regain his focus, with Keenan winning the third, 11-4. At this point, Stanley had outscored Keenan 20-5 at the start, but been outscored 19-6 since! In the fourth, Stanley goes up 7-3 and is coasting, but in this streaky match, Keenan wins eight in a row. In the fifth, at 4-4, in this (did I say streaky? Make that SUPER-streaky) match, Keenan wins seven in a row to win. The final scores, -5,-8,4,7,4, don't really tell the tale. (Keenan would also go on to make the team, finishing seventh.) Later I would discuss with Stanley the idea that, when you are in the lead, your thinking needs to be, "Take it!," not "Let's be careful."

Each team will (usually) have eight players. The winner of the age event at the upcoming US Nationals will get the #1 spot. The Trials here are for spots 2-8. What that means is that whoever finishes first here is #2 on the team; second place is #3; and seventh place is #8. Since all four Trials had a Final Eight, it means that whoever finishes eighth is #9, and so technically isn't on the team - yet. If any of those eight players wins at the Nationals - and the odds are extremely high that that will happen - then that player moves up to the #1 spot, and all those who finished behind that player move up a spot - meaning the number eight finisher moves from #9 to #8, and becomes an official member of the team.

Here are some photos taken by Lingda Hsu, Stanley Hsu's mom. L-R: Stanley's Under 15 Team trophy (it weighs a ton!); most of the Maryland players and coaches; the US Under 15 Boys' Team; Stanley; Stanley and me; Stanley with Coach Wang Qingliang and me; Coach Wang and Stanley; MDTTC players Stanley Hsu, James Zhang, and Mu Du; and three more pictures of Stanley with Coach Wang.

Alas, it's not all roses for MDTTC. Nicole Deng I believe had at least one match point before losing 15-13 in the fifth against Kayla Goodwin - if she wins that match, she's in the Final Eight and almost for certain on the National Team. James Zhang was up 10-8 match point on Ryan Wu (2266) in the match to make the Final 12. But they'll have many more chances, including the Under 17 Trials in ten days, where Nicole is currently seeded #5. 

I did have one serious gripe about the Trials - the rules said there would be no geographic separation. This has been an ongoing issue for me - I think it's silly not to do so. And this time, it seriously affected our team, which seemingly flew 3000 miles to play each other! In Under 15, we had six players in the nine groups of four - and three of them were in the same group, as the top three seeds! (And sure enough, one of our players was knocked out of the event by another of our players in an upset win.) In Under 19, we also had six players in the eleven groups of four - and two groups had two of our players! In Under 17, we only had three players in the initial six groups, and two of them were together! (That event was later redrawn, with the MDTTC players in separate groups.) The groups were done legally, strictly by the "snake" method, and it just so happened that it kept putting MDTTC players together.

I sent an email to the USATT High Performance Director and High Performance Committee on Thursday night, asking that they use geographic separation at the upcoming Trials in NY (Under 17, 13, 11). After a number of messages, it was agreed, and we won't have to deal with this again. Players from the same club or family will be separated in preliminary groups. They will also play first in subsequent rounds, which I agree with. I don't want some kid to be in the position where, after he's clinched his spot on the team or is no longer in contention, he plays a teammate who needs to win to make the team. That kid could be under pressure to dump that match to his teammate.

On Saturday, since most of our players were done, we headed back over to Table Tennis America for a joint training session of six of our players and about a zillion of theirs. MDTTC Coach Wang Qingliang was the guest head coach for the session, which I and the other MDTTC coaches also assisted in. On Sunday afternoon, after the Trials were done, we headed over for a tour of the new 888 Training center, which opens in the next two weeks. It'll be huge, with about 40 tables. Our kids ended up playing fun matches with some of the locals, including an improvised Brazilian Teams (players take turns at the table playing one game that starts at deuce, stay up until you lose), and then, for about half an hour, we played with smart phones, kindles, driver's licenses, a roll of tape, and whatever items we could dig up! (You can chop pretty well with a kindle.)

Most of our contingent left on a red-eye flight at midnight on Sunday, landing at 8:06AM at Dulles Airport. I got home at 9:45AM. And now we start training for the US Junior Trials for Under 17, 13, and 11, to be held at the Westchester TTC in NY in ten days, June 18-20 - and we have an even larger contingent going! I even bought up and donated to our club all the leftover Nittaku Premiums from the Trials (47 of them, 36 new) for our kids to train with, since they'll be using those at the NT Trials.

USATT Board Meeting and Minutes
There was a USATT board meeting on Zoom last night. I attended most of it. Nothing ground-shattering happened, and I only took a few notes. Here was the agenda:

  • CEO Report. [I missed the start, but there was mention of four bids for the next US Open.]
  • [High Performance Director Report - came next but wasn't on the agenda. Sean spoke about various past and upcoming events.]
  • Update re: Proposed Amendments to the Bylaws Update re: Athletes Advisory Council – First and Second Athletes – Third and Fourth Athletes [Lots of discussion on this, but the two main points: they will all be elected, no more appointments; and the elections will take place after the Olympics, so as not to interfere with players training for that.]
  • Consideration for Approval of Proposed Committee Assignments and Chairs: (including new Chairs for Juniors Committee – Diversity, Equity Inclusion Committee – Tournament Committee) (including new members on Nominating and Governance Committee – Tournament Committee). [There was also talk of creating a committee to oversee the abuse of USATT intellectual property - specifically, distributors and manufacturers who use the USATT logo without authorization.]
  • Consideration of Issues Related to Officiating and Tournaments

I also noticed that the minutes for the April USATT board meeting are up - see the USATT Minutes Page.

New from Samson Dubina

3rd Ball Attack From The Backhand
Here's the video (1:58) by Rachid El Boubou

The Secret of My hand Switch - the Most Difficult Shot in Table Tennis
Here's the video (4:29) from Timo Boll.

Importance of Practicing the Basic Fundamentals
Here's the video (29 sec) from Eli Baraty.

New from Performance Biomechanics Academy Table Tennis

New from Seth Pech
Here are his latest expert commentaries.

New from Ti Long

New from PingSunday/EmRatThich

Videos (some overlap with the above)

New from Edges and Nets

ITTF High Performance & Development Webinar 48 - Para Table Tennis Coaching
Here's the ITTF Webinar (94 min).


New from Steve Hopkins

Lily Yip Table Tennis Center
Here's the video (6:05) by Jimmy Butler on his visit.

A Holiday From Holidays
Here's the article from Coach Jon.

Meet Navin P. Kumar: Movie Actor & USA Table Tennis Athlete & Motivational Speaker
Here's the article from Shout Out LA. He's one of my students!

What Is Table Tennis?
Here's the slideshow, created by Hina Sheikh, daughter of Coach Aabid. (Click on icons on left one at a time, or click on "Present" for slideshow. There are 18 slides.)

Jan-Ove Waldner Talks About Ma Long, Fan Zendong, and World Table Tennis Championships
Here's the video (4:57).

They are back to their pre-pandemic activity, so rather than my link to all of their news items, why not browse over their news page?

The Factors Behind China's Olympic Table Tennis Dominance Ahead of Tokyo 2020
Here's the article from Nation.

Top Indian Table Tennis Players Prefer to Train Individually
Here's the article from the Business Standard.

Timo Boll vs Shang Kun | MT-FINAL | German League 2021
Here's the video (10:11).  

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

Top 50 Incredible Moments in Table Tennis
Here's the video (9:14)!

Finding The What Happened Guy
Here's the video (12:57) from Adam Bobrow!

One of These Shirts Should Be Yours!
So . . . which are you?

Cat Playing Ping Pong !!
Here's the latest (51 sec)!

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