June 28, 2021

No Blog Next Week . . . But There'll be a Tip!
I'll be at the US Nationals in Las Vegas coaching away . . . but there will be a Tip of the Week!!! (It's already written, I'll put it up on Sunday night, July 4.) The next blog will go up on Monday, July 12. See you then!

Note - the July 5 Tip of the Week is up, "Changing the Pace." 

And note the new look - I just migrated from Drupal 6 to Drupal 9!

Tip of the Week
Forehand Attackers Should Serve & Backhand Attack.

US Nationals
I leave this Friday for the US Nationals in Las Vegas, along with about 30 others from my club (players, parents, coaches). It's 2800-mile flight. Originally I'd expected to coach only the first few days, since all of the junior events start on Sunday and Monday, with some rating events on Tuesday. (Nationals is July 4-9, Sun-Fri.)

So I figured they'd all be done by Wednesday, and on Thursday I'd play the three Hardbat events - Hardbat Singles, Over 40 Hardbat, and Over 60 Hardbat. (I'm normally a sponge player, but play hardbat on the side.) Alas, it's not likely.

We just got the USATT Notice on the scheduling at the US Nationals. I also contacted them directly about scheduling, and was told, "Basically, the first few days will be all round robins, with the single elimination rounds to come several days later. So events that start on Sunday might not finish until Thursday or Friday." I wish we'd know this earlier! So I'll almost for certain be coaching Thursday. Goodbye $240 I spent in entry fees!

But it's not just me that's facing problems. Historically, events end within a day or at most two of when they start. (I've been playing US Opens and Nationals since 1976, and all of them since 1984. Men's and Women's Singles are sometimes an exception to this.) Most of the kids and parents going have all or most of their events on Sunday and Monday. So most were flying home on Wednesday night. This morning they are frantically changing their flight and hotel plans to stay until Friday night. They are not happy. (The MDTTC parents and coaches stay in contact via a large WeChat group. The messages this morning are non-stop.) I expect this is happening all over the country - and will happen even more once people learn that events that start on Sunday or Monday may go until Friday. (I only know because I asked. I'm told more detailed schedules are to be emailed to all the players soon, and then we'll have a better idea of the scheduling.)

The root of the problem is simple - they are trying to run a US Nationals on 45 tables, when historically they have normally had at least twice that many. The result? No matter how they schedule, there are going to be problems. Events may fall behind. They may have to call matches late into the night after dinnertime. They may have events starting on Sunday and not finishing until Friday, possibly with entire days with no matches in the event. We just don't know - but we'll find out soon. Hopefully, we'll be pleasantly surprised. If so, that's what I'll report when I return.

So let's just say I'm a bit nervous about what's going to happen next week. 

The playing site is the Mandalay Bay Convention Center, "...the fifth largest convention center in the U.S., with 2.1 million gross square feet of meeting and exhibit space." For perspective, let's assume USATT has 45 full-sized courts (40'x20'), though they are likely to be smaller than that. That's 36,000 square feet. Double that to make room for the control desk, aisles, lounges, equipment booths, etc. and we're at 72,000 square feet. Let's round that up to 100,000 square feet. That's 1/21 of the space at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center - and with the pandemic, they are likely to have lots of space available, and cheaper than normal. All we have to do is rent, say, another 1/21 and we'd have a first-class Nationals. We'd be able to have larger RR groups, with two advancing (only one will advance this year), with events finishing within a day of their starting time, and events would safely be on time, etc. So the first thing I'll be looking at when I get there is if there's lots of space that's just sitting there, unused, while we're all jammed into half the space of a normal Nationals.

The USATT notice says that the rescheduling is being done, "In order to accommodate higher than anticipated level of participation in the US Nationals." Putting aside that this is actually one of the lower turnouts for a Nationals (552, compared to the normal 700+), this also means that there will be more revenue "than anticipated." So use that extra revenue to rent more space. Yes, it cost money for a larger hall, but the alternative is the risk of doing a halfway job.

If you are going to run a Nationals, then you have to rent enough space to run a Nationals.

'Chess At Light Speed': 3 MD Kids Make National Table Tennis Team
Here's the article from patch.com! I'm proud of these kids - they've put in an incredible amount of training - at the table, physical training, and mental training. (After the Junior Trials, I sent out a press release, and this was one result. The other? We have a reporter coming in on Wednesday afternoon from the China World Journal, the largest Chinese newspaper in the US.)

Historical Table Tennis Stuff
I spent much of the last week going through old boxes and shelves and cataloguing all my old table tennis stuff. Here's my complete collection! (I may be donating or trading some of it to Will Shortz this Thursday - see below.)

Busy Week
This is a busy week. Putting aside that I'm in the middle of preparation for my annual nine-day science fiction writing workshop (which means reading and writing extensive critiques of a total of 17 stories, which average over 4000 words each), we're also preparing our players for the Nationals. Here are other table tennis activities this week, starting yesterday:

  • Sunday: We had a big party for the junior program at the club on Sunday night. It started with an award ceremony, where we gave out numerous prizes for things like Most Improved, Hardest Worker, and Best Teammate. Then, while some of the coaches and staff met with parents, my job was to take 30+ kids and lead them in various activities! So I taught them table tennis tricks: speed bouncing on the table; racket twirling; smacking a ball out of the air; and a series of "trick" serves (i.e. illegal ones that are fun to do in practice), such as double hit serves, fingertip serves, under the leg serves, long distance serves, and so on. Then we played "King/Queen of the Table" - but with gnip-gnop (where you hit the ball down on your side and over the net, rather than directly over the net). Twelve of our top juniors also got together and played sextuples - and before you get any ideas, that's just double, except with six on a side! Then everyone had ice cream. I ate way too much.
  • Monday: After I finish this blog, I'll be pending at least an hour with a coach at the club who is working on his ITTF coaching certification.
  • Tuesday: Two hours at the club (starting at 4PM) with Ryan Lin (US #1 in Under 12), who is in an ITTF online program that I'll be helping with and observing.
  • Wednesday: A reporter and photographers from a major national media will be at the club 3-6PM to do a feature both on the three MDTTC kids who made the USATT Under 13 Boys' Team, and the club in general. More on this later.
  • Thursday: Will Shortz is stopping by MDTTC during one of our training sessions, circa 3PM. Besides hitting some with me or others (to continue his 3,193 day streak of playing table tennis every day), we'll be doing some trades/donations to each other's table tennis collections. I recently did an extensive inventory of all my table tennis historical stuff, and we've compared notes. So I'm going to donate a bunch to him, and hopefully vice versa!
  • Friday: Fly to Las Vegas for the Nationals!

Kanak Jha Discusses Olympic Preparations, New Club, and More
Here's the interview at Edges and Nets. (This went up a few days late, but it's timely.)

USATT Announced 2021 US National Youth Teams
Here's the news item. I'm especially proud of Stanley Hsu, Mu Du, and Ryan Lin, who all made the Under 13 Boys' Team - all three are from my club and I've worked extensively with all three. (It's a team effort - Wang Qingliang, Cheng Yinghua, Jack Huang, and Lidney Castro are the MDTTC full-time coaches, and since these days I'm semi-retired, they spend more time with them than I do.) Here's a news article on the three! (See segment above on this.)

Adjustments to 2021 US National Table Tennis Championships Preliminary Round Schedule
Here's the USATT news item. See also my commentary above.

Grand Opening Team Challenge at 888
Here's the info page with complete results of their tournament held this past weekend.

New from Timo Boll

Top 5 Secrets of Chinese Table Tennis Forehand Topspin Contact and End
Here's the video (7:15) from the Performance Biomechanics Academy Table Tennis.

Timing Points for 3rd & 5th Ball Attack Forehand
Here's the video (32 sec) from Eli Baraty.

New from Samson Dubina

Seth Pech vs Daniely Ríos 2021 Paddle Palace June Open
Here's the video (6:37) where Seth gives expert point-by-point commentary.

Zhang Jike's Reverse Pendulum Serve
Here's the video (6:57) from Ti Long.

New from Edges and Nets

Can I Win With My Left Hand?
Here's the article from Tom Lodziak.

National Collegiate Table Tennis Association

Sally Moyland Trip to the U15 and U19 US Team Trials
Here's the article by Sally Moyland.

The LYTTC Main Event Final Four Highlights
Here's the video (6:05) from Jim Butler. Here's the Butler-Leibovitz match (7:09).

"Tahl Tales": The Life of the United States Most Decorated Para-Table Tennis Athlete
Here's the article from Wheelchair Sports Federation Media (though Tahl is Standing Disabled, not Wheelchair).  

Liebherr 2020 ITTF European Individual Championships
Here's the ITTF info page for the event held June 22-27 in Warsaw, Poland, with complete results and news articles. Hard to believe - 40-year-old Timo Boll won men's singles for the eighth time!

New from Steve Hopkins

Here's their news pagevideo page ("World Table Tennis") and home page.

No Specific Medal Target for Singapore's Table Tennis Team at Olympics, But Expectations Remain 'High'
Here's the article and video (2:54) from Channel New Asia.

Nepalese Table Tennis Player Smashes Traditional Gender Roles
Here's the article from SportandDev.com.

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

Paddles from Pretty Pattern Gifts
Here they are! (Not high-level stuff, just souvenir ones with funny or interesting pictures.)

Meeting The What Happened Guy
Here's the video (10:16) from Adam Bobrow! This is a follow-up to last week's Finding The What Happened Guy (12:57).

Beer Pong Table Tennis 2.0
Here's the video (10:56) from XOLAY!

Football vs. Ping Pong
Here's the video (4:02) from Pongfinity!

New from Table Tennis Central

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