June 26, 2023

Next Blog on Monday, July 10
I’ll be out of town July 2-8 at the US Nationals in Fort Worth, TX, so no blog next week. (But there will be a Tip of the Week.) On a side note, I just checked, and this is my 1928th table tennis blog, along with 609 Tips of the Week!

Tip of the Week
See Things from Opponent's Point of View.

US Nationals in Fort Worth, Texas
I leave for the Nationals this Sunday morning, where I’ll mostly be coaching, Mon-Fri, July 3-7. I’ll be one of the four MDTTC coaches working with our 13 junior players competing. (Other coaches are Wang Qingliang, Cheng Yinghua, and Jack Huang.) There are 811 players listed in the entries at Omnipong. (You can also list it by event.) This will be my 39th US Nationals in a row, and this December will likely be my 39th US Open in a row. I've been to every one of them starting in 1984, plus a few from 1976-1983, starting with the 1976 US Open in Philadelphia, the year I started and my first major tournament other than an Easterns. I've also been to 46 consectutive US/North American Teams (in Detroit, Baltimore, and DC), starting in 1976 - 46 in a row. (All three were skipped in 2020 due to Covid.) 

Here’s an excellent USATT article on the top players at the Nationals, Nandan Naresh and Amy Wang Lead 2023 Nationals Line Up, by Jim Short and Barbara Wei. One small issue – it has a paragraph on Men’s Doubles, where top-seeded Nandan and Sid Naresh “are the team to beat in Men’s Doubles.” It mentions their formidable challenges “from Zhou Xin / Aditya Godhwani, Wenzhang Tao / Jensen Feng, and Nikhil Kumar / Bosman Botha.” They left out the defending champions, brothers Michael & Daniel Tran, who pulled off a series of “upsets” to win, and will be defending their title.

Daniel, who turns 16 the day before the US Nationals (July 2), and rated 2559, is arguably the dominant male doubles player in the US. (It greatly helps that he’s a lefty playing with righty partners, including his older brother, Michael, another excellent double player rated 2442.) All you have to do is look at the record. At last year’s Nationals (here are results), after just turning 15, he was entered in five doubles events with five different partners and completely dominated. He won four – Men’s Doubles, Under 19 Men’s Doubles, Under 19 Mixed Doubles, and Under 15 Boys’ Doubles. In Men’s Doubles, where they were seeded seventh, they beat the top seeds, Jishan Liang/Kai Zhang, whose average rating was 2675, to the Tran’s 2515, as well as the fourth seeds, Yahao Zhang/Timothy Wang, whose average rating was 2595. 

The only one he didn’t win was Under 15 Mixed Doubles, where his team was seeded second (average rating 2370) – he lost in the semifinals to the lower-rated team of Stanley Hsu/Yishiuan Lin (average rating 2299), who I coached – and the two had brilliant execution. After losing the first at 4, we did a major change in tactics and they won three straight at 5,6,8. (A few coaches asked me about how to beat Daniel in doubles. There really is a way, and I’ve explained it to a few of them – but at this point, unless you are from my club, I’m keeping it a secret! But it takes a high level of play to execute.)

Besides coaching, I’m also entered in two hardbat events, Over 40 Hardbat and Over 60 Hardbat. (As readers here know, I normally use sponge but play hardbat as a side thing.) I’ve won Over 40 Hardbat at the US Nationals or US Open eight times, including the 2022 US Open in December. I won both Over 40 and Over 60 Hardbat at the 2021 Nationals. (Alas, I came down with Covid last year and didn’t get to compete at the 2022 Nationals.) I’ve also won Hardbat Singles twice and Hardbat Doubles 14 times – but age has a way of making those events more difficult to win. The competition is tough – I’m seeded fourth in Over 40 Hardbat - with the BIG hurdle being Jimmy Butler . . . who has somehow avoided facing my forehand in singles for many years - and second in Over 60 Hardbat. Regarding Jimmy, I'm actually 1-0 against him in hardbat, or at least 0.5-0. at the 1998 Nationals, Ty Hoff and I beat Jimmy Butler/Pete May in the final of Hardbat Doubles. So, if we play at this year's Nationals, 25 years later, I'm just giving him a rematch . . . right? (For those not in the know, 4-time US Men's Singles Champion Jimmy hasn't lost a hardbat match to a US player since I think 1999.) 

There’s just one problem. In early February, I made the decision to see if I could get back to a high level one more time. So I went to the Samson Dubina camp for two weeks to train with much younger players. Alas, I lasted five days, and had to stop, with shoulder, knee, and back injuries. Yep, at 63 I finally have to accept the fact that I’m 63. Training the way I used to train simply won’t work.

How is this relevant four months later? The knees and back are fine now (knock on wood), but after four months where I’ve done all I could to avoid aggravating it, the shoulder is still hurting. There are certain moves I struggle to do, but I’m not about to list them here for possible competitors. The reality is that I figure it’s less than 50% I’ll be able to complete. The problem is I can’t really test the shoulder without risking hurting it. When I warm up for the event, if it’s really bad, I’ll default. Otherwise, I’ll see what I can do. Jimmy, you may be off the hook yet. 

I’ll also be at the US Hall of Fame Induction Dinner at 6PM on July 5 (Wednesday) at 6PM. You can still buy tickets – see segment below. I’ve heard there will be some other USATT meetings at the Nationals but haven’t heard anything official or seen anything scheduled.

It’s going to be a busy week!!!

Yet Still More Table Tennis Tips
As announced last week, Yet Still More Table Tennis Tips is out!!! It’s on sale at Amazon for only $14.95. The kindle version is now up as well, for $9. It’s another 150 tips, all in logical progression. It’s the fourth book in the Tips series – which now has a Series Page at Amazon! This makes it easier to order any or all four of the books in the Tips series. (Alas, it doesn’t allow for a discount (I tried), and there are no boxed sets.) Here are links to all my books.

NOTE – I previously ran the two segments below on the Hall of Fame and Classic Events, but thought I’d run them again. Hope to see you at both. (There are still a few open seats for the Hall of Fame dinner.)

US Table Tennis Hall of Fame Induction Dinner
Here’s the info page and here’s the Class of 2023. The dinner and induction banquet will take place during the US Nationals at the Fort Worth Convention Center on Wednesday, July 5, starting at 6PM. I’ll be there and hope to see you too! (I just finished the program booklet for the event.) This year’s inductees – Kenneth Brooks (athlete), Ashu Jain (athlete/contributor), Dennis Davis (contributor), and Willy Leparulo (contributor).

Hardbat, Sandpaper, and Wood, Oh My! Three Huge All-Classic Tournaments Coming Soon
Here’s the article I wrote about them. I will be at all three, both competing and doing coverage at the Nationals and World’s. (There are also lots of hardbat and sandpaper events at the regular US Nationals in July.)

News from Major League Table Tennis
Here are some news items from Major League Table Tennis, the upcoming professional league in the US. These are some segments from an email sent out by the founder, Flint Lane, not on their webpage.

  • Last call for players who want to participate in MLTT Season 1. Draft registration ends at 1 PM ET on June 30th. Over 180 athletes have signed up for the draft from 40 countries.  Wow! 
  • Players who have signed up for the draft will be notified between July 1st and July 7th whether they've been selected to attend one of the MLTT Combines. We've put together this comprehensive list of Frequently Asked Questions to help answer any questions that you may have - www.mltt.com/MLTT-Player-FAQs.pdf
  • MLTT welcomes Mimi Bosika as our new Director of Competition. In this role, Mimi will work with players and coaches to make sure we deliver an outstanding experience for all. Mimi was born in Serbia and began playing table tennis at 6 years old under the coaching of her father Jon Bosika, who was the 1996 US Olympic coach. After moving to the US,  she won multiple US Open Junior and Youth Championship titles. Mimi earned her MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and has been a wellness entrepreneur for over 10 years. 
  • Starting in July we will be announcing the locations of our 8 teams including team names and logos.

"Mission Possible" NCTTA Fundraising for Video Production!
Here’s the article from the National Collegiate Table Tennis Association. “NCTTA’s goal for this summer’s fundraising campaign is NCTTA Video Production which now has a Go Fund Me page: https://www.gofundme.com/f/mission-possiblenctta-video-production-help

Butterfly Training Tips
They have a lot this week!

How To Master Deceptive Sidespin Serves
Here’s the video (6:42) from Rational Table Tennis Analysis.

Here’s the video (34 sec) from the Performance Biomechanics Academy Table Tennis. (One small thing – it says, “Look at the opponent’s racket before hitting the ball.” I think there’s a translation problem and they mean to watch to say opponent’s racket to see where to move to.)

New from Samson Dubina

New from Ti Long

New from PongSpace

Table Tennis Teaching Children
Here’s the video (6:52) from Dr. Table Tennis.

New from PingSunday/EmRatThich

Ask the Coach
Here are the latest questions from PingSkills.

Great Point between Fan Zhendong and Harimoto Tomokazu
Here’s the video (36 sec).

New from Steve Hopkins

Ping Pong Is Not “The Game of Table Tennis”
Here’s the article by Isabella Xu

Tashiya Piyadasa Wins 3rd Place in U13 Girls at WTT Youth Contender in Helsingborg Sweden
Here’s the article by Tashiya Piyadasa

The GOLDEN GENERATION Of Hungarian Table Tennis
Here’s the video (10 min) from Table Tennis Media. Their Jonyer-Klampar-Gergely domination started just before I started in table tennis in 1976. At one point I copied the Hungarian-style loop for a time. I can still demonstrate it, but few do it now.

New from the ITTF

Want a “Think Fast” Table Tennis Sticker?
Here they are!

“You’re the Ping to My Pong” Throw Pillow
Isn’t this what you’ve always wanted? (Or as a gift.) Three versions!

Exhibition Point
Here’s the video (35 sec) – some good lobbing and the run around the table!

Another Exhibition Point
Here’s the video (38 sec)! Waldner (1989 and 1997 World Men’s Champion on far side) vs. Persson (1991 World Men’s Champion), both from Sweden.

Evolving to Ping Pong
Here’s the cartoon!

Send us your own coaching news!