Tips of the Week
- Jan. 08: Move the Extra Inch
- Jan. 15: Make a Habit of Finding the SS – the Opponent’s Weak Shots and Spots
2023 US Open
The 2023 US Open seems ages ago – it was held Dec. 15-22 in Ontario, California, near LA. But since I’ve been traveling almost non-stop this is my first blog since then. (I’m back to blogging every Monday, except when sick or out of town.) Here are a few tidbits – with more in the next segment about USATT. I had more to write about, but since it’s been a month, I’ll keep the segment short.
- Here are Complete results, Historical results, and Photos.
- Normally I’d be mostly coaching at big events like this. However, due to school, only a few of our junior players from MDTTC were playing, and we already had other coaches, so I mostly just played some hardbat events and did some sightseeing. I’ve been to every US Open and Nationals starting in 1984, but probably was the least busy in this one out of all of them. But things will get busier at the US Nationals in July, where we always have a big group. (I’ll also likely be coaching at the upcoming US Junior Team Trials, March 26-30 in West Monroe, Louisiana.)
- In Over 60 Hardbat, I started out playing very poorly, missing smash after smash. But I came around and made the final. In the final against Jian Zhuang, I played decently except my forehand flip was non-existent. If I get that going, I could do well the rest of the way. It used to be a big strength. I was also in the Over 40 final against Ali Ammar, best of five to 21. I lost the first two badly and was down 12-18 in the third – and with my forehand flip and forehand finally coming alive, I came back to win, 21-19. I won the fourth rather easily. In the fifth . . . let’s just say the net and edges of the table were in league against me and I lost, deuce in the fifth. (Up 9-6 in the fifth, I lost four in a row on nets and edges! I also came back from 18-20 match point to deuce it.) I’ve won Over 40 Hardbat eight times, but not this time.
- Saw a crazy shot. A boy popped the ball up against a girl. The girl went around the side of the table and took a huge swing as the boy backed up to lob. The girl went for an all-out smash, but her racket’s edge barely nicked the ball, resulting in an inadvertent drop shot that bounced on the table at least 5-6 times.
- I had waffles for breakfast every morning. Whoever invented the automatic waffle maker for hotels should get the Nobel prize. The Nobel prize for what, you ask? Why . . . all of them.
USATT Issues at the US Open
Not interested in USATT politics or problems at the US Open? Then skip this section.
- USATT Assembly – it’s required by the USATT bylaws that the board hold this open meeting, where they give reports and members can ask questions and bring up issues. However, these days it’s just for show. For the third year in a row, there was no board meeting held in conjunction with it, as required by the bylaws (Section 15.2, “The annual USATT Assembly shall be held in conjunction with a Board meeting”), where board members are supposed to discuss the issues raised by the membership. I’ve brought this up the last two years, and each time was promised they’d follow the bylaws next year – but for the third straight year they didn’t. (The first year I was told the elite players didn’t want to hold a meeting during the Open, but they told me that was not true – all they needed was a simple Zoom meeting at the end or the day after.) The USATT board is the policy maker for USATT but the majority have no interest in our input. Someone needs to remind them regularly that the bylaws are not something you follow when it’s convenient; they are the laws governing our sport. Knowingly ignoring them as they regularly do is just plain arrogance.
I thought of showing up to point out that they were violating the bylaws by refusing to hold a board meeting in conjunction with the USATT assembly, to once again point out that the current chair is illegal, and other issues (there’s a lot of them), but what’s the point? As a group, they aren’t listening. (Many or most are simply enablers, who just want to get along and so go along with these shenanigans. There are a few good ones, but they are in the minority.) The irony would be if, after years of this, some of them suddenly get conscientious about it in 2024, with most of the board up for reelection this Fall. Sorry, too late. We needed them to do their jobs throughout their tenure, not just at the end of their term when there’s an election coming up. I’ve been in the sport since 1976, and very active with USATT since the early 1980s, and it’s been a long time since I’ve seen USATT leadership as arrogant as they are now. I’d write more, but what’s the point? We can’t do anything about most of this until the elections this Fall. (However, there is at least one big USATT issue that I will be getting involved in by mid-February. More on that when the time comes. There’s a reason I want to wait a few more weeks on this one, as I’ll explain at the time.)
- Tables 2-4 were feature tables, with lots of big matches. But they were against the wall, so spectators could only watch from one side. That side was a corridor between tables, with another line of tables on the other side, so the corridor was always completely jammed. Not nearly enough room for spectators. I hope they fix this problem next time.
- Summer Xia got a 1051 rating from playing one tournament, 13 months before the US Open, where he played just three matches. At the US Open, in the adult rating events, he won U1200, U1300, U1400, U1500, and U1600. He came out rated 2279. Isn’t it time they fix this problem and require a of minimum number of tournament matches to be eligible, and maximum time without playing tournaments to stay eligible? He came out with an inflated rating of 2279. He played 46 matches (!), and his best win was deuce in the fifth against a 2090 player; his next best win was against a player rated 1771. He lost to players rated 1787, 1945, and 2023. Based on that, he probably should be rated around 1950 or so. (Perhaps over 2000, since he probably played some matches exhausted!) But the ratings shot him up way too much. Again, shouldn’t they fix this problem? It’s just a matter of adjusting the algorithm.
- There’s also the case of Kyle Lam, who in the junior events won U1000, 1200, 1400, and 1600 juniors, and U3100 Doubles. He’d played eleven tournaments before the Open, so that wasn’t the problem. The problem was the US Open used early cutoffs for rating events, and so his official rating for the tournament coming in was 917. But on Nov. 11, he played a tournament and went from 917 to 1571, and on Dec. 2-3, he played a tournament where he went from 1571 to 1711. (After the Open he was 1701.) And so a 1700+ player was playing in Under 1000 and above events! He probably was rated 917 when he entered the tournament, and so his entry was understandable – but with such rating gains before the tournament, there should be an automatic move to higher rating events, to make things fair for others. At the very least, it should be looked at to see what can be done.
This reminds me of my first year, when I played the Philadelphia Open in fall of 1976, coming in with a rating of 1080. I entered in rating events every 100 points from U1100 to U2000. After seeing me beat several 1500 players with ease – my level after a summer of practice was around 1700 – the tournament director, Herb Vichnin, decided to assign me an adjusted rating of 1500, and took me out of U1100, U1200, U1300, U1400, and U1500. I was very angry – but still managed to win I think U1600 and U1700, as well as Handicap Singles, where you spot points based on your rating – and I not only won with the 1500 rating, I beat 1900+ Vichnin in the event!
$36,600 Ping Pong World Cup
The Ping Pong World Cup (Sponsored by Mecano Sports, presented by Caliente.mx, sanctioned by ICTTF, directed by Steve Claflin.) was held Jan. 4-6 in Mexico City. This is for Classic events – hardbat, sandpaper, and woodbat. I was there to do coverage (17 articles!), and so only played one event, over 55 Hardbat. (Didn’t play well, perhaps because of the thin air at 7,300+ altitude that I never got used to, or perhaps from spending way too much time doing coverage and writing. Lost in quarterfinals.) I wrote a preview article (see below), and sent it to USATT, but they chose not to put it in their news section. Complete results are both at the Ping Pong World Cup home page and at Omnipong. If you go to the “More” section on the home page, and click on either Thu, Fri, or Sat Event, you’ll get a link for streaming. Here are all 17 articles I wrote about the 2024 Ping Pong World Cup.
- $36,000 Mecano Sports Ping Pong World Cup – PREVIEW
- Mike Babuin and the US Classic Association
- Micky “Miky” Huidobro – Rocking with Pong
- ICTTF and the Internationalization of Ping Pong
- Sandpaper Women at the Ping Pong World Cup
- Sandpaper Seniors at the Ping Pong World Cup
- Sandpaper Students at the Ping Pong World Cup
- Sandpaper Singles to the Semifinals at the Ping Pong World Cup
- Hardbat Women at the Ping Pong World Cup
- Hardbat Seniors at the Ping Pong World Cup
- Hardbat Students at the Ping Pong World Cup
- Hardbat Singles to the Semifinals at the Ping Pong World Cup
- Player’s Choice Singles at the Ping Pong World Cup
- Hardbat Singles at the Ping Pong World Cup
- Sandpaper Singles at the Ping Pong World Cup
- Bare Wood Singles at the Ping Pong World Cup
- Interview with Under 23 Sandpaper Champion Ethan Walsh
Afterwards I did three days of sightseeing. (Uber and GPS both work perfectly there.) I’d already done a two-week tour of Mexico in August, 2022, including four days in Mexico City, so I’d already seen most of the major sites. This time around I visited:
- Museo del Templo Mayor and Zócalo (which I also visited in 2022)
- Monument to the Revolution
- National Museum of the Revolution
- National Museum of San Carlos
- Mercado De Artesanias La Ciudadela, a huge and famous Flea Market (I bought up a storm)
- Angel of Independence
- Tour of the Chapultepec Castle & Anthropology Museum
- Mexico City Zoo in Chapultepec
While visiting the Angel of Independence, I came upon a huge protest about Palestinian rights and Gaza. I estimated over 2,000 people, most Mexican, with speeches and large numbers of Palestinian flags. They were in front of some government building, and someone had splashed red paint on the doorways and windows. Then they marched down the street.
Finally, here’s the Ping Pong Song (3:53), by the famous Mexican rock star Micky “Miky” Huidobro (see profile above, third article), who is a sandpaper player (1755 sandpaper rating) and helped set up and run the tournament. The song is in Spanish – but you can hear the bouncing ball and the words, “Ping Pong.”
US World Team Trials
They were held Jan. 12-14 in Corpus Christi, TX. Here are complete results, care of Stadium TT. Congrats to the top five men and women who made the team! (Strangely, a number of top players did not take part, especially top women, such as Lily Zhang, Amy Wang, Sally Moyland, and Rachel Sung.)
- Nikhil Kumar
- Nandan Naresh
- Sid Naresh
- Jishan Liang
- Kai Zhang
- Tiffany Ke
- Jessica Reyes-Lai
- Kayla Goodwin
- Emily Tan
- Sarah Jalli
Here are USATT news items on the World Team Trials.
- Nikhil Kumar and Tiffany Ke Win Gold at 2024 World Championships US National Team Trials
- US Team Trials Conclude Today for 2024 ITTF World Teams Championships Busan
- Draws Confirmed for World US Team Trials in Corpus Christi
WTT Feeder Corpus Christi 2024
The event started yesterday, Jan. 15-18 in Corpus Christi, TX. Here’s the WTT home page for the event.
Major League Table Tennis
Follow the action on their home page. See their latest news item, Major League Table Tennis Announces Opening Date for 2024-25 Draft Registration. On a side note, there is usually good coverage at Major Pong Head, but their first item right now is an obvious joke (2.5 months too early for April Fool’s Day), about a Swedish woman in the league, Matilda Ekholm, who they claim just signed a three-year contract with the Florida Marlins as a flame-throwing reliever.
Books I Read in 2023
I read about a book a week. I used to read even more! Here are the Books I Read in 2023. I plan to do a review next week of “The Ping Pong Player and the Professor,” by Richard Sosis, which was really good.
Here are all of their free Tutorials.
- Strokes and Techniques
- Serving and Receiving
- Sports Psychology
Table Tennis Skills Slow-Motion Analysis
Here’s an entire thread with numerous links at the My Table Tennis forum.
How To Move for ALL 3rd & 4th Ball Attacks
Here’s the video (16:16) from Seth Pech.
Talkin Smash by JOOLA Ep7: The Physical and Mental Comeback from Injury | Sophia Klee
Here’s the video (34:50) from Matt Hetherington.
Racket Insight's Quiz of the Year 2023
Here’s the quiz from Racket Insight!
Here’s the video (19 sec)!
News from All Over
Since I haven't blogged since Dec. 11 due to traveling (US Open near LA, Christmas in SF, and nine days in Mexico City), rather than try to list every interesting article, here are links to some of the main news and coaching pages that have been active in that time, and you can pick and choose.
- USATT News
- Butterfly News
- ITTF News
- NCTTA News
- Ti Long
- Tom Lodziak
- PingSunday/EmRatThich - Video
- Performance Biomechanics Academy Table Tennis
- TacoBackhand Videos
- Nick Rudd TT
- Drupe Pong
- PingSkills Ask the Coach
- Tony’s Table Tennis
There’s No Crying in Table Tennis
Here’s where you can buy the shirt at Amazon. This is a takeoff of the famous Tom Hanks line from “A Game of Your Own,” where after he berates a woman player, he says, “There’s no crying in baseball!” Ironically, I have an ongoing joke with the younger kids in our table tennis classes where I’ll tell them, “There’s no smiling in table tennis!”, which of course leads to the opposite. “C’mon, let me see grim faces!” I’ll call out, to no avail. (We have a few kids in our club who I might buy this shirt for!)
61 Ping Pong Jokes & Memes to Impress Your Friends
Here they are, from Ping Pong Ruler.
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