June 3, 2024

Tips of the Week
I’m including last week’s since I was out of town and didn’t have a blog, and so you might have missed it.

US Junior Team Trials #2
They were held May 24-27 at the 888 club in Burlingame, CA, just outside San Francisco. Here are complete results. It’s a very nice club and the tournament was well run. I also got to visit the famous Pier 39! USATT uses a two-part junior trials, with the first one held two months ago. Using a point system, they get the final rosters for the teams – here’s the 2024 National Junior Team Rosters.

I was there along with fellow MDTTC coaches Wang Qingliang and Jack Huang to coach the MDTTC juniors. We had some nice results at these Trials. Stanley Hsu came in first in Under 17 and seventh in Under 19. (He’s 15 and has another year of eligibility for Under 17. His rating is now 2499. Combining the two Trials, he was #1 in Under 17 and #6 in Under 19.) Mu Du came in seventh in Under 17, and pulled off some nice rating wins – his new rating is 2423. Ryan Lin came in third in Under 15 – and came within one game of finishing first. (Ryan has been training recently in Taiwan, and had his Taiwanese coach with him. He’ll be returning this Fall to MDTTC in Maryland as he starts high school. His new rating is 2393, not bad for age 14.) Daniel Anteneh made the Final Twelve in Under 11 and is now rated 1891.

As usual, lots of tactical stuff. Here are some highlights.

  • One player kept getting caught off guard by his opponent’s big breaking serve to the backhand. After the first game I told him to simply assume that serve was coming every time and so prepare for it, even though the opponent only used it about every fourth serve, and to simply react to the other serves. It worked – he began to dominate against the problematic serve, both backhand and forehand looping it, and easily won the match.
  • One player kept getting rushed on the backhand by quick, aggressive pushes and so kept missing backhand loop. I told him to hold his racket lower so he didn’t have to rush to bring the racket down to backhand loop. It fixed the problem and he won the match.
  • One player’s opponent served mostly backspin, my player would push to his backhand, and the opponent stepped around and forehand looped over and over. After the first game I told him to take the backspin serve quick off the bounce and mostly push it back quick as wide to the backhand as possible, and get ready to backhand loop. But I also told him to push the first one to the wide forehand. The opponents looped the push to the forehand in for a winner. But guarding against that, and because the pushes were now quick and wide to the backhand, the opponent began to serve and push, and sure enough, my player got to backhand loop over and over, and won the match.
  • A lot of coaching, especially with junior players, is psychological. I started writing about some of this, but decided the players might not want me to write about it. It’s often the trickiest part of match coaching.

Weekend Coaching and Forehand Flips
I did two sessions, one with the beginning/intermediate juniors and one with the elite (“Select”) juniors. With the intermediates, the focus was (as always) on fundamentals and consistency. I spent some time working with the youngest and newest in the group, age six, where she managed to get 35 forehands in a row, and 20 or more four times. I also worked with her hitting shots down-the-line.

With the advanced group there were a few drills that included flipping short serves. I worked with several on the forehand flip, with the emphasis on setting up as if you are going crosscourt, so opponent has to guard against that, and at the last second turning the wrist back and flipping down the line to the often open backhand.

In terms of technique, modern players are generally ahead of their peers of the past, but forehand flipping is one area where they are often behind. Why? Two reasons. First, looping is so emphasized that beginning players often barely learn to hit regular forehands before switching to looping. This pays off in stronger forehand loops, but they don’t always develop the feel for a regular, flatter forehand drive, which is how you contact the ball with a forehand flip. Second, with the rise of the backhand banana flip, most players focus on that, often using it even against short balls even to the forehand side, at the expense of developing their forehand flip. And so, against short but slightly high balls to the forehand side, many modern players can’t forehand flip winners as well as their peers from the past. This was a problem in a few matches at the recent US Junior Trials – hopefully our players can get better at this.

News from All Over
Since I’ve been away two weeks, 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. I’ll get back to linking to individual articles next week.

$800,000 WTT Champions
Here’s the ITTF page for the event in Chongqing, China, May 30 – June 3 (finishing today).

Colorful and Flamboyant Table Tennis and Ping-Pong Clothing
Here’s the link from Nova Modish!

Fantasy Table Tennis League
Here’s the link for this league!

What to Do With Ping-Pong Balls and a Hair Dryer
Here’s the video (9 sec)!

Brother vs. Brother: Sid Naresh vs. Nandan Naresh
Here’s the video (90 sec)!

Mostly Non-Table Tennis – Short Story Sales and Publications
I’m in the middle of a rather strange streak in my science fiction & fantasy writing world. These are very difficult markets to sell to. The larger “Pro” markets (paying a minimum of 8 cents/word) typically get over 2,000 submissions PER MONTH (!), and can only publish perhaps six. The smaller ones also get hundreds of submissions each month and can also only publish perhaps six. Lifetime, I’ve sold 205 stories to these markets, including 53 to “pro” markets.

So, what is this streak I referred to?

  • On Thursday, I sold “The Annual Albert Einstein Race to the End of Time” to Flash Fiction Magazine.
  • On Friday, I sold “The Heist of Humanity” to Flame Tree (a “Pro” market)
  • On Saturday, I sold “Tooth Apocalypse” to Dragon Soul Press for their upcoming Apocalypse anthology.
  • On Sunday, a “Pro” market requested a partial rewrite of “The Bloody Shooting War on the Purple Senate Floor.” This usually means a sale, pending the successful rewrite. (Alas, I can’t give out the name of the publication at this time.)
  • On Monday . . . nothing yet, but the day is still young as I write this!!! (If I have a sale today, I’ll update here.)

But actual publication is more important than announcing sales, since you can’t read my stories until they are published! Most of my past publications are linked in my science fiction & fantasy bibliography. The most recent was Madam President, which just came out on Saturday, an anthology of stories about the first woman president. It includes my story, “You Are President, Madam President.” I have three other stories scheduled to come out in June – including, on June 15, my novelette, “First Galactic Table Tennis Championships” at New Myths Magazine! 

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