June 17, 2024

Tip of the Week
The Surprise Test.

First Galactic Table Tennis Championship
First Galactic Table Tennis Championships” by Larry Hodges (me!!!) is now online and FREE to read! The 10,000-word novelette, just published by New Myths Magazine, is likely the world’s first science fiction table tennis novelette, with aliens from around the galaxy coming to Beijing for the Galactic Championships.

The story, which takes place about a century in the future, centers around Li Yi, a member of the Chinese National Team and the #1 woman in the world. She has trained long hours since she was a child. But now she faces her greatest challenge – aliens! Table tennis has spread to the galaxy and alien players now dominate the sport. The best are the giraffe-like Ith, with their dominating champion Egrayu. Their ancestors snatched flying insects out of the air for food. Smacking flying ping-pong balls is second nature for them.

But Earth isn't part of the galactic community, not since the cowboy Americans tried colonizing a moon in the Ith home system, which led to a blockade of Earth. The Chinese hope to reopen trade with the galaxy by using "Ping-Pong Diplomacy" – by running the first Galactic Table Tennis Championships in Beijing. Li, her teammate Fan Xin (#1 man in the world), and the American champion *Danny See – a literal cowboy – take on aliens of all shapes and sizes, including the seemingly unbeatable Egrayu, as they battle for the biggest cash prize in table tennis history with Open Singles the only event. But Li is drawn into a corrupt conspiracy that will shake the very foundations of honor and sportsmanship. Plus, there's that problem with the Chinese dumplings…
[*Yes, he’s named after Dan Seemiller, with his permission!]

Some of the events of the story were taken from my actual table tennis experiences. Here’s my Nov. 5, 2013 blog where I wrote about my eating nine quarter pounders with cheese enroute to winning the 1981 North Carolina Open with a massive stomachache – well, poor Li Yi faced a similar problem, but with dumplings!!! 

US Nationals and US Open
The Nationals are July 3-8 in Huntsville, Alabama. This will be my 40th Nationals in a row, and the Open in December will be my 40th Open in a row. (The Teams in November will be my 48th in a row!) As usual, I’ll be both coaching and playing in a few hardbat events, though I usually use sponge. I’m only in Over 40 and Over 60 Hardbat. (I’ve won the Over 40 event eight times and Over 60 one time, along with winning Hardbat Singles twice and Hardbat Doubles 14 times.)  I debated about whether to enter Hardbat Singles. Let’s just say that I can’t bring myself to say I can’t win the event, but if I were able to say I can’t win the event, then I’d say I can’t win the event.

The number of entries for Huntsville are (predictably) rather low, only 621 entries. Last year, in Forth Worth, they had 810. Presumably, they had a local deal to make up financially for losing nearly 200 entries (or more like 400 if they went back to Las Vegas or Florida), but USATT is supposed to service its members, and that’s a lot of people voting with their feet – and of those going, I’m pretty sure a large majority would also prefer another location.

Perhaps USATT has learned their lesson (one learned over and over in the past but regularly forgotten by whoever is currently in charge) – they are going back to Las Vegas (finally!) for the US Open, Dec. 16-21. Here’s the USATT news item, which came out yesterday, literally the day after entries closed for the Nationals. As at least one person has posted online, perhaps they were worried that some might only be able to afford one such event per year, and may have cancelled Huntsville if they’d known the Open would be in Las Vegas? Who knows. But they’ll likely get close to 1,000 entries in Las Vegas, as they would at this year’s Nationals if it had been held there, or some other vacation spot. Remember when the Open used to be held in Miami or Fort Lauderdale? They’d also probably get 1,000 entries at a place like that. I like the “old days,” when every year the Nationals were in Las Vegas, the Open in Miami or Fort Lauderdale, with the Teams in DC.

Upcoming Travel
I have three major trips coming up – but only the first is table tennis.

  • July 3-8 – US Nationals in Huntsville, Alabama.
  • July 19-27 – the annual “The Never-Ending Odyssey” science fiction writing workshop (TNEO) in Manchester, New Hampshire. This is for graduates of the six-week Odyssey Science Fiction Writing Workshop, which I attended in 2006. This will be my 15th TNEO and 12th in a row. (They did the online during Covid.) We critique each other’s work, run “master classes” on SF writing, do readings, and other SF writing-related activities.
  • Aug. 1-18 – World Science Fiction Convention in Glasgow, Scotland (Aug. 8-12) and a series of Scottish tours, many of them featuring old castles up to 2,000 years old.
  • And one other - I just got a jury summons for July 15. Great...

Sandbagging in Utah
I wrote about this a bit in last week’s blog. There’s now a petition on Change.org which they are asking players to sign. (It currently has 101 signatures.) It basically asks the two players to apologize, promise not to do it again, and to return the $2,500 prize money they won. As I wrote last week, Apparently two high-rated players from Las Vegas pretended to be unrated, and entering under different names as unrated players, won lots of prize money in rating events at a charity tournament in Utah. Here’s the Facebook Discussion that I linked to last week.

Major League Table Tennis
Follow the action!

Paris Olympics: Interview with Table Tennis coach Massimo Costantini on India’s preparations, pimpled rubber and more
Here’s the interview from the Indian Express. Constantini, originally from Italy, coached extensively in the US for a number of years before being hired by the Indian TTA.

Butterfly Training Tips

New from PingSunday/EmRatThich

New from Ti Long

New from Pingispågarna

Simplifying the Serve Return with Pips
Here’s the video (4:27) from PongSpace. “If you play with long pips, one of the banes of your existence is when opponents serve long to the pips. Yang Xiaoxin identifies the main criteria for dealing with those pesky serves.”

Ask the Coach
Here are the latest questions and answers from PingSkills.

New from Steve Hopkins/Butterfly

Two Trip Reports: WTT Korea and Burlingame “A Busy May”
Here are the reports by Sally Moyland.

Kevin Finn “In the Loop”
Here are two table tennis-related articles from technical journals, care of Kevin at Peak Performance Table Tennis. Enjoy!


Ping Pong Periodic Table Funny T-Shirt
Here’s where you can buy the shirt at Amazon!

Headis: Game Combines Table Tennis And Football
Here’s the video (3:02) – this is for real!

Alien Pong
In honor of my story “First Galactic Table Tennis Championships,” here are other aliens playing table tennis!

Send us your own coaching news!