MDTTC Programs

January 25, 2013

Table Tennis and Animals

Yesterday morning the comic strip Pearls Before Swine featured table tennis, with Pig winning a ping-pong trophy. That is the inspiration for this morning's blog. We'll start with dogs.

Dogs and table tennis just go together. I've known this since "Junior" became the club mascot for the Northern Virginia Table Tennis Club in the early 1980s, even garnering a "Junior of the Month" write-up in USATT Magazine. (I wasn't editor at the time.) Junior came to the club with owner/father John Tebbe, and entertained us while we weren't playing. He was well behaved. Tim Boggan even featured Junior in one of his History of U.S. Table Tennis volumes.

Also well behaved was the dog that a woman from New Jersey had when she came to several of our training camps at MDTTC in the 1990s. This dog would quietly lie down next to her table while she trained, and would never move until she gave the okay. One day several kids tested this by stacking ping-pong balls on the poor dog, balancing dozens of them in its fur as the dog looked on patiently.

Here's my cartoon about why dogs don't play table tennis. Yes, dogs are nearly color blind. I have no idea if they can tell red from black. And here's the hottest chick in table tennis.

In the Fun and Games section here at you'll find a Humorous Videos section. Page down a bit and you'll find segments on "Ping-Pong Dogs" (17 videos) and "Ping-Pong Cats" (76 videos!). From this, perhaps table tennis is going to cats more than dogs.

There's also an Animals Playing Table Tennis pictures section. My favorite there is a picture of Mister Ed playing table tennis. He's the talking horse from the TV show from the hit show from 1958-1966. In the episode Mister Ed plays table tennis. There's no digital manipulation; they apparently got the horse to hold the paddle and probably filmed a lot to get what they needed. I remember seeing the footage, but alas, I can't find it on youtube. (Here's the 42-second opening sequence of the show if you want to see a talking horse. Many episodes are online at youtube. Here's a 54-sec video of Mr. Ed hitting an inside-the-park home run against the Dodger's Sandy Koufax!) There's also a nice picture of a chimpanzee playing table tennis, and a bunch of others.

Here's a video (3:48) of the famous bird visit to the Maryland Table Tennis Center. Nathan Hsu narrates. The four in the video are Nathan Hsu, Raghu Nadmichettu, Tong Tong Gong, and Derek Nie.

If you put "Table Tennis Mascots" into Google, you get a lot of table tennis animal mascot pictures.

A few of you might remember the saga of Don Iguana. Here's the true story. In 1993, a three-year-old entered the junior event at an MDTTC Open. He not only lost every game, he didn't win a point, losing all six straight games 21-0. (Games were to 21 back in those days.) He got a rating of 25, the lowest in history. He entered several more tournaments, and continued to lose every game 21-0. Along the way he lost a rating point to some player rated in the 200's, dropping to 24. And then, one tournament, this all changed when this three-year-old, who literally couldn't see over the table, scored his first point, against Michael Squires, losing the match 21-0, 21-1!!! He was so happy - or at least I think he was, but I couldn't quite tell.

For Don Iguana was an actual iguana! Yes, he was my pet, and he was three years old. I bought him a USATT membership and paid rating fees (though not entry fees - I was the tournament director and waived that). The truth was he never actually was at the tournaments, we just entered him, and the kids would take the match clipboard and return it a few minutes late with the results. Only Mike had the decency to allow poor Don to "score" a point. Don't believe this? Go to the USATT ratings database, put in "Iguana," and Don Iguana will show up with his 24 rating! Alas, the ratings database didn't keep track of individual tournaments until 1994, and so his actual tournament record is lost to posterity - but not his name and rating in the database. (When all this came out, one USATT official was very angry at me, saying I had made a mockery of the rating system, and cited the one rating point Don had given to someone to show that I was messing up the rating system.)

For years afterwards Alan Williams (sorry, I'm breaking your cover) wrote numerous stories about the saga of Don Iguana, often involving him sailing the seas in search of table tennis adventure.

In the early 1980s I introduced to the world Gerbil Table Tennis. When I was in college I raised gerbils. We had a ping-pong table in our dormitory. So one day I had the bright idea of putting a gerbil on each side of the table as we rallied. It was great fun as we hit the ball back and forth while the gerbils ran about. Don't worry, no gerbils were hit or injured while we played - we made sure not to hit them, and they seemed oblivious to the ball anyway.

For many years I had a sort of personal trademark, a quick drawing of a tyrannosaurus rex playing ping-pong with a bird. I used to be able to draw the picture in about 30 seconds or so. Perhaps I'll try again, and scan the results here. If you are at MDTTC, I drew one on the whiteboard in the back room several months ago, and it's still there. Maybe someday I'll draw another, and scan it and put it online. I'm no artist, but it's a fun picture.

MDTTC New Programs

We're starting up a series of new programs at Maryland Table Tennis Center. (These are in addition to our ongoing programs.) New ones include:

  • Beginning/Intermediate Table Tennis Class, 10 weeks long, Thursdays 7:30-9:00 PM (starting Feb. 21), taught by me.
  • Senior (over age 55) training on Monday mornings 11AM, taught by Rocky Wang.
  • Physical Training for Serious Table Tennis Players, Mondays at 6PM by Rocky Wang.
  • Spring Break Camp, March 25-29.
  • Next Tournament: March 2-3. (Note that Charlene Liu is taking over as tournament director - I'm just too busy coaching on weekends to keep taking time off to run them. I ran the last two MDTTC tournaments.)

The Myth of Practice Makes Perfect

Here's an article that talks about the importance of "deliberate practice," as opposed to just practicing - i.e. effective vs. ineffective practice.

USATT Election Results

Mike Babuin wins reelection.

Marty Reisman Appreciation

Here's an article by David Hartman about Marty Reisman.

Big Brothers Big Sisters at Grand Central

Big Brothers Big Sisters ran a "Tournament of Champions" at Grand Central Station in NYC. Here are two pictures of it - picture one, picture two.

Table Tennis Motivation

Here's a table tennis highlights video (12:00) that somehow I missed when it first came out last July.

Got an iPhone?

Your long wait is over. You can now buy a table tennis iPhone case.

Scary Robots

Which of these three master robots do you want to practice with? It's like taking on The Terminator!

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April 13, 2012

Planning Day - new programs

Today I'm planning out new programs for MDTTC. It used to be complicated doing this, with limited table space, but with the MDTTC expansion (10,000 square feet, 18 tables, more if we squeeze) we can run multiple programs at the same time. New programs include:

  • An expansion of our beginning junior program to all juniors of all levels, so that they train at the same time, though players are paired with players of roughly equal level. I may invite some advanced players to the program for free, provided they agree to practice 30 of the 90 minutes with beginning or intermediate players. 
  • A new ten-week adult beginning class.
  • An intermediate-advanced training program.
  • A serving seminar (three 30-minute sessions) followed by ongoing serving practice sessions (30 min per week).

Once the programs are set, I'll put together an MDTTC Newsletter to send to all those on our email list, as well as sending releases to local newspapers. (While we hope they'll do coverage, the primary purpose of sending to newspapers is to get in their calendar sections.)

One idea I'm considering is to invite parents of beginning younger kids to come in for a session where we teach them to feed multiball to their kids. They can't really rally with their kids both because the kids are unable to really rally very well yet, and the parents mostly aren't players. But it doesn't take long for even a non-player to learn to feed simple multiball fairly accurately, and then they can do this with their kids.

Or maybe I shouldn't be planning programs on Friday the 13th?

Celebrities Playing Table Tennis

Yesterday I updated the Celebrities Playing Table Tennis page, with 54 new pictures and 21 new celebrities. There are now 1388 pictures of 810 celebrities. (You may notice a bunch of pictures of baseball star Nick Swisher of the Yankees against comedian and Youtube celebrity KevJumba. Here's the hilarious 4:43 video of their challenge match!) New this month:


  • Hu Jintao, president of China (new photo)
  • Henry Kissinger, former U.S. Secretary of State (new picture)
  • Dave Cameron, British Prime Minister (new photo)
  • Boris Johnson, mayor of London (2 new pictures)
  • Winston Lord, former U.S. Ambassador to China and Assistant Secretary of State
  • Ingo Wolf, former minister of the interior of North Rhine-Westphalia (Germany) (2 pictures)
  • Kevin Greene, Australian minister for Sport and Recreation, and Minister for Major Events


  • Zac Efron, actor
  • Susan Sarandon, actress (new picture)
  • KevJumba, comedian and Youtube star (9 photos)
  • David Niven, actor (new picture)
  • Andy Lau, Hong Kong actor, singer, and film producer (new picture)
  • Thomas Gottschalk, German talk show host
  • Otto Waalkes, German comedian and actor


  • Justin Bieber, singer (new picture)
  • Cody Simpson, singer
  • Kwon Yuri, singer
  • Chris Martin, singer


  • Tim Tebow, football player (5 new pictures)
  • Martina Navratilova, tennis player
  • Anna Kournikova, tennis player (2 new pictures)
  • Nick Swisher, baseball player (9 photos)
  • Evan Longoria, baseball player
  • Blake Griffin, basketball player (new picture)
  • Martin St. Louis, hockey player
  • Duncan Keith, hockey player
  • Xabi Alonso, Spanish soccer player
  • Cristiano Ronaldo, Portuguese soccer player
  • Wladimir Klitschko, Ukrainian boxer (new picture)
  • Sebastian Coe, former British middle distance Olympic Gold Medalist and member of parliament (new picture)

Cartoon Characters

  • The Flintstones, cartoon characters (7 pictures of Fred Flintstone, Barney Rubble, and Arnold the paperboy)
  • Pink Panther, cartoon character

Wang Liqin to leave Chinese National Team?

Here's an article about it.

Best points from the 2012 World Team Championships

Here's another highlights video of the best points from the 2012 World Team Championships (4:42).

MDTTC Open House

Here's an article by local junior Alan Lang on the recent MDTTC Open House.

On April 7, 2012, the Maryland Table Tennis Center ( hosted an Open house to commemorate its recent renovation and expansion. Over two hundred players and table tennis enthusiasts attended. They were given free merchandise, along with more valuable prizes that were raffled off. They were also given free entry into a three-point tournament (single elimination, all games to three points). Table tennis demonstrations featured several top players, including nationally decorated player Han Xiao (men's singles finalist and men's doubles champion at the 2011 Nationals), MDTTC Coach Jeffrey Zeng Xun (last year's Eastern Open and Cary Cup Open champion), and USATT certified national coach and Hall of Famer Larry Hodges. The demos also included the club’s rising juniors, including Derek Nie, already participating at an international level at age 11 (and a finalist at the USA Nationals last year in 10 and under); U.S. Junior Olympic Under 16 Boys' Champion Nathan Hsu; USA Cadet (under 15) National Team Member Tong Tong Gong; and Crystal Wang, who last year achieved the highest rating of any under 10 player in U.S. history, boys or girls. Larry also gave a 30-minute seminar on serving with spin and deception, and he and John Hsu ran a 90-minute junior program for beginning juniors.

The Open House took place in the newly refurbished complex, which boasts several notable improvements. Most visibly, the club’s size has doubled to accommodate its rising activity. This has allowed for more and larger playing courts and larger spectator areas. Despite these augmentations, occupancy still seems be a problem due to the center’s rising popularity. “Even though we expanded, it’s still crowded,” notes long-time member George Nie, who won the three-point tournament. Other improvements include the relocation and expansion of the club store, higher quality restrooms and shower facilities, and the implementation of Wi-Fi Internet. Furthermore, a special red flooring, the “red carpet,” which offers improved traction and cushioning for players, has been expanded to cover the entire playing area.

With these enhancements, co-proprietor and USATT certified national coach Jack Huang hopes to create an environment that is both welcoming and conducive to serious play, intended especially for the club’s burgeoning junior population. As evidenced by those present at the festivities, the club still caters to a diverse population, including members from a wide array of ethnicities, age groups, and skill levels. Player Mohamed Youns describes this diversity as contributing to a “very enjoyable environment,” citing the pleasure that can be derived from competing against a variety of other players in a low stress setting. All said, the renovations come as a welcome rejuvenation of a table tennis center that furnishes precocious children and world-class table tennis players alike.

For more info on MDTTC (which opened in 1992), see their web page at, email them at, or give them a call at 301-519-8580.

The Flintstones!

No collection of table tennis pictures is complete without The Flintstones. (This just went up in the Celebrities Playing Table Tennis page - see segment above.) You probably recognize Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble playing (with Dino and Bamm-Bamm watching), but who is the other kid? That's Arnold the paperboy, the one who always outwits Fred. The pictures are from the episode Gloom Groom in season 4 in 1963. Here's the IMDB description: "Fred spends a fine afternoon in the backyard with little Pebbles. Arrive Arnold the News Boy who challenges Fred for a ping-ping game. Afterwards, Arnold offers to take care of Pebbles while Fred takes a nap on his hammock. He dreams that future years won't be good for old Fred, especially when an older Arnold begins to take his place in everything. And to make matters worse, Arnold gets engaged with Pebbles!"


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