Wang Qing Liang

November 12, 2013

Tip of the Week

Pushing Short.

Potomac Open

Here are the basic Potomac Open results, held here in Maryland this past weekend. Winning the tournament (for the third straight time) was chopper/looper Wang Qing Liang, rated 2545 (but who spent most of last year over 2600), over Chen Bowen, rated 2509. Chen had upset Wang the last two times they had played, and looked to win for the third straight time here - he led 8-2 in the seventh! Then something happened. Chen had a match point at 10-9, but to no avail as Wang came back with a 10-2 run to win 12-10 in the seventh.

In the semifinals Wang defeated another local player/coach, Steve Dong, under-rated at 2370. Dong won the first two games, but then Wang's forehand caught fire and he played about half chopping, half ripping everything (seemingly never missing) the rest of the way in winning the next four.

Local player/coach Zhang Jake (only one letter away from the World Champion!) also made the semifinals of the Open (losing in seven games to Chen Bowen). He's about 2450, maybe 2500. But he also won Under 2300, and was in the final of Under 2150. (He's listed as second in Under 2150, but I'm guessing he defaulted or split the final - too tired from all his other matches.) What was his rating coming into the tournament? 2088!!!

How did this happen? He'd played in the recent JOOLA Virginia Open, his first tournament, and went 7-0. Here are his results at the tournament. Though he did lose an 11-9 game to a 1947 player (after winning the first two games), there simply isn't enough info in these results to give an accurate rating, hence the 2088 rating, which was about 400 points off.

Here are some videos from the tournament, care of "Bogeyhunter" (Sutanit Tangyingyong, himself a quarterfinalist in the Open).

Doubles Multiball

Here's a video (2:27) of Coach Roger Yuen feeding multiball to Ariel Hsing and Shirley Fu at Princeton University TTC. (Note the collision 18 seconds in!)

Receive Tips from Pierre-Luc Hinse

Here's a video (6:26) of North American Champion Hinse giving tips on returning serves.

New Full-time Clubs

There's still another full-time club in the San Francisco Bay Area, the Pleasanton Table Tennis Club. This makes approximately one million clubs in that general area. (Side note - full-time clubs are also popping up here in Maryland. Last month the Howard Country Table Tennis Club opened. Another one is opening later this month in northern Gaithersburg, just a few miles from the Maryland Table Tennis Center, making five full-time clubs with 40 minutes of MDTTC.)

Table Tennis Good for Seniors

Here's the article in the Chicago Tribune. "Belsky, 54, a former mayor of Highland Park, recently engaged in a non-stop, hour-long workout with ranked table tennis professional Lukasz Fita, 35, at Deer Creek Courts, until he was soaked with sweat but still matching monster serves and slams from nearly 20 feet behind the table."

Around the Net Shot by Fan Zhendong

Here's video (46 sec, including slow motion replay) of Fan making the shot of the day at the Polish Open this past weekend, where the 16-year-old from China became the youngest player ever to win Men's Singles at an ITTF Pro Tour Event.

Keeping Up with the Kardashians

Here's a video (3:39) of Soo Yeon Lee coaching the Kardashians. Now all we have to do is get Honey Boo Boo to play table tennis and the world will be complete!

Cat Gives High Five

Here's a repeating gif image of a player smacking in a forehand and then getting a high-five from his cat!

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July 6, 2012

U.S. Open in Grand Rapids, Michigan, June 30-July 4

I returned from the U.S. Open late on Wednesday night, took Thursday off, and now I'm back to blogging, coaching, and writing. How did I spend Thursday? Glad you asked! Saw both the new Spider-Man and Teddy movies. Both were very good. Teddy definitely deserved its R rating - most of my table tennis students aren't going to be seeing this for a while. (About thirty minutes into the movie a woman left the theatre with her roughly five-year-old son - what was she thinking? Probably thought "Teddy" sounded cute and didn't see the R.) I also read half the day ("Into the Out Of" by Alan Dean Foster), bought groceries, and watched "Little Fockers" on TV. Now on to the Open.

Before we go further, here are the complete U.S. Open Results and the complete ITTF Junior Pro Tour Results. (The latter was held in conjunction with the U.S. Open.)

I was there primarily as a coach, but I did enter one event - Hardbat Doubles with Ty Hoff. I'd won the event twelve times at the Open or Nationals, eight times with Ty. Make that thirteen times, nine with Ty! We eeked out a three-game victory in the final over Jeff Johnston and Jay Turberville, 20,-19,17. We were down 11-16 in the first game, and the third was close all the way until we pulled away near the end. Ty and I have a lot of experience together; our basic game plan is he attacks consistently while I end the point with forehands. My strength is my receive, where I attack pretty much every serve with quick, off-the-bounce hits to wide angles and to the opponent's middle. But I normally use sponge. I started using playing hardbat semi-seriously around 1990, and besides the doubles, have won Hardbat Singles twice and Over 40 Hardbat four times. Here's a picture of Ty and me in the final.

At the Open I was primarily coaching Derek Nie, as well George Nie (his older brother), Nathan Hsu, and a couple of times Lilly Lin. I usually coach Tong Tong Gong as well, but since he's on the USA National Cadet Team he was primarily coached this time by USA Cadet Coach Keith Evans. Since I was coaching almost the whole time I rarely got to see other matches.

Derek Nie, who recently turned 11, came in rated 2146, and at a little over 60 pounds, he may be, pound for pound, the highest rated player ever. He plays an aggressive game, looping and smashing from both sides, at a pace few opponents can keep up with, especially when he starts looping forehands. He had a great tournament, winning 11 and Under, with wins over two players around 2250 and a bunch of 2000 to 2100 players. He also went five games with two players over 2300, and in one of them, was up 2-1 in games and 8-5 in the fourth before losing 11-9 in the fifth. Perhaps most impressively he didn't lose to anyone rated under 2300 despite playing eight singles events.

Derek seemed to think a game that didn't go deuce was like a day without McDonalds - but he won most of those deuce games, including in the final of 11 & Under against Gal Alguetti, where Derek won at 16,10,11. (He was down game point all three games: five times in the first game, including twice at 8-10, and down 9-10 in both the second and third.) He also had to battle in the semifinals with a red-hot Michael Tran. Derek was up 10-8 match point in the fourth (and I think another match point in deuce) before losing that game and so went into the fifth before winning at 11,-6,7,-12,7. Afterwards Derek watched video of himself over and over missing the easiest backhand kill of all time up match point in the fourth; if he'd lost that match, missing that shot would have haunted him for a long time. We then switched to videos of his best matches as the last thing I wanted was for him to keep watching himself miss!

Against a 2240 player he won at 11,8,15,-7,10. Yes, he likes those deuce games. (But he beat the other 2250 player three straight without going deuce or even 9.) Here's a picture of me warming him up, and another coaching him. Later I hope to post the picture of him posing with a Ronald McDonald clown, but for now, here he is with green hair and striped glasses.

I've been pondering a timeout I almost called. In the 11 & Under final, Derek was up 2-0 in games and led 11-10 match point. I wanted to lock up the match, and decided to call a timeout. This is also what the Chinese National Team tends to do - they often call timeouts when their player is up match or game point so the player can focus on winning that last point. However, before I could call the timeout, the opponent's coach called a timeout instead. From their point of view, their player was down to his last point, and desperately needed the next point. From my point of view, I wanted to lock up the point and the match, and the timeout would have allowed Derek to really focus while we discuss tactics. If the opponent hadn't called the timeout, should I have? (I did make one "obvious" mistake - I should have anticipated they'd likely call a timeout, and should have waited to see if they were going to before I started to. As it was, they just beat me to it.)

In general, I'm hesitant to call timeouts with Derek. Why? Because he's very focused when he plays, plays smart tactics, and I think his opponents, facing this mini dynamo, need the break more than he does. I'm more likely to call a timeout to recommend a serve at a key point, but often he seems to serve exactly the serve I'm hoping he'll serve. He has a knack for going for the fast & deep serve at just the right time.

I also coached his brother George in many of his matches. He also had a very good tournament. He came in rated 1994, but had wins over players rated 2250 and 2080 and was up 9-8 in the fifth with a 2206 player. (I coached those three matches.) He also beat several other players rated around 2000.

I coached Nathan Hsu (now 16 years old, rated 2356) in three of his ITTF Junior Pro Tour matches. (Here's a picture of him winning a game.) All three of his opponents were in the 2350 range, with the first two a pair of lefty Canadians.

In the first one (in the preliminary Under 18 RR), he was down 1-2 in games but came back to win, 11,-6,-8,6,5. This was an interesting tactical match, especially the fifth game. Nathan had been receiving very aggressively, flipping most of the short serves, but at 2-2 in the fifth, the Canadian served two no-spin serves, Nathan flipped, and the Canadian anticipated both returns and ripped forehands. I could see that he was hanging back, waiting for the flip, and decided I was going to call a time-out before his next receive. It was a "controversial" time-out because Nathan tied it on his serve, 4-4, and so he had the "momentum" when I called the time out. I told him to start dropping the serve short - and it worked! He went back, executed perfectly, and scored four in a row and outscored his opponent 7-1 the rest of the way in winning the last game 11-5. (Once he started dropping the ball short, he was also able to flip the serves again, since the opponent wasn't sure what he was going to do.) Winning this match advanced him to the main draw.

Against the second lefty Canadian he was down 1-3 in games. He had been attacking hard with his backhand loop to all parts of the table - my advice - but missing too much. Starting in game five we agreed he should go nearly all crosscourt. Now the backhand loops became relentlessly strong and consistent, often taken very close to the table, and he came back to win, 9,-5,-8,-4,8,6,9. This advanced him to the second round.

Now he faced Kunal Chodri, who's about 2400. Again Nathan mostly went crosscourt with his backhand loop, and it worked - well, almost. He did dominate the backhand exchanges, and was up 2-1 in games. He led 10-9 in the fourth but just missed a backhand winner. In the seventh he was up 10-9 match point, and again missed a backhand winner. (He hadn't been missing many of these!) In the end, Kunal pulled it out, -10,7,-9,10,9,-7,11.

I told Nathan afterwards that if he focuses on developing his serve & receive, adds power to his forehand loop with better hip rotation (which is how you put your weight into a loop), and keeps improving his dominant backhand loop, he can ride that backhand loop to a very high level. 

A few other notes:

  • A man in his mid-60s literally got into a fight with his opponent and the opponent's wife, twisting the wife's arm so severely it left extensive bruises. (I saw them.) He also shoved the referee. He was kicked out of the tournament and probably faces suspensions and/or fines. When someone came by and told us about this, some of the kids started chanting "Old person fight! Old person fight! Old person fight!"
  • Wang Qing Liang, the 17-year-old chopper/looper from China who moved to Maryland a few months ago as a coach trainee, made the semifinals of Men's Singles and Under 21 and the final of Under 18. He beat Olympians Timothy Wang (4-0) and Pierre-Luc Hinse (of Canada) as well as Adam Hugh.
  • Coaching is 16.7 times as tiring as playing. I worked this out with actual math.
  • What does a coach actually do at major tournaments?
  • Tactical advice to players, before matches, between games, and during timeouts;
  • Strategic advice to players (i.e. explaining what they need to work on for the future);
  • Scouting (both live and video) - I keep a file on opponents;
  • Physical preparation, especially each morning;
  • Mental preparation before each match;
  • Training preparation (either as practice partner or by arranging one);
  • Advice on meals
  • Entertainment

Last Monday's Tip of the Week

Oops! I had a Tip of the Week written in advance to go last Monday while I was at the U.S. Open. But it completely slipped my mind. Alas, it'll go up on Monday.

48 seconds of Slow-Motion Table Tennis

The video is from the upcoming Topspin Documentary, and features Michael Landers, Ariel Hsing, Lily Zhang, Erica Wu, and Barney J. Reed.

The Higgs Boson Explained

They explain it with ping-pong balls and sugar (1:53)!

Ping-Pong 3-D Game

If you want to go crazy, try beating this online ping-pong game! I don't think it's possible to win, but you can spend endless time trying.

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May 21, 2012

Tip of the Week:

Forehand Deception with Shoulder Rotation.

Potomac Open and Chinese Juniors

I had to miss the tournament as I was busy coaching at MDTTC. However, the results were profoundly interesting as they were the first tournaments for the three new MDTTC kids from China. The three, all from the Shandong Luneng Table Tennis School in Shandong, moved here a few weeks ago and plan to learn English and stay through college. They will be training at the Maryland Table Tennis Center as well as acting as practice partners. Here are their rough results.

Wang Qing Liang, 17, is the oldest and strongest. He plays a modern chopper/looper style, very similar to 2003 World Men's Singles Finalist Joo Se Hyuk of South Korea. This means that he mostly chops on the backhand with long pips, and both chops and attacks all-out on the forehand side, where he's ready to counterloop anything. In the semifinals he defeated current U.S. Men's Singles Champion Peter Li 4-2. In the final he faced MDTTC coach Jeffrey Xeng Xun, where after a long battle he lost 4-2. He's about 2550-2600 level, and when the tournament is processed he'll be one of the top two or three resident juniors in the U.S. (along with Michael Landers and Yang Liang), as well as the highest rated chopper. We haven't had a chopper this good since the days of Derek May, Arun Kumar, and Insook Bhushan, but none of those three could attack like this kid.

Chen Bo Wen, 14, is a two-winged penhold looper with a reverse penhold backhand loop that is nothing short of extraordinary - except when compared to his forehand loop, which is even better. He reached the semifinals where he lost to eventual champion Jeffrey Xeng Xun. He's about 2450 level, and when the tournament is processed he'll be one of the top two under 15 resident juniors in the U.S. along with Li Hangyu.

Wang Guo Cong, 12, is a lefty shakehands looper. He upset Raghu Nadmichettu (2408) three straight, but had a bad loss to a 2250 chopper. He's about 2400 level, and when the tournament is processed he'll be one of the top under 13 resident juniors in the U.S. (The U.S. has a surprising number of very strong under 13 players right now - five of them from 2366 to 2420. He'll fit somewhere in there.)

All three will be competing at the U.S. Open, including the junior events.

U.S. Nationwide Table Tennis League Promotional Video

The USNTTL has created a promotional video (5:21), and it is required viewing of all table tennis players. This means you. Yes, you, the one drinking coffee and about to move on to the next item below.

Jim Butler on the Comeback Trail

With recent tournament wins over U.S. National Men's Champion and Runner-up Peter Li and Han Xiao, three-time U.S. National Champion Jim Butler is back in training after eight years away. He also talks about changes to the sport, especially the growing popularity of the reverse forehand pendulum serve, the backhand loop, and backhand receives. Here's the article!

Table Tennis Town

Here's a new table tennis page with lots of links.

Ping-Pong Balls in Space

How'd they get there? Here's the article!

Top Ten Behind the Back Shots of All time

And here they are!

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May 11, 2012

New Chinese kids in Maryland

Now it can be told! After months of negotiation and visa dealings with the State Department (both U.S. and Chinese versions), we have three new Chinese junior players at the Maryland Table Tennis Center. Yes, junior players - they are all from the Shandong Lueng Table Tennis School in Shandong, China. They are here indefinitely, where they will both train and be practice partners while they learn English and later go to school here - they hope to attend college here as well.

They arrived on Tuesday, and played at the club on Wednesday. This afternoon they'll be in the Elite Junior Session from 5-7, and that's when we'll really learn their levels. They are obviously very strong, probably as good as anyone their age in the U.S.  The chopper is the oldest and the strongest - probably in the 2500-2600 range, and will likely be the best chopper in the U.S.  The others are likely in the 2300-2500 range. (All three will compete at the U.S. Open, and perhaps the Easterns.) They are:

  • Wang Qing Liang, age 17, originally from Guangxi Province, a right-handed chopper/looper with long pips on one side.
  • Chen Bo Wen, age 14, originally from Hubei Province, a right-handed two-winged penhold looper with reverse penhold backhand.
  • Wang Guo Cong, age 12, originally from Nanjing, a lefty shakehand looper.

Serving Seminar

As noted in my blog previously, I'm doing a Service Seminar at the Maryland Table Tennis Center tomorrow (Saturday) from 12:30-2:00 PM. Here's the info page! Make sure to email me in advance if you are coming so you can save $5. I'll be covering how to create spin, deception, specific serve motions, and fast serves. We'll alternate between lecture and on-table practice.

U.S. Open Entries

Deadline to enter the 2012 U.S. Open (Grand Rapids, Michigan, June 30-July 4) is May 12, which is TOMORROW!!! After that you can enter through May 19 with a $75 late fee. So enter now!

If you want to watch as the U.S. Open entries come in, here's the page that lists entries by event, and this one alphabetically. (Click on a player's ID number and you'll see what events he's entered in.) There are currently 212 entries. There's always a lag between entries being received and put online, and there's always a last-minute rush, but inevitably we'll end up somewhere in the 700-800 range. Deadline to enter is May 12.

Chinese Olympic Women's Team

Here's a story about the Chinese women going to the Olympics, including injury news (Ding Ning replaces the injured Guo Yan), doubles info, and comparisons to the Chinese heyday of a few years ago with Zhang Yining and Wang Nan.

Santa Barbara Ping Pong

I mentioned in my blog yesterday how Santa Barbara wants to put up outside cement tables next to their libraries. Now they have a web page devoted to this - http://www.PublicPingPongSantaBarbara.com! "Ping pong is available to people of all walks of life, and to all ages and skill levels. We see this table as a singular way to bring a social sport, that’s already well-loved, to public spaces. We have benefactors who will donate our first table, the cost of delivery, and installation. We just need approvals." The article also links to this article from the New York Times from March, 2011, which is also about the joys of outdoor cement tables, also with pictures.

Gazette Feature Article

The Gazette is sending a reporter and photographer to the Maryland Table Tennis Center today to do a feature story. They'll be there between 5-7PM during the Elite Junior Session, and may stay after to take pictures when the club is jammed after 7:30PM for the Friday night league.

Coaching Offer

Yesterday I received an email with a "coaching offer" from someone from the Shaanxi Province of China. They offered me $29,000/month ($348,000/year) if I'd become the Technical Adviser for their club. All I had to do was furnish them with lots of personal info and I'd be all set! Between that and the Nigerian offers, I'm in great demand.

Table Tennis Out of This World

Here's a picture of astronauts playing table tennis at Johnson Space Center. The guy on the left has a proper grip, but the guy on the right has serious grip issues. Anyone know their names?

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