Kalinikos Kreanga

October 16, 2012

Tidbits

  • The MDTTC October Open is this weekend, and once again I'm running it. Enter now, or at least by 5PM Thursday, the deadline. (Though I'll take entries at least until 7PM on Friday, and probably on Saturday until 6PM for Sunday events.) You can enter via email to me, and pay upon arrival - but if you don't cancel by 5PM Thursday, you are responsible for payment even if you don't show. If you don't enter, we will talk about you - we'll mock you and your personality, and discuss tactics on beating you.
  • As promised in a blog a few weeks ago, as soon as the Baltimore Orioles baseball team were out of the playoffs, I'd start weight training again. I did my first session yesterday since early this year. This is both to keep my back from acting up again and also to get my playing level back. When you get older, without weight training it gets harder and harder to race around the court making crazy shots.
  • When local juniors have birthdays, I've started the tradition of giving them "Get Out of Lecture Free" cards, applicable one time when they find themselves cornered and unable to escape as I lecture on the errors of their table tennis ways.
  • Sometime soon a well-known actor will wear an MDTTC shirt on a highly-rated TV show watched by six million people each week.
  • Someone's coming to MDTTC this Saturday and Sunday night to do a video special on us. More on this later.
  • In "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy," the argument is made that the single most important item to have around is a towel. However, to a table tennis coach, the most important thing to have around is a box. It gives you something to hold balls when you feed multiball; a target for beginners to hit with their drives and serves; something to put in the middle of the table so students can learn to hit the ball to the corners (i.e. avoid hitting the box); something to pick up balls with; a way to narrow down the table so you can have backhand-to-backhand or forehand-to-forehand games with students; and, in a crunch, they make a nifty blocking and chopping racket.
  • Yesterday a player told me he was going to the Nationals in Las Vegas, and mentioned that he usually goes to the Nationals when it's in Las Vegas (2400 miles away) but avoids going when it's in Virginia Beach (226 miles away) because "Virginia Beach is impossible to get to." (He was referring to the lack of flights there - it's much easier getting a direct flight to Las Vegas.) This year it's in Las Vegas, but I've heard through the grapevine that it'll be back in Virginia Beach next year. I don't know for sure, however.
  • Am I the only coach who keeps a large rubber frog around ("Froggy") as an on-table target for kids in the 5-8 age range? Or a stack of paper cups to make pyramids out of that the kids can knock over as I feed multiball, including one specific cup named Scar with a mark on it that everyone goes for? (He's a nasty cup, I explain, always picking on me.) Note that I only pull Froggy and Scar out at the end of a session; if you start kidding around early in a session, not much gets done that session.
  • "Hodges" is an anagram for "He's God." "USA Table Tennis" is an anagram for "Satan But Senile." Coincidence?

Volkswagen 2012 China VS World Team Challenge

Here's the poster. The tournament is Nov. 24-25, 2012, in Shanghai, China. Here's the ITTF home page.

Incredible Counterlooping Duel

Here's a great counterlooping point between Kalinikos Kreanga of Greece and Bojan Tokic of Slovenia.

2012 China National Championships Xu Xin - Ma Long

Here's a great match from the Chinese Nationals Men's Team Final, with the time between points taken out so it's only 8:14 long. (Xu Xin is the lefty.)

Ping-Pong Wedding, Part 2

Yesterday I linked to a picture of Dana Hadacova at her "ping-pong wedding," which showed her hitting with her groom with wooden bats on a mini-table. However, I didn't know who the husband was, or why Dana seemed to have two names - Hadacova, and Cechova (the latter is how she is listed in the ITTF world rankings). However, super-sleuth Aaron Avery found out that the husband is Roman Cech, hence the new last name - Cechova. (Actually, it's Čechová, but I'm not sure if the tilda and accents will come through properly on all browsers.) There's no evidence he's a ping-pong player (she lists him as a "physical coach," but he's like this hockey player. Here's a picture.

New Penhold Blade?

Interesting grip - when you hold it in front of you, you stand behind the eight-disk?

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July 19, 2012

MDTTC Camp, Week Five, Day Three

Yesterday's focus was on the forehand loop. I gave my usual lecture and demo on the subject, with Nathan Hsu as my demo partner. To demonstrate the loop against backspin I alternately forehand looped and forehand chopped while Nathan blocked and pushed.

There were two new players in my multiball group who had just started out on Monday, so this was only their third day of playing. When the first one's turn came for multiball, a 9-year-old boy, right up until the last second I was thinking we should just focus on the basic forehand and backhand drives. Then, for some reason, I changed my mind and asked if he'd like to try looping. He said "Yes!" About two minutes later he'd picked it up and was doing it pretty consistently, still more of a roll, but with pretty good topspin! I was rather surprised.

So I did the same with the next beginner, a 12-year-old girl. Same result! (Many other beginners are not able to pick looping up this quickly.) As I told the two of them, either they are very talented or I'm a really good coach! (We jokingly argued over which it was all morning, with me taking the "very good coach" side.)

Looping and I have a long-term love-hate relationship. I was a late starter to table tennis, starting when I was 16, and right from the start I was a natural hitter. I found looping much more difficult, probably due to tight muscles (even then). However, I was determined to be a looper (just as many natural loopers were determined to be hitters before that style sort of died out at the higher levels), and practiced constantly. Eventually I developed a pretty efficient, if somewhat stiff forehand loop. When I play matches I loop and smash equally, but my hitting is definitely more natural - but I still focus on looping, because, gosh darn it, I wanna be a looper!!!

In the afternoon I introduced the Adjustable Height Device. I blogged about this back on July 20, 2011, when I first used it in camps last summer. It was created by a player I coach, John Olsen, and the kids love it. Here it is in its high and low settings. The challenge is to serve under the bar. The key is to ignore the bar and simply serve low. We also use it sometimes in regular rallies to see if the players can rally under the bar, which in rallies would be set a bit higher than for serves.

I also introduced Froggy (no pictures available, sorry), a large rubber frog, about the size of a soccer ball (but wider, not as tall). I put it on the table, divide players into two teams, and they take turns trying to hit it, two shots each. First team to hit it 20 times wins. I'll try to get a picture today.

Slurpee fever has stuck the camp. During lunch break each day I'm now taking two car trips to the local 7-11 where the kids load up on slurpees. (The kids were shocked to learn that both 7-11 and slurpees were around when I was their age 40 years ago, when I too used to get 7-11 slurpees, back when 7-11 opened at 7AM and closed at 11PM - hence the name. I just looked it up - 7-11 slurpees came out in 1967, when I was seven.) It's not like I'm not compensated for the taxi service; Allen Wang treats me to a Planters Peanut Bar each time. They are my favorite candy bar; if you want to be my friend, you will bring them to me.

Washington Post to MDTTC

The Washington Post will be at the Maryland Table Tennis Center on Friday at 11AM for a story on Derek Nie (U.S. Open 11 & Under Boys' Champion) and other MDTTC players. Locals, feel free to come in! Ironically, the player Derek defeated in the final, Gal Alguetti of New Jersey, is here this week for our training camp.

Wang Hao and a Short History of the Penhold Grip

Here's an interesting story on the ITTF web page about the modernization of the penhold grip, which at one point was dying out at the higher levels until the development of the reverse penhold backhand brought it back.

Kalinikos Kreanga vs. Michael Maze

Here are some great points from a video (2:53) of a match between these two from five years ago. Still great play - and notice how tactically they keep attacking the other's middle both to score points and to open up the wide angles?

The Way Table Tennis Should Be Played

Olympian Trick Shots

Lily Zhang and Erica Wu demonstrate their trick shots (1:19) - hilarious!

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