Michael Maze as Child

September 11, 2012

Twin Towers

The jets soared down from high and bright,
Tumbling towers in the darkest night,
3000 died in this crazy blight,
Who brought forth this unspeakable sight?

Towers toppled from a monster’s spite,
Bodies crushed with no chance of flight,
What was, to a madman, the highest height,
For the rest brought forth just rage and fright.

The world exploded in a bigger fight.
We bombed and killed in a show of might.
We avenged the act because we were right.
But when will humanity see the light?

Unexpectedly Playing Well and Best Wins

After spending much of two weeks lying around from my neck injury I returned to coaching last week, and did my first serious playing this weekend. The coaching helped me get back in shape, especially a joint session on Saturday afternoon with John Olsen (1950 pushing 2100) and Kevin Walton (1750 pushing 1900). The first hour is multiball, then we do an hour of one-on-one drills. I did a lot of serve & attack drills (they are so used to my serves they return them better than most 2300 players) and a lot of rallying drills, and I could tell my game was coming back. 

In a Saturday match session, where I'm a practice partner, the other coaches had me playing beginners, afraid I'd re-injure my neck and knowing I was out of practice. But I could tell that I was "on" for some reason, and told them to put me up against the stronger players. So they did, and I played great.

I actually have a history of having some of my best results when I shouldn't. For example, way back in 1980 when I was 20 and living for two years in North Carolina I was playing great in practice. I had a rating of about 1900, but was much better - I kept beating the best players in the club. With a tournament coming up I was too excited to sleep. On Thursday night I couldn't sleep. On Friday night I couldn't sleep. I remember lying in bed early Saturday morning in a panic, knowing I'd been up since Thursday morning - 48 hours - without sleep, and worrying how it would affect me at the tournament. I started out shaky, struggling against some 1700 player in my first match. Then I caught fire and beat a 2000 player. In celebration, I ate a quarter pounder with cheese. I had another good win, and ate another. By the end of the day, still without sleep, I'd eaten nine quarter pounders with cheese, had a near incapacitating stomach in my last few matches (duh!), and had won all four events I was in - Under 21, Under 2000, and Open Singles and Doubles.

Now I'm thinking about other matches. Here are my ten best moments or achievements as a player, roughly in order:

  1. First Open title, the 1980 North Carolina Open over Fred King at age 20. Down 13-17 in the fifth on his serve, with no sleep in over 60 hours, and with a near incapacitating stomachache from eating nine quarter pounders with cheese that day, I scored five in a row and won, 21-19. (I'd go on to win open singles at 14 tournaments.)
  2. Winning the 1991 National Hardbat Championships over Lim Ming Chui, the reigning champion (I'd win it one more time, along with four over 40 hardbat titles), and then winning 13 hardbat doubles titles (9 with Ty Hoff, 4 with Steve Berger).
  3. Winning the National Collegiate Doubles Championship in 1990 with Christian Lillieroos. My best moment was in the semifinals, where we were struggling and I caught fire to pull out that match against a "stronger" team. (Almost making list - winning 1995 National Collegiate Team Championships as a player/coach, but I played poorly in the final so it doesn't make the list.)
  4. Twice at the U.S. Open Team Championships in Detroit I played the ninth and final match to make the first division against a player rated about 2350, and both times I won.
  5. Going 31-0 and 21-0 at the 1996 and 1997 U.S. Open Team Championships in Detroit (the last two years before it moved to Baltimore). I was a player/coach those two years, playing on a weaker team, but the combined 52-0 included three players over 2100, eleven over 2000, 20 over 1900, and 31 over 1800. If you think it's easy beating 31 1800 players in a row, try it sometime!!!
  6. Hitting 2755 consecutive backhands at a Seemiller training camp in 1979, with lefty Ben Nisbet (who only missed three times, if I remember correctly, his forehand to my backhand).
  7. At a Seemiller training camp in 1978, when I had just broken 1800, we played Brazilian teams. The other team had players rated about 2300, 2200, 2050, 1900, and 1700. Down 33-43, I scored 18 in a row to win for our team, 51-48. At the end the whole camp had gathered around to watch!
  8. Beating members of the National Teams of Canada, Nigeria, and Israel.
  9. Going over twenty years (circa early 1980s to early 2000s) without losing to a chopper rated under 2400 while beating six over 2400.
  10. Winning Under 2400 at the Easterns in the early 1990s over Pat Cox from down 0-10 in the fifth (games to 21).

Michael Maze Plays Table Tennis with a Book as a Kid

Here he is in 1988! He's the lefty. And here is a more recent picture showing how the Denmark star's backhand has improved, leading to his current world #21 (and as high as #8 in 2010).

Animals Playing Table Tennis

Here are two more animals playing table tennis I just added to the collection - there are many more in the Humorous Table Tennis Pictures section of the Fun and Games page. I've also put in a larger version of the Chimpanzee picture.

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