Kenta Matsudaira

October 20, 2014

Tip of the Week

Top Ten Ways to Play Your Best in a Tournament.

Fact or Fiction: The Life & Times of a Ping Pong Hustler

Here's where you can download the video (60 min) or see the trailer (2:12) about the late Marty Reisman (Feb. 1, 1930 - Dec. 7, 2012). "A chronicle of the final three years of Marty Reisman's life. A table tennis champion turned hustler. Pursuing notoriety and motivated by his love of fame and ping pong, he has to face his biggest fear: mortality."

Here's the IMDB entry on the film. Here's the full description:

Fact or Fiction: The Life and Times of a Ping Pong Hustler is a chronicle of the final three years of Marty Reisman's life, a former international table tennis champion-turned-money player. Pursuing notoriety through his idiosyncratic lifestyle and motivated by his love of fame and Ping Pong, he inadvertently has to face his biggest fear: mortality. Shot over three years, the film follows Marty - a complex mix of childlike excitement, eccentric narcissism and constant charm - as he negotiates between pride, the denial of old age, past defeats and the decline of his fame and fortune, as well as his devoted wife Yoshiko's health, all while clinging onto the hope that his own life and career are just beginning to blossom. The film's observational style, combined with rare archive footage and interviews with key New York and London society characters such Booker Prize winner Howard Jacobson and eminent psychotherapist George Weinberg, work to tell the story of one of America's greatest.

I recently watched the video on my computer, along with Tim Boggan. I knew Marty pretty well. In fact, he's how I got into table tennis! Here's the story.

The video uses both old and recent footage of Reisman, showcasing him from his early years (growing up in the depression, discovering "a different world" in table tennis, and developing as a player in the hardbat era) to his last days, and especially the last three years of his life. Parts of it are rather dark, with much of the video taking place in a hospital after his heart surgery and shortly before Marty died. There's also footage of him running Reisman's Table Tennis Club, which ran from 1958 to the late 1970s.

Marty was perhaps the most flamboyant and stylish table tennis player who ever lived. The video features his many outfits, hats, his tailor and dry cleaner, and even the cane he used - not because he needed it, but for style purposes. Marty quotes poetry, jokes with doctors, talks and sings about mortality, teaches his forehand, shows his microscopes (a hobby of his), demonstrates the cigarette trick, talks about Satoh (the man from Japan who introduced the sponge racket and won the 1952 Worlds, the year Reisman thought he should have won), and talks about how much he was looking forward to a challenge match he had planned with 2009 U.S. Men's Champion Michael Landers. "You'll be in a film with the great Marty Reisman," he explained to Landers. (The film mistakenly credits Landers as being on the U.S. Olympic team.) There's also segments about a planned "Marty's Bar" at Spin TTC in New York.

Yes, Marty was an egomaniac, but he didn't hide this fact - in fact, he wore it on his sleeve, with an almost in-your-face ego. And yet he could be incredibly nice if you played along with it and treated him well. He was a God to many, and enjoyed playing the role. Much of his Godhood came about from the stand he took against sponge rubber, insisting on sticking with hard rubber (and later sandpaper), which he considered a far superior game, where two players had a "dialog" when they rallied.

Near the end there's about 3.5 minutes with USATT Historian Tim Boggan, who gives sort of a fact check to some of the items in the film. (Hence the "Fact or Fiction" part of the title.) He also shows a "Marty as Don Quixote" picture, symbolizing Marty fighting the windmills of sponge.

MDTTC Featured at WETA  and PBS

Here's the video (4 min), which features me, Crystal Wang, and Derek Nie.

First Ever ITTF Level Three Course in USA Staged

Here's the ITTF article on the course just completed in Colorado Springs, taught by Richard McAfee. 

Women's World Cup

In the all-Chinese final held Sunday, world #1 Ding Ning defeated world #4 Liu Xiaoxia. Here's a video of the match highlights (4:04). Here's the ITTF home page for the event with results, articles, photos, and video. Here's the ITTF Press Release on the Final. Here's the Daily Shot of the Day:

iPong Basic Series: Forehand Drive

Here's the video (1:19) of Richard McAfee teaching the stroke.

Kenta Matsudaira's Sidespin Block

Here's the new video (3:56) from PingSkills of the Japanese player (world #27, #16 in January). My students hate it when I throw sidespin or chop blocks at them!

Training at Zhou Xin TTA

Here's the list of videos.

Ask the Coach

Here are two more "Ask the Coach" episodes from PingSkills.

Episode #10 (13:26):

  • Question 1: Usually players follow one style, attack or defense. If I want to change mine to All Around to add some defensive strokes, when is it efficient to start? When the attack style is completely confident or it’s better to study all the strokes at the same time? Olena.
  • Question 2: I realize that in table tennis we use only one part of our hand (upper arm, lower arm, and wrist) so what is the time to use each part of it and can I combined them? Frendy.
  • Question 3: How to reply to a player who simply sends every shot back with push & chop shots? I feel like I am playing the ball against a wall. I start to think that I have to do something to end the rally and then I make the mistake & lose the point. Len Buffey.
  • Question 4: What advice can you give to changing the momentum in a match? I was recently up 2-0 in a match and lost all confidence after losing the 3rd set and continued to go downhill losing in 5.
  • Question 5: Is there difference between a lob and a fish? If yes, what is it? Kaustubh Kulkarni.

Episode #11 (13:05):

  • Question 1: Hi Alois! I have my first tournament of the season in a week and I want to practice my serves. One problem: I don't have any plastic balls. Is it bad to practice my serves with celluloid balls? Yoan Pelletier
  • Question 2: Do you other professionals who play with shakehand, use a specific or specialized grip to serve and then quickly shift to the shakehand for the majority of the point? Do you stay with the special grip after the serve? Cole Mooney
  • Question 3: I recently received advice to engage my thumb and apply pressure onto the rubber when backhand counterhitting. The advice improved my backhand but I don't know if should change especially if the rallies are transitioning BH to FH in a fast manner. Danny Ly
  • Question 4: Due to studies I didn’t play table tennis for 1.5 months. I played today in an interschool tournament and I lost to a player whom I used to defeat every time. What is the reason of my defeat and how can I prepare for my state tournament. Shivam Goenka
  • Question 5: As a penhold player, should I hit with the other side of my bat? I tend to find that I can't have as much control as if I simply move more and use the same side of my bat. Colin Young

Shonie Aki Scholarship Award

Here's the article and info for this annual $1250 scholarship - see last paragraph in particular. Deadline is Nov. 1, 2014. "The Shonie Aki Scholarship award, in the amount of $1250 for one year, will be offered to a young table tennis player who has aspirations to complete a college education, become a better player, and a productive individual who would reflect on Shonie's legacy. In order to be considered to receive this scholarship award, candidates must be expecting to attend college in 2015 (and have at least two years remaining to complete their degree) and have GPAs of at least B or better."

Top 5 Veteran Table Tennis Ladies You Don't Want to Mess With

Here's the article by Matt Hetherington.

Table Tennis Tournament to Benefit Homeless Portlanders

Here's the article.

The Making of Table Tennis Blades and Rubbers

Here's the video (13:08).

Nathan Hsu in China

Here's the latest episode - Hengdian World Studios! - China Day 48 Part 1 (5:49).

Jorgen Persson and Bill Clinton

Here are five pictures of the two playing golf in 2005. The other player is Brian Laudrup, a Danish soccer player.

Ma Long's Birthday Party

Here's the picture. He just turned 26.

Be So Bold

Here's the video (60 sec) - I think this is a jeans commercial, but I'm not sure. That's one cheap paddle the "star" is using.

Bruce Lee Ping Pong

Here's a new video (3:13) where two hackers flamboyantly play table tennis with various implements, from bottles and paper towel rolls to cheese graters. (Not really a lot to do with Bruce Lee, however, other than the title.)

Cooking Ping-Pong Balls for Breakfast

Here's the video (5 sec) - looks pretty tasty!

Send us your own coaching news!

October 21, 2013

Tip of the Week

Should you Choose Serve, Receive, or Side at the Start of a Match?

Knee Problems

Yes, just a couple weeks after getting over about ten days of arm problems (where I had to cancel or get substitutes for a lot of coaching sessions), now it's my right knee that's acting up. I hurt it on Saturday at the very end of my last session, with John Olsen and Kevin Walton. We normally do nearly 90 minutes of multiball each session (they take turns), then do live drills or games the last 30 minutes or so. I was playing John a game, and he returned my serve to my wide backhand. I stepped around to loop a forehand, and as I put weight on my back (right) leg, I felt something go in the knee. I made the shot, and the rally continued, with me hobbling about fishing to keep the ball in play. Then he went to my wide forehand, and I tottered over for the shot, again putting weight on the knee and aggravating it. We stopped play after the shot.

I did a lot of group session on Sunday, where I limped about. I did one private coaching session where I staggered around in live drills, but fortunately did a lot of multiball so I wouldn't have to shamble around the court running down balls. (Okay, I think I've finally run out of acronyms for "hobble.")

I'm resting it today (my day off), and have only one session tomorrow (Tuesday). But then things get busy again on Wed and Thur. I'll sort of get Fri-Sun off, as I'll be coaching at the South Shore Open in Indiana where hopefully I won't leap to my feet to celebrate some victory and hurt the knee again. Because then I'd be forced to stumble about next week.

How I Taught Serves in Class Yesterday

On Sundays at 4:30 I have a 90-minute session with about 12 beginning kids, ages 7-11. I'd already taught them how to serve legally. Yesterday I introduced them to serving with spin. This is always a tricky subject to teach since they don't have the fine coordination yet needed to really graze the ball and make it spin. Worse, they get little feedback from their shot since they can't really see how much it's spinning. So as I always do, I brought out the ping-pong soccer balls.

First I showed them how to change their grip so as to get extra wrist on a forehand serve. Then I demoed a few serves, showing them backspin serves that bounced back into the net and sidespin serves that curved dramatically. This always gets their attention. Then I showed them a simple exercise to learn to create spin. Hold the racket in front, forehand side up. Then tilt the left side up a bit. (Lefties reverse.) Then toss a ball up, and spin the left bottom of the ball so it goes straight up with spin. Catch the ball, and repeat. After demoing this with a soccer ball, I gave one out to each of them. This way they could see how much spin they were creating as they hit the ball up, and they really like spinning the ball. After a few minutes practicing this, I showed them how to do this with a serve (forehand backspin and sidespin serves), and then sent them out on the tables to practice.

RGIII Response Video Postings

The RGIII Video Response went semi-viral, with over 10,000 views. I'm told it was shown on the NFL Network, but I haven't actually got an eye-witness to that. Anyone see that or have a video of it? Or know of any showings not listed below? Definite online showing are at:

2013 USA Nationals

The deadline for the USA Nationals was extended to Oct. 25, this Friday. Hope to see you there!

Interview with Xiao Zhan

Here's a video interview (4:51) of one of the Chinese National Team Coaches, about how he got started, coaching young players, and talent identification. In Chinese with English captions.

The Kenta Matsudaira Sidespin Block

Here's an article and video analysis of the Japanese star's sidespin block, a rare shot among the world's elite that mostly consists of looping or counterlooping everything.

Physics of Table Tennis

Here's an article explaining the Magnus Effect (how spin makes the ball curve), using Adam Hugh's ITTF Trick Shot Competition entry as an example.

Kreanga vs. Tokic

Here's a great point between these two (54 sec).

The Eight Stages of Every Player

Here's the funny but accurate appraisal! So where are you on this?

Fun with Ping-Pong Ball Eyes

Here are some pictures.

Send us your own coaching news!

October 1, 2013

USATT Taking Over U.S. Government

With the U.S. government shutting down, there's a huge power vacuum. So USATT is stepping in to save the day. Obamacare will now distribute health insurance and a wide variety of ping-pong products. Social Security now means that if you are 65 or older, you no longer have to pay membership at your ping-pong club. And the NSA will no longer spy on Americans; they are now secretly taping the Chinese National Team as they train.

Mike Babuin, chair of the USATT Board of Directors, has been sworn in as the new U.S. President. CEO Mike Cavanaugh has been sworn in as Vice President.

The rest of the USATT Board of Directors replaces congress as the Legislative Branch of the U.S. government. They are Anne Cribbs, Peter Scudner, Jim Kahler, Kagin Lee, Edward Levy, Attila Malek, and Han Xiao.

USATT pro bono lawyer Dennis Taylor has been sworn in as the new Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

The President's Cabinet has 15 departments - and by a strange coincidence, there are 15 USATT Committees. Effective immediately:

  • Agriculture Department will be taken over by the USATT Editorial Committee, chaired by Jim McQueen. A lot of what the Agriculture Department does is sending out written info to farmers. First release will be instructions on the growing of table tennis sponge, a highly lucrative crop whose street value is higher than crack cocaine.
  • Commerce Department will be taken over by the USATT Marketing and Fund Raising Committee, chaired by Jim Kahler. The dollar bill will be replaced by the ping-pong ball, the new international monetary standard.
  • Defense Department will be taken over by the USATT High Performance Committee, chaired by Carl Danner. The current secret plans to invade Syria, Iran, and North Korea have been shelved; instead, we will invade China and kidnap Zhang Jike, Ma Long, Wang Hao, and Xu Xin and make them practice partners for the U.S. Team.  
  • Education Department will be taken over by the USATT Junior Committee, chaired by Rajul Sheth. We'll finally get table tennis into the schools by executive order.
  • Energy Department will be taken over by the USATT Coaching Committee, chaired by Federico Bassetti. (It takes a lot of energy to coach!) With Big Oil now dominating the coaching committee, all coaches will be required to wear logos signifying which oil company controls them, i.e. ExxonMobil, BP, Chevron, PetroChina, etc.
  • Health and Human Services will be taken over by the USATT Ethics and Grievance Committee, chaired by Jim Coombe. First step will be to bring back speed glue, right?
  • Homeland Security will be taken over by the USATT Hardbat Committee, chaired by Alberto Prieto. Hardbat people have a lot of experience defending their game.
  • Housing and Urban Development will be taken over by the USATT League Committee, chaired by David Del Vecchio. New housing law: all houses must contain a ping-pong table.
  • Interior Department will be taken over by the USATT Club Committee, chaired by Attila Malek. First act will be to declare the U.S. one big ping-pong club. The U.S. has an area of 3.794 million square miles, or about 4 x 10^14 square feet. Assuming 40'x20' courts, that's enough room for 132,213,312,000 ping-pong courts.
  • Labor Department will be taken over by the USATT Compensation Committee, chaired by Mike Babuin. Henceforth all government payments shall be made in ping-pong balls.
  • State Department will be taken over by the USATT Nominating and Governance Committee, chaired by Bob Fox. Why? Because Bob's been the USATT Team Manager at about 10,000 international events, and so has traveled the world and personally knows all seven billion people on earth.
  • Transportation Department will be taken over by the USATT Tournament Committee, chaired by Larry Rose. You have to travel to tournaments. Plans are coming for bullet trains to connect all the major tournament cities.  
  • Treasury Department will be taken over by the USATT Audit Committee, chaired by Peter Scudner. First act will be to look into how a sheet of table tennis sponge can cost $80. Second act will be to sell enough sheets of $80 sponge to raise the money to import the 132,213,312,000 ping-pong tables and nets from China needed for the Interior Department's plan to turn the U.S. into a ping-pong club (see above). Third act will be to raise the debt ceiling to one zillion ping-pong balls (see Commerce Department above) so that we never have to deal with it again.
  • Veterans Affairs will be taken over by the USATT Seniors Committee, chaired by Gregg Robertshaw. Everyone over age 50 must now use long pips.
  • Attorney General will be taken over by the USATT Officials and Rules Committee, chaired by Roman Tinyszin. Congress shall be red-carded.

Oh, and since they have nothing else to do, the U.S. government is taking over USATT. I'll let readers decide who is now in charge of each USATT function. (It's times like this that I have to bite my tongue and not write my views on this whole government shutdown. This is a table tennis blog, not a political blog, and so I'll restrain myself.)

Arm Problems

My arm is still bothering me. I have a 90-minute coaching session scheduled today which I was going to cancel. However, the student agreed to do 90 minutes of multiball and serve practice, so I'm going to go ahead and do the session. I'm 90% that I'm going to have to cancel my three hours of private coaching on Wednesday. I'm pretty sure the arm will be fine by the weekend.

2014 USA Junior & Cadet Team Trials

Here's info on the Trials, to be held at the USA Nationals in December.

Make Your Serves More Effective

Here's the article from Table Tennis Master.

The Amazing Block of Kenta Matsudaira

Here's the video (1:50). He's world #18. Note how his normal block has good topspin.

Krazy Table Tennis

Someone just sold a 1920s Krazy Table Tennis set! For just £49.99 (that's $81.15) they got net and brackets, 4 original branded balls, 6 different and really strange shaped wooden bats, and instructions.
Send us your own coaching news!

July 29, 2013

Tip of the Week

Topspinny Backhands.

Last Week's Tip of the Week

I put up a Tip of the Week last Monday, but since I was out of town and not blogging, some of you may have missed it. If so, you get a special double-tip week! So here's the July 22 Tip of the Week: Pushing Change of Direction.

I'm Back!

It's been eleven days. I doubt if you missed me more than my dog, who went berserk at my return. (I had people taking care of her, but she tends not to eat much when I'm away.) As noted below, I was at a writers workshop in Manchester, NH, July 19-27. See segment on this below. And right after I finish this morning's blog I'm off to coach at the MDTTC camp. (We have ten consecutive camps this summer, each Mon-Fri; this is week seven. I should be at the rest of them - I missed two weeks, one for the writers workshop, one for the U.S. Open.)

Table Tennis Fitness

I just returned from nine days at a writers workshop (see below). While there was no table tennis there - other than my showing off my "blowing the ball in the air" trick, and one time showing off my ability to bounce a ping-pong ball up and down on a cell phone over and over - I did notice something related to table tennis.

The biggest difference between writers (as well as people I observed at the airport) and table tennis players, as well as people I observed at the airport, was the fitness level. There is a fitness epidemic in this country, and it's very noticeable at airports, and even more so at writers workshops. This isn't meant as an actual criticism of being overweight - to each his own - just an observation. But table tennis players in general are much more fit than the general population. Perhaps part of this is that there are so many Asian players, and they seem fitter than typical Americans. Or perhaps it's all those calories burned playing table tennis. Or perhaps it's fitness for the express purposes of improving their table tennis. Or perhaps it's because fitter people tend to seek out sports. Whichever it is, table tennis players, in general, and at all levels (at least beyond the beginning state) are far more fit than the average population.

At my worse, I once reached 196 pounds, and I currently am at 185. I'm now determined to get back to 175. Here's an article from Pongworld on training and fitness. Here's an article on table tennis and fitness by Australian star Greg Letts.

Non-Table Tennis - TNEO

TNEO is "The Never-Ending Odyssey," an annual gathering in Manchester, NH, of graduates of the six-week Odyssey Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers Workshop. (I'm class of '06.) I just spent nine days there, July 19-27, where I was immersed with 27 others with story critiques, classes & lectures, readings, and lots of reading and writing. Three of my stories were critiqued; I've already rewritten them, and will be submitting them soon. Two other stories I have planned were plotted out, plus I wrote a brand new humorous story, "The Bat Nerd," which I read at the annual story reading at the local Barnes and Noble. Here's a Facebook picture (with comments) of the group in the workshop.

Flight Back from Manchester

The flights home were a disaster. Here's a short synopsis. I was scheduled for a 6:10PM flight Saturday night (July 27) on U.S. Air from Manchester to Philadelphia, with a connection to National Airport in Washington DC, arriving at 10:11PM. From there I'd take the subway to Shady Grove Metro Station where I had someone picking me up.

The 6:10PM flight was delayed to around 7:30PM due to both a crew problem (lack of a pilot) and weather. It became obvious I wouldn't be able to make my connection in Philadelphia, and there were no other non-full flights out of Philly that night. The earliest available flight the following morning was around 9AM. (Apparently U.S. Air wasn't able to get me on flights with other airlines.) They said they'd put me up in a hotel in Philly. However, a better option they said would be for me to spend the night in Manchester (again, they'd pay for the room), and catch a direct flight at 6AM the next morning. So I was sent back across the airport to the U.S. Air ticket office to get the hotel voucher and catch a shuttle to the hotel. However, after arriving there, they told me there were no available hotel rooms in Manchester! So they rushed me through security again so I could catch the delayed flight at 7:30PM. I reached Philly around 9PM. However, due to another glitch, they had trouble finding my checked-in bag, and it took them over 90 minutes before it was located. Then I took the shuttle to the hotel, arriving there around 11:15PM.

I now had a 7:55AM flight from Philly to DC. I got up a 5AM, was at the airport at 6:30AM, only to discover that due to another crew issue, the flight had been delayed to 9:40AM! Then it was delayed to 10:45AM. And then, at around 9:30 AM, it was cancelled! They put me on a different flight leaving at 11:30 AM. So I sat around the airport for about five hours before leaving. I arrived in DC at about 12:40 PM, took the subway to Shady Grove, arriving around 2:00 PM for my pickup. (The one who was going to pick me could no longer do so; Derek Nie's mom picked me up.)

Meanwhile, every step of the way as my flights changed I was calling the person who was to pick me up at Shady Grove. It got really frustrating as my schedule changed seemingly every ten minutes. On top of this, I had a 10AM coaching session scheduled for Sunday, which I had to miss. (It was a double - once a week on Sunday mornings I drive out to Virginia to coach, and they pay me double. So I'm out about $100 on top of everything else, plus a disappointed student.)

My Coaching Columns in USA Table Tennis Magazine

I've been submitting the best of my Tips of the Week to USATT Magazine, and they've been publishing them since January of 2012. Recently they've put together a page dedicated to them, with links to each article. If you've been reading my weekly Tips (every Monday morning) then you've read these.

Building Power and Weight Transfer

Here's a coaching article from Table Tennis Master.

Two Insane Pieces Of Luck Behind China’s Current Dominance

Here's an article from Table Tennis Master on how China's dominance in table tennis may have come about due to two great pieces of luck!

Kenta Matsudaira's Show

Here are video highlights of the Japanese star (4:08).

The New Yorker

Here's the table tennis cover of this week's The New Yorker, which is dated today, though it came out a few days ago. I saw a copy at the airport, and paging through it, couldn't find anything on table tennis on the inside. Apparently the table tennis cover is an independent cover and doesn't actually illustrate anything from the inside.

Stéphane Veilleux Wins Smashfest

Here's a picture of the Minnesota Wild Hockey player holding up the huge table tennis trophy he won. Click on the picture and you'll see other pictures from the event.

Phil Mickelson Plays Matt Lauer on the Today Show

Here's the video and article from Table Tennis Nation.

Dragon on a Ping-Pong Table

Here's the latest artwork from Mike Mezyan. The title I've given it sort of tells you what it is - sort of like the movie Snakes on a Plane!!!

Send us your own coaching news!

June 6, 2013

ICC and Fundraising for Table Tennis

ICC (India Community Center) has set the modern bar for raising money for table tennis in the U.S., raising $100,000 at a fund-raiser on June 2 in Milpitas, CA. Here's the article! "This annual event, which showcases the program’s homegrown talent to raise funds to nurture tomorrow’s champions, was attended by over 200 diehard table tennis players and fans. ICC’s junior players riveted the audience with their technique and passion during the talent exhibition. There were also celebrity challenge matches featuring former California State Controller and ICC Trustee Steve Westly, ICC Co-Founder and Trustee Anil Godhwani and 2012 Men’s & Women’s National Champions and 2012 Olympians Timothy Wang and Lily Zhang."

I'm no expert on fund-raising, but I have dabbled in it. I did get a $7000 sponsor for the 1993 Junior Nationals, which I ran in Maryland- that's $11,264 in 2013 dollars. The sponsor was Janlibo, a Chinese soft drink that was trying to expand into the U.S. market, starting in Maryland. Ironically, they wanted to increase their sponsorship the following year, but without checking with me or Janlibo, the USATT board of directors decided to recombine the Junior Nationals with the Junior Olympics, as it had been in previous years. They assumed Janlibo would go along with it, with the Junior Olympics moving to a different city each year. Janlibo had no interest in that - they were focusing on the Maryland/DC region at the time - and so the Junior National went from $7000 ($11,264!) in 1993 to $0 prize money thereafter. Alas.

There have been some titanic battles on the board over USATT fundraising. There was a period in the early/late 2000's where two board members had diametrically opposed ideas on how to do it. (I attended nearly every board meeting back in those days, and was a witness to all this.) One believed that we should hire a full-time fundraiser. The other believed we should hire a big-time fund-raising company. They had extremely sharp debates. The board was unanimous that we needed to do one or the other, but since they couldn't decide which to go with, they ended up doing . . . neither. Alas.

The last two times USATT had major sponsors that I know of were the late 1980s and early 1990s. The first was with Brother Corporation. USA Olympic table tennis players Diana and Lisa Gee helped bring that sponsor in with a Comdex exhibition, with USATT Program Director Bob Tretheway negotiating and closing the deal. (There was also a Ground Round Restaurant sponsorship that Bob brought in. And thanks to Sean O'Neill for aiding my fuzzy memory on some of this.) In the early 1990s, Dan Seemiller (and others - not sure who) brought in Dow Chemical as a big sponsor for the 1991-1992 U.S. Opens in Midland, MI. I believe both of these deals were over $100,000, and considerably more in modern dollars. I don't think USATT has had anything comparable since. I know recently-elected USATT board chair Mike Babuin is very interested in the fund-raising aspect - hopefully he'll break through on that. As to table tennis clubs, in addition to ICC I'm told that Lily Yip has also done well in local sponsorship for her club (and especially her tournaments) in New Jersey. 

At some point we probably should do one at MDTTC, my club. But as I noted above, I'm not an expert on fundraising. Alas.

Serve Practice

Here's my periodic note on this - have you practice your serves recently? Just get a bunch of balls, and practice! It's one of the most under-practiced aspect of the game, with more return on investment than just about any other aspect. How many times have you lost a match "because of his serves"? Well, become that guy "with the serves"! Don't have good serves; have great ones!!! You don't need to be a superstar player for this. Here's my article "Practicing Serves the Productive Way." In the Articles section here I have an even 20 articles on serving. But don't just read about it - study the top players, perhaps get a coach, and practice!

Kenta Matsudaira - Japan's Next Number One?

Here's the article from Table Tennis Master.

2013 National Junior Disability Championships

Here's their web page. They are July 6-13, 2013, in Rochester, MN. Sports include: Swimming, Track & Field, Table Tennis, Powerlifting, Archery & Pentathlon.

Incredible Pingpong Skills

Here's a trick-shot video that's pretty good (2:39). Anyone know who the player is? (I'm bad with faces, but it's not Jun Mizutani of Japan, as one commenter asked - he's a lefty.) The comments are almost as funny as the video.  

Waiting to Play

Here's what happens when there's a long line to play at your club. (If you can't see the Facebook picture, try this.)

Non-Table Tennis - Tenant Termination and Credit Ratings

On June 3 I had that short blog where I explained the problem I was having with my tenant downstairs. Last night we had it out. He has only paid $400 of the $1080 owed, and insists he explained in a "detailed note" two months ago why he hasn't been able to pay the rest. I don't think he thought I'd kept the note. As I showed him, the note actually says 1) he was having trouble getting an advance on money owed and so was having trouble paying the $500 he still owed on that month's rent, and 2) that while he had lost his full-time job, he wrote "My part-time job will now be full time." We argued for a long time over this - he claimed those words do not imply his part-time job ever became full-time, and kept quoting himself as saying, "My part-time job might be full time." I had to keep referring to where he wrote "now," but then he claimed that didn't change the meaning of the note, which of course is completely wrong. "My part-time job will now be full time" "My part time job might be full time."

He said the part-time job never became full-time, though he did get another full-time job shortly thereafter. As I pointed out, he not only never told me any of this, he told me last month (when the rent was also late) that he had extra income now and wouldn't be late on the rent again. Then I pointed out that none of this explains why he hadn't paid this month's rent (due May 28), or more importantly, why he had refused, despite multiple requests, to say when or if he'd pay. He insisted that the part where he wrote he hadn't been able to get the advance two months ago explained that. Again, it didn't make sense - that part of note explained why he hadn't been able to get an advance to pay the rest of the rent two months ago, but says nothing about this month's rent. He kept insisting this like it had just happened, when it was two months ago, and (as he admitted) he'd long ago received the money owed from back then. If this doesn’t make sense to you, it doesn't. I kept wondering if he was drunk or something since his arguments made no sense, but I don't think so.

I finally had to do something I've never done - I gave him one month's notice. I should have done this long ago as we've been having these spats over the rent over and over, with him rarely paying on time and refusing to ever let me know when or if it would be paid when it was late, and acting insulted when I asked. Ultimately he had to go because of his struggles to pay and his credit rating (which predicted he'd eventually burn me), but the reason I did it now was because of his insistence that it wasn't his responsibility to let me know when or if he'd be able to pay rent, and because of his incredible temper - he was screaming at me about how I was reading his note wrong, how I wasn't being fair, etc.

A year ago someone checked his credit rating for me, and it turned out to be incredibly low, something like the bottom 1%. (I forget the actual number.) Not checking his credit rating (and judiciary record for domestic violence and a few other things) before renting to him was a huge mistake that'll never happen again. (He was from the same high school I went to, three years ahead, though we'd never met.) I checked my credit rating yesterday - mine is 822 (from Equifax). I've never missed a payment, whether on my house, car, credit card, etc.

Anybody looking for a room or two floors to rent in Germantown, Maryland, about ten minutes from MDTTC? If so, contact me.

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April 16, 2013

Tomahawk Serve

Recently someone asked me about why fewer players use the forehand tomahawk serve than before. (If you aren't sure what a forehand tomahawk serve, see video below of Matsudaira.) It was a much more popular serve back in the 1960s and 1970s. These days, however, the forehand pendulum serve (with racket tip down) has taken over in both its forms - regular and reverse. With a regular pendulum serve, the racket moves from right to left (for a righty). A reverse pendulum serves goes the opposite way. Regular pendulum serves dominate table tennis below the world-class level. However, at the world-class level, regular and reverse pendulum serves are about equally common. The latter is harder to learn, but is often more effective since players aren't as used to them - and even more effective if you can do both.

So why is the pendulum serve so popular, as compared to the tomahawk serve? 1) It allows them to serve both types of sidespin with roughly the same motion; 2) it's easier to serve very heavy backspin; 3) and they are just copying other top players. However, pendulum serves are way overused. Anyone developing a good tomahawk or other serve will give players problems as they aren't as used to it. If you are able to get heavy underspin (along with sidespin, side-top, and no-spin), and it's not obvious, then that's key to making the tomahawk serve effective at all levels. The same is true of the reverse pendulum serve - most players can't do it with heavy underspin, and when they do, it's too obvious. If you don't use it already, you should experiment with reverse pendulum serves so you can serve sidespin both ways.

For many below the higher levels, the tomahawk serve is a classic "trick" serve, where players serve it deep to the opponent's forehand so it breaks away from them, forcing numerous mistakes, i.e. free points. Advanced players have no problem looping these serves, but intermediate players struggle as the ball bounces away from them. As they reach for the ball, they tend to lower their racket, and so they end up lifting too much, and so the ball goes off they end. They also have trouble reacting to the sidespin, which pulls the ball to their left (if both players are righties), and so they have to aim to the right. (I seem to be plugging my Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers book these days, but it does have an entire section on returning these types of serves, in the chapter on Receive Tactics.)

Tomahawk serves are still used; I use it as a variation. Here's a segment from my blog on March 5, 2013:

The Amazing Tomahawk Serve of Kenta Matsudaira
Here's the video (1:09). Note how he can break it both ways - and see the side-by-side slow motion of the two versions. The real question for all you serious table tennis players: Why haven't you developed equally good serves? It's just a matter of technique and practice! If you don't have the technique, see a coach or watch videos and learn. (You don't need to match Kenta's serves - there are many other good serving techniques.) If you don't practice . . . well, then you'll never have the serve of Kenta Matsudaira, and you'll never be as good as you could have been. (This type of serve has been around for a long time. Dean Doyle specialized in this serve when he made the U.S. Pan Am Team over 30 years ago.)

Contest at Expert Table Tennis

Last week they ran a contest for a free autographed copy of my book, Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers. The winner would be whoever could best explain why they deserved a free copy. And the winner is . . . Tom Lodziak from England!!! (His autographed copy goes out tomorrow.) To read his winning answer, see Expert Table Tennis. (While there, you can browse all their excellent coaching articles.) Yep, this is plug #2 for my book.

Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers

What, you haven't bought your copy yet??? Here's the page to order it! Time for some friendly persuasion - not from me, from others. Here are some quotes and all 14 reviews so far at Thirteen of the 14 reviews are 5-star; the other is 4-star. (Yep, this is plug #3 for my book! But there's a bunch of stuff after it, so feel free to browse past these quotes & comments. Or read them all.)

"Larry has done an excellent job in breaking down the skills needed by all players to improve in these areas. This book should be on every table tennis player’s mandatory reading list."
-Richard McAfee, USATT National Coach, ITTF Trainer, and USATT Coaching Chair, 2009-2013 

"Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers is a must read for any player serious about winning. This tactical Bible is right on the mark, and is exactly how I was taught to put together game-winning tactics and strategies."
-Sean O'Neill, 5-time U.S. Men's Singles Champion, 2-time Olympian 

"Larry Hodges' book on table tennis tactics is the best I have ever seen on this subject. This is the first book that explains how to play against the many styles of the game."
-Dan Seemiller, 5-time U.S. Men's Singles Champion and long-time U.S. Men's Team Coach Reviews

5.0 out of 5 stars
Maybe the Best Table Tennis Book Ever Written, April 15, 2013
By Eric M Hine
I have read almost every table tennis book that is available in the English language. Many have great suggestions about stroke techniques. Some have good suggestions as to basic tactics and strategy. This book, however, answered all the questions I had wondered about for years regarding strategy and tactics. It's obvious that Larry Hodges knows and loves the sport of table tennis, but even more importantly to a reader it is clear that he wants to pass this knowledge and love for this sport onto others. It's a great book that I will recommend to anyone interested in the great sport of table tennis.

4.0 out of 5 stars 
A MUST for table tennis players who play club and tournaments. April 14, 2013
Very good reference book. A must for table tennis players who play at club or tournaments. Don't forget to get the update since that is a complete kindle version.

5.0 out of 5 stars 
Great Book from a Great Guy, April 5, 2013
By Kimberley Huff
Helped from the first page to the last, Great job Larry another sterling piece of work, Looking forward to your next book

5.0 out of 5 stars 
Playing smart, April 4, 2013
By Paul Wiltse (St. Paul, MN USA)
Mr. Hodges shares a lifetime of professional table tennis knowledge with you from start to finish. This book is well worth reading if you are really serious about becoming a top player. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in this fascinating game.

5.0 out of 5 stars 
For all skill levels, March 30, 2013
By debbieb
I am a low rated player and read this book easily, as it is written very clearly and easy for anyone to understand. I have put some of the information into action already and it has helped. My husband is a much better player than me as well as a USATT & ITTF Coach and he also read this book. He has suggested his students read this book and even carry it with them to a tournament for a quick refresher before their matches. Much of the information is known by the better players already, but Larry puts it all together so it is easy to find and all in one book. It is really a super reference tool. Including a chapter on hard bat and "funny" rubber surfaces adds to the value as most current players really need to better understand the way these surfaces play. I suggest every table tennis player have this book in their library. Bravo Larry. Aloha!

5.0 out of 5 stars 
Finally I can think! March 24, 2013
By Nicholas T Flor
I've been seeking this kind of insight for a long time. When it comes to analyzing my own match play, this is my handbook. I am very pleased with this book and am already changing the ways I approach playing the game.
Thanks Larry!

5.0 out of 5 stars 
mts288, March 22, 2013
By mts288
Best TT book I've ever read. It has all the stuff you don't get from your coach. If you have a problem with a certain style or equipment, Larry gives you the solution. A must read for any player at any level. Thanks Larry

5.0 out of 5 stars 
Very good book on under-covered subject. March 19, 2013
By Britt Salter
Larry covers a whole bunch of things that are barely - if at all - touched on. His writing is clear and concise. There is a good mix of humor, seriousness, technicality, and common sense.
One of the best TT books I've read!

5.0 out of 5 stars 
Great for the developing (or established) player! March 19, 2013
By Scott
Larry does a great job putting his many years of experience as both a high-level coach and player into this insightful and clearly written book. I've made this required reading for players I coach. Even after the first reading, this should be great as a reference to brush up on tactics and keep yourself on the right path to intelligent play.

5.0 out of 5 stars 
A tremendous amount of info! March 18, 2013
By Cubinican
Best money u can spend on information like this! Very clear and easy to read! Now when you train, you will know exactly what to work on!

5.0 out of 5 stars 
Highly recommended! March 15, 2013
By Feangfa Thaicharoen (Nonthaburi, Nonthaburi Thailand)
This book is the missing link between technical expertise and match outcome.

Usually, you perfect all the strokes without knowing why. This book puts those strokes into cohesive pattern. You will learn the distinction between strategic (for long-termed result) and tactical (for immediate result) thinking along the way.

After reading this book, you'll see tabletennis matches in different light. You'll appreciate the nuances of shot selection and the most important thing is you know "why" they use them.

A lot of examples in this book. Larry puts questions in between the narrative to make you "think".

Thanks, Larry, for writing this book. I'm an intermediate player without proper coach. Previously, I blindly practice strokes and drills without clear goal. In matches, I played blindly, instinctively. Most of the time, I didn't know why I won. And more importantly, I didn't know why I lost. So I had no way to improve my game. Your book gives meaning to my training. I'll train with strategic mind and compete with tactical thinking.

Finally, to answer your question, YES, Larry, you made me THINK. Thank you.

5.0 out of 5 stars 
Hard to find sources on tactics other than Mr. Hodges, March 14, 2013
By Seth Redford
I've been playing seriously for about two years so I am still learning the many important aspects of competitive Table Tennis. While searching the internet and other places I found a lot of information on technique but not much on tactics. This book is a fantastic resource that covers a wide variety of topics. I feel like it focused my thinking onto a number of important aspects that apply to each of the different shots and situations that you can face against each opponent. My only small issue is I have been following Mr. Hodges' blog and I have read a number of his articles and tips of the day. Since much of the information in those online sources was also included in the book, I had seen a lot of it before. But having it all in one place was well worth the price of the book.

5.0 out of 5 stars 
Great Resource For Improving Your Table Tennis Results, March 8, 2013
This book may be the best table tennis book currently available for improving your table tennis results. Larry has packed it full information to get you thinking about what is going on in a game or match. Many players lose to players below their own level of play physically by being outplayed mentally. This collection of information is a great resource to short-cut the years of experience usually required to gain this level of strategy and tactics and be the player with the mental edge. Good Stuff!

5.0 out of 5 stars 
It Made Me Think! March 1, 2013
By Kyle Angeles
Very enjoyable read. The whole time I was reading this book, my mind would kind of drift off as I was picturing the aspects of my game in whatever part of the book I was reading.
The topics are laid out in a very logical order and explained in great detail.
The verbiage makes the book very conversational, so it doesn't drag on or feel like a sermon.
Many examples are used making it easy to visualize each subject.
Styles are broken down into various subsets - each containing their own goals and strategies
Excellent tactics are provided against a wide variety of styles - I highly recommend the section on non-inverted surfaces!
A little repetitive at times, but this kind of comes with the territory

World Cadet Challenge Selection Criteria

Here's the selection process for the 2013 Cadet Challenge, with dates and mandatory events.

Bacteria in Beer Pong

Here's a story about Clemson students finding lots of bacteria on ping-pong balls used in beer pong. You'll never play beer pong again.

Berlin Style Ping-Pong

Here's a video of Berlin Style Ping Pong (3:19), brought to you by Table Tennis Nation. (I often had some trouble understanding what the narrator was saying - it seemed a bit muffled.)

Table Tennis Glamour

Here are pictures of some glamorous table tennis outfits. (If Facebook won't let you see it, try this.)

USATT Minutes

(I usually end the blog with something short and fun, but this is rather long, and I'm afraid I'd lose people before they get to the short, fun stuff. So I'll end with this.)

The USATT motions from the March 25 teleconference are now online. (Plus you can browse past meetings and motions.) These were all committee appointments. Since there are so many names mentioned, I'm guessing most readers will know some of the people. Since so much work is done by committees, I'm putting in all the motions for readers to browse over

Approved at the March 25, 2013 telephonic meeting of the USATT Board of Directors

MOVED to continue Roman Tinyszin as Chair of the Officials and Rules Advisory Committee, waiving any implications of his two weeks committee service in 2007.

MOVED that the National Sanctioning Coordinator shall be appointed by the Board and shall not be subject to the term lengths and restrictions for standing committee members.

MOVED to approve Thomas Wintrich, Wendell Dillon, Lee Kondo, and Barney Reed (athlete) as members of the Tournaments Advisory Committee for the January 1, 2013 – December 31, 2014 term, and to designate Andrew Horn as the committee’s Liaison. (Larry Rose was approved as the Chair on February 4, 2013.)

MOVED to approve Ray Cavicchio, Elena Karshtedt, Lee Kondo, and Pam Fontaine (athlete) as members of the Officials and Rules Advisory Committee for the January 1, 2013 – December 31, 2014 term, and to designate Teodor Gheorghe as the committee’s Liaison. (Roman Tinyszin was approved as the Chair earlier in the March 25, 2013 meeting.)

MOVED to approve Rich Perez, Suzanne Butler, Gloria Brooks, and Khoa Nguyen (athlete) as members of the Seniors Advisory Committee for the January 1, 2013 – December 31, 2014 term, and to designate Michael Cavanaugh as the committee’s Liaison. (Gregg Robertshaw was approved as the Chair on February 4, 2013.)

MOVED to approve Lee Kondo, Amir Sadeghy, Larry Kesler, and Tahl Leibovitz (athlete) as members of the Ethics and Grievance Committee for the January 1, 2013 – December 31, 2014 term, and to designate Michael Cavanaugh as the committee’s Liaison. (Jim Coombe was approved as the Chair on February 4, 2013.)

MOVED to approve Peter Scudner, and Han Xiao (athlete) as members of the Compensation Committee for the January 1, 2013 – December 31, 2014 term, and to designate Michael Cavanaugh as the committee’s Liaison. (Mike Babuin was approved as the Chair on February 4, 2013.)

MOVED to approve Tom Poston, Ross Brown, Steve Hopkins, and Ty Hoff (athlete) as members of the Editorial Advisory Committee for the January 1, 2013 – December 31, 2014 term, and to designate Andrew Horn as the committee’s Liaison.6 6 Jim McQueen was approved as the Chair on February 4, 2013.

MOVED to approve Anne Cribbs, Mike Babuin, and Ed Levy (athlete) as members of the Audit Committee for the January 1, 2013 – December 31, 2014 term, and to designate Deborah Gray as the committee’s Liaison. (Peter Scudner was approved as the Chair on February 4, 2013.)

MOVED to approve Dean Johnson, Jay Tuberville, Jeffery D. Morrison, and Carlos Ko (athlete) as members of the Hardbat Advisory Committee for the January 1, 2013 – December 31, 2014 term, and to designate Teodor Gheorghe as the committee’s Liaison. (Alberto Prieto was approved as the Chair on February 4, 2013.)

MOVED to approve Peter Scudner, Anne Cribbs, Mike McAllister, and Tahl Leibovitz (athlete) as members of the Marketing and Fund Raising Advisory Committee for the January 1, 2013 – December 31, 2014 term, and to designate Michael Cavanaugh as the committee’s Liaison. (Jim Kahler was approved as the Chair on February 4, 2013.)

MOVED to approve Lisa Hagel, Ben Bednarz, Bruce Liu, and Barney Reed (athlete) as members of the Clubs Advisory Committee for the January 1, 2013 – December 31, 2014 term, and to designate Joyce Grooms as the committee’s Liaison. (Attila Malek was approved as the Chair on February 4, 2013.)

MOVED that the Chairs of the Junior Advisory Committee and League Advisory Committee will be decided via email prior to the Board’s April 20, 2013 meeting.

MOVED to appoint Mike Babuin (Chair), Peter Scudner, Dennis Taylor, and Han Xiao (athlete) as members of a Bylaw Review Task Force. Recommendations of the Task Force are due by July 31, 2013.

Respectfully submitted,
Dennis M. Taylor

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March 5, 2013

Table Tennis Online

As ITTF Coach John Olsen recently pointed out to me, we live in the golden age of online table tennis. You can watch just about any major table tennis match online these days, both live and afterwards. Over the last few days (and below) I've given links for many of the major matches taking place at the Chinese World Team Trials. During major USA Table Tennis events (Nationals, Open, Team Trials), you can watch the matches live as well. And you can go to youtube and find just about anything - just put in "Table Tennis" and anything else you are looking for. Over the weekend John watched the live streaming of the Swedish Nationals, the English Championships, and the Norwegian Championships. (Note that some of the links here that gave the live streaming still have the videos online.)

The availability of videos of the top players is one of the biggest advantages this generation of players has over past ones - along with more coaches and better sponge. On the other hand, there's also a disadvantage to the easy availability of these videos - players tend to watch a video and then move on to the next, and so don't really learn all that's going on. In the old days, there were fewer videos around, and so players would watch the same ones over and Over and OVER - and would pretty much memorize every point, not to mention really learning what the players did from sheer viewing repetition. I remember back in the late 1970s (when I was learning to play) having trouble with pips-out penholders. Then I got a copy of the famous Stellan Bengtsson vs. Mitsuro Kohno tape from the quarterfinals of the 1977 Worlds, and watched it endlessly, and my level against that style went up dramatically. (Pips-out penholder Kohno won, 19 in the fifth, in what many considered the "real" Men's Singles final as it was likely the best match of the tournament. Kohno went on to win the title.)  

Jim Butler on Serves

Here are some nice quotes from four-time U.S. Men's Champion Jim Butler on serving, which he posted yesterday on the table tennis forum. He used to have the best serves in the country, and now, at age 42, he's made a comeback - and he may once again have the best serves in the country.

"I've decided to put a lot of time into practicing my serves.  Improvement there takes the least physical energy.  I have the motion and understanding already down.  To have great serves, they must be practiced daily in order to make them a weapon."

"I'm working on the forehand pendulum right now.  I want to have a good chop and topspin mix like that young Chinese kid in Westchester.  His serves destroyed me, and I'd like to have those.  Easiest way to be competitive in Table Tennis is to have dominating serves."

The Amazing Tomahawk Serve of Kenta Matsudaira

Here's the video (1:09). Note how he can break it both ways - and see the side-by-side slow motion of the two versions. The real question for all you serious table tennis players: Why haven't you developed equally good serves? It's just a matter of technique and practice! If you don't have the technique, see a coach or watch videos and learn. (You don't need to match Kenta's serves - there are many other good serving techniques.) If you don't practice . . . well, then you'll never have the serve of Kenta Matsudaira, and you'll never be as good as you could have been. (This type of serve has been around for a long time. Dean Doyle specialized in this serve when he made the U.S. Pan Am Team over 30 years ago.)

Remembering Zhuang Zedong and Ping-Pong Diplomacy

Here's the article.

ITTF President Election

ITTF President Adham Sharara is running for re-election - but he's unopposed so far. The election will take place during the upcoming World Championships in Paris, May 13-20, 2013.

Hunter Pence and Ping-Pong

Here's an article about how the Hunter Pence, an outfielder with the LA Dodgers, builds confidence with ping-pong.

The Terminator vs. Scottie

Here's a picture of Arnold Schwarzenegger and table tennis exhibition star Scott Preiss just after their game ended in a "3-3 tie" at the Arnold Sports Classic in Columbus, OH this past week.

Chinese World Team Trials

Here are some nice matches, with time between points removed so it's non-stop action.

Swedish Men's Singles Final

Here's the video (6:53, with time between points removed) as Fabian Akerström upsets Jens Lundquist in the final. Akerström plays with long pips on the backhand - but he's so forehand aggressive it's sometimes difficult to notice.

More TT Videotapes

Here's a Facebook page devoted to collecting table tennis videos.

The Dirty Dozen Throwdown

It's on, this Friday at 9PM: Gideon "The Pigeon" Teitel (17-year-old 150-lb lobber) vs. Sam "the Rock" Rockwell (13-year-old 81-lb attacker). Between them they've had three and a half years of intense training, all leading to this moment.

Monsters University

Monsters University, the upcoming sequel to Monsters Inc. from 2001, will be the greatest movie of all time. How do we know? Here's an animated scene from the movie showing the characters playing table tennis!

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February 28, 2013


It looks like what I thought was a cold is actually the flu. The difference is I'm feeling constant muscle aches and soreness, which apparently is a flu symptom, not a cold's. So how am I feeling? Other than the constant coughing, runny nose, green stuff coming out of my lungs, entire body encased in aches, and complete exhaustion, I'm fine, thanks for asking. (I got Raghu Nadmichettu to substitute for my coaching last night as I spent my 53rd birthday in bed.) 

Playing While Sick

Way back in the fall of 1979, when I was 19, I had my big breakthrough tournament at the North Carolina Open. I was rated about 1850, but was way under-rated, and knew it - and so I was somewhat excited in the days before the tournament, so much so that I couldn't sleep. Making it worse is I came down sick. I used to be an insomniac, and often went a night without sleeping. This time I didn't sleep the last two nights before the tournament (Thur and Fri), and I came down with a fever of 101.

Early in the tournament I pulled off a nice win, and celebrated with a quarter pounder with cheese. When I won another match, I had another quarter pounder with cheese. Eventually I found myself in the Open Singles final (despite not being among the top eight seeds). As the match began, my head was burning up - several people had put their hands to my forehand and verified it was pretty bad. I had a horrible stomachache from all the quarter pounders - something like nine of them in one day, and having to play right after eating them. I faced Fred King, who in modern ratings would have been about 2200. Anyway, down 13-17 in the fifth on Fred's serve (games were to 21 back in those days, and you served five times in a row), I scored all five on his serve, and ended up winning 21-19 in the fifth. I also won Under 22, Under 2000, and Open Doubles, all four events I'd been entered in.

I spent the next few days in bed recuperating - I was pretty sick. I also became so sick at the idea of eating hamburgers that I've never eaten another hamburger or cheeseburger since, except at the 2000 Junior Olympics. The kids knew about my aversion to hamburgers, so I made a deal with them before the tournament: if they won over half the gold medals, I'd eat a cheeseburger. They did, and I did. That was the only one I've had since 1979.

Now that I'm as sick as I was that day back in 1979, perhaps I should enter a tournament this weekend?

Paris 2013

Here's the table used at the Chinese Team Trials for the upcoming World Championships in Paris.

Pongcast Episode 24

Here's another Pongcast (15:24). "In this episode: Results and analysis of the 2013 Qatar Open, Project Runway finds style in table tennis, Extra TV gets their pong on, and find out what it's like to be Timo Boll in practice!"

Wang Hao's Around the Net Loop

Here's a video (22 sec) of Wang Hao doing an around-the-net no-bounce loop at the Qatar Open against Germany's Patrick Baum.

Spin Move and Backhand Counterloop

Here's a video (27 sec) showing Kenta Matsudaira who both does a complete 360 spin after one shot, and a few shots later pulls out a winning backhand counterloop.

Trick Shots

Here's a video (2:29) of trick shots.

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