Sergio Garcia

September 16, 2013

Tip of the Week

Real Tactics versus Parroting Tactics.

Tournament Tactics

I coached at a tournament this weekend, which inspired this week's Tip of the Week. Some strange things took place at this USATT-sanctioned tournament. The first match my student played was against a player using sandpaper (!), which isn't allowed in USATT tournaments, but they allowed it. We decided not to protest, and simply played (and won) the match. There was also a group of four that started at 1PM. One player didn't show, and so the other three finished at 2PM, and were returning the clipboard to the desk when the fourth showed, a kid about 13, over an hour late. Rather than default him, the players were told to return to the table and play it out. Again, we didn't protest - I mean, it was just a kid - so we just played it out. (My player barely pulled it out in five games.)

I was coaching a 12-year-old named Sameer, who was rated 1131 but was somehow still eligible for Under 1100 since they were using older ratings. He won the event. The strange thing about his matches (other than playing against sandpaper) was that over and over his opponents had strong backhands but weak forehands. Sameer tends to serve into the backhand, and so struggled in the first game in match after match. Over and over between games I'd tell him to serve to the forehand, and over and over it worked.

Tournaments are great for bringing out strengths and weaknesses. My eyes were opened to just how effective Sameer's backhand loop is getting - and I was wondering if it would be read for the Teams in November! But his forehand loop, while generally strong, has a hitch in it sometimes that we need to work on. When he's not confident, he tends to stand up straight, almost falling back as he lifts the ball.

No-Luck Matches

John Olsen told me an interesting idea this weekend. Players often complain about nets and edges, and let's face it, certain styles get more of them than others. So John had recently played some matches where the rule was if the ball hit the net or edge, the point is a let. He found there was little difference in the results. However, as noted, there are certain styles that will get more of these than others, such as anyone with a dead surface (such as long pips or antispin), which tends to get more net balls than others. A rule like this might make a bigger difference for them. Style also affects the value of these shots. For example, a chopper probably gets more nets than most players, but since their balls are coming in slow (so opponents can react), and since the chopper is often off the table (and o unable to take advantage of weak returns of these nets), a chopper's net balls aren't as effective as some other styles.

Two More Full-Time Table Tennis Centers

I've added two more clubs to the list I maintain of full-time table tennis centers in the United States, bringing the number to 58. (In December of 2007 there were only about ten of them, and that's when I made a proposal to the USATT that they get involved in recruiting and training of coaches to create full-time centers - and was told that there wasn't a demand for such centers.) The two new ones:

USA Men's Champion Timothy Wang Versus Sergio Garcia and Matt Kuchar

Timothy took on the two PGA golfers. Here's the video (Wang vs. Kuchar, 1:40), and here's a photo gallery.  

Great Block by Dimitrij

Here's a video (12:36, time between points removed) of the recent LA Open Singles Final between Champion Dimitrij "Dima" Ovtcharov and Runner-up lefty Li Tianyu. See the great block by Dima in the point starting at 8:46! in the point starting at 8:46! (See the slow motion replay afterwards.) 

Spooky Pongers

Here's a spooky group of ping-pong players. Maybe this should have gone up on Friday the 13th, but better late than never. Kind of look like Star Wars Jawas, don't they?

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