Los Angeles Open

September 5, 2012

Los Angeles Open and Exhibitions

Here are the results, and here's a video of the final (14:53) between Dimitrij Ovtcharov of Germany (a bronze medallist at the 2012 Olympics in Men's Singles and Teams) and Oh Sang Eun of Korea.

If you watch the match, it becomes clear early on they are basically playing an exhibition. There's been much discussion of this on online forums, and few experienced players disagree with this verdict. (Many lesser-experienced players couldn't tell.) Many have condemned it, and I have to grudgingly agree that it was completely out of line for them to play this way in the final of a major tournament, and right from the start. I have no idea why they did this.

USATT has rules that cover this, under 3.5.3 Good Presentation (and ITTF has nearly identical rules):

3.5.3.1 Players, coaches and officials shall uphold the object of good presentation of the sport; in particular players have to do their utmost to win a match and shall not withdraw except for reasons of illness or injury.

3.5.3.2 Any player who deliberately fails to comply with these principles may be disciplined by total or partial loss of prize money in prize events and/or by suspension from USATT events.

In this particular match, it is obvious the two did not "do their utmost to win [the] match." Are there cases where it is okay to play exhibition in a tournament match? Some would say never, citing both the USATT rules and the general idea that you should always fight to the end. However, many European players have a long history of playing exhibition at the end of a lopsided match, usually instigated by the player losing badly, and usually their opponents (often Chinese) go along with it, since in essence the one losing has given up on the match. (So technically speaking, both sides are playing exhibition, in violation of the rules.) I remember a women's singles final match at the USA Nationals between Gao Jun and Jasna Reed (now Jasna Rather), both known for their backhands, where (if I remember correctly) Gao had already won the first two games in the best of three to 21, and in game three they essentially had a backhand-to-backhand contest (won by Gao in deuce). I don't think anyone complained; that last game was riveting.

I'm guilty as well. About twenty years ago I played David Zhuang in the quarterfinals of the New Jersey Open in a best of five to 21. He won the first two and was well up in the third when I switched to exhibition. We put on a good one (lots of lobbing and counter-smashing, and I jumped the barriers several times while lobbing), but the umpire was very upset at us, even jumping out of his chair and trying to grab the ball while it was in play near the end when I blew a ball back, and again a few points later when David kicked one back. I also once played an impromptu exhibition match with Eric Boggan in front of an audience after I was well down, and once took on Scott Boggan in a pure exhibition-style counterlooping duel. (Note that between them, David, Eric, and Scott have won nine Men's Singles titles at the USA Nationals.) I've played plenty more exhibition points in matches, almost always at the end of lopsided matches.

So I'm on the fence about this one. I think there are circumstances where it's okay for players to play exhibition . . . except there are those pesky USATT rules. . . .

Does Time Slow Down in Table Tennis?

Here's an article in Discover Magazine entitled "Ready steady slow": time slows down when we prepare to move. I've experienced the same phenomenon, especially when returning serves, but also at other times, right as they say - when I'm about to move. How about you?

Is Tahl Leibovitz the Greatest Jewish Athlete You’ve Never Heard Of?

Here's an article in the Jewish Journal about Tahl Leibovitz.

Ping-Pong Cover for iPhone

Want a table tennis cover for you iPhone4? Well, here they are! They come in legal red and black, and illegal green and blue, but only in hard rubber (i.e. pimples out, no sponge). Sorry inverted loopers!

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September 5, 2011

Tip of the Week

Short serves to the middle

Keeping a notebook

Do you keep a table tennis notebook? I did for years, and I recommend you do as well. I used a steno notebook. From front to back, I would take notes on my own play - what I was working on, what drills I was doing, what worked and didn't work in matches, etc. On the other side - back to front - I kept tactical notes on opponents. When the side on me was filled up (it usually went first), I'd simply flip it over, and it would be a permanent record of my notes on opponents, and I'd get a new notebook and start fresh. At tournaments, I'd bring past notebooks (with the ever-growing notes on opponents), and would be ready against any opponent I'd ever played against.

Years later I started transcribing my tactical notes onto my computer, and then all my notes, including the ones on my game. And then, after doing this for perhaps a decade, I realized that I'd been doing it so long that all the notes were in my head, and that I no longer needed to write things down to remember them. So I retired my notebook. Even now, when I see an opponent from long ago, I usually can remember my tactical notes against him.

However, while I no longer have a notebook for my game, I still keep a notebook for players I coach. When I show up at, say, the USA National Cadet Trials, I have about a page of notes on each of the major contenders, which I regularly update.

Back update

Yesterday was the first time I played in three or four weeks. During that time I've had others do my hitting when I coached. But after getting the okay from the sports therapist last week, I did 2.5 hours on Sunday. It was mostly multiball, but that had hurt my back before. Now the back seems almost back to normal - there were no problems during the 2.5 hours. I'm going to continue with light play for perhaps another week or so, and gradually work myself back to regular play. The two things that most hurt the back - forehand looping and forehand pendulum serves - didn't seem to bother it yesterday, but I only did a few to test it out. The real test is if I can do these things repetitively.

In layman's terms, here's roughly what had been the problem with my back. The muscles on the right had grown so tight over they years they had shortened dramatically. As near as I can understand it, they attach to the backbone underneath, and so had pulled the base of the spine out of alignment, so the spine was now pointed off to my left. When the doctor and therapist first saw it, they both wondered how I could even stand up with my spine twisted like that! After a month of doing a ten-minute stretching routine three times a day, and meeting twice a week with the therapist (where she put it through far more), the spine has straightened out. Soon my loops will once again terrorize opponents who don't instead sneer at it and counterloop.

New USATT Hall of Famers

USATT Historian Tim Boggan has done writeups on the latest five members of the USATT Hall of Fame: Amy FengAzmy IbrahimBrian MastersMitch SeidenfeldBill Walk. Congrats to all!

ITTF Interview with Adham Sharara

Here's another interview with ITTF President Adham Sharara where he once again talks about increasing the ball size and increasing the height of the net. Two excerpts:

  • "We already have 42 millimetre balls in a test series and are waiting for the results."
  • "And of course, the increase of the net up to one centimetre is always a topic."

Los Angeles Open

They just ran the $45,000 (!!!) Los Angeles Open this past weekend, and here's the web page, but I can't find any results there. Am I missing something? The web page is packed with great info, but is missing the most important info of all after the tournament - the results! I could piece together most of the results from postings on various table tennis forums (Wang Zeng defeated Zhou Xin in the final, 4-1, etc.), but it sure would be helpful to have the results posted publicly on their web page. Could you imagine, say, a similar tennis tournament where the results were not posted?

New York City Open

Here are the results of the New York City Open held this past weekend. (Make sure to set it to New York City Open in the field at the top, and note that you can then look at all results of any event by selecting that events in the second field.) As you may know, it was schedule for the previous weekend, but it got Irened. So they rescheduled for one week later, and still got 167 entries, down about a hundred. They didn't run the Open - many of the top players were now at the LA Open, and of course when you lose 100 players because of a hurricane, you probably can't afford to run the Open.

Exhibition point

Here's a nice exhibition point by China's Wang Liqin and Ma Lin (1:06) - enjoy!

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