MDTTC Expansion

March 29, 2012

Pushing the limits

Last night I was coaching an 8-year-old girl. We've been working on her strokes for months, and while she could occasionally get 50 or so in a row at a slow pace, it was sort of a "just keep the ball in play" type rally, at a slow pace, with her mostly standing stationary as she patted the ball back. She was looking pretty bored as I encouraged her to get 50 in a row. So I tried something different - I decided it was time to teach her to forehand loop. Normally I'd want her to have a bit more ball control and athleticism in her game before I'd start this. So I got a bucket of balls and fed her backspin with multiball. At first she struggled, but after a few minutes she made a rather nice loop, and then another, and after a while she was able to hit about every other one on the table with a good stroke and decent topspin. She ran off to tell her mom (who was hitting on another table). Then she ran back and did some more.

Here's the real surprise. We ended the session hitting forehands - and after all the struggles, suddenly she came alive, her feet moving, and for the first time ever we were steadily smacking the ball back and forth, at a faster and more consistent rate than ever. I decided to test her backhand as well, and the same thing. So it was a triple whammy.

Maybe next week I'll teach her counterlooping.

MDTTC Spring Break Camp and other activities

It's not too late to register for our Spring Break Camp next week, Mon-Fri, 10AM - 6PM (with a two-hour lunch break in the middle). It's also not too late to join our beginning junior class starting this Saturday, 10:30AM-Noon. I'll be teaching the class, with Jeffrey Zeng Xun assisting. (We postponed the first session from today to Saturday as we still have people working all day on the club's new expansion, which should be complete by tomorrow.) We also have a new Tuesday Night League starting April 10, along with our usual one on Friday nights.

Once the expansion is complete I plan on starting a beginning adult class and a weekly service practice session. The latter will start off with a service seminar where I teach the basics of advanced serves, and then we meet 30 minutes each week to practice.

Jorgen Persson vs. Ma Lin

Here's a great match from the Worlds between two great veterans (6:03). Of course Persson (who'll turn 46 on April 22) was 1991 World Men's Singles Champion when Ma Lin (32) was 11.

Susan Sarandon

Here's an old article from Sept. 2010 in NY Magazine on Sarandon and table tennis, with a picture of her playing table tennis. And here's a more recent picture of her also playing table tennis, this time on the cover of what I think is Home Magazine.

"Interestingly no one has ever been killed playing ping-pong."

This video (1:47) starts out innocently enough, and for the first 18 seconds seems to be a video about guns deaths. Then it takes a deadly turn into table tennis! Lots of photoshopping, with scenes and actors from numerous major movies, all strangely playing ping-pong.

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December 9, 2011

Hidden Service Rules

From the just-received Nov/Dec 2011 issue of USATT Magazine, page 62, from the An Official's View article by International Umpire Joseph C. H. Lee:

[He quotes a service rule.] "From the start of service until it is struck, the ball ... shall not be hidden from the receiver by the server or his or her doubles partner or by anything they wear or carry."

[He quotes another service rule.] "It is the responsibility of the player to serve so that the umpire or the assistant umpire can be satisfied that he or she complies with the requirements of the Laws, and either may decide that a service is incorrect."

"From the umpire’s angle, sometimes it is difficult to determine whether or not the serve is hidden from the receiver. It is the server’s responsibility, however, to demonstrate to the umpire or the assistant umpire that the serve conforms to all aspects of the service rules."

He concludes with this:

"...the server must make sure the umpire can observe the entire motion of the serve, including the moment when the racket strikes the ball. If the umpire is unable to observe the serve, he/she will give a warning and the server had better comply in subsequent serves."

Bingo. Why is it so many umpires refuse to enforce the hidden serve rule? As International Umpire Joseph Lee writes above, if the umpire can't see that the serve is visible, then he gives a warning, and if it happens again, it's a fault. It's not complicated.

I've blogged about this a number of times. Will it be enforced at the Nationals next week? I sure hope so. If not, then umpires are allowing players to win by cheating, and penalizing the ones who do not cheat. If not enforced, it likely will be the difference between a player winning a championship or making a USA Team or going home frustrated because he was cheated out of these things.

Unfortunately, we ran into this at last years USA Cadet Team Trials, and again at the U.S. Open, when umpires often wouldn't call hidden serves. (And to be fair, it's often not called internationally either.) This year I've brought printouts from videos of many of the players in question, showing blatantly illegal hidden serves that umpires wouldn't call, even after protests by opponents or their coaches. Because some of the players involved are minors, I'm not going to make these public, but I will show them to umpires & referees, and anyone who privately (and cordially) asks to see them.

If umpires do not enforce the hidden serve rules at the Nationals, then I'm declaring these rules null and void (and the umpires incompetent), and our top players (including cadets and juniors) will have no choice but to learn these illegal serves to compete. A rule that is openly not enforced soon ceases to be a rule.

Maryland Table Tennis Center Expansion

At the club last night I told a player about the upcoming expansion. (MDTTC doubles in size in January, taking over the space next door, with the wall between coming down, giving us about 11,000 square feet and 20 or so tables.) His immediate response? "There aren't enough players to support it!"

It's exactly what people said when we first opened 20 years ago, and there truly weren't nearly enough local players at that time to support a full-time table tennis center. Where will we get the players? The same way we did then, the same way any successful club does - you make the club as good as it can be, and promote the heck out of it. You build your membership, you don't wait for players to magically appear before creating the club.

I faced the same thing with USATT a few years ago when I pushed for nationwide leagues and junior training programs, with the goal of increasing the number of players and juniors. The response by many? "But there aren't enough players and juniors to create leagues and junior programs!" Alas.

Prize money increased for the 2012 U.S. Open in Grand Rapids

And here's the article!

The Chinese Advantage

Here's an article by Coach Massimo Constantini on why the Chinese are so good. It mostly involves European laziness and problematic backhand techniques that led to problems on the forehand as well.

Pongcast Episode 5 - ITTF Pro Tour Grand Finals

Here's the video (26:54) - enjoy!

Blake Griffin versus Soo Yeon Lee

Here a hilarious commercial for Red Bull (2:53), which features Griffin taking up professional table tennis and taking on Lee. Blake Griffin is a basketball player with the LA Clippers, for those of you who didn't know - like me until a few seconds ago. Soo Yeon Lee is a professional table tennis player and model - she was on the cover of the July/August USA Table Tennis Magazine.

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