New York Times

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January 6, 2014

Tip of the Week

Three Parts to a Swing.

New Seamless Plastic Poly Balls

I blogged about these on Dec. 26 (see second segment). There's been a lot of discussion online of these non-celluloid balls and how they'd change our sport. Here's my take.

First, a caveat. When I tested the newest poly ball at the Nationals, I was having arm problems at the time and so couldn't loop at full power, so perhaps my judgment on that is suspect. On the other hand, the top juniors who tried the ball out (four of them, all around 2300) thought it played pretty much the same as a regular ball. I wish I had a copy of the ball now so I could try it out again (with my arm mostly okay), along with others at my club. 

At least one other person has tested the ball and posted he believes the ball (even the newest version) has less spin and speed. I'm suspicious that it's substantially different. I know the ball was the same size as a Nittaku, and had the same speed when I bounced them side by side, and seemed substantially the same when I hit with it, including the same weight, grippiness, etc. Serious question: what physical property would cause it to have less spin, and in particular, substantially less spin? Comments are welcome below.  

But let's assume that the new ball does have less speed and spin, as some think. This might be true if, for example, the ball were bigger. (Though the slightly bigger ball I tested previously was actually faster than the current ball, though less spinny.)

If there is less spin with the new ball, I'm pretty sure that'll hurt choppers, even if the ball were slower. Choppers need spin to work with to mess up attackers, so even if they are more consistent with a slower ball, they would be less effective overall. (It'd sort of be like sandpaper matches, where it's easy to chop over and over, but hard to win points that way against the best sandpaper attackers.) However, if the ball were slower, that should help topspin defenders (fishers and lobbers). 

As to hitters, going from 38mm to 40mm balls hurt hitters, and going to a ball with even less speed would do the same - less ball speed gives loopers more time to loop, and hitters (and aggressive blockers) rely on rushing loopers into missing, making weak loops, or backing too much off the table. The same is true of blockers. Inverted and pips-out blockers need to rush loopers, and a slower ball makes that more difficult. Long pips blockers need spin to work with (like choppers), and a less spinny ball gives them less to work with - thereby putting them more at the mercy of smart but powerful loopers. Without those heavy backspin returns of loops, they'll have great difficulty messing loopers up.

The hard-to-call case is the modern defender, who chops and loops. A slower, less spinny ball would make their chops more consistent but less deceptive (and overall chopping alone would be less effective), but the slower ball would allow them to get into position to rip forehand winners. Most likely the change wouldn't affect their level, but it would tilt them toward more aggressive play. 

The surprising truth is that a ball with less spin and speed would likely favor powerful loopers who can still produce great spin and speed. I think it'd move the sport even more in the direction of pure looping, just as the increase from 38mm to 40mm did. It might favor all-out forehand loopers to a degree, since they will have more time to get into position for their powerful forehand loops. If you want to bring back choppers, blockers, and hitters, go back to a smaller, faster, spinnier ball. 

Addendum added later: with less spin and speed, these pure topspin rallies would likely be better than current ones as players relentlessly counterloop back and forth with fewer errors. Some will love this; some will find it repetitively boring. I'm on the fence here. I really miss the greater diversity of styles in the past. If you want to see the future, look at the juniors of today; overwhelmingly they are two-winged loopers, which is what I mostly coach and coach against. There are subtle differences, but in general they play much more similar to each other than players in the past. And yet, with a slower, less spinny ball the given topsin rallies would be better, and there'll fewer errors in returning serves, with the lower amount of spin. But I sure would like to see a bit more variation. 

Baltimore Sun

Yesterday the Baltimore Sun sent a reporter to Maryland Table Tennis Center to do a feature on Crystal Wang, 11, who recently became the youngest player ever to win Under 22 Women's Singles at the USA Nationals. (I'd sent out press releases everywhere afterwards. Here's a short article on this that was already in the Baltimore Sun - with two errors from the original press release, which were my fault: Crystal's actually a 6th grader now in the magnet program at Roberto Clemente Middle School.) The reporter spoke to Crystal and a number of players and coaches, and interviewed me for half an hour. I was able to give her lots of background, explain how she developed, and give details on her modern playing style (close to table looping from both wings).

$100,000 World Championships of Ping Pong

They just completed the third annual World Championships of Ping Pong, which is a sandpaper event - with $100,000 in prize money! Yes, you read that right. For the third year in a row it was won by Russia's Maxim Shmyrev, this time defeating USA's Ilija Lupulesku in the final at 8, 7, 12. (Strangely, games are to 15 in the sandpaper format.) Here's video of the final (24:04). Alas, both players are attacking all out - little chopping in this match.

2014 USA Team Trials

Here's info on the upcoming USA National Team Trials (Men's and Women's), to be held at Texas Wesleyan University in Fort Worth Texas, March 7-9.

Message from ITTF President

Here's the end-of-the-year message from ITTF President Adham Sharara.

Ariel Hsing's Website

Here's the new website for our 18-year-old three-time USA Women's Singles Champion!

Ping-Pong Diplomacy

Here's a review in the New York Times on the book "Ping-Pong Diplomacy" by Nicholas Griffin.

Search for Professional Players, Clubs, and Coaches Around the World

Here's a new website that does this. I haven't really tested it out yet, but it looks interesting.

ITTF Monthly Pongcast

Here's the December 2013 issue (11:44).

Chinese National Team in Training

Here's a video (3:31) of the Chinese National Team doing physical training and then table training. With Chinese narration.

Bernoulli's Ping Pong Ball Launcher

Here's the video (60 sec) - it's both table tennis and science!

Jean-Michel Saive vs. Chuang Chih-Yuan

Here are two videos of these two stars doing exhibitions. Tape one (1:35) and tape two (4:10).

Real or Fake?

If this is real (15 sec), then it might be the greatest table tennis trick shot ever.

Send us your own coaching news!

February 26, 2013

Tip of the Week

Should You Hit or Loop the Backhand?

Two Weeks in a Desk

I'm still fighting off the cold I've had the last two days. However, I was already out of shape before I caught it.

The two weeks working on Tim's History of U.S. Table Tennis, Vol. XIII, left me way, way out of shape. Sitting at a desk 12-16 hours/day for two weeks can do that to you. On Saturday, after coaching all day (arriving at the club at 10AM), I was a practice partner for a 4:30-6:30 match session. By this point I was exhausted as well as out of shape and stiff as neutronium. I was also probably tired from the early stages of the cold I would not realize I had until the next day.

Yet, by playing sound tactics, I was able to beat a 2300 player, and mow down a whole bunch of 1800-2000 players all 3-0. Here's a summary of tactics I used to make up for slow feet, an erratic forehand, and general exhaustion.

  • On my serve, ended points quickly by forcing winners off my serve, either with the serve directly or an easy put-away afterwards. I threw everything at them - I call it "cycling my serves": short to the forehand (backspin, side-back, sidespin both ways, no-spin), long to the backhand (mostly breaking away, usually with a reverse forehand pendulum fake motion), fast no-spin at the elbow, and others short to the backhand or middle, or long to the forehand (either very long or barely long). Often I'd do my infamous "twitch" serve, which looks like backspin but a very small upward twitch right at contact puts light topspin on the ball.
  • Mixed up the receives to mess them up quickly in the rally, with a mixture of short pushes, quick long pushes, and banana backhand flips, all done with last-second changes of direction.
  • On their serve, forced backhand-to-backhand rallies where I just stood there hitting backhands until and unless they went to my forehand, in which case I'd loop or hit. By keeping the ball wide to their backhands, they had no angle into my forehand so I didn't have to move much to cover those balls.
  • Slow, spinny opening loops, followed either by easy put-aways or more backhand to backhand rallies.
  • When they attacked my forehand I'd go wide to their forehand, and then come back to their backhand, and then we'd be right back to backhand-to-backhand exchanges, except they'd start the rally out of position.
  • Occasional quick and heavy pushes to the wide corner. If done infrequently, they lead to miss after miss.

USA Team to the Worlds

Here's USATT's official announcement of the USA Team to the World Championships coming up in Paris, May 13-20. (Peter Li qualified for the fourth unfunded spot on the Men's Team, but turned it down. The fifth spots were coach's picks - Chodri and Lin.)

  • Men's Team - Timothy Wang, Yahao Zhang, Khoa Nguyen, Jim Butler, Kunal Chodri; Coach Stefan Feth
  • Women's Team – Lily Zhang, Erica Wu, Ariel Hsing, Prachi Jha, Tina Lin; Coach Doru Gheorghe

ITTF Education Platform

Here's the page - "the new learning platform for the International Table Tennis Federation."

Ping-Pong: Head Game

Here's an article in the New York Times on table tennis this past weekend. The author writes, "This is not the kids’ game I grew up playing in my dorm at school."

Qatar Open

Here's the home page for the Qatar Open that was played this weekend, with results, articles, and pictures. Here's a video (8:24, with time between points removed) of the all-Chinese Men's Final between Ma Long and An Yan. Here's a video (6:23, also with time between points removed) of the all-Chinese Women's Final between Ding Ning and Liu Shiwen.

Zhang Jike: Fully Recovered?

Here's an article on Zhang Jike's recovery from a series of poor performances.

Interview with Joo Saehyuk

Here's an interview with the South Korean defensive star.  

New York City Table Tennis Academy

Here's a video (4:26) featuring the NYCTTA and Coach Ernesto Ebuen.

Wang Liqin Tricks

Here's an article on Wang Liqin, which includes a 21-second video of him doing table tennis tricks, including showing how tacky his rubber is. (It holds the ball upside-down.)

World's Perfect Vacation?

Here's beach table tennis.

Send us your own coaching news!

August 16, 2012

Training Centers and Their Impact

Yesterday, in the Washington Post article on MDTTC (see yesterday's blog), it said, "Hodges campaigned for the U.S. Table Tennis Association to copy his blueprint, which he believed was the way to expand the sport." I'm going to expand on that.

In December, 2006, I spent a huge amount of time putting together a proposal to USATT to start recruiting and training coaches to set up junior programs and training centers. At the Board meeting at the Nationals I made the proposal. The response? Two board members ridiculed the idea of "full-time training centers," saying there weren't enough players to support such a thing, and so it wouldn't really affect the development of players in this country. The others in the room were mostly quiet.

The mind-boggling ignorance of such statements from people with no experience in such full-time training centers was, well, mind-boggling. The whole point of the proposal was that you'd recruit the players (especially juniors in junior programs), and simply do what MDTTC and several other training centers had already done successfully.

After I was done with my proposal, there was polite applause from the Board, it was checked off the agenda, and they moved on to the next item. I went through a very similar experience at the 2009 Strategic Meeting. The leaders of our sport, both then and now, just don't get this aspect of our sport (or about developing leagues, anther topic I've blogged about in the past), and so the development of our sport is really left up to those of us with the entrepreneurial spirit to do it on our own. This usually means having to reinvent the wheel over and over since there is no organization to oversee the recruitment and training of such coaches and promoters.

At the time of my presentation there were about ten training centers in the country, as I noted in the proposal. Now there are over fifty. I'm looking over the listing of top junior players for the various age groups from the Nov/Dec 2006 USATT Magazine, and comparing it to the most recent ones, July/August 2012. Each listing shows the top 15. (There are some foreign players listed in both listings, but they do not greatly affect the overall picture. I did a similar comparison in my blog about a year ago, but the comparisons are so stunning they deserve repetition.) Especially look at the added depth by comparing the #15 then and now! Nearly all of the addition players in the rankings come from full-time training centers, where large groups of junior players train together with full-time professional coaches. And the result? (And note that the finalists in Men's and Women's Singles at the last Nationals - Peter Li and Han Xiao, and Ariel Hsing and Lily Zhang - all came from full-time training centers.)

Under 18 Boys: In 2006, the #1 player was rated 2418, which would have been #13 in the current listing. The current #1 is 2625. The #15 player in 2006 was 2159; the #15 now is 2387.

Under 16 Boys: In 2006, the #1 player was rated 2418, which would have been #6 in the current listing. The current #1 is 2522. The #15 player in 2006 was 2087; the #15 now is 2310.

Under 14 Boys: In 2006, the #1 player was rated 2323, which would have been #6 in the current listing. The current #1 is 2420. The #15 player in 2006 was 1870; the #15 now is 2153.

Under 12 Boys: In 2006, the #1 player was rated 2044, which would have been #10 in the current listing. The current #1 is 2235. The #15 player in 2006 was 1440; the #15 now is 1916.

Under 10 Boys: In 2006, the #1 player was rated 2044, which would have been #1 in the current listing. The current #1 is 2008. The #15 player in 2006 was 620; the #15 now is 1170. (Addendum: the #2 player in 2006 was only 1495, while the current #2 is 1920.)

Under 18 Girls: In 2006, the #1 player was rated 2330, which would have been #4 in the current listing. The current #1 is 2548. The #15 player in 2006 was 1811; the #15 now is 2112.

Under 16 Girls: In 2006, the #1 player was rated 2113, which would have been #7 in the current listing. The current #1 is 2329. The #15 player in 2006 was 1620; the #15 now is 2002.

Under 14 Girls: In 2006, the #1 player was rated 2029, which would have been #7 in the current listing. The current #1 is 2261. The #15 player in 2006 was 1432; the #15 now is 1786.

Under 12 Girls: In 2006, the #1 player was rated 2029, which would have been #3 in the current listing. The current #1 is 2105. The #15 player in 2006 was 553; the #15 now is 1213.

Under 10 Girls: In 2006, the #1 player was rated 894, which would have been #12 in the current listing. The current #1 is 2105. The #15 player in 2006 was 80; the #15 now is 372.

The Difference Between Ignorance and a Moron

See this article in Time. "The table tennis players don’t have to run, jump, or be particularly strong. They don’t have to move around all that much. They just don’t pass the Olympics smell test." A person who doesn't know about something is ignorant, and there's nothing wrong with that; everyone is ignorant of most things. A person who is ignorant of something but believes he knows all about it is a moron. You, Sean Gregory, are a moron. 

Futuristic Table Tennis

Yesterday I linked to the video showing players playing on a table that seemed shark infested. The sharks were actually projections from a projector. Here's another video showing this (2:09). About 48 seconds in they change to projecting the path of the ball onto the table. Somehow they have equipment that detects the path of the ball and projects it onto the table a split second after the ball has traveled that path.

China Brings Its Past to Ping-Pong’s Birthplace

Here's an article in the New York Times about Table Tennis, China, England, Ping-Pong Diplomacy, and some history.

Iran Trailblazer

Here's an article about Neda Shahsavari, the first Iranian woman to compete in the Olympics.

Highlights from the Worlds

Here's a highlights video (10:57) of the best points from the 2012 World Championships.

Three Limericks

There once was a player whose smash,
Was so good that he always talked trash,
"I'm the greatest!" he cried,
And his sponsors replied,
By sending him boatloads of cash.

There once was a player who cheated,
And worse still the guy was conceited,
His bearing was regal,
But his serves were illegal,
And so he was never defeated.

There once was a player whose serve,
Had so much sidespin it would curve,
To the left and the right,
And then out of sight,
Leaving us with no balls in reserve.


Send us your own coaching news!

June 22, 2012

Day Four of MDTTC Camp - the Backhand Loop and Doubles Tactics

On Thursday morning we focused on the backhand attack against backspin, mostly the backhand loop but also the backhand drive against backspin, especially against a short ball. Nathan Hsu (15, rated 2356) was my partner for the demo. I demonstrated my favorite loop versus backspin drill: I serve backspin, partner pushes to my backhand, I backhand loop, partner blocks, I backhand chop, partner pushes, and I backhand loop, and the cycle continues.

Later I gave a short lecture on doubles tactics. (Short version - Serves: serve low and short, mostly toward the middle of the table. Receive: be ready to loop any ball that goes long. Rallies: hit to the opposite side of the player hitting to you from his partner, so they get in each other's way. And lots more.)  Then we played doubles for an hour. We also divided the camp into two groups, and I took the "new" players off to the side and gave a lecture on equipment, which ended with everyone trying out playing against and with anti and long pips. (I also talked about short pips and hardbat.)

There are 34 players in the camp this week. We were a bit worried that we'd get a smaller turnout since we're running camps every week all summer - eleven consecutive weeks - but that doesn't seem to be a problem.

U.S. Nationwide Table Tennis League

Here's a new 30-second ad for the upcoming USNTTL league, which starts in September. Here's their home page.

Reminder - Sports Psychology Night at MDTTC

Tonight, Table Tennis Sports Psychologist Dora Kurimay will run a 40-minute sports psychology workshop at the Maryland Table Tennis Center. She runs the table tennis sports psychology page, and is the co-author of the book "Get Your Game Face On!" (Here's my review of the book on the USATT website.) The schedule for the night will be: 6:30-7:00PM - book signing; 7:00-7:40PM: Sports Psychology Seminar ($20, which includes a free copy of the book); after 7:40PM: Personalized Sport Psychology Consultation. Here is the flyer for the event. Come join us! (Dora's also coming in early to join in our afternoon session at the MDTTC training camp.)

Moyer Foundation's Celebrity Ping-Pong Tournament

Baseball pitching star Jamie Moyer will host this celebrity charity event this Saturday, 5:30-9:00 PM, in Philadelphia, with proceeds "will help children in distress – including The Moyer Foundation’s Camp Erin and Camp Mariposa programs." Here's the info page, and here's The Moyer Foundation, founded by MLB World Series-winning All-Star pitcher Jamie Moyer and his wife, Karen. Celebrities attending include  the following - and note Delaware Governor Jack Markell - I've coached him! Here's a picture of him playing from the Celebrities Playing Table Tennis Page.

ICC Table Tennis in NY Times

Here's an article in yesterday's New York Times on the India Community Center Table Tennis in Milpitas, CA.

"Beer Pong Saved My Life"

That's the title of this 2010 movie, which bombed both critically and at the box office. "Two best friends, Dustin and Erik, are tired of their stagnant and miserable lives. When Dustin hears about a beer pong tournament at a nearby college, Erik is on board right away. Reluctantly, Dustin agrees to play in the tournament and suddenly they are the coolest and best players there. But when the sudden praise goes to their heads, it's all downhill from there!"

In honor of this movie (and despite the fact that I'm a non-drinker), here are some great Beer Pong videos:


Send us your own coaching news!

February 27, 2012

Tip of the Week

Opening Up the Forehand Zone.

Opening Up the Forehand Zone, Part II

The following happened on Saturday night - and I swear it happened after I wrote this week's Tip of the Week. (And now you know what I do on Saturday nights.)

I had a new student, around age 40, with some serious technique problems. His level was somewhere under 1000 in USATT ratings. He'd had a few lessons before at another club, but things hadn't gone well there. As soon as we started hitting forehand to forehand, you could see he had a serious problem with his grip, which seemed to lead to an awkward forehand. His finger pointed upward on the blade, his wrist fell backward, and he more or less punched at the ball in front of him instead of from the side. The obvious and easiest solution was to fix his grip, and then work on the stroke. And that's exactly what others had tried to get him to do. It hadn't worked.

At the USATT coaching seminar I taught last year I regularly harped on the idea of fixing the root cause of problems, not the symptoms. And that's what others had tried to do - the grip wasn't the cause of his problems, it was a symptom of the root cause, which was that he was playing his forehand with a backhand stance, feet parallel to the table, with little waist or shoulder rotation. He was only using about the front one-fourth of his forehand hitting zone, while facing forward. This forced him to adjust his grip to compensate. It took only a few minutes to fix the problem in practice: move the right (back) foot back some, rotate the waist and shoulders, and contact the ball toward the middle of the hitting zone. The key was to start out by hitting forehand to forehand very slowly, focusing on proper technique and timing, until the stroke became ingrained enough to speed up some.

The player still has a lot of practice to do in order to ingrain this new and better forehand technique. If he puts in the time, his stroke will be fine.

Happy Birthday to Sheeba and Me

Today's my 52nd birthday, so people can no longer say I'm not playing with a full deck. (It's also Chelsea Clinton's 32nd birthday. We always go out together and celebrate with root beers.) It's also Sheeba's 78th birthday. Okay, Sheeba is my dog, about 3/4 corgi, 1/4 some sort of hound, and she's actually only 14, though we only know that she was born in February of 1998 (that's from the form about her when I adopted her from a shelter in 2002 when she was four) , but we celebrate it on my birthday. According to the Dog Age Calculator, as a 30 pound dog, she's 78. Here's her picture (from a few years ago, but she looks almost the same), and here she is straining to eat bacon snacks.

Arm problems

With age comes physical problems. Or perhaps they aren't related. My arm has been bothering me for several days, and sometime during yesterday's mornings three hours of coaching it got much worse. That afternoon I was playing matches in a group session (where I'm a practice partner), and had to stop. The injury appears to be a muscle strain, on the forearm, just below the inner elbow, on the right. Here's a picture, with a black dot marking the injury. Any doctors, trainers, or others with suggestions on rehabbing it, other than rest and icing it?

USATT Paralympic Program Manager

USATT has hired Jasna Reed as the Para Program Manager for 2012, a new USATT position. Jasna, two-time U.S. Women's Singles Champion, Olympic Bronze Medalist in Women's Doubles, and head table tennis coach at Texas Wesleyan University, has extensive experience in Paralympic table tennis. Here's an interview I did with Jasna back in 2001, with picture.

2012 USA Table Tennis Budget

Here it is: Income Statement Summary | Income Statement Detail | Programmatic Summary

Table Tennis in New York Times

Here's an article in the New York Times on Saturday on Ariel Hsing's Olympic dreams.

Interview with Jorg Rosskopf

German great Jorg Rosskopf was interviewed just yesterday as he prepares for the 2012 Worlds.

2012 Kuwait Open Final

Jun Mizutani (JPN) defeats Ryu Seung Min (KOR) in the Kuwait Open Final on Feb. 18, 2012. Time between points is taken out, so it's non-stop action with the whole match shown in 6:37. Here are results and articles on the tournament.

Hilarious exhibition

Here's an exhibition between Jean-Michel Saive (on left at start) and Andrzej Grubba at the 1996 Gilbert Cup in Beverly Hills (7:36).


Send us your own coaching news!

May 19, 2011


Talent Revisited

Yao Siu-Long ("Siu") emailed me the following question, after reading in my April 27 blog entry about Crystal Wang, who recently became the youngest player ever to break 2000, at age 9 years 1 month. (She's rated 2031, but at the recent unprocessed Potomac Open, should go up even more.)  Siu asked the following:

"I read your blog about Crystal Wang.  It sounds like she was progressing but suddenly took off.  Why?  What approach to learning and practicing do you think is key to such spectacular success?  Is it the number of hours practiced?  The coach? Going to China?

"Before you answer "talent", I've read quite a bit of research (and maybe this could be something for you to blog about as well).  There is a large body of research that suggests that talent is overrated (take a look at the book "Bounce" by Matthew Syed, a table tennis player).  You need a certain level of talent, but after that it's hard work and, perhaps, the training methods.  For example, "deliberate practice" is key.  That is, practicing with intent and goals.

"What do you see as making the difference for the successful players that you've coached?

This is an excellent question. I actually wrote my thoughts on talent in my March 11, 2011 blog entry. And I definitely agree that talent is way over-rated. On the other hand, there is no question that talent exists - we are not all born with identical brains. However, as argued in "Bounce," it's not that there's no such thing as talent, it's that, at the world-class level, it's only a small aspect. I believe that at the beginning stages, talent does dominate, but if you start early enough with good coaching, and work hard, then deliberate practice dominates. I'm still on the fence as to whether an "untalented" player who starts very early - say, age 4 or 5 - and undergoes such deliberate practice can become one of the best in the world, but they can definitely become very good.

For Crystal specifically, she's been taking regular lessons from Coach Jack Huang since she started playing in the summer of 2008 at age six. Is she talented? For a six-year-old, she definitely had nice hand-eye coordination from the start, and yet in April of 2010 (when she turned 8) she was still rated "only" 1013. I put "only" in quotes because a 1000+ rating for a 7-year-old is still pretty good. However, it takes time for all the basics to really get ingrained.

Here's where the mental game counts. For her age, she's very focused and hard-working. Few players under age 10 (or older) have the focus and work ethic she had from the beginning. And so much of her first two years were spent building a formidable foundation. When you see her strokes and other techniques, they aren't something she just "picked up" because of talent. They were meticulously developed, one training session at a time, until they became the fearsome combos that now strike fear into anyone rated under 2300. Forehands and backhands? Forehand and backhand loops off underspin? Pushing and blocking? Serve and receive? Footwork? None of it came about without incredibly hard work and excellent coaching.

Was she more talented than most? She seemed that way. But two points on this.

First, a "less talented" player might do the same thing if they started even younger, i.e. age four or so. This is problematic in the U.S., since the tables are too high. In China and other countries, kids often start out on shortened tables. If we did the same, then by the time they are age six they could already have a few years of playing. I used to take tennis lessons, and was amazed to discover they have tennis sessions for three-year-olds. You don't need to be older than that to hit a ball - you just need a table that fits your size.

Second, there's little doubt that since Crystal seemed to pick things up early, it inspired her and her parents to really focus on table tennis. And now that she's really taking off, it's not only paying off, but now they are probably inspired to go all the way, and see just how good Crystal can be.

Here's a picture of an unsmiling Crystal after losing the final of Under 1600 in the May, 2010 MDTTC Open. Coming into the tournament, she was rated 1013, but she beat players rated 1381 and 1424 to reach the final before losing to Mort Greenberg in the final. I don't think Mort wants a rematch!!!

Chinese Immigrants

Here's a front page (sports section) story that ran in the New York Times on May 14, about Chinese players coming to the U.S. and other countries and dominating. (I'm quoted and mentioned in the article.) 

Space and Time Magazine

In non-table tennis news, my science fiction story "The Awakening" is in the upcoming issue of Space and Time Magazine, with my name on the cover. The story was the Grand Prize winner at the 16th Annual 2010 Garden State Horror Writers Short Story Contest in November. It was a unanimous choice of the judges!!! Here's the trophy. Here's a description: "A 4-D being plays around with the 3-D universe (ours), and just for fun, makes a fly super intelligent. The fly goes to war first with a woman who tries to swat it, then with the 4-D being, and eventually with the entire 4-D and 3-D universes. You don't want to know where it lays its eggs!!!" (Here's my science fiction and fantasy page.)


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