Posts tagged with "table tennis"

My other Chinese parents

I called Norm tonight. As an inter­na­tional ref­eree1, he’s a fix­ture in the Ottawa table ten­nis com­mu­nity, and runs one of the recre­ational venues in the city. I’ve been try­ing to get in shape for a big project that’ll have me run­ning around a bunch of cam­era gear, and since I’ve given up on find­ing decent Tai Chi instruc­tion for now, it made sense that I go back to the only car­dio exer­cise that didn’t bore me out of my mind.

I haven’t been to this club — or played any kind of table ten­nis, for that mat­ter — in about five years. I missed it as much as I miss make­outs, and it’s prob­a­bly been about just as long. The only peo­ple who were still there were Norm and his wife, Virsanna, as well as two hoary old ladies who must be in their 80s but still man­age to keep up with the rest of us, their teal sweat­pants adorably pulled up past their bellies.

Continue read­ing “My other Chinese parents”…

  1. Basically a level 7 umpire, which is the high­est level, mean­ing he offi­ci­ates the top matches like the World Championships and Commonwealth Games. []

Best Table Tennis Celebration

This is so awe­some.

Adam Bobrow (the player in blue) times his loop per­fectly in the mid­dle of a series of defen­sive lobs against the smash of his oppo­nent, throw­ing off his oppo­nents offen­sive rhythm, and caus­ing him to drive the ball into the net.

I gen­er­ally don’t post stuff like this (i.e. con­tent that isn’t mine, as I don’t want to have a tum­blelog), but I couldn’t resist. As an avid lover of table ten­nis (who has since given up prac­tices for a love for Tai Chi because they’re on con­flict­ing nights), and as a player who fre­quently gets destroyed by oppo­nents in the league, I under­stand exactly how good it feels to get a sin­gle point when it’s match point for the other guy. After all, it’s not a com­plete thrash­ing if you don’t have zero points. You can tell the ref isn’t impressed, but he doesn’t hand out a yel­low card for misconduct.

I want to see some­one do this after win­ning in push hands. :D

Edit: I showed the video to Norm, my old league team­mate and coach, and also a cer­ti­fied level 5 umpire (the high­est level you can get, which means you can pre­side over inter­na­tional and Olympic level matches; I’m a lowly cer­ti­fied level 1 umpire). He had this to say:

I watched the game, when the point was over and the guy did his dance I wouldn’t give him a yel­low card for the first 5 sec­onds. But he kept on doing this and it def­i­nitely deserves a yel­low card. But then when I saw the score board, I changed my mine again. Seems like the game was lop­sided and he was just crown­ing around for his point.

I have to agree. If he was cel­e­brat­ing a lop­sided game on his end, it would be con­sid­ered cocky. But the fact that he’s los­ing and danc­ing to such a hol­low vic­tory means that he acknowl­edges how badly he’s los­ing. Well played.

Table Tennis with God

I’m walk­ing through a Chinese Christian church. The wood is old but lac­quered well. Decorations line the walls: a tree made of chil­drens’ hand­prints, posters about the Almighty with slo­gans in large print, cal­en­dars and sched­ules of upcom­ing events. We head down­wards while a prayer meet­ing goes on upstairs. A young girl in Heelies skates along­side us in the hall.

We’re lead to a room with two table ten­nis tables, blue, rel­a­tively new. There isn’t much room to maneu­ver, but the light­ing is great. Shou offers us some Jasmine tea. Players are warm­ing up as more Chinese men come in one at a time. They play in sneak­ers with­out sneaker socks, or dress shirts, or those shirts with logos you get for free at a com­pany. Their shorts are an awk­ward length between capris and sports trunks.

Dan intro­duces him­self to every­one. I’m sit­ting down, try­ing to place the province of their accents. Tamarra picks up a children’s book and starts to read.

All their serves are ille­gal; they don’t throw the ball the reg­u­la­tion 6 inches straight up, which means they can put an unfair spin on the ball before it hits the pad­dle. A result of the insu­lar soci­ety they have here, where they play the same peo­ple over and over again, never ven­tur­ing out­side their reli­gious clique. They sim­ply don’t know any better.

Dan gets paired up for a match. They both play con­ser­v­a­tively when warm­ing up, try­ing to hide their tech­niques while feel­ing each other out. “Some peo­ple, when you get it in their hit zone, never miss”. Dan’s oppo­nent makes no mis­takes for him to cap­i­tal­ize on, but a con­sis­tent defence wears him out. His oppo­nent spends his energy win­ning the first game, smash­ing at every oppor­tu­nity, and loses his momen­tum. Dan wins every game for the rest of the match.

Continue read­ing “Table Tennis with God”…

Table Tennis Growth

When I read the order of play to Norm, he laughed. The first group­ing was against Hit-And-Miss, and being such an active mem­ber in the com­mu­nity, Norm knew them well. Against this team of three middle-aged, white met­ro­sex­u­als and their buddy Chinese cap­tain, we fared what can only be described as holo­caus­tic. They wore tight-fitting shirts, styl­ish tear­away pants, and had the strength, and speed to match.

Except for the Chinese guy. He had a bit of a pot belly, a bit of a scruff, and a very feared, well-balanced, pen-holders grip. And he spoke great English.

It was a plea­sure to lose to such nice guys.

I asked them about the next team we were up against, and they told us that they trashed the two lit­tle guys at the last league meet. Little guys? Kids. But I can already tell that both have improved since last month, the capain told me.

No chal­lenge for four fit men in their thir­ties plus one Chinese guy (40 give or take 10 years). A lit­tle more dif­fi­cult for me and my team­mates, Norm, a calmly pas­sion­ate Chinese guy in his 50’s, and Andrzej, a Polish man who picked up table ten­nis this year after a 40 year break, both of whom are bet­ter than I am.

I never would have believed that an 11-year-old and his seven-year-old brother could be so intim­i­dat­ing, a very FRENCH Olivier and Laurent. As cap­tain, I had the deci­sion to make as to who was play­ing first.

In table ten­nis, as with chess, the strongest player on the team is usu­ally signed to the first match so that the matches may end before the weaker play­ers have to play. Captain 1 signs the play sheet for the order of play for his team, and hands the sheet folded in half to Captain 2 so he can’t see, and use such infor­ma­tion to his advan­tage by pair­ing up oppo­nent styles against their weak­nesses. Out of five matches, there are two sin­gles at the start, a dou­bles in the mid­dle, and two more sin­gles at the end between the first sin­gles oppo­nents reversed, for best out of five matches.

Confused yet?

Before I signed the play sheet, Norm let me in on a lit­tle secret; when Olivier was 10 last year, Norm beat him in the league. Gambling that this would still hold true, and our oppo­nents would fol­low form, I put Norm first, me sec­ond, and Andrew with Norm as dou­bles. That way Norm had the best chance at beat­ing the older brother, I would have a chance at beat­ing the younger brother, they would win dou­bles, and that would be it.

Unfortunately, they decided to play the younger brother, Laurent, first. He could only see about a foot over the table, and I could tell his move­ments were strained from the height dis­ad­van­tage. He spoke no English, except for the phrase “Backhand?” dur­ing warm-ups, and “One mo!” when he was at 10 points. Sometimes he would mimic the table ten­nis pros with lit­tle grunts of sat­is­fac­tion when he got a point. Eventually, he lost to Norm gra­ciously (for a seven-year-old).

Then I was up against the Olivier, the older brother. Believing that a pair of descended tes­ti­cles to be my only advan­tage, I played with a lump in my throat, and he returned like a machine, sur­pris­ing me at every point. I could never keep him off bal­ance, or run him around the table. He just kept land­ing the ball on my side.

I lost. Then we lost at dou­bles, a tremen­dous upset. My mind was out, and I was forced to play the younger brother next. I lost again, although I won one set after Norm told me to serve to the far side of his stance (they had a time-out and eas­ily adjusted for the next set). By that time, we lost three out of five matches, and they were deter­mined to be the win­ning team, but Olivier asked to play Norm for the final match any­way. When Oliver won, he walked over and shook Norm’s hand, a look of proud accom­plish­ment on his face.

And this is what Norm loves the most. To see those younger play­ers grow up and improve and become national team players.

Back Into The Game

After a ten month hia­tus, I’m back into my reg­u­lar table ten­nis rou­tine again. I started out extremely rusty, feel­ing as if I was learn­ing how to play again, but now I’m almost at the level that I ended with. It feels like it’s advan­ta­geous to take a step back from play­ing so that I can for­get all my bad habits while remem­ber­ing all the the­ory, because I can tell exactly what I need to change to improve now. I wish I could say the same for my golf game when I get out on the courses every spring.

My bout with gas­troen­teri­tis left me with a smaller appetite and ema­ci­ated frame. The sud­den weight loss — bring­ing my weight pre­car­i­ously close to 100 lbs. — has been rather notice­able; my sweaters are baggy, my rings slip off my fin­gers, and I’ve lost two notches on my belt. Most peo­ple strug­gle to lose weight, I strug­gle to gain it and stay above 120. Table ten­nis is one of the best things I can do to fix this. After every ses­sion, I’m rav­en­ously hun­gry, and this usu­ally con­tin­ues through to the day after.

Table ten­nis is also one of the only sports that I enjoy enough to not have to drag my ass out every time, which is def­i­nitely an advan­tage when the venue is an hour away. Unfortunately, my sched­ule on Tuesdays and Thursdays now con­sists of:

  1. wak­ing up at six thirty in the morning
  2. going to work for eight and a half hours
  3. com­ing home and sleep­ing for half an hour
  4. eat­ing a din­ner which I’ve pre­pared ear­lier in the week (with no time to cook)
  5. trav­el­ling to the gym
  6. play­ing for two hours
  7. trav­el­ling home
  8. show­er­ing and falling asleep by midnight

There are no breaks in between, which means that I have to watch the clock dur­ing almost every­thing that I do. It’s a com­plete rush from start to fin­ish. The upside is that when I’m at the gym, work­ing on bet­ter short-ball con­trol, or try­ing to achieve a back­hand smash, I can for­get every­thing else, which is some­thing that doesn’t hap­pen for me easily.