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”…

Dusting Myself Off Like I Just Stole Third

Thumbnail: Green tea ice cream
Thumbnail: Bronwen with Dolly
Thumbnail: Pumpkins for sale
Thumbnail: Bandit
Thumbnail: Quebec view
Thumbnail: Speciality sushi
Thumbnail: Autumn leaf
Thumbnail: Crab claws
Thumbnail: Sarah
Thumbnail: War memorial
Thumbnail: Spicy pork soup
Thumbnail: Olaf

More than a crazy week, I man­aged to sur­vive a crazy fort­night. Something went wrong almost every day, from get­ting my hair high­light­ed, to almost get­ting killed in a near-miss car acci­dent, to find­ing out that my com­pa­ny was bought out. On top of this, I kept los­ing sleep, which only expo­nen­ti­at­ed the stress. Now is the process of pick­ing myself up and dust­ing myself off.

I still feel over-stim­u­lat­ed, so I’ve been her­mi­tiz­ing. Staying away from peo­ple for a while. I’m lim­it­ing myself to one social inter­ac­tion or extra-cur­ric­u­lar activ­i­ty per week. It would actu­al­ly be noth­ing if I had the option, but I keep get­ting pulled into things because of their annu­al exclu­siv­i­ty, such as Thanksgiving din­ner at Louise’s.

I’ve cut off the woman who gave birth to me. There’s a tremen­dous feel­ing of relief, after hav­ing done it. I’m grate­ful for all the sup­port that peo­ple are show­ing me, as well as the fact that none of them have giv­en me advice as if they know more about the sit­u­a­tion or have more wis­dom than I do.

I hold Pat’s opin­ion in high­est regard because he’s the only one who under­stands from both a cul­tur­al and first-hand point-of-view. He was also the only one who told me, “Good for you”. This, from one of the most for­giv­ing, car­ing peo­ple that I know, con­firmed to me that I made the right deci­sion. ____ offered a unique per­spec­tive too, since los­ing his moth­er at a ten­der age. “You only get one”, he said, although he nev­er chid­ed or judged me about it, per­haps because of the num­ber of times I’ve called him up in tears because of her.

Of the last five times I’ve tried to play table ten­nis, things did­n’t work out once. It cer­tain­ly made the last two weeks a lot more dif­fi­cult to han­dle.

Table ten­nis is the only thing that helps me sleep well, not to men­tion the fact exer­cise releas­es endor­phines that fight the exact depres­sion I was going through. I’m tak­ing it as a sign that I’m not meant to play at the moment, so I’m giv­ing it up until next year.

In the mean­time, I’ve tak­en up Tai Chi. Through the last while, I went back to the Tao Te Ching look­ing for answers, and it renewed my inter­est in Tai Chi, which I see as a phys­i­cal man­i­fes­ta­tion of the the­o­ry. I was also able to clar­i­fy a few of the con­cepts with my uncles while they were here, so I’m read­ing things over with a fresh per­spec­tive.

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.