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.