Blog

Greg's Table Tennis Blog - 2009

Sunday 19th July 2009

OK - I'm back!

I flew back home last night on the midnight horror flight, so I'm still a bit fuzzy around the edges at the moment. I've got a local tournament this afternoon - and I must admit right at the moment I'm not all that fired up to compete! Oh well, I'm sure I'll be OK once I get started.

I've done a cursory scan of my Inbox, and hopefully I've taken care of anything urgent. I'll have another look tomorrow when my brain has come up to speed. Anyway, this week will probably be spent catching up on the videos for my online coaching course, and also sorting through the 30 hours or so of footage from this years Aussie Open. Then I'll start putting together the 2009 Aussie Open Finals Box set. There were some great matches (especially the Simon Gerada vs Justin Han semifinal - what a cracker!), so it should be a pretty good collection of top Australian table tennis talent by the time I'm finished.

OK - that's it for now - I really need another coffee (yawn!), so I'm off. I'll probably start putting up videos again as of tomorrow, so stay tuned.

Read more: Greg's Table Tennis Blog - 2009

Blog

Greg's Table Tennis Blog - 2005

Thursday 28th July 2005

Woo hoo! My pennant team won its preliminary final 6-3, moving us into the final against the Morley Magic. The only problem is that with Nita and I being away for the next couple of weeks at the Australian Open, we may not be able to schedule the Grand Final. Since Gio, Nita and myself are all away. we have been given permission to delay the Grand Final until the 11th of August, but Nita and I don't get back until the 14th or so. So my team would only have 2 qualified players to play the Grand Final in a 3 man team format. Hopefully we'll be able to sort something out.

Once again, Irwin Parker proved to be the hero of the night for us, starting with the very first match in which he was four match points down at 6-10 in the fifth against Cedric Wilson, before coming back to win it.

I then took on a rusty and stiff Tas Gilbert, winning 3-0, and Frank fought hard but was defeated by Phil Ranger Jr's powerful forehand.

So, at 2-1 to us, Irwin and I took and Cedric and Phil Jr, and we emerged with a hard-fought 3-1 win, to give our team (the Morley Scorpions) the same margin in the match. I then played Cedric, and had another relatively comfortable 3-0 win, before Irwin took on Phil Jr and had another nail-biter, this time coming back from 7-10 in the fifth to snatch another victory (and give his teammates another heart attack!).

So now we were 5-1 up, where we could have easily been 2-4 down. Frank then took on Tas Gilbert, and another 5 game thriller resulted, with Frank going down 12-14 in the final game.

So it was now 5-2, and onto the doubles, where Frank and I couldn't quite get it together enough to push Phil Jr and Tas, who won 3-1.

So now 5-3 to us, and I played Phil Jr, and after last weeks effort against Richard Ajayi I made doubly sure I was warmed up and ready to go. I stuck to playing solid table tennis, with good defence and picking off the loose balls, and in the end came away with the 3-0 win, giving us the match 6-3. But without Irwin's grit on the night, it could easily have been a win to the Morley Assegai team, who were missing their number 1 player, Russell Stein, who had only just got back in from the Maccabi Games where he was representing Australia in the Masters category. With Russell playing, it could have been a very different story. Bad luck guys - and well fought!

Tomorrow night I have the finals of the local Grand Prix, but I doubt I'll be able to write up the results, since I'll be coming straight home from the finals and hopping on a midnight flight to Sydney to go to the Nationals. The time is finally here, and I'm really looking forward to getting over there again, watching some great table tennis, playing some myself hopefully, and videoing as much of the best players as possible. I'm not as fit as I would like, but between working, coaching, and looking after this website I haven't done too badly. I feel that I'm playing pretty well, and although it's always a struggle against all the other good players, I'm fairly sure that I'll be a bit more competitive this year. We'll know for sure this time next week though.

Hopefully I'll be able to find an Internet cafe somewhere we I can post some results and comments in my forum on how it is all going, so take a look next week if you can. Thanks for coming along on the ride with me this year, and hopefully I'll be able to start my blog up again afterwards with an eye to the 2006 Open. Until then, for all you Red Dwarf fans out there, SMAKIBBFB!

Have a comment to make? Email me!

 


Wednesday 20th July 2005

Good news to report, my pennant team won our first semi-final against PCCC 6-3. That gives Morley the A grade title, since we have the 3 remaining teams in the finals. Yay Morley!

Irwin Parker was the hero of the night for us, starting us off with a win over Mick Lee, who he had lost to a week ago. Irwin played a much better set of tactics this time, and made good use of his backhand to set up and control the point this time around.

Frank then lost to Richard Ajayi 3-0, and then I played and defeated Kevin Wang 3-0. Irwin and I then took the first doubles over Richard and Kevin 3-1, after Irwin steadied the ship with some good looping in the fourth game where I had missed several backhands at the start. He then continued his good form with an excellent tactical win over Richard Ajayi, which proved to be the crunch game of the night. I then played and beat Mick 3-0 to put us 5-1 up. One more win to us and the night was over, as the final ends as soon as one team gets to 6 wins. Kevin proved to be too strong for Frank, but not before Frank had put up a good fight with some excellent defence. 5-2 to us, and Frank and I tried to close out the match by winning the second doubles against Richard and Mick, but alas we fell short in the fifth game, going down 3-2.

It was now 5-3 in our favour, and I had to play Richard Ajayi. In the first game I had a bad start and was down roughly 5-1 or so. I scraped my way back to 10-all, and actually had a game point, but eventually Richard took the first game 13-11 or so. I then came out better in the second game and was up 6-4, before Richard hit the afterburners and took the next 7 points to run away with the second game.

Down 2-0, I was not very pleased, and my teammates were getting worried about having to possibly play their own matches. Irwin vs Kevin would be a struggle for Irwin, even with his great form on the night, and Frank vs Mick would be a similar story. It was entirely possible that we could go from a 5-1 lead to a 6-5 defeat.

On to the third game against Richard, and this time my tactics were better, allowing Richard to attack against me more, and choosing my own ball to attack at the right time. I ran out the third 11-5 or so. The fourth game was a tight affair - I lead 6-4, then Richard led 8-6, and then I managed to close out a couple of tight points to take the fourth 11-8 or 11-9.

Into the fifth, and I was starting to feel looser and warmer. The relief of winning the fourth game probably had a bit to do with it too. At any rate, I was playing much better, going up 5-1 at the change of ends, and winning 11-5ish to close out a tough game against Richard and a good win to the Morley Scorpions. It was handshakes and congratulations all round, with Irwin having made the difference on the night, winning 2 matches and sealing the first doubles as well.

The other two Morley teams are playing tonight, both of them missing their top players in Giovanni Cnapich and Russell Stein. So I guess we will find out on Friday which team we are supposed to be playing next week. Meanwhile the Nationals are drawing ever closer...


Monday 18th July 2005

Wednesday last week was our last normal match in pennants against the second placed PCCC. I needed to win all three matches to retain top spot on the A grade averages, and my team wanted to win to make sure we held on to 4th place on the ladder, and cement a place in the finals. So how did it all go?

In the end, it all turned out allright. I managed to win my three games against Mick Lee, Kevin Wang and Simon Lee, and our team won 7-4 overall. So we finished 4th overall, and get to play PCCC again (they dropped to third) tomorrow night in the playoff between 3rd and 4th teams. They will have Richard Ajayi back from holidays, so we'll be hard pressed to come away with a win, but we'll give it a go - if we win that will mean a Morley team will have to win the finals - Morley Magic and Morley Assegai are in positions 1 and 2 already!

As far as the rest of the week went, I had a quick hit on Friday, did my usual junior training on Sunday, then trained Nita and did some private training with a new student. I had a quick game with Richard and went home.

I'll be doing some more training of my own with Mike Gallagher today - with only a couple of weeks to go before the Nationals I'll be doing some more chopping practice to sharpen up my defensive skills before I head over. Then the pennant semifinals tomorrow night and maybe a session on the robot on Thursday, after a rest on Wednesday.

It's starting to get close to the Nationals now - the anticipation is starting to set in. Gio is already over in Tel Aviv playing in the Maccabi games, so hopefully he's getting in some good practice. Gordon Lee and Jeff Tran are both keen to get over and play, so it should be a fun week - I'm pretty confident that I've improved a bit since last year and I'm hoping to be more competitive this time around.


Tuesday 12th July 2005

Finally, some free time to do a blog update! So what has been happening in the last week or so?

As I mentioned, I managed to do some training on Monday 4th July with Mike, and then Tuesday was training with Frank. Fortunately we had the week off from pennants, since I was pretty tired by Wednesday!

We had the West Coast Open tournament last weekend - you can check out my forum for the results roundup.

Gio was away for this tournament, so instead of playing him in the semifinal, I played Peter McKenzie instead. Peter has changed the pimples on his forehand to smooth rubber of late, and I had less trouble than normal and won comfortably 4-0. Unfortunately for me Jeff Drew then did the same to me in the final, the first two were 9 and 8, and the last two were about 5 and 6. Still some work to do yet I guess. I was runnerup in the Mixed with Nita, losing to Nanako Nomura and Fandy Suryama 12-10 in the 5th, and won the Mens Doubles with Ken Aitkenhead over Frank Kenny and Gordon Lee.

Yesterday I did some private junior training from 5-6pm, then another hour of my own training with Mike. I then had refereeing duty that night, so I froze my butt off the rest of the night at the WATTA centre, got home after 11.30, got something to eat and was finally in bed around 12.30pm. Needless to say I was a bit knackered this morning, so I pulled out of training with Frank to have a rest. I'll get another hit tomorrow at pennants against PCCC, the current second ranked team in A grade. Provided a don't lose a match tomorrow night, I'll finish first in the A grade averages, which would be nice - maybe I should pull out of the match to protect my average! ;)


Monday 4th July 2005

OK - so how did the Grand Prix go? Not bad all up. I'd only gotten 4-5 hours of sleep the night before, so I was a bit tired on Friday, but determined to do the best I could.

In the first round I played Reinhard Lot and Frank Kenny. I was looking forward to playing Reinhard after my loss in pennants, and this time everything went a lot better for me as I won 3-0. Then onto Frank for another 3-0 win.

Into the second round, and I had Phil Ranger Jr and Mike Andrews. I was quite happy with this as both of these gentlemen play fairly normal attacking games, with good forehand loops and occasional backhand hits. I quite enjoy these matches since I get the chance to chop against some steady topspin loops.

Starting with Phil, and I was a bit cold but managed to steady and take it out 3-0 without being threatened. It was a bit of a juggling act due to the cold, I was trying to stay warm and loose but I didn't have a lot of energy in reserve, so it was difficult to get it right every time. Fortunately I went straight back on to play Mike, so I was still fairly warm and starting to play fairly well. This was another 3-0 win to me, so I was into the semifinal.

And in the semi, can you guess my opponent? Yep - Giovanni Cnapich. This time it was Gio making the pace, taking a 2-0 lead with some good power shots from the forehand and backhand. I was struggling a bit - not so much tired as the excitement of the match had kicked in, but I just wasn't feeling as sharp. I think Gio had a couple of match points at 10-8, but I'm not quite sure - I was trying to focus on playing and find it hard to remember what the exact scores were. Anyway, I kept trying to get the ball out wide to his forehand and make him hit more than 1 chop, and somehow I scrambled the third game - maybe 12-10?

The fourth was a repeat of the third - Gio leading the way and me struggling to keep up. I was always that point or two behind and we were playing some really good points, but I just couldn't quite catch him. Gio was hitting really hard and I was fortunate to pull off some really good chop-blocks from short range, surprising myself even. Gio had another match point at 10-9 but I kept at it, and with a bit of luck and some desperation took the fourth about 13-11.

The fifth proved to be a bit of an anticlimax - I was still running hot after surviving the third and fourth games, and Gio was maybe a bit down after thinking he should have already won the match (and maybe he should have!). Anyway, I ran out to a 5-0 lead by just sticking to the basics - nothing fancy - just good service returns out wide to the forehand, and get back in position to chop the ball. Look for attacks off my own service where possible. From 5-0 up I just tried to keep doing the basics well, and it paid off with a 11-5 or so win.

Relieved and quite tired by this point, I then had to play Jeff Drew in the final, after he had beaten Craig Campbell 3-1 in the other semi. Jeff was fighting a bad cold, and had climbed out of a sick bed to come to play. So between my exhaustion and his illness we were probably evenly handicapped. Anyway, although all three games were close, I couldn't quite get there and Jeff took a 3-0 win and now probably can't be caught for top spot. I'm a pretty solid second - but if Gio or Craig could win the last round of finals where there are more points available, they could still go past me. So third will probably be the worst I finish up - though I'll be trying for a win to finish with.

After Friday night, I was no good on Saturday - very tired and wrung out. Sunday was pretty similar - I trained the juniors and Nita and then was quite happy to get out of the centre early.

I'm hoping to do some training with Mike Gallagher today, although I'm still a bit tired due to simple lack of sleep - stayed up a bit late catching up with some other stuff. I've also got refereeing duty so it looks like another late night - although I'll hurry them up if I can! With only 4 weeks to go to the Nationals I have to get all the training that I can, provided I don't overdo it in the process.


Friday 1st July 2005

Yeah, yeah, I know. I said I would be trying to update my blog more often and look what happened! In my defense, I can claim that getting this site moved over to the new domain address and then getting everything set up how I wanted took up a fair bit of my time.

Excuses aside, let's get into what's been happening since my last update.

I missed pennants last week because it was on Tuesday, the night I work evening shift. Played some games with Mike Gallagher and Colin Bowler on Wednesday night where I felt I was playing quite well, then had the normal Friday hit and Sunday hit. Monday night saw my pennant team playing a match brought forward from next week, against Morley Assegai.

My first match was against Russell Stein, and although I tried to warm up by jogging in place etc, I still wasn't warm enough or sharp enough and lost the first game 11-4. I came back and won the second, and I can't remember who won the third and fourth, but we went to 2-all. I was down about 10-6 in the final game, before coming back to 11-10, and then Russell and I were at 13-all when the umpire called that the ball was broken and we had to wait while my teammates ran off to buy another ball! (Oops! My fault - I'm the team captain and should have had more balls ready to go. I blame the quality of the balls these days - you can read what I've said about that here) Resuming at 13-all, I served long to Russell's backhand, and he ran around and looped it to my forehand, which I chopped a bit too high to his forehand and he killed it down the line. 14-13 Russell. He then served, I put the return up a little and in the middle of the table (dammit!), and I took a chance and stood my ground close to the table, hoping to counterhit the ball. Russell slammed the ball to my forehand, I blocked and watched in dismay as the ball angled with a bit of sidespin just wide of the forehand sideline. An inch to the right and I had a clean winner, as Russell was stuck over the backhand sideline. So 15-13 to Russell and anyone watching his victory dance knew how happy he was! I don't think I played near my best in this match (well, you never do when you lose, do you?), but Russell thoroughly deserved the win. Well done mate!

My next match for the night saw me playing Tas Gilbert, where I had an easy 3-0 win. Tas only plays the odd match these days and you can see the rust on what used to be a very solid game. The final match for me was against Phil Ranger Jr, and this ended in a 3-1 win to me, 16-14 in the fourth. I think I can honestly say that my frame of mind was not as good as it could have been, but if I had dropped that fourth game Phil would have been a real chance to keep going in the fifth and take the win.

My pennant partners for the night, Nita and Irwin Parker, played some solid table tennis too, with Irwin also winning 2 matches and losing to Russell in 5. We did well in the doubles, winning both of them (which was a bit of a surprise), which saw us to a 6-5 win against the third placed team on the ladder. Yay for us!

Wednesday was not going to see me make the same mistake, and I had an hour of training with Mike Gallagher before starting pennants. It was just as well that I did, since we had to play the top team, Morley Magic. Irwin got us off to a great start by defeating Craig Campbell in a thriller, 14-12 or so in the fifth. Then I played Giovanni Cnapich yet again, winning the first, getting thrashed in the second, winning the third, getting thrashed again in the fourth, and then trailing for most of the fifth until the score was 7-5 Giovanni, with Gio to serve. I scrambled the next point to go to 7-6 Gio.

The point to come probably won me the match. Gio served long as usual to my mid-backhand, and I took a chance and ran around it, looping it fast down the line for a winner and 7-all. This seemed to throw off his game a little, and from there I mixed some good defence and a couple of attacks to take the match 11-7 or 11-8 or so. Whew! So we were 2-0 up.

Frank Kenny then played Phil Highland, and with a mixture of wily defence and some good pick-hitting took the match 3-1, and now we were suddenly 3-0 up against the so far undefeated Magic, and getting a sniff of an unlikely victory.

Irwin and I lost the doubles to Gio and Craig 3-0, and then I played Craig and got home 3-1, again with a solid mix of defence and attack. So at 4-1 up, Irwin played Phil Highland in what was to be the crunch match of the night. Irwin won the first comfortably, then Phil started to lift his game and took the second and third. Irwin came back to win the fourth, and the fifth saw two nervous players bat the ball around a bit, with both hesitating to take their chances. Eventually Phil landed the extra shot or two to win it 11-8 or so.

We were still up 4-2, but our chances of taking the match had nosedived. Frank lost to Gio as expected, and then we lost the doubles and the match score was 4-all. I then took care of Phil Highland 3-0 to move us to 5-4 and within a game of victory, but the remaining matches of Irwin vs Gio and Frank vs Craig saw us lose both while fighting hard. So it was a 5-6 loss in the end, but we had given them a definite scare. Well done team.

Tonight we have the final round of the Grand Prix. Again, it could be an interesting night, as Gio and I try to stop Jeff Drew from winning tonight and taking a pretty much unassailable lead. If one of us can win tonight, that player will have a chance to peg Jeff back in the Finals and take the title. Anyway, we'll see what happens - I'll report back tomorrow, with luck.

OK - that's enough for now - hopefully I've written enough to make up for missing a few updates. Stayed tuned for Grand Prix results in the near future!


Monday 20th June 2005

As I hoped, I put in a fairly good showing at the Fremantle Tournament on Sunday. Was runner-up in the Mixed Doubles and Mens Singles, and won the Mens Doubles.

Started with the Mens Singles at 9 a.m. (why is it always so early in the morning?!), in which I played Peter Williams to begin with. Peter has been improving of late and has a nice forehand loop, but got a bit tentative due to my medium pimples and allowed me to dictate the match, so I could choose when to defend and when to attack. Result - a 4-0 win to me.

Next up was one of my juniors that I coach - so I made sure I played properly against him (no names mentioned here). Again, he got a bit worried about missing his loops against my chops, and started to push instead, which allowed me to attack when I felt like it. I'll have a chat to him at the next training session about the match and what tactics he could have used instead.

Then it was time for the semifinal, once again against Giovanni Cnapich. Gio took the first two games in close figures, and I was not particularly happy since the floor was slippery and we didn't have barriers between tables, so we were getting interrupted a lot by people just having a casual hit. At the start of the third I started to clean my shoes on a damp towel at the side of the court, which improved my grip and my defense as well, since my movement was better. The games were still close but I managed to keep the pressure on Gio, and ran out the next 4 games to win 4-2.

The last match was the final against Jeff Drew. We traded games to be 1 all, then Jeff won the next two to go up 3-1. He was just that little bit more consistent than I was, and I wasn't attacking quite enough to break up his rhythm. In games five and six I got a bit more aggressive, and this resulted in me taking these two games reasonably easy - 4 and 6. So onto game seven, and Jeff got on top early, and I missed some of my attacks, and suddenly it was 10-4 to Jeff. Not so good, but I wasn't about to give up now.

I kept on trying to mix it up with attack and defense, and slowly I kept coming back - 10-5, 10-6, then Jeff missed an easy backhand and I was 10-7, another long rally and it's 10-8. Then Jeff served a long serve which I mis-hit, and it clipped the top of the net and fell back on my side. 11-8 to Jeff. Dammit! But it was a good match overall, with some great rallies, and I'm happy that I'm improving in my use of tactics - I just need a bit more fitness to really give me a boost - same old story really.

The Mixed doubles saw Nita and I lose in the final to Gio and Nanako Nomura - we didn't play all that great and they were too good on the day. In the Mens Doubles I teamed up with Irwin Parker, one of my pennant teammates, and we managed to pull off a good win against Gio and Russell Stein. The turning point in the match, which we won 3-2, was when Irwin suggested that we start to push our return of serve rather than topspinning it. This forced Gio and Russell to have to lift their attack a bit against the backspin and they started to miss a couple, whereas before they were putting away our topspin return of serve with ease. In the end we ran out comfortable winners in the final game.

Pulled up OK today after yesterday's matches - although I was pretty tired and sore Sunday night. So there is hope that I may be able to get through the schedule and still play well at the Nationals in early August.


Thursday 16th June 2005

I'm a bit down today :< , I played pennants last night and lost to a player I would normally expect to beat fairly comfortably. It was the last match of the night, I was tired and wanted to get to bed, and I didn't play all that well and he did. So congratulations to Reinhard - and look out for next time!

In consolation, we did win the overall match, so my team should stay in the top 4, which is nice. But I'm still finding it hard to muster up the enthusiasm to write a long description of the night - I'd rather forget about it really if you all don't mind!

On another note, we do have a tournament coming up this weekend. It's being played in a different location from our normal venue, so I'm interested in seeing what the place is like. In general I've been playing pretty well, so hopefully I should be able to put in a good showing in the Mens Singles. Will keep you posted.


Sunday 12th June 2005

Been mainly doing my Level 1 coaching coursebook, as well as answering the odd question about table tennis from this site and getting a RSS feed up and running.

Oh yes, and played a bit of table tennis here and there as well. Friday 3rd and Sunday 5th June were the usual training days. Did my training with Frank on Tuesday 7th June for just over an hour, since Frank had to play pennants that night and didn't want to get too worn out for that night. Wednesday was training with Mike Gallagher again - another good workout that usually leaves me worn out all Thursday! Friday the 10th I played WATTA Cup - and we lost in a fairly close match to the Armadale C grade side - it's a handicap match and we were exactly on the pace halfway through the night but couldn't keep it up. Never mind and well done to the Armadale team.

Today was training with the juniors, followed by a bit of a hit around. Sunday afternoons are a good time to try something new, different tactics or shots, against some experienced players. Had a good hit for several hours and then came home.


Wednesday 1st June 2005

Sunday was a washout day - I had problems getting to sleep on Saturday and consequently was still tired. Did my junior training and trained my girlfriend for about 45 minutes then buggered off - I'd had enough.

Monday was better, although I didn't do anything really. On Tuesday I skipped training in the morning since I was going to have to play pennants against Morley Assegai that night straight after work - one of my teammates hurt his back so I had to fill in at late notice. So I went to table tennis at 9.30pm directly from work. Walked in the door and was playing the doubles within a few minutes - sad to say we lost that 3-2.

I now had to play three matches in a row against Russell Stein, Cedric Wilson, and Phil Ranger Jr, all good solid A grade players. I was expecting good matches but was pretty confident that I would win all three without too many dramas.

Ten minutes later I was 2 games down against Russell. He had outplayed me in the first game and was up 10-6, before I got back to 10-9 and then lost it 11-9. The second game saw another 11-9 result to Russell, along with about 3 or 4 nets thrown in. So I was not a happy camper at the beginning of the third game - I felt I should have been 1 game all, but now I was faced with the very real prospect of going down 0-3.

I started to vary my spin and pick the ball to attack better in the third, with the result being a comfortable win to me of about 11-5 or so. This continued in the fourth, as Russell seemed to be running out of steam and I was getting my rhythm going. But I was sure Russell would fire up for one last go in the fifth, and I was proved correct.

I started well at 4-0 up, with good spin variation on my defense and choosing the right ball to hit. Then I lost two off my serve (careless!) and we were 4-2. We traded a point each to go to 5-3 and the change of ends. From here it was tense table tennis, with Russell looking to crack winners and me looking to get the ball deep with lots of changes in spin. It was back to 7 all when Russell hit a good attack that I loaded with spin from my pimples, and clipped the backhand side edge. 8-7 to me. The next point I won with a nice twiddle and backhand smooth rubber attack in his forehand corner. 9-7. We traded a couple more points and Russell had the serve at 8-10 down, then faulted! Phew! A close win for me and a great relief.

Straight on to the next game against Cedric. I was well warmed up now and was untroubled by Cedric's antispin to win 3-0. To finish with I then played Phil Jr, who although fighting hard failed to quite stay with me and I saw out the match 3-0, using better tactics and variation than I did against Russell.

Lessons to be learned - don't go on cold if you can help it - review your tactics after each game carefully - and remember that a good player can lift on any particular day and give you a whole lot of trouble if you don't play well and use the right tactics.

I've got training with Mike Gallagher tonight - I'm a bit tired after last night but it's good for me so I'd better get moving and get into it.


Saturday 28th May 2005

Played the Grand Prix last night, fortunately my cold wasn't too bad, I felt reasonably OK but a bit tired.

I wasn't too sure how I would go, but while training with Mike Gallagher on Wednesday I realised I had not been on my toes when playing for a long time, and I was hoping to see if getting on the balls of my feet would make a difference to how I went.

In my first match I played Mike Andrews and won about 6, 3, and 3. Mike's a pretty tough competitor so at this point I thought that I might just do OK. I then played my training partner, Frank Kenny, and won 3-0. I just know Frank's game too well for him to make much of an impression. Sorry Frank!

On to the second round group, and I had Reinhard Lot and Richard Ajayi. I played Reinhard first, and expected a fairly comfortable win - Reinhard doesn't seem to like playing against me much - he has said in the past that the spin variation between my normal rubber and my medium pimples makes life difficult for him. This match was no exception and I got through in three straight. Then on to Richard - who has given me some very difficult matches in the past.

Remembering to get on my toes, things were pretty even until about 5 all in the first game, and then things just blew apart for Richard - he wasn't reading my heavy backspin pushes at all and netted quite a few. I won that game about 11-6 and then next two fairly easily. As Richard said after the match, he was having problems with his touch game and decided to gamble and try to power through me, but he missed too many of my floated chops.

I was tired but happy at this point, and had to play Giovanni Cnapichi in the semifinal - a rematch from Tuesday night. This time I stayed on my toes and it seemed to make a big difference to me - balls that were going past me on Tuesday I was managing to return low and with variation of spin - and in the end with a little luck it made the difference and I got through 3-1.

Now tireder and even happier, I took on Jeff Drew in the final. I started well and was 2-1 up - still moving on my toes but not quite as sharp as I continued to tire. Game 4 saw me have a match point at 10-9 (maybe 10-8 - I can't remember) - but Jeff kept coming and got it 12-10. The rallies were long and hard and both of us were sweating and breathing heavy by the fifth game.

Game 5 saw me up 5-2 at the change of ends, then down 8-6 as I stopped twiddling and mixing up my chops and attacks. I went just that little bit too defensive and it cost me in the end, with Jeff winning 11-8. But I was quite pleased overall - getting up on my toes had definitely got me moving better around the court and added a couple of points to my game. Encouraging signs of progress.

So today I'm sitting here typing this, with knees aching again and a stiff body from last night - not too mention the tail-end of this cold - and with renewed determination to drop a few more kilos of weight before the Nationals in August - I'm starting to feel like I could really play OK over there provided my body can hold up to the strain. The lighter I can get the more likely I'll be able to keep up the pace.


Wednesday 25th May 2005

Time to fill you all in on what's been happening since Friday. Had my usual hit on Friday night, and although a bit tired still played OK.

Saturday was a pretty quiet day, just had a rest and spent some time with family etc.

On Sunday I did my usual junior training, and then had a quick hit afterwards - I had to make up some DVDs of the Nationals so I took off early.

Monday I rode into work on my bicycle for the exercise, and Tuesday I played pennants against the top team in A grade, Morley Magic. First up I played Giovanni Cnapich, and I lost to Gio 3-2, 7 in the fifth. It was a pretty good game though and Gio hit some fantastic shots along the way, so I was reasonably happy with the way I played - still some room for improvement though!

Next up was Craig Campbell, and this was a 3-0 win to me. I played pretty well and had my tactics right, and Craig is still a bit down on form due to injury and less practice.

Finally I played Chris Hibbert, and this turned out to be a tougher match than I expected. Chris played very well, mixing his attacks and defense, and I tried the wrong tactics, trying to blast him off the table. I was actually down about 6-3 or so in the final game before I started to use the right tactics, using my own solid defence before picking the balls to attack. In the end I got there about 11-7 or 11-8, which was a relief.

Interesting note - while Gio was playing Irwin Parker, he hit a ball so hard I literally couldn't tell whether the ball was off or on the table - it hit the net on the way and even though I was looking at the right spot, I just couldn't tell if it bounced on the table or not, it travelled so fast! Scary stuff!

So all in all, not a bad night, but I've still go a bit of work to do if I want to be beating Gio consistently - I'll need to speed up my footwork a bit and practice my defense as well. I'll make a start tonight since I'm supposed to be training with Mike Gallagher - so hopefully this will help sharpen me up a bit. And Friday night is the 4th round of the Grand Prix - I'm currently seeded 3 so presuming I get to the semi's I'll be meeting Jeff or Gio.

Physically, I'm holding up OK - I got through last night OK but had the usual aches in my knees that night and today - it doesn't stop me playing on the day but I'm feeling it the day after. Provided it doesn't get any worse I should be allright though. I think I might be coming down with a cold, so I'm hoping it will hold off until after Friday night - I don't fancy having to play the Grand Prix while not feeling well - it's tough enough as it is!


Friday 20th May 2005

I've really got to get my act together and post a bit more often on this blog!

Ok, first things first. The Armadale tournament came and went, and a good time was had by all. I had a reasonable tournament on Sunday, winning the Mixed Doubles with Nita after we played a couple of good matches in the semi and final. I was runner-up in the Men's Doubles with Ken Aitkenhead, losing to Giovanni Cnapich and Richard Ajayi in 3 close games.

In the Men's Singles I played Jeff Drew in the semifinal, losing 4-2. It was a pretty good match overall, and I had my chances to win both Game 1 and 3, but lost them both and was down 3-0 before I clawed back 2 games to go to 3-2 down. I had started to try to really spin the ball on my chops, and it was working better, but unfortunately in the last game I missed a few off the baseline and it made the difference.

On the whole, I was pretty happy with the way I played, but I think I still need to be a little more aggressive against Jeff. It's difficult because he can attack your short serves quite well, so it feels like you are always under pressure when trying to attack, but it's something I have to bring into my game. I'll keep working on it though.

The Men's Final between Jeff and Gio was interesting to watch - Gio playing flat out aggression, attacking anything off the end of the table with power loops and flat hits, and Jeff looking to spin the ball with his usual consistency from forehand and backhand. In the end Jeff triumphed 4-3, but not after Gio had his chances as well. It's a shame that Stuart and Mike Gallagher and Colin Bowler don't play seriously anymore - watching Gio take them on would be a lot of fun - for me anyway!

I'm also happy to report that it looks like we will be having a Men's Team from WA to play in the Nationals this year. For a while there it looked like we weren't going to get 3 players interested, but then Gordon Lee stepped up and it's possible that Jeff Tran may even want to go! Onya fellers, we'll have a good time and maybe even surprise a few people!

On the Ladies' front, we are still hoping for a team. Gemma Cutchey has put her name forward as a second player, but we are still waiting to see whether a third player will be forthcoming, although we have had an expression of interest from one player who shall remain anonymous for the moment. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like Amanda Tan or Nanako Nomura can make it this year - maybe next year when it is Perth ladies!

Played pennants on Monday night - a pretty routine night all up, playing against Fremantle, who consisted of Mike Andrews, Fandy Surynama (sp?) and Nicole Low. Mike gave me a closer run but it was still 3-0. Fandy and Nicole are playing well in the juniors and seniors this year, but it is pretty obvious that more work needs to be done to teach them how to play against long pimpled defence. As one of the coaches of the juniors I guess that is partly my fault - but then how many long-pimpled defenders are they going to run into at the National juniors? 1 or 2 at most?

Didn't do a lot of other training this week, Frank is still recovering from his burns and Michael was busy at work. I'll have a hit tonight and Sunday though. I've also reset my robot up at home and I'll try to give it a whirl again come Saturday - I still need more practice at chopping.

Oh yes, I nearly forgot - I finally got on the scales and it looks like I haven't done too much damage - I'm still around the same level. I've got about 10 weeks to pull my finger out before the Nationals, so I'd better get going again!


Thursday 12th May 2005

What! It's been a week since my last blog update - where did the time go?

Still haven't got on the scales yet - but I've been riding in to work most days - so hopefully it won't be too bad.

Friday was the usual training night, with the guys and me doing our top table training. I was a bit tired in the legs from the bike riding, but wasn't playing too badly.

Had a good long sleep in on Saturday, but didn't do much the rest of the day. Sunday was back in the routine of training the juniors, and having a hit afterwards. Played a couple of matches then trained my girlfriend Nita for about 50 minutes, and called it a day.

Monday I had to drive into work, so I got on the exercise bike instead and watched some of the 2004 World Championship DVD while I rode. Jeez these guys are good!

Tuesday training with Frank was cancelled due to an accident involving Frank, a microwave, a container, and some water - Frank ended up with some pretty nasty burns.

With Frank out of action, I had to cancel my Wednesday night training session with Mike Gallagher and play pennants instead. Played against Armadale - in this case Peter McKenzie, Reinhard Lot and Nanako Nomura. I played OK in the singles, and got past Peter by focusing on attacking any loose balls that he played with his pimples out rubber on the forehand. Peter is rolling the ball more than hitting it these days, which gives you the time to set up for a forehand and hit it with power. Reinhard and Nanako are good players, but I can honestly say that they are not quite at my level so as long as I stick to the basics I'll win.

Unfortunately, although I won my three matches and my teammate Irwin Parker won two, that was it for the night as Nita lost her three and we lost both doubles, going down 5-6. Oh well.

We've got the 2005 Armadale Open coming up this weekend. Could be an interesting Men's Open again, with Jeff Drew probably out for some revenge against Gio - goodness knows I'd like some too after Geraldton! I can see I might end up seeded 3, so I could get either of them in the semifinal - assuming I get that far! I'll report back after the tournament and let you know how it all turned out.


Thursday 5th May 2005

G'day again - I've been busy of late catching up with all the work that piled up while I was away!

So what's been happening blogwise? I didn't do too much on Saturday - I was still recovering from the trip back from Kalbarri and also doing some updates on the website.

Sunday had the usual junior session, followed by a couple of brief hits. I was still feeling pretty run down, so I was happy to go home early. I actually went to bed about 7.00pm - I think I was still feeling the effects of Friday.

Monday was much better - and Tuesday was my usual training session with Frank. I felt pretty good and trained well. Yesterday was pennants in the evening, and I was quite happy with my overall results, winning my 3 matches against some solid opposition. I'd also started riding my bike into work - it's about a 25 minute trip one way. Hopefully that will help me start shedding a few kilos again - I had a good time on holiday but probably ate out more in that week than I normally do in 3 months! I'm a bit scared to get on the scales but I'll bite the bullet tomorrow and see where I'm at - not sure I want to write it up here though!


Saturday 30th April 2005

Well, I'm finally back from the country tournament in Geraldton, and a few days holiday in Kalbarri.

The tournament was a success, as these country tournaments usually are. Jeff Tran and Greg Evans had obviously put in a lot of work to ensure that everything ran smoothly and that everyone had a good time. And we all did, getting together in the first country tournament in Geraldton for over 10 years, to chat and catch up with fellow players from Albany, Mandurah, Perth and Geraldton. Unfortunately we didn't get anyone up from Esperance - I heard that their club had folded but I'm hoping that this is not the case. Fingers crossed anyway, and congrats to the Geraldton lads on a well run tournament - see you all in Albany next year!

Apart from having a good time catching up with everyone, I also got a bit of table tennis in. Along with my girlfriend Nita, I won the mixed doubles title, and was runner up in the Open Doubles with Craig Campbell (winners were Giovanni Cnapich and Chris Hibbert - twice!). The final of the Open Doubles was supposed to be best of 7 games, but none of the players or umpires realised this, so when the match score was 2 games all and one of the teams reached 5 points, we changed sides and then Gio and Chris won the 5th game. We all shook hands and went off court, and I had actually gone outside to change my shirt for the mens singles, when we were told that the match was best of 7 games and we had to continue by order of the referee. And so we did, with Craig and I winning the sixth game, making it 3 games all, and then Gio and Chris lifted again to win the final game 11-8 or so - so I actually lost the Open Doubles twice! :(

The Men's singles had some cracking matches, with Gio beating Jeff Drew for the second time in a week in the first semi-final, this time 4-2. I can't comment too much on this match, because I was playing my semi-final against Craig Campbell at the same time. Craig was up 2 games to love and 5-1 in the 3rd before I finally started to loosen up a bit and play with better tactics. Craig has a bit of a dodgy shoulder which is hampering his normally powerful attacks so I knew that if I could get the first attack back I would be in good shape. And so it turned out, as I won the next 4 games and the match, 4-2. Not without quite a few nervous moments and a net ball by me on match point though! I knew I was due for some good luck!

The final of the Men's Singles was a hell of a match, even if I say so myself. I won the first game, and lost the second 15-13. Gio then stepped up his game and won the next two to go ahead 3 games to 1. I fought back to level at 3 games all, but Gio went up another level and I failed to use the right tactics in the final game (I needed more spin variation and to place more balls wide to his forehand) as he blew me away 11-3, after being 5-3 at the change of ends! The court and Geraldton is bigger than the usual courts in Perth, so I could get right back deep to chop to Gio, resulting in some great rallies as Gio powered the ball as only he can, and I went back to the wall some 4 or 5 metres away from the table to return the ball. It was a lot of fun and although I lost, the crowd got to see a great night of table tennis, both in this match and the other finals that night.

Oh, I nearly forgot, in the Ladies Singles final we had a breakthrough win for Nicole Low, as she triumphed over Nanako Nomura in a 4-3 nailbiter. Congratulations to Nicole on her first Ladies Open title (I think!), and commiserations to Nanako - it really could have gone either way. It certainly looks like it could be an interesting year for the State Titles in the men's and women's though! Maybe this is the year the new blood takes over?


Thursday 21st April 2005

Last Sunday I didn't have to train the juniors due to school holidays, so I celebrated with a sleep in and a leisurely morning. Went to have a hit in the afternoon and the WATTA center was virtually empty - in the end there was about 6 of us until about 3pm. I was still a bit tired from Friday night and having a session on the exercise bike on Saturday, so I had a few games and called it an early day.

No training with Frank on Tuesday, he had a coaching session. I settled for a ride on the exercise bike and another weights session. The weights are still slowly climbing so I'm going OK there.

Wednesday had a hit with Mike Gallager again. This time Colin Bowler, Morten Kilden and his brother Niels Kilden joined in, and we played a few games to 11. These guys can all attack very well so it's nice to play some of the modern aggressive players and test out my defence a bit more.

This will be the last blog for a week or so. I'm going up to Geraldton to play in the country tournament, then going on a bit of a holiday. Most of the top Perth players are going up, so it will actually have a tougher field than most local tournaments! I'll fill you all in on how it went when I get back.


Sunday 17th April 2005

Well, the Grand Prix on Friday night was a bit of a mixed bag for me. My opening group was fairly straightforward, playing Cedric Wilson (3-0) and Irwin Parker (3-1). Into the second round group and I came up against a much improved Gordon Lee, who I got past 3-0, and Peter McKenzie. After I played Gordon, Peter and Gordon played the second match of the group, with Peter squeaking past Gordon 3-2 in a very tense match. Both players make use of pimples, Peter uses normal rubber on the backhand and pimples on the FH, while Gordon uses short pips on the FH and long pips on the BH. Needless to say there were some of the strangest rallies I have ever seen, with the ball diving and swerving all over the place!

I played Peter in the final match of the group, and despite leading most of the first game lost concentration and the game about 11-9. The same pattern happened again in the second, and now I was 2-0 down. I improved my focus and started to attack a bit more in the 3rd, and won it comfortably. In the fourth Peter dug in and it was a close game, although I was starting to feel a bit like the last tournament as the nets and edges from Peter started to pile up. For some reason I don't notice mine as much!

In the last, I started well and was leading about 8-4 when Peter again began to fight hard and continue to hit the net - I know it's just his style of game but it's still frustrating. He was then leading and had a couple of match points, but I continued to try to attack anything loose and in the end I got there 13-11. Suffice to say that in 5 of the last 6 points or so Peter clipped the net and had the ball go over - so you can decide for yourself if I'm whinging too much!

Anyway, after that match I had to play Giovanni Cnapich in the semifinal. I'd only played him last Wednesday in pennants and he was out for revenge. He got it too - beating me 3-1 and then going on to defeat Jeff Drew in the final 3-1. Gio was both quick and sharp, and neither I nor Jeff really got comfortable. I'll need to look at improving my chop technique - my footwork is OK but I feel I missed some run of the mill chops that I should be making consistently to win. Well done Gio and we'll all go up to Geraldton next weekend where we can all try again.


Friday 15th April 2005

Got on the exercise bike again on Saturday for an easy ride, then did my usual junior training and practice session on Sunday. I was playing fairly well in general, and the legs were feeling quite good afterwards, which is nice.

Monday was another easy session on the exercise bike, followed by some weights - the first weights work that I have done for a couple of weeks. I am still edging the poundages up so all is still OK as far as that is concerned, although I really should be doing at least 1 session a week.

Had a rest on Tuesday to help me be fresh for Wednesday's pennant match against the best team in A grade, Morley Magic. This team has 3 of the best players in pennants, so it was going to be a serious workout for me, and I would need the freshest legs I could get.

On the night, my team went down 8-3 - although 6-5 could have been possible with a bit of luck here and there for my teammates. Individually, I went pretty well - played Craig Campbell first up and got there 3-1. Craig's playing with a bit of a dodgy shoulder these days and doesn't play as much as he used to. Then I had Chris Hibbert, who can be a real tough competitor on his day, but fortunately this wasn't it and I got home 3-0 - it still wasn't an easy match though.

In the last match of the night I had to play Giovanni Cnapich, who has just been ranked #7 in the U/21 men for Australia. The games went back and forth (1-0 to me, then 1-1, then 2-1, then 2-2) as he tried to blast me off the table at first, then started to slow the game down and pick his shots. Some good advice from my teammate and training partner Frank Kenny in the 5th and final game got me to step in quickly and attack any higher balls that Gio put up, and gave me the edge I needed to keep a couple of points ahead and take the 5th 11-8 or so. Phew!!

Gio is like lightning around the court, and if he ever takes the time to actually work out how to play against defence and long pimples he'll be just about unstoppable as far as I am concerned. He's already pretty nasty to play for loopers, as Kyle Davis and Robert Frank have already found out at this years U/21 championships. And he does all this without any real structured training at all!

We have the third round of the local Grand Prix tonight. I'm currently second seed going in, but you never know on the night. I'm pretty happy with my form though - so hopefully anybody beating me will really have to earn it. But after the last tournament I know anything is possible. I'll report back on how it all went tomorrow.


Saturday 9th April 2005

Having recovered from Sunday's traumatic experience, life and table tennis training went on ...

Back into training with Frank on Tuesday - which was a good session doing the usual exercises. I was also concentrating on recovering out from the table a bit quicker to allow me to hit the ball going forward. This has increased the power in my loop. In order to be able to do this consistently I need to keep my crouch better during the point, so that is something else I will have to keep working on.

Started training again with Mike Gallagher on Wednesday night. Mike is one of the best table tennis players to come out of WA in the last 20 years, although these days he is happily retired from play and looking after his family. He was kind enough to agree to do some training with me late last year but had to stop due to work for a while. Now work has settled down for a bit he is back giving me a hit once a week and helping me sharpen up. He plays at a pace which is more like the players I will play at the Nationals, so it's very helpful to be training with him regularly.

Mike has me working on the usual Falkenberg drill of backhand, forehand from the BH corner, and wide FH. I'm a bit faster now than I was last year since I have gotten fitter, but I still have a way to go. After the Falkenberg, I chopped to his loop and drop shot for about 20 minutes, and then we finished we a few practice games. One hour of training which left me covered in sweat and hopefully did me a lot of good.

Had the usual hit on Friday night - I was still playing OK and was trying to keep my concentration better. Still got plenty of room to improve - by Friday I'm usually pretty tired and find it hard to keep the focus up unless it's a serious match.

Still slowly dropping weight - probably another kilogram over the last 3 weeks or so. I'll need to keep to this pace at a minimum if I want to be ready for the Nationals in August. Hopefully I can move things along a bit by getting on the exercise bike a bit more.


Monday 4th April 2005

All went well with the winter pennant match, I ended up winning my 3 matches quite comfortably and we won the overall match 6-5.

Had my usual hit on Friday before the tournament, didn't do too much as I wanted to be reasonably fresh on Sunday.

Sunday is a day I would rather forget - played OK in general, but lost in the semifinal of the Mens singles 15-13 in the seventh, after leading all the way. On the last point I actually played three balls from the floor before getting back up to continue the point. Alas it was all in vain, as I lost the point and the match. The only other thing I would like to say about it is that my opponent hit more nets and edges in these seven games than I am likely to get all year - including an edge ball on my match point at 10-9 in the seventh - I think it's the closest I've ever been to wanting to strangle another human being! I've got nothing against my opponent personally - he's quite a nice guy, it was just the sheer number of nets and edges that I was battling against that started to erode my sanity.

Now that I've cooled off a bit - I can see I've still got some more work to do. I'm still too heavy and need to lose the remaining weight so that I can do the hard training required to compete at the level I will need to be playing at in August. So it's back on the exercise bike for me this evening - I've been getting a bit lax in my diet and exercise lately - so although I haven't gained any weight I'm not losing it all that fast either.


Tuesday 29th March 2005

So much for worrying nobody would turn up on Easter Sunday - the WATTA center was packed! Gave my girlfriend some training for the first 40 minutes, then played a few training matches. Felt OK physically and mentally, but it wasn't a lot of fun due to the high humidity - we were all dripping sweat all over the place - on the table, the bats, the ball etc.

Monday I spent working on the website, although I did find time to have a walk in the morning and the afternoon - nothing too strenuous though.

Today I had my usual training session with Frank - the humidity was a lot less so it was more comfortable to train in - although we were both wringing wet by the end of the hour and a bit. It was a good training session - my mental focus was good and my footwork was better, since I was getting low and staying there during the point, rather than straightening up all the time.

Tomorrow night we have our first Winter Pennant match - this is the main club competition of the year. We also have our first official open tournament of the year this weekend - I'm hoping to do well.


Saturday 26th March 2005

Needless to say, I didn't get up early on Thursday morning to do exercise. My girlfriend and I had an appointment Thursday night, so I didn't get anything done then either. I did have a hit on Friday night, but I had got up early on Friday and worked on the website with my girlfriend all day, so I was fairly tired by that time, and didn't play at my best. I'm still playing all right all things considered.

Had a 12 hour sleep Friday night, and awoke today feeling a lot better. I've been playing around with the website today, but managed to find the time to fit in a 40 minute ride on the exercise bike and another weights session. I'll be able to sleep guilt free tonight!

Hoping to have a hit tomorrow - although I don't know if anybody else will be going down to the WATTA centre to play. I guess if no-one turns up I might tackle my level 1 coaching book and have a hit on the robot at home. I've got to put in my entry form for the upcoming Scarborough tournament as well.


Wednesday 23rd March 2005

Had a day off on Monday - after exercising on Fri-Sat-Sun I was ready for a rest. Tuesday was the usual training session with Frank Kenny - which was a pretty good short sharp session of about an hour and 10 minutes or so. My footwork is starting to improve as the weight comes off, and I am feeling in good touch overall, although still with room for improvement of course. I felt pretty good during the training, considering it was a very hot day, but I skipped the weights session since I needed to get in to work a bit earlier.

Haven't done anything today - had a late night last night and I am a bit tired still. I may try to get some time on the exercise bike and do some weights before work tomorrow morning - depends on what time I get up!


Monday 21st March 2005

Hmmm... what's been happening? I didn't actually train at all on Wednesday and Thursday last week - I was still tired on Wednesday and Thursday I had a work function to attend. Friday was my usual session of playing games with the regulars. Tried out my Stiga Tiger shirt and once I got playing, I pretty much forgot about the close-fitting neck. The shirt seemed to work pretty well though - I might have to get a few more of the latest model when they come out.

The actual game play on that night was pretty mediocre. My concentration on a Friday after a week at work is average at best, and when combined with the number of nets and edges my opponents were doing that night, I could quite happily have lined them all up against the wall and shot them. I actually told them so a couple of times - fortunately for me they're a good group of guys and gals so they just laughed - and then did a few more nets and edges just to rub it in! ;)

On Saturday I got dragged along to a 6 hour rogaine by my girlfriend and her friend. I didn't really want to go but it was quite good fun once I got into it. I was well and truly stuffed by the time we finished after four and a half hours of walking over rocky farm paddocks and bushland. I slept like a dead man and expected to be useless on Sunday, but I was actually quite light on my feet. I think maybe the steak I had after rogaining might have something to do with it - low iron levels perhaps? Anyway, I'm going to add more red meat to my diet - say about 2-3 times a week - and see if my legs keep feeling better.

As mentioned above, on Sunday I trained the juniors again and then had a few matches - I was quite happy with the way I played against three quite reasonable looper/attackers. We start our main winter pennant season next week so I seem to be in reasonable form at the moment.


Wednesday 16th March 2005

Still haven't had a look at my video footage from last Friday yet - I've been a bit busy what with work and this website and all. Did my usual training session with Frank on Tuesday morning followed by my weights session - it was a bit of a struggle getting through the weights and I was pretty tired for the rest of the day - I'll have an easy ride on the exercise bike tonight. My overall bodyfat is still coming down slowly, I'm around the 17% mark now. I've got until early August to get down to competition weight, although I'm hoping to get there with a couple of months to spare so I can up the training intensity a bit. At the moment a really hard session still leaves me knackered for the next couple of days. Hopefully as I lighten up I'll also be able to train hard a bit more often as well.


Sunday 13th March 2005

Came second in the Grand Prix on Friday - not too bad a result I guess, but I've still got a bit of work to do. I was pretty happy with how I played in the semifinal, but the loss in the final against Jeff Drew shows that I still need to drop a bit more weight to increase my mobility, and I also need to be working on my defense a bit more to stop chopping off the end of the table. As I get fitter I'll do more work on the robot against heavy topspin to improve my touch a bit. All in all not a bad effort though.

Took some video footage of part of my semifinal and all the final, but I'm yet to have a look at it - I went camping on Saturday with my girlfriend and came back on Sunday morning for another session of training with the juniors. Gave my girlfriend another training session from 1pm to 1.40pm or so, then had a couple of practice matches - but since I was still feeling the effects of Friday night I called it a day early.


Tuesday 8th March 2005

Didn't do too much on Saturday - just a light ride on the exercise bike for about 45 minutes. Was still feeling the effects of Friday night's session a bit so took it easy and just loosened up a bit.

Sunday was my usual day - coaching some juniors from 11-1pm, where I was on the table training them for about an hour during that time, then a few hours of training and games until about 4pm. During the 1pm - 4pm I will generally play 3 or 4 friendly matches, train my girlfriend for about 30-45 minutes, and maybe have a general hit with any new players etc. Needless to say, by 4pm I'm tired and my legs are aching for the rest of Sunday.

Monday was a public holiday (yay!), but as I was still tired from Sunday I didn't do much at all, just lazed around with my girlfriend.

On Tuesdays I usually work late shift (2pm - 9pm), so I train in the morning with my fellow junior coach, Frank Kenny, from 10am to about 11.15am. During this time we'll warm up, then start with our basic drills, usually about 10 minutes per drill or so.

Drill 1 is me serving anywhere to Frank, who returns the ball anywhere on the table. I then loop to Frank's forehand, which he again chops wherever he likes (Frank is a defender, by the way). After that I'll loop, drop shot or smash as I like, but always to Frank's forehand, while he mainly defends and occasionally counterattacks to any location.

Drill 2 is Frank serving to me at random, while I return with topspin flicks or loops, always to the same side of the table - today to his forehand. Frank can then block wherever he wants, while I concentrate on looping with my forehand normal rubber and using a loop stroke with my backhand medium pimples. Occasionally I'll twiddle just to keep Frank on his toes and make sure that I can do so when I want.

Drill 3 is the same as Drill 1, but to Franks' backhand, then Drill 4 is Frank serving anywhere to me, and I return with backspin to Frank's forehand, which he loops or hits to any location, and I continue to chop to his forehand. Frank brings in the odd dropshot to keep me on my toes.

Drill 5 is essentially the same as Drill 1 and 3, but now I will hit to any location.

Having finished with Frank for the morning, I then went home and tackled my weights session, which is just 1 set of 8-12 repetitions for each exercise that I do. I use 2 different sessions that together cover the whole body. Today was deadlifts, seated rows, leg curls, shoulder press, seated bicep curls, and decline abs. I won't bore you or embarass myself with the actual poundages.

I've got the second round of our local Grand Prix tournament on Friday night, so on Wednesday I'll probably just have a ride on the exercise bike and maybe chop a few balls on the robot. Thursday I'll have a rest and Friday we'll see how it goes.


Sat 5th March 2005

Had my usual Friday night practice session with the guys last night. It's not really a formal training session where we do drills, more of an informal session where whoever turns up plays a top table series of matches, 1 game up to 11. We usually start about 7.00pm or so and I finish about 8.30pm - some of the others keep on going to God knows when.

The good thing about this session is that the current state #1, Jeff Drew, turns up most Fridays. This is good for me because he has a consistent loop from both the forehand and backhand side, which helps me in practicing my defense. A few games with him and I'm dripping with sweat.

Also got my first Stiga Tiger shirt last night - black and grey. Quickly tried it on for size, and apart from being a struggle to get over my head with that tight collar, it seems fine. Haven't worn it during play yet - but I'm hoping it will live up to its reputation and stay a bit more sweat-free than the cotton t-shirts that I wear at the moment.

Fitness-wise, I'm still trying to get myself into competition shape. As of this morning I'm about 92kg at just under 18% body fat. Still got a way to go to my goal of about 82.5kg at 8% body fat, but considering when I started seriously training on January 1 I was 96kg and 23.5% body fat I'm getting there. Dropping the excess weight has certainly helped my defensive game - my court coverage has improved out sight and my fitness is getting better - I can definitely keep my playing level up for longer now before I get tired.


In the Beginning.... 2nd March 2005

As promised elsewhere, I'm going to write about my experiences as I prepare to compete in the 2005 Australian Open National Championships which take place in Sydney in August. Feel free to drop by from time to time and see how things are progressing. Hopefully those players who one day want to compete in their own countries Nationals might find some useful info, and I'll be able to look back after the Nationals and see where I went wrong (or right!)

OK, where do I start? I'm sure I'll have time to fill you in on everything as we go along, so I'll try to keep it short and sweet for the moment. I'll start with a little bit of background bio: I'm living in Perth, Western Australia, the most isolated capital city in the world (so I'm told). We don't get a lot of interaction with the top table tennis players from over in the Eastern states of Australia, so for me going to the Nationals is a big deal and something to look forward to (I've competed in the Senior Nationals about 5 times over the last 17 years). I'm 34 years old, so I'll be one of the older players at the Nationals, although there are usually a handful of veterans (40+ years) competing. The Americans among you may remember Sharrad Pandit, who played in Chicago (I think) for a while and was rated somewhere about 2500. He's around the top 10-15 level in the national rankings (and a nice guy too!)

Those Americans who watched the Olympics may recall that an Aussie, William Henzell, dispatched Khoa Nyugen in 5 games (sorry guys!). William is our current #2 player, so that probably gives you a relative idea of the Australian standard when compared to America, pretty similar I suppose.

Anyway, I'm not in any danger of cracking the top 10 level this year. I competed last year and would have been in the bottom third of the competition averaging about 33% in the Teams matches, although I had some excuses which I'll go into some other time. I'll take an educated guess and say that I'm at least 4 points a game below William Henzell, so if his American rating is about 2643 according to the USATT website, I might have been around the 2400 mark last year. This year I'm looking to get over the 50% average and establish a bit of respect from the better players. In later blogs I'll talk about what I've got going for me this time around and how I hope to achieve this aim.

That's probably enough for the moment. I'll be updating every few days as things happen so come back soon and see what I've been up to. As per usual, drop me a line if you have a comment you want to make.

Greg

Blog

Blog

Photo of Joo Se Hyuk
Greg in action - well, it could be me instead of Joo Se Hyuk - except I'm not Korean, about 20kg heavier, 10 years older, and if I bent that low I probably wouldn't get back up again! But I look that good when I play - trust me!
Photo by: Mariann Domonkos, courtesy www.ittf.com

Friday 19th October 2006

Just letting you know that I have restarted my blog, but on my About.com site. So if you want to read more of my ramblings, you can go there to read my new table tennis blog!

Thursday 15th September 2006

Well, better late than never, that's what they say! So here we go with a quick roundup of the 2006 Australian Open. For anyone interested, I've got some good photos of the top players up at my About.com site.

These points are in no particular order, just as they come to mind.

1) Big improver - George Tang - moved up to No.2 on the Order of Merit. George has really stepped it up this year.

2) Injuries - 2 Singaporean women sprained ankles - causing about 4 or 5 redraws of the Womens Singles! The floor was a bit slippery but not too bad really.

3) Sickness - William Henzell was ill throughout the week, and missed several matches. This dropped him down the Order of Merit to no.4 for Aussies.

4) Big matches - the VIC vs NSW and VIC vs SA matches were both crackers - going to the wire 5-4 each time to VIC. In the Vic vs SA, the Viccies were actually down 4-2 (Henzell bt Kyle Davis and Robbie Frank, Scott Houston bt Kyle, Piers Carter bt Robbie) but the Vics fought back, with Simon Gerada beating William, then Robbie beating Scott, and Kyle beating Piers. I taped the Vic vs NSW match, but have only got part of the VIC vs SA match, after I was requested to stop filming certain Victorian players. So basically no-one else is ever going to get see what was some great table tennis. Too bad I guess.

5) Singapore was pretty dominant overall, with the odd win to an Aussie here and there in the teams. The roof nearly came off when Simon Gerada beat the Singaporean chopper in the teams match!

6) It was still 3 matches a day on the Mon and Tues for the men - a pretty hard schedule. The women had a nicer schedule with 2 matches a day max.

7) Paul Pinkewich came over to play the singles, and beat myself (darn it), then Andy Shih and Piers Carter enroute to losing to Simon Gerada in a quarterfinal.

8) Who didn't play well - I could get in trouble with this one so I think I'll pass - take a look at the results on the TTA website and decide for yourself.

9) Things you won't see often - the Singapore team helping to put the barriers away at the end of the finals night. These guys and girls are professionals, and they still were happy to help clean up after. Two thumbs up!

On a personal note, I was only reasonably happy with how I played at the Open. I finished with 9 wins and 12 losses, with a couple of close games that could have gone either way. I've still got more things to work on, and I'll be looking at coming back to next years championships another notch better!

OK, that's it for the year. I'm going to take a break from blogging for a while, and maybe resurrect my blog over on my About.com site later on, if I feel up to it. Hope you enjoyed having a read every now and again of how things were going - it's been fun!


Tuesday 8th August 2006

Well, the Australian Open Championships are nearly upon us - it will all start this week on Sunday 13th August. I'll do my best to keep you updated each night.

The WA teams are looking forward to the challenge - we've been doing a bit of training together in the last month, which has definitely helped some of our players who haven't done much training for a while. So we are hoping to do a bit of damage here and there next week.

Our teams for the Nationals are as follows:

Mens Team: Greg Letts (c), Jeff Drew, Craig Campbell, Morten Kilden, Russell Stein.

Womens Team: Becky Sparkes (c), Yuko Mayama, Nicole Low, Nanako Nomura, Nita Teoh.

So am I ready? Well, I'm playing pretty well at the moment. This week I'll just be fine-tuning a few things - working on my serve to keep it sharp, a bit of robot practice to keep my defence technique up to scratch, and some mental visualisation. Nothing too heavy, it's too late for big changes now - what I've got is what I'm going to have to use at the Nationals. I want to be as fresh as I can for when things get going.

Naturally enough, I'll be bringing my video camera along to get as much footage as I can. With many of the top players in Australia, along with players from Singapore, New Zealand and The Phillipines, there should be plenty of great matches to choose from.

Anyway, a deep breath and away we go!


Sunday 16th July

OK, time to report in from the State Open finals night.

I had a pretty good night all round - the only black spot was that I forgot to attach my video camera tripod connector and had to tie my video camera to the tripod with string!

Once I got over that bit of stupidity, everything else went pretty well - here's a summary of the night as it happened.

Mixed Doubles Final - Greg Letts/ Nita Teoh vs Chris Hibbert/ Yuko Mayama. A 3-2 win to myself and Nita - our first title out of about 3 or 4 finals in the mixed. It was a pretty close game, and a little bit of luck on our side here and there tipped the balance in our favour.

Womens Doubles Final - Becky Sparkes/ Nanako Nomura d Yuko Mayama/ Nita Teoh 3-2. Yuko and Nita came out firing to take a 2-0 lead, then lost the 3rd 1-11! The fifth was close, with Becky and Nanako coming from about 6-4 down to win it around 11-8.

Mens Doubles Final - Craig Campbell/ Greg Letts d Chris Hibbert/ Gio Cnapich 3-1. At 1-all it felt fairly close, then Craig and I slowly got on top and managed to keep it that way.

Ladies Singles Final - Becky Sparkes d Yuko Mayama 4-1. Becky won the first comfortably, then Yuko did the same in the second. The third was close but Becky got there around 11-8 or 11-9. The fourth saw Becky begin to pull away, and the fifth saw Becky really turn it on and finish in style with a 11-3 or so win.

Mens Singles Final - Greg Letts d Jeff Drew 4-1. The first three felt pretty close, but I managed to win them with some good serving, solid defence with the right amount of attacking to break things up, and a little bit of luck here and there too! I wasn't really expecting to be 3-0 up, and then Jeff came out harder in the fourth as he does when under pressure, and took it fairly easily at around 11-6. The fifth was a strange game to me - I started off just sticking with my mental management system of focusing hard on running my mental program when serving and returning serve. I think I was 5-3, then 9-5 up, at which point I began to realise I had a good chance to win. I had to get my mental program running again, and got to 10-5, at which point I definitely started to think about winning. Lost the next point to go to 10-6, and for a brief second had a vision of losing from 10-5 up! Went back to my mental program and won the next point for a 11-6 win in the fifth. (I've briefly put the 5 games up on my free videos page for anyone interested in taking a look.)

I should have been doing some visualisation of the match and its progress before the big day, and then I wouldn't have had such a problem at the end. If I'd already been running it through my head about what I would do when I'm about to win, I would have been better prepared.

Anyway, it was great to win a triple crown, especially my first Mens Singles Title and first Mixed Doubles title. Very special moments to me. To put it in perspective though, Jeff has won 10 Mens Singles Titles over the last 25 years or so. He wasn't quite at his best on the night, and I definitely had more of the luck this time around, but he fought hard as always and things definitely could have been different with just a shot or two hitting or missing either way.

Congratulations also to the other winners of the titles, including juniors and special events. I'll see if I can get hold of the results and post them all elsewhere on the site.


Wednesday 12th July 2006

This is just going to be a quick update on how things are going - I'll do a fuller blog later on in the week.

At the moment, we are in the middle of the Western Australia State Open - our big local tournament of the year.

Last night I got through to the final of the Mens Doubles (with Craig Campbell) and Mixed Doubles (with Nita Teoh), which will be played on this Friday night - Finals night.

Tonight will see the Mens Singles and Womens Singles being played. I have a pretty good chance of making the final this year, with a couple of juniors in my opening group, then a likely match against Mike Andrews, and if I win that, a semifinal matchup most probably against Craig Campbell or Richard Ajayi. Provided I keep playing well I'm pretty confident I should make it through to the final, but you never know - any of those three players have the ability to play some great table tennis. So I'm quietly confident but not expecting any easy matches - I'll be as prepared as I can be and they will find me tough to beat over a best of seven.

I'll write again after the finals night to report on how things went.


Tuesday 27th June 2006

Since my last blog update, another tournament and the Grand Prix Finals have come and gone.

The Fremantle tournament was pretty good, I finished runner-up to Jeff Drew with a 2-4 loss, but a pretty good match. Won the Mens Doubles (with Ken Aitkenhead) and the Mixed Doubles (with Nita) so not a bad day all round.

The Grand Prix Finals came down to the final match against Jeff Drew (yet again!). I had earlier defeated Becky Sparkes, Morten Kilden, and Craig Campbell in my group, then Gio Cnapich in the semifinal, so I had a pretty good run to that point.

I went 2-0 up against Jeff, before he fought back and took the next two games with good use of variation. The final game was pretty close until about 7-all, and then Jeff took the last few points to come out with a 3-2 win and the No.1 spot for the Grand Prix overall. Well done Jeff.

Training-wise, I'm still working on some technique issues - I want to get my chop a little lower and more consistent. I'm pretty happy with the rest of my game, but I'm also doing a little more service practice as well. My fitness is pretty good, I'm not having any trouble getting through several matches, which bodes well for the Nationals.

Our State Open Tournament is coming up in a few weeks, so now it's time to get ready for that, and the Nationals is just a few weeks after the States, so we are getting to the business end of things now. Just got to keep things going smoothly and fine tune a few bits and pieces - now is not the time for radical changes.


Thursday 8th June 2006

The tournament on the weekend has come and gone, and I'm reasonably happy with my results. I lost to Jeff Drew in the final 4-2, but came away with an idea or two on what I need to work on to lift my game a little more. I won the Mens Doubles with Ken Aitkenhead, and was runner-up in the Mixed Doubles (2-3) with my partner Nita. So not too bad overall.

I'm back into training again, with an eye to working on a couple of technical matters that I need to bring up to scratch. I'm moving around fairly well, although I could still be a bit lighter. I'm hoping to drop a few more kilograms before the Nationals start.

Other than that, I'm putting in a lot of time on the About.com site, in the hopes of getting it up and going smoothly as soon as possible. The previous guide had 7 or 8 years to build up his content, so I've got a lot of work ahead of me to keep his momentum going.


Tuesday 30th May 2006

Yep - I know it's been a while since I last wrote. Let's just say that between taking over the About.com table tennis site, doing jury duty (what a thrill) and various other bits and pieces, I've been keeping busy!

Training: I haven't been doing as much of this as I would like. I'm starting to get into a routine again, and am hoping to get a lot more training done before the Nationals in August.

Competition: I've been playing pennants, and a couple of tournaments and Grand Prixs have come and gone since the my last blog. I've been doing OK, although I naturally would like to be winning them all. I've got a lot more work to do before I'll be able to dominate the local scene though, on fitness, technique and tactics.

I've got another tournament this weekend, so I'll post next week to let you know how it turned out.


Tuesday 18th April 2006

Just writing a quick entry to show that I didn't die from the cold I mentioned in my last blog!

Actually, a lot's been happening since my last blog entry, which has sidetracked me a bit from doing much on the website lately. I'll fill in more details of what's being going on when I have time in a week or two.

Anyway, here's the quick summary version of what I've been doing table tennis-wise in the last 3 weeks.

Training - pretty much same as usual. Had a cold for a week or so which didn't help much. Will be returning to my weight training this week. Weight is around 84kg.

Mental Training - have restarted my next lot of directive affirmations. Am getting fairly used to the routine now on the table, but need to do more of the off-table stuff.

Competition - have been doing OK at pennants - haven't lost a match since Gio, so I'm now 11/12. I won the Scarborough tournament in early April, but lost in the third round of the Grand Prix (didn't make the semis - not a great night). I'll eventually get around to writing up reviews of these events as time permits.


Friday 24th March 2006

This week's blog is going to be a short one - I think I'm catching a cold and haven't got the attention span to write anything too long!

Training - business as usual. Weight was stable this week. Still haven't got back into the weights yet - next week I think.

Mental Training - back into gear. Started with the Directive Affirmations again.

Competition - played pennants on Wednesday, against the Morley Magic team. Played OK against Chris Hibbert (3-0) and Craig Campbell (3-1), but lost to Giovanni Cnapich 2-3. I had my chances but Gio kept at it and in the end he produced a very good change of tactics at around 4-all in the 5th. He played a few soft balls, which I missed with my backhand attack. That got him a 8-4 lead, and he proceeded to relax and hit some powerful attacks for winners to take the game 11-4 and the match 3-2.

I'd give myself a score of about 6 out of 10 on the night. My mental focus wasn't great - had to keep dragging me mind back on the table and my mental programs. I was playing some really bad shots every so often as well - shots where I had seen Gio hit push with his long pimples and I had failed to adjust, putting the ball high in the air or off the table. Silly stuff like that. I think that I was tired mentally and it was reflected in my play. Physically I was OK though, and I still had chances to win, so it's not all bad. So well done to Gio and I'll do my best to be better next time.


Friday 17th March 2006

Been watching a bit of the Commonwealth Games table tennis on Channel 9 today - saw the Australian Womens Team defeat Nigeria. Well done ladies!

That aside, here is what has been happening here over the last week.

Training - back into training with Frank on Tuesdays, and Mike and Colin on Wednesdays. At the moment I'm focussing mainly on serve return, getting back far enough when defending, and improving my forehand defensive technique. So far, all is going well, but obviously still a fair way to go.

On the fitness side of things, I was a little worried since I was a bit tired for a couple of days - Sunday and Monday. I didn't want a recurrence of my previous fatigue problems. But I think it was just not enough sleep - I was fine again after a couple of good night's kip.

My weight is now 85.75kg (13 and a half stone or 189 pounds for those of you still using the old measurements). Bodyfat is around 13.6%. I still haven't got back into any really heavy training sessions, but I'll start back on the weights probably tomorrow, and bring in the aerobics and robot again next week. In the meantime, my private coaching that I have been doing, plus on table training, competitions and pennants still seems to be getting the weight down. Considering I was 93kg (205 pounds) and 19% bodyfat back in October things are going pretty well. Still no photos just yet though!

Mental Training - I lent my book to another player when I was in Albany, and even though I have already made notes of the main areas I am working on, that seems to have halted my thinking about the mental side. I haven't been using my Directive Affirmations at all - will start back on them as soon as I get off the computer today. I've still been using my mental programs during training and pennants though, which is good.

Competition - I've had a good run over the last few weeks, all things considered. As written in my report about the second round of the Grand Prix, I managed to notch up another win - actuallly the first time I have won a round of the Grand Prix ever! I had a pretty good night, with second round wins over Morten Kilden 3-1, and Becky Sparkes 3-0, a semifinal win over Gio Cnapich 3-0 , and a win in the final over Craig Campbell 3-1.

I am definitely playing better this year, I can feel it and the results are starting to show it as well. Don't get me wrong - I don't feel invincible. But I do feel that I'm getting pretty tough to beat - so anyone wanting to win against me is going to have to really earn it. But it's not like I'm a whole level above the other guys - maybe an edge against most of them, and I feel like I'm pretty much level with Jeff (we've only played once so far this season). Putting it in perspective, I've won a couple of competitions in a row, but Jeff Drew has beening winning consistently for the last 10 years or so over here, so I'd better not get too far ahead of myself!

Anyway I do feel pretty good at present. I still have the prospect of dropping a few more kilos which should improve my speed and stamina, and allow me to train a bit harder, as well as several improvements that I know are there to be made in my technique and mental training. If I can continue to work on and improve these points I have a fair amount of confidence that I will go to this years Nationals as a much better player. Whether that will be enough to move me up the ranks within sight of the top 10 I'll find out later on.

Finally, Summer Pennants has wound up this week, and we're getting straight into Winter Pennants next week. My team will play the top team (Morley Magic) in the first round - their team consists of Giovanni Cnapich (#2 WA Mens ranking in 2005), Craig Campbell (ranked #4), and Chris Hibbert (ranked #8) - so it's going to be a tough night.

I'll keep you posted on how it went in next weeks blog. Until then, go the Aussie table tennis teams in the Commonwealth Games!


Friday 10th March 2006

It's been a busy week, so let's get right down to it.

Training - training has been mainly on the backburner this week. What with the Albany tournament on the weekend, and the Grand Prix Round 2 tonight, I've been wary of doing too much heavy work before the competitions.

I missed my training session with Frank, since I was still driving back from Albany on Tuesday, but I did have my Wednesday session with Mike and Colin.

I had enough time for a quick glance at the video of Mike, Colin, and me before leaving for Albany. Straight away a couple of things jumped out at me - firstly, Mike and Colin were spot on about me playing to close to the table, and needing to take the ball more to the side of my body instead of too far in front. The other glaring fault I noticed was with my forehand chop. Colin gets down on the forehand chop using his knees to lower himself, so that his torso stays fairly upright. In comparison, I wasn't bending my knees enough, and trying to compensate by bending from my waist instead. Result - Colin stays nicely balanced and smooth through his stroke, even if the ball is inches from the floor. I was losing balance on the forehand, and my chops were going too high, and it got worse as the ball got lower and I bent from my waist even more. I'll see if I can add a couple of clips to demonstrate later. (Note: Clips have been added - username and password is gttp4 - Colin Bowler - Greg Letts) Anyway, I had a good mental picture of how I needed to perform my forehand chop before going to Albany, which turned out to be very helpful, as I'll talk about later.

Fitness-wise, as I said, I haven't done a lot of heavy training since my last blog. I have played a tournament on the weekend, followed the next day by my partner dragging me up Mount Lindesay just north of Denmark, a 3hr return trek to a 400m high peak. So it's not like I've just been sitting on the beach somewhere.

I'm now at 86.25 kg, at a bodyfat of about 13.8%. Not bad considering I wasn't watching my diet too carefully while I was away.

Mental Training - I'm starting back on the Mental Affirmations today, and I'll run the 21 days to the end of March. This mental training proved to be of great value to me in the Albany tournament, which I'll get to next.

Competition - I'll make a quick mention of my progress in the Albany tournament here, and write a full account of the event in the Table Tennis in Western Australia section later today, with luck.

Mens Singles - I was seeded #3, and came through my early rounds with comfortable wins over Ricky Weight, Steve Burnet, and Peter Williams. This brought me through to the semi-final against #2 seed Gio Cnapich. I was expecting a tough match here, and this is exactly what I got. Again, I was focussing on returning 2 chops in a row as often as possible, to make Gio hit that vital 3rd attack.

Thanks to my video review of my technique, my forehand chop had improved and I was able to do this successfully on a number of occasions, and in the end this made the difference. I won the first game, and was down about 9-6 in the second when I refocussed on my match plan and running my mental program before serving and returning serve. I went on to take the next 5 points and the game 11-9. This was a crucial point in the match, since I was now 2-0 up instead of 1-1.

Gio fought back to take the next game, but couldn't keep it up for the next 2 games and I ran out the winner 4-1. It's never easy against Gio, but I felt I played that match tactically well and was defending quite strongly. I was then looking forward to the final.

The final was me against the #1 seed, Jeff Drew, who had defeated the unseeded Chris Hibbert 4-2 in the second semi-final. Chris had earlier beaten the #4 seed, Irwin Parker, and was playing his brand of defense and attack very well. Jeff was just a little bit stronger on the big points against Chris but had to work hard to take the match.

The final started with Jeff getting off to a good start, leading about 8-4 or so with the help of a couple of nice loops onto the net and onto the table, while I was stranded several metres back from the table. While I still don't like having nets and edges against me (who does!), I find that it is not affecting me as much this year - mainly because I'm mentally too busy concentrating on running my mental programs from the "With Winning in Mind" book. These days I've got better things to do then worry about whether my opponent is hitting more nets and edges than me. Anyway, I carried on, caught up, and snuck the first game something like 11-9 or 12-10. This was a huge boost since I was now 1-0 up where it had looked like I was going to be 0-1 down. Plus I really wanted to put some pressure on Jeff and see how he would react. This was our first match of the year and I wanted to establish my intentions for this year straight away.

Back to the match. In the second game, I was running smoothly, and my defense was working solidly. I was concentrating on being that extra step further back, and making sure I used my knees to get low to the ball, instead of bending from the waist. This really helped me to keep my chops lower and my balance and movement better, and I ran out the game around 11-6.

I'm now 2-0 up, and having hopes of a 4-0 whitewash. Jeff had different ideas though, and responded by taking the next 3 games of the match to lead 3-2. He was moving the ball around well, and often forcing me to lob the ball to try to regain my position. I don't think I actually got more than 1 lob on in those three games, although the umpire told me later I was missing the end of the table by a couple of inches every time!

So now it's Jeff who's 3-2 up, and I'm fighting for survival. The smart money would be on Jeff to keep on rolling to a 4-2 win, and in fact this looks pretty likely as we slug it out in the sixth game. The rallies are long and tiring, and the pressure is on, but Jeff keeps a point or two ahead until he's leading 10-8, with the serve. Jeff looks tired to me, but then I'm not as fresh as I was at the start of the match either. We've been playing some huge rallies, and both of us have been working hard throughout.

So what do you do now? I focussed as hard as I could on my mental program, making sure that I'm seeing myself watch the contact and making a good return. I watch his serve contact like a hawk, and even get to make a couple of attacks as Jeff gives me a couple of pushes. 10-9. Then 10-all as I make another backhand attack - I damn near miss the ball, but get enough contact to throw the ball high with good spin, and Jeff blocks it long. Phew!

The crowd is going nuts at this stage - I think they want to see a seventh game, it's no reflection on Jeff or me. I focus hard on my serve mental program and get a serve winner (I think!). 11-10 me. Then back to Jeff's serve and I defend solidly again, getting the point and the game 12-10. The spectators applaud - they are going to get one more game after all.

Seventh and final game - I'm pumped and feeling good after saving a couple of match points. I'm still in there, still fairly fit, and looking forward to the last. I'm not looking at Jeff, just focussing on my match plan, and noting that I have to concentrate on good defense (no lobs), with the occasional attack to try to break his rhythm.

We start fairly evenly, round about 2-all. Then Jeff is pushing a few more balls where normally he would attack, and making a couple of mistakes, and we are switching ends at 5-2 to me. What am I thinking as we swap ends? Stuff like the following - Jeff hasn't attacked much at all this game - a choke or is he tired? Jeff used to get a bit nervous, but I've seen him win too many close matches over the last few years to think he's getting tight. We've been playing over an hour by this stage, so I'm betting he's probably worn out. (At this point, Jeff and I had both played a semifinal, the Mens Doubles Final, and then another hour of this final). How do I feel? Not fresh, but I could still play another 5 or 6 games no problem. OK - let's make him work for it.

Jeff came back with a few more attacks, but his rhythm seemed broken and I was still feeling good. At 8-4 I had the serve. Focus on the mental program. 9-4 and 10-4. Ok, now focus on the serve return program - and return the serve. Into the rally - Jeff attacking and me defending. Dammit just miss one will you? Finally Jeff puts a hard attack right at me, I chop low and tight, flick the net on the way through and bounce it over his bat. What a way to end the match but I'll take it.

A 4-3 win to me, after saving a couple of match points along the way. How sweet it is! Go over and check my video camera - I've been taping the finals matches today. I'm going to enjoy watching this later. Hmmm - the camera is off - maybe the battery ran out? Nope - the battery is fine. It was a long match - maybe longer than the 80 minute tape? Nope - still at the start of the tape. So what gives? Oh geez - I was concentrating so hard on the match as soon as I stepped on the court that I forgot to take the camera off pause! Arrrrrrggghh! :p


Thursday 2nd March 2006

Hi all - let's go with another week's update.

Training - haven't done anything on the robot this week - I had a bit of a twinge in my groin while doing some coaching on Friday night, and have been taking it pretty easy since. Fortunately it all seems to have come good, since I got through training and pennants last night without a problem. Phew!

Had my usual session with Frank Kenny on Tuesday, and another hour with Mike and Colin on Wednesday, just before pennants. I've been given some good advice from them both regarding the need for me to play a bit further away from the table, and take the ball a bit closer to my body, instead of too far out in front of me. I'll be trying to do this in the future - I gave it a go last night and it really seemed to help my defense and timing.

I also took some video of Colin defending against Michael (well, all three of us playing each other really)- he has a wonderful style to look at and I'll compare my form and positioning against his. In the past I was always too heavy to go far back from the table, but now that I am fitter I should be able to position myself better. I've got footage of Colin and myself from the front, back and side, so I should be able to really see where I can improve my form.

 

Partners in Pain (usually mine!) - Colin Bowler (left) and Mike Gallagher

Photo by: Me, courtesy: www.gregsttpages.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Speaking of fitness, I'm a bit lighter again this week - I'm now tipping the scales at 87kg with a bodyfat of approximately 14.3%. I almost didn't recognise myself on the video - it's been probably 10 years since I was this light. Still got a way to go but I'm very happy with the progress I have made so far.

Mental Training - still on my break from the Directive Affirmations - I'll pick it up again when I come back from my trip to Albany for the country tournament. I'm getting better at using it in matches and finding it very useful it keeping me calm and able to focus on the match.

Competition - Nita and I played pennants last night against the Morley Assegai team of Phil Ranger Jr and Cedric Wilson. I started a bit sluggishly against Phil, and he was quite sharp on his attacking, and the first game was over 11-5 before I knew it. I then concentrated on getting back fast into my defensive position, and keeping my return of serve out of the centre of the table, and I won the next three games comfortably. The mental training really helps in these situations - rather than worrying about being a game down, I reviewed my game plan, and then simply focused point by point on my mental programs for serving and returning serve. I know if I do these right I'll be playing better and if I still lose after that, it's to a better player on the night.

Nita then played her two games in a row against Cedric and Phil, but it's a tough ask for her so early in the season, considering she really hasn't started her training program yet. So these were two losses for Nita, and then I had to play Cedric Wilson.

I have had a number of tough matches with Cedric in the past, but lately I seem to have a bit of an edge on him. He uses antipower on the backhand, but as a medium pimple player myself I don't have too much trouble with that. And since he doesn't attack all that often I have time to push and roll the ball around until I get the one I want to really attack, and then I focus on putting it right into his playing elbow, or to the sides of the table. Last night I was hitting the attacks well against him, and came out with a relatively easy 3-0 win.

Again, Nita and I couldn't quite get there in the doubles, which is no disgrace considering Phil and Cedric are a longstanding top doubles combination in WA. So another 2-3 loss for us.

Coming up this weekend is the Albany tournament. It should be an interesting competition, with many of the top Perth players going down to compete. I'll be back up in Perth on Wednesday, so I'll hopefully have a writeup of how everything went in general late next week.


Friday 24th February 2006

So what's been happening over the last 11 days or so? Plenty, so sit back and I'll tell you all about it.

Training - Still carrying on with the robot, weights and aerobics. Progress continues, and I'm now at 88kg with a bodyfat of approximately 15.2%.

I've also started back training with Mike Gallagher and Colin Bowler. When both Mike and Colin come to the session, we play 1 game to 11 and swap around. When just Mike comes, we do some training. Playing these two very good players is helping my get my defensive work back up to scratch a lot faster.

Mental Training - it's time for a break from my Directive Affirmation (you do 21 days on, 9 days off, so it roughly fits each month). I'll start my next one at the beginning of March.

I am getting better at using the system in a match, since I have been using it in my games at training. I've kind of got the rhythm of it sorted now. At the end of each point, I'll analyse what is happening in the match as usual, then if I'm serving, I'll start the feeling and picturing process in my head, so by the time I'm at the table, I'm ready to go. When I'm receiving serve, I make sure that I don't get down into my ready position until I've done the feeling and picturing process. This is working much better and I now feel pretty comfortable with it in matches. The main problem I am having is remembering to say "That's like me!" when I win the point - but I am getting better at that now.

I am quite pleased with my progress on the mental side of things. I would have to be honest and say I'm only probably giving it about 50% of the effort I should be doing, and it's having good results anyway. I'm going to start doing the whole lot properly and then we'll see.

Competition - I've played a couple more pennant matches since my last blog update. Last week on Tuesday, my team played the Pneumatic Engineering team of Mike Andrews and Irwin Parker. I beat Mike 3-1 and Irwin 3-0. Again, I felt fitter and faster on the court, but was still a bit rusty when chopping. Then I had my first training session with Mike and Colin on Wednesday, which improved my chop a bit.

 

Chris Hibbert - having a resurgence in form this year

Photo by: Me. Courtesy: www.gregsttpages.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This week, I had a training session with Mike and Colin on Wednesday directly before taking on Chris Hibbert and Giovanni Cnapich, who make up the Morley Magic team. The training session got me warmed up and helped get my defence that bit sharper before the pennant match. I got off to a great start against Chris, who has been the form player in Summer Pennants this year, and was currently the only player who was unbeaten. I started with good strong defense, and picking the occasional ball to attack, and won the first two games 11-6, 11-5. Chris changed tactics in the third and started to use his defence more, and pick his own attacks better. He got the jump on me and was several points up before I stopped making too many mistakes with my own attack. I started to catch up but Chris took the third 11-9. The fourth was an interesting affair, with both Chris and I trying to tempt the other player to attack so we could defend and then counter-attack. Some good points were played but in the end I got a couple of good shots on at the right time and got there 11-8, for a 3-1 win. Just as well, it would have been a tough 5th game, since Chris would have had the momentum behind him, coming back from 2-0 down.

My teammate Nita then had a good effort against Gio, losing 3-1 in an entertaining and hard-hitting match. I then came up against Gio in an attempt to avenge my Grand Prix loss. The first game was an 11-8 win to me. It was pretty close but my attack was working a little better this time and that made the difference. Gio stepped it up in the second, and was leading by a point or two most of the way, until I caught him at 9-all by chopping a couple on in a row and snuck the game 11-9.

During the break I mentioned to Nita that I felt if I could chop two balls on the table in a row, I would feel confident of taking the third game. Gio hits his opening attack at a ferocious pace and spin, and it is difficult to return at all, let along keep it tight. We were pretty much even up to this point, since I was still struggling to put two chops on in a row. But my attack and serving were evening things up, and Gio makes a few mistakes as well on his attack, since he goes for broke so often.

 

Giovanni Cnapich - a patchy start to the summer season

Photo by: Me. Courtesy: www.gregsttpages.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So into the third, and my goal was to try to chop two in a row as often as possible - if I could do that I reckoned there was a very good chance Gio wouldn't be able to hit the third attack on. In the end this proved to be true, although Gio missed a few of my first chop as well, so I ran out the third game 11-6. A comfortable win on paper but against Gio you know anything can happen, so you can't really relax at any point because you never know when he is going to turn it on. I'm sure Gio would be feeling that he has plenty of room to improve from this effort as well - so our future matches should continue to be interesting.

Nita then lost another tough match against Chris, and unfortunately we lost the doubles 3-2 to go down 3-2 on the night. But seeing as Chris and Gio are the top team, it wasn't such a bad result overall.


Monday 13th February 2006

OK, time to fill you in on what's been happening since my last update.

Training - I didn't do any work on the robot this week. I was feeling a bit tired on the Friday and weekend, so I decided to lighten up a bit, and have an easy week knowing that the first Grand Prix competition was coming up on Friday February 10.

I still did my private coaching, weights workouts, and some aerobic work a couple of times at 45 minutes each. Having the heart rate monitor helps me make sure I'm not slacking off while doing the aerobic session.

Today I'm feeling fit and fresh, and ready to get back on the robot, weights etc. I've had a couple of longer nights sleep which have helped too. I'm now weighing in at 88.5kg, at a bodyfat of around 15.7%. So no photos just yet, but I'm getting closer!

I've also started back on my service training again. I want to be able to get the double bounce serves working well under pressure. I was pretty all over the place to begin with, but I found that spinning the ball on the racket a couple of times before serving in order to get the feel that I want, seems to help me with getting the right contact when trying to spin the serve but keep it short.

I'll also be starting back training with Mike Gallagher this week, which is a definite plus, for reasons I will talk about later.

Mental Training - the Mental Management System is working well, but I'm still not 100% smooth at using it in a match - I'll keep working on it though.

Competition - We had our first tournament for the year on Friday night - I'll provide a full recap of the event in my WATTA section tomorrow - I still need to get some of the results from the WATTA centre. I'll link it from here when I put it up though as well.

 

Richard 'Say it like it is' Ajayi - keeping me and others in line!

Photo by: Me!, courtesy www.gregsttpages.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anyway, I lost to Giovanni Cnapich in the semifinals 3-0, 11-9, 11-8, 11-9. What can I say - he was too good on the day. (Actually, I could say a lot, but I have been told to stop making excuses and take it like a man - thanks Richard!) Gio went on to lose to Jeff Drew in the final 3-1.

General Thoughts

I'm just going to make a few comments on where I feel I am at this point in the season.

Fitness - I'm definitely fitter and faster, and my stamina is greatly improved. My recovery has also improved out of sight with the improved diet and supplements. With still a few more kilograms to lose, I'm looking forward to getting to my playing weight and seeing how well I get around the court then.

Playing standard - I'm pretty match rusty (but everyone else is as well, most probably!), and there are still some areas that need attention. I'm moving better for my defense, but I'm having trouble putting the ball back on the table! I'll up the spin and speed on my robot to help with this, and training with Mike Gallagher will definitely give my defense technique a sharpening up. My forehand topspin also let me down a bit on Friday night, where I didn't land the ball on the table on a couple of crucial points. My return of serve and serve is also a bit substandard, but playing against Mike will soon fix that up again.

Mental - this Mental Management Stuff from 'With Winning in Mind' is very good stuff. I'm starting to get the hang of using it in a table tennis match, and I am finding it to be very good at controlling nerves and keeping me focused on the match. Playing against Gio, I wasn't nervous at all, I just couldn't execute the shots that I needed at the time - more skill work to improve the subconscious skills needed. Once I have worked on the skills a bit I should be in good shape.

Another interesting point is that the 'Directive Affirmation' that I am using as recommended by the book seems to improving my ability to watch my diet as well. I know a top 10 player would have a good diet, and I believe I am a top 10 player, so therefore I follow a good diet. Sounds simple but it is working.

Tactics - I've been doing my video analysis of my matches at last year's Nationals as well as comparing the play of top class defenders such as Joo Se Hyuk and Chen Weixing. I've made quite a few notes on techniques that I could use and I am beginning to bring them into my game. This still needs a bit of work but I feel I will reap the rewards in a couple of months.

Overview - in the last 2 weeks, I have had close losses against Russell Stein and Giovanni Cnapich. While it would have been nice to win, I feel that I am on the right track and have the potential to step up another couple of levels in my play when everything comes together. I'm looking forward to doing some hard training with Mike and Frank, as well as on the robot, in the next month or so. The next tournament is in Albany in early March, so we will see whether I can start to build my momentum in the next few weeks.


Thursday 2nd February 2006

I had a good holiday down south from Thursday to Sunday, and came back ready to get into some more training. Here's this weeks recap.

Training - up to 26 minutes on the robot now. Once I get up to 30 minutes I'll work at cutting down the rest periods to 30 seconds. Following that up with 25 minutes of aerobics and my weights session twice a week. I've picked up a new battery for my heart rate monitor so hopefully I should be able to make sure that my aerobic session is hard enough work.

I'm now weighing in at 89.5kg at a bodyfat of around 16.8% or so. I've got another 8.6kg of bodyfat to drop to get to 8% bodyfat, so I'm still making progress.

Mental Training - just started the Mental Management System (MMS) stuff, but I've still got a few things to iron out - more on that later.

Competition - started our Summer Pennants last night. I had mixed results, losing to Russell Stein 1-3 (14-12, 8-11, 9-11, 11-13 approx) and beating Peter Williams 3-0. I'll talk a bit about the match with Russell.

First of all, let's get the excuses out the way - I'd already done 3 hours of private coaching that day, and I was just that little bit tired and mentally a bit flat. Also I was finding it difficult to get the mental visualisations used in the MMS synched in smoothly with my playing - it sort of put me off my normal game. All my own fault really - I could have skipped the coaching and should have practiced the mental visualisations in a pretend match situation to get used to them. I'll do a bit of that this week before the Grand Prix on February 10.

That said, what can I take away from this match? Well, I still was pretty close to winning even though I didn't feel like I was playing well. So I do feel that I have plenty of room to improve on this effort. I'll work on synching the mental visualisations this week, and make sure I'm rested up for next weeks Grand Prix. I also need to add a bit more spin to the robot when chopping, to help get the chops that bit lower against heavy spin.

So the general conclusion is, I'm a bit rusty but feel that as I get everything working properly I'll lift a bit from this effort. Of course Russell may be thinking the same thing about himself!


Wednesday 25th January 2006

What's been happening this week? Read on and I'll fill you in.

Training - Still working on the robot, up to 23 minutes now, and cut down the rest periods to about 50 seconds. I'm still concentrating on keeping a good low position with knees bent, which is getting easier now.

I'm following the robot with the usual 25 minutes of aerobic work, and a weights session as well twice a week. All going well there. Energy levels are still good, I'm following my diet and taking my supplements, and getting plenty of sleep to help recovery.

I'm down to about 90kg this week, with bodyfat of around 17.5%. Provided the weights do their job and help me hold on to my muscle, I'll need to get to around 80.7kg to be at 8% bodyfat. So I've still got a way to go but I can see the goal is in sight (with binoculars!). Don't worry, we're still a long way off from a photo shoot yet!

I'm now finding that I have a bit of extra zip around the table, and can train a bit longer too. So my court speed is increasing noticeably (to me anyway!).

Mental Training - I've finished making all my notes and getting my documentation set up for my Mental Training using the Mental Management System. I'll keep you posted on progress.

Competition - we start our Summer Pennants next week (Wed night), and our first Grand Prix is on February 10. So I'll soon have a bit more on the competition side of things to report.


Wednesday 18th January 2006

OK, time for another update.

My training is continuing well at present, I'm up to 18 minutes on the robot (1 minute on, 1 off, for 18 minutes on in total). I've now started to add in and out footwork to my side to side movement. I'm still following that with 20-25 minutes of aerobic work, and twice a week with my weight workouts. I'm over the stiffness of the weights now, so I'm starting to push it a little more.

Weight-wise, things are on-track, with my current weight at 90.5kg. I'm still good with my energy level and physical condition - no injuries at the moment. So all in all I'm satisfied with my health and physical training at the moment.

On the mental side of things, I've picked up a couple of books on the mental side of competition - these are 'With Winning in Mind' by Lanny Bassham, and 'the Mental Edge' by Kenneth Baum. For me, I prefer 'With Winning in Mind'. I'm looking forward to incorporating his system into my training in the months to come. This book was a recommendation by Marco on the About.com forum, so thanks Marco! I'll keep you informed on my progress with using the Mental Management system suggested by Lanny Bassham as I go.


Wednesday 11th January 2006

Training continues while I wait for Summer Pennants to start in 2 and a bit weeks. Here's what I've been up to:

Friday involved training on the robot, 1 minute on and 1 minute off, practising chopping - 1 ball to the wide FH, one to the middle, 1 ball to the wide BH, one to the middle, on so on. Did 6 lots of that then switched the robot to random and did 4 more sets with the ball firing to the same positions at random - much harder work. I'm focusing on technique and getting myself lower to the ground using that extended squat position common to the better players - I can really feel that in the legs!

Followed that up with 20 minutes of aerobic training - basically bouncing around on my toes and keeping the heart rate above 140 or so.

To finish, got into my weights again, just easing back into it to avoid any problems. Was still a little stiff the next couple of days though. Friday's weights began with squats, followed by bench press, tricep press downs, calf raises and decline sit ups. I only do 1 set of each, usually from 8-12 reps - once I hit 12 reps I up the weight. The decline situps are a bit different - I do 30 and will add 1 situp per workout till I hit 40 or so, then I'll hold on to weight plate or something to make it harder.

Anyway, even though I haven't done any weights for six months or so, I don't appear to have lost any strength really, which is encouraging. I'm not trying to bulk up, just keep up my muscle mass while I'm dropping the fat.

Saturday was an easy day since I was a bit stiff, just some training with one of my students and a bit of a walk around.

On Sunday I had 3 hours of training with students one-on-one, which was pretty good exercise. Also had a 20 minute walk around Hyde Park - very relaxing.

Monday saw me back on the robot - the same basic drill but this time 6 lots of fixed placement followed by 6 lots of random placement. I'll up this a minute at a time as long as I can - I'm hoping to get it up to 30 minutes or so.

Again, this was followed by 20 minutes of moving around to keep the heartrate up, then my other weights session. This time it was deadlifts, then lat pulldowns, leg curls, seated shoulder presses, seated bicep curls, and more decline situps.

On Tuesday I had a brief 45 minute session with Frank - we weren't supposed to be hitting but we were both down the centre, so thought we might as well. Then a couple of hours of one-on-one with students to finish up. I wasn't too sore from the weights, which is good.

Today (Wed) I'm planning to do another session on the robot, 7 fixed placements and then 6 or 7 random placements depending on how my legs feel (1 minute on, 1 minute off), then maybe 30 minutes off keeping the heartrate up by jumping around.

Oh yeah, got back on the scales today - happy to say I've almost got rid of the Christmas weight gain - back to 91.5kg. I'm aiming to get under 90kg now. Hopefully with a little bit of training I'll get there soon. The supplementation and diet is still working, I feel really good and have plenty of energy for training - it's been a long time since I've felt this well. Very encouraging really.


Friday 6th January 2006

Hi all, I'm back from my break refreshed and ready to go! Time to fill you in on what's been going on.

Health - still good. Definitely better than before, so the diet and supplements seem to be working out after just over a month.

Yep, put on some weight during the break - had some family over and too many family dinners and desserts! I'll give myself a week of training before I report what I weighing in at though - I need a week of hard training for damage control!

Training - started up on the robot a couple of days ago. I'm just running through a couple of basic chopping drills, with a minute on then a minute off. I just want to start building up my leg strength for those longer defensive matches. I'll also be starting back on my weight training today - although I'll give myself a couple of weeks to ease back into the weights so I don't cripple myself.

Training with Frank and Mike has had a break over Christmas, but I should be starting up again in the next week or two.

Other stuff - not much to report really. Things should start happening in February, as our Summer Pennants, Grand Prix and Tournaments begin. I'll keep you posted as things occur.


Friday 16th December 2005

Time for another quick update on how things are going.

Health - I've been taking all the extra supplements for a week and a half now, and have modified my diet according to the plan I was given (apart from my birthday dinners!). At this point in time I am definitely feeling better. Physically, I seem to be recovering a bit faster, and can train a little harder as well. Mentally, I just feel fresher - more alert in general. The general fatigue that I have been so used to for the last few years is pretty much gone - it's actually a new experience to feel myself get tired at night rather than just being tired all day! So although I hope I will improve even more over the next couple of months, I would be pretty satisfied with even this much improvement.

I'm not reporting on my weight though - I haven't been game to get back on the scales yet. I've got a work dinner tonight and a work colleague's dinner tomorrow night (home woodfire pizza - yum!) - so I'll give myself a while before jumping back on the weighing machine. I figure if I can get through the Christmas season without actually gaining any weight I'd be very happy - even going up to maybe 92kg I could live with.

Training - I'm still working on the basics really. Some serve and thirdball, fifthball with Frank, plus some attacking footwork and a little defensive work. A fair bit of Falkenberg with Michael, along with defensive technique and service/serve return work. A couple of games with Mike at the end to keep the matchplay up to speed. And of course I'm still looking after those of my students who haven't taken a Christmas break yet. Still no real work on my robot or weight training or other aerobics yet.

Other stuff - I've put my hand up to be Coaching Director for the WA Table Tennis Association. I've still got to meet with Frank (the previous director) to get my head around everything that is involved with the position. I've got a few ideas already and I'm hoping to make a difference (positive, of course) in 2006.

Oh, and this website has finally started to come out of the woodwork - I've turned back up in Yahoo for searches under 'table tennis' (ranked about 166 at the moment). Now if I can just get Google to figure out that my site deserves a mention, and things will be looking up!


Thursday 8th December 2005

My training continues, with my usual coaching sessions plus training with Frank on Tuesday and Mike on Wednesday.

I'm still attempting to get below 91kg, but although my weight is holding steady my bodyfat continues to edge down - so I guess I am still making progress. Got a big weekend of dinners etc due to my birthday tomorrow - so if I don't post my fitness progress next week you will all know why!

I've started adjusting my diet and taking the many supplements suggested by my doctor. Most of the changes are OK, but giving up my milk, chocolate and honey in my tea are probably the most painful - this had better work! I almost feel like I'm rattling when I walk - I've got that many tablets that I'm taking. Too early to say if it's making a difference yet.

On a different note, I got an email from Kay, the nice lady who did wonders for my knees and back earlier this year, asking if I could put up a link to her website. So here it is Kay - http://www.panabaa.com/ . I would definitely recommend Kay to anybody here in WA suffering from aches, pains or strains - my own knees and back have been so much better since I had just one session with Kay.

OK - that's it for now. Things tend to wind down table tennis wise around here until February or so. I'll still be training and doing private coaching, but there won't be anything to do with competition until February or March.


Thursday 1st December 2005

OK, so what's been happening?

I've restarted training with Mike Gallagher again, and have had 2 sessions since my last blog. I'm definitely a little bit fitter than before - I can last a few minutes more on my drills and my defensive area is improving. Mike has me starting with FH/BH from the BH corner, then shifting to the Falkenberg drill for about 15 minutes. By this time I'm ready for a rest, so Mike does some Falkenberg himself, and then he loops at my FH chop for about 5 minutes, along with the occasional drop shot or loop down my BH.

After that, we open up to Mike looping anywhere with regular drop shots, while I defend and counter-attack. I'm definitely getting a bit better with the FH counter-loop - but still plenty of room for improvement.

Technique wise, I'm also working on improving the consistency of my chops. I'm fairly happy with where I am at the moment defence-wise. Another 7 months of training with Mike should put me in good stead, especially if I can continue to lighten up a bit more - I'm at 91kg now and I'm hoping to get under 90kg in the next couple of weeks, provided I can avoid all the Christmas goodies!

I'm also still working with Frank on our usual routines, practicing serving and attacking against Frank's defence, and also some attacking drills to help keep me sharp.

In regards to my overall health, I'm still a bit up and down in terms of recovery and general fatigue. This is something I've had for pretty much the last 4 or 5 years, so it's only when you have the occasional good day that you remember what it's like to be normal again. I've been to see my doctor and had several tests done, and the results indicate that my Copper and Boron levels are a bit high, which can cause fatigue, and that I have a fairly slow metabolism in general. I've got a stack of supplements and a diet plan that the good doctor has recommended, so I'll have a good read through it all on the weekend and see what changes to my diet are needed. Hopefully this will allow me to have a steady energy level instead of having to fight the urge to lie down and sleep all the time - I have too much to do! We'll see how it goes over the next few months - I have to report back to the doc in 4 months time to run the tests again and see if I've made any improvement. The doc thinks that if things are working well I should notice the difference within a couple of months, so fingers crossed.


Wednesday 23rd November 2005

Once again, I come to my blog only to find that the days have flown by...

I've been behaving myself reasonably well on the fitness side of things - I'm closing in on 91kg and the bodyfat continues to notch down. I've yet to start lifting the weights (still!) but I'll make a real effort to get started this week. I need to add some aerobic work as well, probably using my robot to practice my chopping and counterattack in order to get the most out of the fairly limited time that I have.

I've been training one session each week with my regular training partner Frank Kenny, and I've been feeling quite good and sharp. Add about 8-10 hours of coaching a week and I'm getting a fair bit of table tennis. I'm also finding the coaching keeps me well focussed on my own technique and helps to keep my thinking and analysing the game, which seems to be helping as well.

I've also contacted Mike Gallagher with the intention of restarting our training sessions, and he should be free to start up again fairly soon. My junior training will have a break for a couple of months from December to early February, so I may be able to get some more training time for myself during this period as well.

All in all, things are not going too bad. I'm keeping busy but need to find a little time to brush up on those areas that need more work. Frank helps me keep my serving and attacking sharp, and Mike should help me work on my serve receive and defence, so along with a little work at home I should have most things covered for the coming year.


Wednesday 9th November 2005

Crumbs, the time is going by fast! Has it been that long already since my last blog update? What's been going on?

Fitness

Still chipping away at the fitness side of things, despite have a foodie girlfriend and a few family dinners in the last couple of weeks. Weight is now 92kg and bodyfat down a bit more. Slow but steady progress. Haven't started any weight training yet or specific aerobic training, so must pull my finger out and find the time somewhere.

Goal 2 - Where to improve for 2006

OK - I've had a bit of a general think about my results in the last two Australian National Championships that I have attended, and here is what I have come up with so far regarding what I want to work on between now and August 2006.

Serving - my serves are OK but nothing to write home about. I've got a bit lax of late in terms of keeping my serve sharp. I'm going to have to get back to the basics and make time for some serve practice using my robot at home to make sure I can put the serve where I want to when the pressure is on.

Serve return/short game- I had improved this between 2004 and 2005, but I think I could still use a fair bit of work in this area. Coming up against the speed glued attackers, I need to have an effective return of serve that prevents them hitting the big third ball attack at me. When I was getting into a rally without that third or fifth ball powerloop coming at me, I was doing well. When I couldn't keep the short game tight, I was suffering.

Chopping - I was reasonably happy with my defense in 2005, but I feel that I can make further improvements in terms of my overall defensive area that I can cover, as well as slightly better placement, spin variation and height over the net. I'll be looking to put some solid practice in on this.

Attacking - my backhand attack worked very well for me at the Nationals, but it will be difficult to make huge leaps forward with this stroke. My forehand has plenty of room to get better though.

Twiddling - I was pretty happy with my twiddle game - I've got this fairly polished these days so I don't need major work on this.

Other areas - looking at the tapes, I can see that I am still very upright and with a narrower stance than most other players. This is partly because I was about 15kg too heavy and I my legs wouldn't be able to keep up perfect stance and positioning. Hopefully as I improve my fitness I will be able to get better in this area as well. My fitness also needs attention as I mentioned earlier - I started to really tire in the second teams match of each day - and ache a lot as well. On the tapes, I could see myself starting to lose the spring and bounce in my legs as the day went on. I need to be fit enough to handle the rigours of two matches a day - and maybe even three depending on how many players we have in the team next year. And as a defender my matches aren't the 3 game 10 minute wham-bam-slam matches that the attackers play - the rallies are long and the matches are commonly 20-30 minutes. Age - I could also stand to lose about 10-15 years! On the other hand, the Vets (O/40) are not that far off!!

Goal 3 - Organising my training

Where do I find time for all this? Beats me. My coaching seems to be helping me play better, since I'm hitting a lot of balls to my students and I am always aware of setting a good example in footwork and technique. This seems to be filtering through to my game play, and I'm playing less sloppy points, which is a plus. But I am still going to have to work out a schedule that lets me get the training I need in.

Overall goal for Australia Open 2006

What's a realistic expectation for 2006? How much can I improve compared to the rest? It's hard to say exactly.

On the plus side, if I can drop to a competition weight of 75-80kg, I will be in probably my best shape of my life and this will go a long way towards erasing the handicap I'm giving the other players in terms of my court speed and match fitness. I know I can make further improvments in my chopping, forehand attack, and serve return, all without too much effort. So I should be able to lift by another 2-3 points a match against those players around my level.

On the negative side, I'll be another year older at 35, and have higher expectations and more pressure to perform (in my own mind). I'll also be a little more on the radar of other competitors - I doubt anyone's having sleepless nights about facing me again but they know I can play a bit now, so I won't get too many cheap wins from unprepared opponents. I'm also quite busy with coaching, work and this website, so I may struggle to give my preparation all the attention it deserves. Plus my opponents are younger and probably able to put in more training (both timewise and in terms of being able to withstand the hard work involved), so I may be struggling to keep in terms of quality hours of practice on the table.

Overall, I'm aiming for a spot in the rankings around 10-15. I'd love to be able to match it with the big boys (ie Russell Lavale, William Henzell etc) but if I could sneak a bit closer to the best guys and be in sight of the number 10 spot I'd be ecstatic. It would also be nice to have a defender back in the Australian Top 10. Anyway, that's what I'm shooting for - I've got the next 9 months or so to put in the work required to try and get there.


Monday 24th October 2005

To my shame, I still haven't got around to Goals 2 and 3 (Sigh!). Maybe tomorrow, I tell myself.

In terms of fitness, I'm still tracking OK, although it could be better. Had a wedding reception to go to on Friday night and I'm sure that put me back a pound or two - well worth it though! I'm a bit closer to 92kg than 92.5kg, and the bodyfat has notched down a bit towards 18.5%. Still early days yet though - I've yet to start back on my weight training, which I will need if I'm going to preserve any muscle mass while trying to drop the last of this fat.

I'll also be starting training with Frank next Tuesday, and hopefully back with Michael Gallagher in the near future - although I had better pull my finger out and get my Goals 2 and 3 sorted before then!


Wednesday 12th October 2005

Still haven't got to Goals 2 and 3 yet - spent the weekend buying the last of the new lighting for the living room at home, which hopefully will improve the lighting situation a bit. Also did my usual coaching and actually managed a bit of a hit myself on Sunday. Seems all the coaching I'm doing is keeping me in practice - I'm still not playing too badly at the moment. I'll keep trying to get around to goals 2 and 3 though - can't afford to wait too long!

Fitness-wise, the first week hasn't gone too badly - down to 92.5kg and bodyfat about 18.7% (if I remember correctly). So all is on track there at present. I've also had a few comments from some locals about my weight - to which I say there is plenty of space to put their details up as well - including photos!


Wednesday 5th October 2005

I've finally done the weigh-in, and after a bit of internal debate, have decided to go public with the results. Currently I'm weighing in at 93kg, with a bodyfat rating of roughly 19% (hardly elite level I know!). To get down to competition weight, I need to maintain my level of muscle while dropping around 10-11kg - which would put me around the 8-10% bodyfat level.

So that's the situation for Goal 1. I'll report in every week or so with how it's going for those of you who care - don't worry I won't be doing any before and after pictures though - (the after pictures might be allright, but definitely no before pics!).

Goals 2 and 3 are still ahead of me, and I'll try to spend some time this weekend getting started on those. I've pretty much done all the stuff I want on this website now that I've managed to get my pay per download videos up and running, so apart from updating my blog and writing the odd article things should settle down a bit there.

Will keep you posted.


Thursday 29th September 2005

OK - what's been happening? I've been busy making some plans for the website and doing my coaching, but I think I'm just about ready to start planning for next year's nationals.

I'm currently doing a fair bit of coaching, which is chewing up a lot of my time, so I'm going to have to be fairly well organised to make the most of what free time I do have.

I'll be contacting my training partners, Frank Kenny and Mike Gallagher, and seeing when they are ready to start training again. I've also got to do my weigh-in and start outlining my training plan for the 10 months or so to go before the 2006 Nationals.

First goal: Drop the necessary weight to get to match fitness as soon as possible. So tomorrow, depending on how good my memory is (I tend to wake up and forget about it!), I'll get on the scales and grab the calipers and see where I am starting from, and work out where I have to get to. I'm undecided about putting the figures up on the website - it really puts the pressure on to achieve something once people know what your stats are! Very embarrassing if you end up in worse shape than you started...

Second goal: Spend some time analysing exactly how I went in the last Nationals, and where I have to do some extra work etc. I'll try to get to this on the weekend, and I'll put the results up in the blog once I'm done.

Third goal: Try to work out how I'm going to get the necessary training that I need, considering I have a full-time job, and am currently doing an extra 10-15 hours a week of coaching on top. Not to mention maintaining this website as well. This could be the tricky bit!

So that's the plan for the moment - stay tuned as I start to put the wheels in motion in my quest towards the 2006 Australian Open.


Thursday 22nd September 2005

Yeah - I know, I know - I still haven't done a proper update of my future plans for this blog. I've been busy with coaching, doing DVDs and catching up with my backlog of reader feedback and requests.

Anyway, there is a light at the end of the tunnel at last, so hopefully I'll be able to outline the master plan in the next couple of days or so. But that's what I said last time, so who knows?!


Thursday 8th September 2005

OK, time to outline my plans for my blog this year. I'll going to mainly stick to detailing my progress towards next years Australian Open in August 2006. This should make it easier to see what sort of training and preparation I'm doing in my attempt to move up to somewhere closer to the top 10 in Australia at age 35. (BTW, I was pleasantly surprised to find myself listed at No.916 in the World Mens ranking, and No.20 for Australia, according to the ITTF website rankings as of 7/9/2005 - Woo hoo!! Whether these rankings are completely accurate is another story!)

I'll still write about what's happening in Western Australian table tennis, but I think I will expand the pages on where to play in Western Australia to become a more unofficial website for WA table tennis.

That's the plan anyway, we'll see how it goes...

Tomorrow: The weigh-in!


Wednesday 7th September 2005

I'm just going to write briefly about the A grade Winter Pennant final between Morley Magic (Craig Cambell, Giovanni Cnapich, Chris Hibbert, and Phil Highland) and Morley Scorpions (Irwin Parker, Frank Kenny, Nita Teoh, and myself).

The Scorpions started well with a win by Irwin Parker over Chris Hibbert - 1-0 Scorpions. Then Giovanni Cnapich defeated Frank Kenny - 1-all. I took on Craig Campbell and won - 2-1 Scorpions. Then Giovanni and Craig defeated Irwin and I in the first real crunch match of the night, a match we really needed to win. 2-all.

Irwin then lost 12-10 or so in the fifth game to Giovanni - another crunch match that could have made all the difference - Irwin played really well though. 3-2 Magic. I defeated Chris Hibbert in a close match, making it 3-all. Frank lost to Craig Campbell after fighting hard, back to 4-3 Magic.

Frank and I couldn't quite get there in the second doubles against Gio and Chris, 5-3 Magic. Then Gio beat me 11-9 in the 5th, for a 6-3 win to the Magic. What could have been...

Anyway, well done to the Magic players, and congrats to Morley Table Tennis Club on finishing 1-2-3 in the finals (Morley Magic, Morley Scorpions, Morley Assegai). A good effort for the year.

Tomorrow I'll outline my plans for my blog in the 2005-2006 season, so stay tuned...


Wednesday 31th August 2005

Time to write a bit about the 2005 WATTA State Open - at least what I saw of it.

Tuesday night - Mens/Womens Singles

The Mens and Womens singles were played up to the finals on Tuesday 17th August. Some notable matches in the early rounds included Phil Ranger Jr pushing Giovanni Cnapich to a 4-3 result (8 in the 7th), Chris Hibbert being pushed by Peter Williams to another 4-3 result, then coming out and playing well against Jeff Drew to go down 4-2. Irwin Parker had a good result over Mike Andrews, winning 4-0, and then playing me and giving me quite a hard time as well! The mighty Mick Lee also started well, defeating Russell Stein 4-0 in his Round 1 match.

The semis of the Mens turned out to be #1 Seed Jeff Drew playing the #4 Seed Craig Campbell, and the #2 Seed Gio Cnapich playing #3 Seed Greg Letts.

Jeff vs Craig - Craig came out firing, utilising a topspin defense game instead of his usual backspin. It proved to be effective as well, with Craig winning the first game 13-11 from several errors made by Jeff in trying to smash heavy kicking lobs from Craig. Jeff tightened his game up in the second, winning 11-6 and making it 1 game all, and from there it was a fascinating battle as Craig pulled out tactic after tactic to try to break Jeff's rhythm. The match was close all the way through, and although Craig was on the receiving end of a few unlucky breaks, in the end the sheer consistency of Jeff put him through 4-2 and into the final.

Gio vs Greg - Gio beat me 4-2.

Oh well, I suppose I should write a bit more than that, painful as it is. First, my excuses - I did have a bit of a cold and wasn't feeling all that well, or playing all that well either on the night. But in the end it was my inability to get my return of serve where I needed to put it to allow me to survive Gio's first attack that really cost me the match. So well done Gio, and this year we were to have an 'old' face and a 'new' face in the final.

In the Womens singles - Nita Teoh went out to Nanako Nomura in their semifinal 1-4, while Nicole Low accounted for English visitor Stella Davis in the other semifinal 4-1. Again, another final promising to put a regular finalist against a newcomer.

Wednesday night - Mens, Womens and Mixed Doubles

Wednesday 18th August started with the Mens and Womens doubles. In the semis of the mens, the #1 Seeds, Jeff Drew and Dennis Chen, went out 3-0 (9,8,8) to the #3 Seeds, Greg Letts and Craig Campbell, in a tight, pressure-filled match. In the other semi, Giovanni Cnapich and Chris Hibbert got past Phil Ranger Jr and Cedric Wilson 3-1 (9,-7,8,10), to set up a repeat of the Geraldton Open final.

On the Ladies side, Nanako Nomura and Nita Teoh accounted for Zoe Bolt and Cindy Wang in the first semifinal, 3-0. In the second semifinal, Gemma Cutchey and Stella Davis knocked out Nicole Low and TF Joeng 3-1.

That just left the Mixed Doubles, where in the first semifinal Craig Campbell and Nanako Nomura defeated Chris Hibbert and Gemma Cutchey 3-0 (0!,6,5). In the second semifinal, Greg Letts and Nita Teoh clawed back from 0-2 down to win a nail-biter, 3-2 (-8,-8,7,3,11).

Friday night - Finals

OK, onto the finals. Finals night actually started in the afternoon, when a number of junior finals were played. Personally, I think this is a great idea - giving the juniors a chance to play on the 'centre court' in front of an audience is terrific. It also resulted in some good matches, with Steven Peh defeating Brendan Lim 3-2 in the Under 12 Mixed Singles, Nicole Low defeating Hannah Moldrich 3-0 in the Under 14 Girl's Singles, then Steven Peh returning to defeat Darryl Choo in the U/14 Boys final, Nicole Low coming back on court to defeat Stella Davis in the U/16 Girls final, and a very good U/16 doubles final between Nicole and Jonathon Low against Brendan and Patrick Lim. Unfortunately, it's late at night and I don't have access to my tapes - and I don't remember which team won. Sorry!

Now for the open events. We started with the Mixed Doubles, in which Craig Campbell and Nanako Nomura were too good for Nita Teoh and myself yet again, winning 3-1 for their 4th victory in a row. The Ladies Doubles was a victory to Nanako and Nita against Gemma Cutchey and Stella Davis. The Mens Doubles saw Craig and myself reverse our Geraldton Open loss against Gio Cnapich and Chris Hibbert, winning 3-1.

The Ladies Singles was a tense affair, taking somewhere near 40 minutes (I think) with Nanako winning 4-2. An example of the pressure was Nanako being up 10-4 in the opening game, before Nicole came back to level at 10-all, and I think even go up 11-10. Eventually Nanako managed to take the game at about 15-13, and breathed a big sigh of relief. Nicole continued to work hard but in the end just couldn't quite get there, giving Nanako her second straight Ladies Singles title and third win for the night. Well done Nanako!

The Mens Final, in contrast, was over in less than 10 minutes, with Jeff Drew winning 4-0. Despite the one sided scoreline, Gio wasn't without chances, but Jeff kept his head and managed to win just about all the crucial points. Some good shots were played, but with Gio's style of power hitting it was never going to be a long match either way. So Jeff took away his 10th Mens Title (previous titles in 1981, 1982, 1984, 1986, 1987, 1991, 1992, 1999, and 2004), and I'm sure Gio will be back for another go next year, all the better for the experience (but hopefully not too much better, if I have to play him again!)

There were also a number of other controversies during the tournament, which I am not going to go into because I was still away on holiday when they happened and I only heard about them secondhand. Suffice to say that there will probably be a few letters going to the Board of Management.

A final thank you to the Referees, Umpires, Tournament Director and co, volunteers etc who all helped to make things happen this year. As a player, thanks very much for giving your time to allow me and others to play and have fun.


Thursday 25th August 2005

OK - I'm finally getting around to writing up my blog regarding the Nationals etc. Today I'll talk a bit about the how the Australian Open went, then in the next few days I'll mention how things went in my local State Open and Pennant Grand Final, and the direction I'm planning to take this blog in the coming year.

Australian Open 2005

I came, I saw, I conquered! Well, not quite maybe - but I did all right all things considered. More on that later - I'll start at the beginning shall I?

First impressions - Nita and I turned up on Saturday afternoon (the 30th July) to check out the place - we had arrived that morning on the midnight horror flight so we were in no real condition to do any training, so we just took a walk from where we were staying (in a granny flat/cottage about 45 minutes walk away) to make sure we knew where to go. Found the sports hall at Homebush eventually and by that time there were a few New South Wales players having a bit of a muck around. The sports hall itself is quite good, with nice lighting and blue taraflex flooring, which is quite comfortable to play on. The gratings on the walls are a different story - just perfect for losing balls in (do they collect them afterwards and sell them - that's what I want to know!). There were a couple of rows of stadium seating next to Court 1 and 2 which were handy for spectators and gave a pretty good view of the first three courts on each side.

Sunday was our first training hit for the team, and the official reception after. Monday was the start of the real business, as the teams matches began. Rather than give you a blow by blow of everything, I'll just list some of the lasting impressions and high points from my point of view, looking back.

In relation to me

  • Good wins for me - beating Chamara Fernando, Kamalesh Tharmasuthan, and Sharad Pandit - three players ranked in the 2004 Australian Top 10.
  • Close losses/the ones that got away - losing to Andy Shih 11-9 in the fifth, after being 6-1 up and 2 games to 1 up in the fourth, when the crafty Anthony Jeffress called a timeout! Also lost to Damon Clarke 11-9 in the fifth, Trent Carter 11-9 in the fifth, and Robert Frank 12-10 in the fourth. Curses!
  • Close wins - beat Xuyen Tran 3-1, 12-10 in the fourth. Beat Brad Kiely 12-10 in the fifth.
  • Overview of my tournament - I had a pretty good tournament overall. While not really competitive with the very top players (ie when I played Henzell, Zalcberg - and you could have said the same for Lavale, Brown, Clarke, and Gerada if I had played them), I felt competitive with the rest of the players, from about number 8 in the eventual Order of Merit or so down. My defensive game worked pretty well, although I still need to improve my return of serve, spin variation in defending, and overall fitness. I only played 2 matches per day, and this was enough to push me physically - not so much aerobically - but because my bones and joints in my legs and hips were aching so much. I really needed to be about 10-15kg lighter, and then I might have won a couple more of the close ones.

General impressions

  • Top dogs - no one player was quite as dominant in this tournament - in the teams, Henzell went down to Gerada, Gerada lost to George Tang, Henzell beat Lavale, Clarke lost to Davis, Davis lost to Robert Frank. The top 6 or 7 were clearly a cut above the next rank though (in my opinion, anyway!). In the women's Miao Miao and Stephanie Sang were looking the goods, but with Peri Campbell-Innes, Vivian Tan, May Cho and Jia Chen all close behind.
  • Heartbreaker of the tournament - David Zalcberg lost all three of his matches 2-3 in the Victoria B vs Victoria match. Against Brett Clarke he had 3 match points at 10-7 up in the fourth. A tough result when he could easily have ended up with 3 wins instead. If anybody deserved a hug it was David after that night! I have to say that he took it in the best grace anybody could muster in that situation - a credit to him.
  • Please explain - the premier teams match - Victoria vs Victoria B - ended up being played in front of the players involved, their families and about 5 spectators - of which I was one. Does everyone have to get up early in NSW? This was a match of consistently high standard and with some of the most spectacular rallies of the tournament, but almost everyone went home rather than take the chance to watch some of the best table tennis held in Australia this year. At least I got almost all of it on video - check out my DVDs for sale page if you are interested.
  • The Australia Open Marathon - In the mens, we were playing 3 matches a day for three days straight. Is this really necessary? I understand that there will always be issues with time and booking of halls, but surely 2 matches a days is enough (well, it is for me!). A schedule where the players start play on Sunday, play 2 matches a day until Wednesday, the final match on Thursday and then start the individual events Thursday afternoon might be a bit less gruelling, IMHO.
  • Umpiring standard - pretty good overall, although I would still like to see stricter enforcement of the serving rule regarding getting the free arm out of the way so the receiver can see the ball.
  • Anticlimax of the tournament - the womens final between Miao Miao and Stephanie Sang. I was really looking forward to a tough struggle between the two, but on the day Miao never really got going and Stephanie ran out a convincing 4-0 winner. The semifinal between Stephanie and Vivian Tan was a cracker though.
  • Where did they go? - Where were the New South Wales supporters? I would have thought there would have been a lot of players who would want to come down and support their state team after work and watch some good table tennis. Or is it all just a bit ho-hum these days? Or too far away in Homebush? Or some other reason?
  • Scheduling - I realise that it is tough to schedule a tournament of this size, but is there any way possible to not have the four mens quarterfinals on at once, and the same with the semifinals? (also the same situation with the womens matches). There you have 4 of the best matchups of the tournament all being played at once - what a shame! (And of course, I've only got 1 video camera to try to tape it all!)
  • The players - this was my second year in a row after not playing in an Australian Open for 9 years. It was really nice to come back and see familiar faces (some of whom even remembered me - probably as the looney carrying the video camera and tripod around everywhere!).
  • The young guns - it's interesting to watch the young guys and girls starting to push the older brigade. With Kyle Davis, Robert Frank, Trent Carter and George Tang having good results in the mens, and Michelle Carpenter, Melissa Tapper, Michelle Beaumont and Sisi Zhang and others in the womens, there seems to be a fair bit of new talent coming through to challenge the older, established players.
  • The Kiwis - it was great to have the New Zealanders come over. They all competed well and with great sportsmanship from what I could see - hopefully they'll be back next year. They certainly had an impact, with very good results in the Mens Doubles (semifinalists) and Shane Laugesen being a Mens Singles semifinalist, beating Kyle Davis and Russell Lavale along the way.,
  • Where did they go? Part II - Where are the Tasmanians and the Northern Territory players? I realise that us Western Australian people can't criticise too much, since we only just got a mens team together at the last minute, and had 2 women in the President's team. But it would be really great to have a Tassie and NT team competing again, for a full round up of teams across Australia. Maybe it's a good chance to blood some of the younger players at an early age?
  • Congratulations - to the organisers and helpers who made it all work. I went, played, and had a great time competing and watching the table tennis. Thanks a lot for your time and effort in making it a success.
  • Thanks for the memories - to my fellow WA players - who stuck together and supported one another whenever possible, and made it all a very enjoyable experience. So to Gio, Gordon, Jeff, Gemma and Nita - thanks very much! Same time next year?

Go to Greg's 2005 Table Tennis Blog

Blog