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!
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...
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.
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! ;)
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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!
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.