Don Alto vs. Eric Owens

Open Singles Round Robin Group

2007 San Diego Open Table Tennis Tournament

June 9-10, 2007 - San Diego, CA

Balboa Park Activity Center

Don Alto pushes 









 Google Table Tennis Match Video:

  Don Alto vs. Eric Owens - Open Singles RR Group - 16 minutes 

(00:18 to 16:00 minute mark)

Open Singles Round Robin Group









Eric Owens serves 





From bcbcbc1

is this the d j alto who plays with short pips on both sides?


From cmetsbeltran15 (cmetsbeltran)

Yes he uses short pips both sides.


From MarcoHere

I thought he had medium pips on the forehand and short on the backhand?


From kagin1

And you thought wrong?  He's sponsored by butterfly, who doesn't even sell medium pips.

From pongiste

"And you thought wrong?  He's sponsored by butterfly, who doesn't even sell long pips."

?? I guess you mean "medium" not "long".

The Butterfly site lists Speedy P.O. for DJ, both fh and bh.

From kagin1

Haha, yeah you're right.  Tonight i'm doing an endurance test on my brain, and it might be a failure.

I'll add that watching him play it seems clear that he is using short pips, and also i am of the opinion that he ought to be using inverted.

From MarcoHere

The last time I saw DJ play he clearly had medium pips on the red side.  The black side was a normal short pips that produces a "predictable" short pips block, and if you notice he can lift balls with that side, etc.  Also notice that the black side produces stronger underspin pushes than the red side, which simply floats the ball.

The red side produces a much deader block, and a slower block,  and if you notice he misses against dead balls on that side a lot, but is pretty good at hitting underspin with that side and blocking topspin. 

If you are in the area, maybe ask him again.  It is also possible that he has changed equipment.  But, as far as I know, his red side is a lot more like medium pips than the black side.  Certainly both sides were not the same. 

I also played against an 1800 asian kid who had the exact same racket setup, medium pips on the FH & regular pips on the BH, who also was trying to play the same style.  I beat that kid by pushing into the medium and then ripping the return.  Of course with DJ it is a different level, if you push into his medium pips and the push is long he will hit it, quite hard and dead flat.  You have to give him dead balls into his forehand, with that rubber there is not much he can do against that, you'll get a floater but then you still need to be good to rip it.  You can also just play into his backhand with spin and pin him on that side and then rip to the other side.  But you need to be at least about 2100+ to execute or there is no chance.



I thought DJ switched to pips (not sure if med or short) on his backhand and regular spinny on his forehand.  At least that's what his dad told me several weeks ago. 


Kagin wrote: "I'll add that watching him play it seems clear that he is using short pips, and also i am of the opinion that he ought to be using inverted."

Really, why do you think that?  He uses quick strokes like Johnny Huang and seems pretty effective.

 -- Andrew

From tt4life (tt4life1)

although he very well could have played with med/long pips on his FH in the past, he clearly isnt playing with med/long pips in this video. he is relooped everything with his FH, a hard thing to do with med/long pips. he is either playing with short pips or inverted rubber in this match.

From frontosa1

Inverted forehand, short pips backhand.

Previously short pips on both sides.  Stellan got him to change to inverted on forehand and still making adjustments

From cmetsbeltran15 (cmetsbeltran)

I thought DJ switched to pips (not sure if med or short) on his backhand and regular spinny on his forehand. At least that's what his dad told me several weeks ago.

Do you mean regular spinny as in inverted?

Juic Power Texa Butterfly Bryce 2.1 Red Juic 999 Elite Ultima 2.0 Black

From anticanti



From kagin1

Really, why do you think that?  He uses quick strokes like Johnny Huang and seems pretty effective.

I suppose it relates to my general feelings about the proper equipment for a given player.

Inverted is the most versatile rubber there is.  You can execute any shot with it, and you can't say that of any other type of rubber.  Using a rubber other than inverted can be a correct choice for some people for a variety of reasons: to emphasize a particular set of shots, to make it easier to execute a particular set of shots, or to cover up a set of weaknesses.

My personal example: I use long pips because it's easier to perform a heavy chop against heavy topspin: when chopping with it it's more forgiving as far as reading the ball, and it's far less demanding on my footwork.  Sure i could execute the exact same shot with inverted, but it would be much more difficult to do.  I accept the penalty that i cannot generate spin, get almost no elastic rebound, and have very little deception using this rubber.

Now, short pips.  Perhaps you can fill in some of the characteristics that i'm missing.

- Superior control of trajectory particularly against topspin, because it's more forgiving.
- Quicker rebound speed, allowing a swift counter with less effort.
- Easier to create an almost chop-like flat hit that can be annoying to someone who wants to defend against spin.
- More forgiving when you choose to go with the incoming spin rather than countering the spin.

- Requires more effort to produce moderate spin.
- Lacks the ability to produce heavy spin.
- Lacks the ability to create deception with micromovements.

So if you're gao jun or wang tao, you're going to utilize the superior control to the max.

Many below-world-class players benefit from the quicker rebound speed.

The super-dead flat hit is well incorporated into some players' games such as mo zhang.  I didn't want to see that ball coming at me when i played justen yao, but then again i don't think a high level player will be bothered by it all that much.

So now dj alto.  Which of these benefits is he taking advantage of?  I live in chicago, not san diego, so i have not studied his game in great detail.  But from what i've seen in the last couple years he doesn't seem to be hitting stiff flat balls, he's not chop-blocking, he's not controlling the table with precise counters.  He may be benefiting from the increased margin of error, and i think that would be a mistake at his age.

This is a 14 year old kid who is solid 2300, nearly 2400.  I strongly believe that if a player is to develop to the best of their ability, they shouldn't be using equipment that restricts them; short pips is a restricting rubber, a compromise.  I hope he has dreams of playing at the world level, and at the world level (for men) i doubt many guys want to be out there without a fearsome loop, the kind you can only get with inverted rubber.


Good points, now if DJ is actually using inverted in the video that was posted, then my observations about his game are probably not on target.

Do you think though that a developing player who aspires to world class status should never use short pips, even if it seems suited to their games? Gao Jun and He Zhi Wen still seem to be able to play at a world class level with them, and some of the top players in the U.S. still use them, like Zhuang, Yip and Shigang Yang.

Right before he retired, Liu Guoliang talked about developing a new style with short pips penhold, RPB and liberal racket flipping/twiddling. I'd be very surprised if there aren't a few developing players in China with that style.

A few years ago there was a top Japanese Junior, Muramori who was playing short pips penhold forehand and full time RPB inverted backhand, Had some good international results and an ITTF article before he disappeared.

-- Andrew


From kagin1

In my opinion sure, a developing player should use short pips if natural to them and that's the kind of game they're developing.  Though personally i don't think a promising player should use anything but inverted until they get to a solid play level using only inverted and learning the strokes with inverted, and then you see if they're more suited to another style.  That's just me.

I don't know if there's a definitive way to determine how effective a particular style is - whether it's due to it really being better or if it's due to opponent's unfamiliarity.  If everyone who plays inverted looping now had trained as choppers, everyone would know how to play against choppers, but you'd also have a huge number choppers as potential world champions.  You could say the same about, say, seemiller-grip long pip hitters, but i'd be skeptical about how the results there.  That's why i go to the technical capabilities and point to the huge advantages that inverted rubber can provide.

If you have two different racket surfaces and are always in control of which one you're using (that's 100%, not 99%) i don't see anything but advantages.  I don't think i would use long pips if i didn't have total control over which side of the racket i was using on any given shot.  For penhold short pip twiddling i imagine it's not so extreme on both ends - on one hand there will be cases in which you're showing the inverted side and wish you had the pips ready, but on the other hand you aren't punished nearly as badly when you're stuck with the wrong surface.  So overall it sounds feasible to me.


I generally agree that players should start with inverted and then move to another surface only after they show a clear preference for a different surface, whether it's type of stroke or their game.

I do wonder how they decide in other countries (like China that has a tradition of short pips penhold) whether a player should play with inverted or short pips, shakehand or penhold.

Personally I feel my game is much more suited to short pips, not because it causes errors by my opponents, but because my shots are more consistent. I don't generally consider short pips an "error-producing surface."

-- Andrew



Copyright 2007 - Robert Trudell