Eric Owens vs. Stefan Feth - Open Singles Final

2007 San Diego Open Table Tennis Tournament

June 9-10, 2007 - San Diego, CA

Balboa Park Activity Center

 

 

   

Eric Owens

 

Stefan Feth

 

 

 

 

 

 Google Videos:
Eric Owens vs. Stefan Feth - Open Singles Final - Main Camera Angle 

64 minutes

Stefan Feth vs. Eric Owens - Camera # 2 Center Audience Side - 59 minutes
Eric Owens vs. Stefan Feth - Singles Final - Camera # 3 Left Angle - 58 minutes 
 Match Photo Slide Show

Eric Owens vs. Stefan Feth - Full Finals Photos with UnPsychronized™ Audio - 26 min

 

  Andre Scott's Post Match Tactical Coaching Interview  - 9 minutes 

 

 

 

 

 

 

YouTube Videos:
  Eric Owens vs. Stefan Feth - Picture Slide Show - Match End
 
 

 

 

 

"This can't be good."

 

 

 

 

 

 http://forums.about.com/n/pfx/forum.aspx?nav=messages&webtag=ab-tabletennis&tid=24826

From MarcoHere

I watched the first 2 games carefully, but skimmed through the rest.  Interesting tactics by Eric. 

With Stefan, he is only 5'10" however it appears that he is much taller due to his skinnyness.  I'm always tempted to think to play him as if he is very tall, i.e. by attacking the middle, etc. 

Here Eric seems to be serving and attacking into Stefan's backhand side.  Which seems like a bad idea.  Stefan's backhand is the more consistent side, and trickier side with all the variation.  But his forehand is where the power is.  Often when he takes a forehand stroke it seems so big that you think he won't be able to recover for a second one, and so maybe that's where you play to. 

Anyway, when Eric pushes long into Stean's backhand, Stefan slow spins or pushes back.  this sets up Eric's inside out forehand rip from the backhand side, going right back to Stefan's backhand, and Eric got a lot of points this way. 

When Eric attacks with heavy spin into Stefan's FH, Stefan just block-fishes it up and then Eric can win the counterlooping points by keeping the pressure on and going right and left. 

It seems Eric prefers to protect his Backhand side and in general likes to play points from that side.  It seems Eric doesn't like to get pushed to his wide forehand.  Maybe this is another reason for keeping the ball into Stefan's BH, in order to prevent the ball going to the wide FH angles. 

As far as levels goes, I might be able to say that this wasn't Stefan's best match.  However, he's still playing fairly close to how I saw him play in San Diego last year when he beat Fan Gouliang.  The difference is that Fan, a penhold pips hitter, was smashing most balls down the center of the table or to Stefan's forehand.  Fan G didn't play the same tactics that Eric is using.  Penholder Fan probably didn't want to step around and play into Stefan's BH because he feared Stefan would punch down the line for a winner?  Not sure.  But Eric was comfortable with this. 

It was suggested that maybe Stefan was grossly out of practice due to a current focus on coaching as opposed to training.  We could say the same thing for Chen Yinghua and David Zuang every single year for the last 10 years.  Jasna said that it doesn't really matter if she is coaching or training as long as she picks up the racket in order to keep her touch.  I'm inclined to agree.  In my experience, coaching has helped my touch not hurt it.  Experienced players like Stefan, Jasna, David Z. and Chen don't need as much "training" as others in order to play well.  Not saying "their best" but simply "well."  "Well" for a former German national team member who used to be 2800, is still 2700. 

So bottom line, this is still a 2700 level Stefan, and Eric once again rose to the occasion by playing what looks to me like some good 2700 level Table Tennis. 

Anyway that's my 1700 opinion so if anyone sees anything I don't see please let me know so I can learn.

Marco

 

www.marco-borrillo.com

(be sure to click on Table Tennis)

 

 http://forums.about.com/n/pfx/forum.aspx?nav=messages&webtag=ab-tabletennis&tid=24826

From Greg Letts - TT Guide (GregLett1)

Just a minor comment on the coaching vs playing aspect. I found that coaching improved my understanding of the game, and reinforced certain aspects when I had to explain to my students what is going on and why they are doing what they are doing. Since I was coaching 1 on 1, it also helped in that I was hitting a lot of balls, so I was seeing the ball pretty well.

On the downside, I also picked up a number of bad habits that I am trying desperately to get rid of again since stopping coaching, including:

1) Tendency to watch my opponent or the opposite court when I should be watching the ball at contact (due to trying to watch student's technique)

2) Tendency to block on forehand side way out in front of my body, instead of counterlooping the ball (due to too much feeding of the ball to students)

3) Loss of wrist movement during my strokes, due to controlling the feeding of the ball to students. This is proving to be a particularly painful habit, since my attacking game was heavily dependent on large wrist snap on both the backhand and forehand side when attacking to provide me with my control and heavy spin.

4) Loss of crouch when playing, since I couldn't maintain the crouch when coaching multiple hours.

Remember that I was probably coaching 10 hours a week 1 on 1, and training maybe a couple of hours for myself max. So I was getting a 5 to 1 ratio reinforcing those bad habits every week. Now I'm having to pay the price to get rid of them.

I'm not saying it's impossible to coach a lot and play well, but I don't think it's all that easy either. Granted also that use of multiball, robots, or other playing partners could have helped cut these problems back as well. Anyway, that's just my experience - I couldn't comment on how Stefan is doing his coaching.

Oh yeah, one other point. I think it doesn't take much training to maintain a level a little below your best - maybe an hour or two each week?  (Maybe more the higher you are?) To maintain your best takes a lot more training, and to keep improving takes even more I would think. So would someone like Stefan still be playing pretty well? Sure. Would he be near his best? Doubtful, unless he's getting some high quality practice in somewhere. It's just too darn hard to do. Mind you, if his best was 2800 then I would guess it possible that if Stefan is only getting a couple of hours a week he might be 2700. Not having reached that level myself I can only extrapolate from my own experience at a much lower level.

Cheers,

 

 

Greg Letts
About.com Guide to Table Tennis/Ping-Pong

 

 

From CMugica (CMugica1)

I have the same problems, many times I notice that I play watching my opponente instead of watching the ball.

 

From Sean P. O'Neill (SPONeill1)

Move the scroller and watch the last 5 points of the match.  Stefan whiffs on a deep crosscourt serve to backhand side with his forehand.  The serve had really no purpose and simply got away from Eric.  A Stefan in practice can loop the ball to 4 differenct locations for a winner but instead whiffed it.  There was a lot of overhitting in the last 5 points and it wasn't until Eric simply spun the ball on the table did he get a free point. 

On the very last point, again Eric served more than half-long and Stefan had predetermined that he was going to try to keep the ball short and thus popped it up high enough to where Eric could go for a shot that almost took his arm out of socket.  A Stefan in practice would have watched the actual ball, seen that it was long and either backhand looped it for a winner down the line or stepped around with his forehand and drilled it either down the line or to Eric's elbow for a winner, instead he delieved a sitting duck or a swedish meatball that was ripe for the picking.  I think I could have blown that loose return by him as it was a very weak return based on playing the location instead of playing the ball.

When high level players coach their footwork and shot selection goes down the tubes, there is no need to play and elbow or move into better position since the goal is to put the ball on the table and not hit a winner.  Touching the ball is fine, but why do top players do any physical training of running 3-5 miles 3-5 times a week?  It is to have the leg feeling of spring and the ability to choose your shot based on body position.  Stefan for the points I watched didn't have any legs but was playing mostly upperbody table tennis.  When I watched Stefan beat David in Tennessee it was due to the fact he had an answer to every angle David threw at him.  If in Tennessee he was operating at a 10; in SD on the video he looked like a 4.5 to me.  I have always thought if most top European players came to the US and played without clubs, without leagues, without 2 training sessions a day they would play close to 75% of their top level. 

Stefan had his hands full with Jeff Huang and Auria Malek in the last Berkeley tournament I watched.  He will always be able to play smart but when he doesn't have his tournament legs and he is pre-judging shots instead of playing the ball he will lose games here and there to 2350-2550 very often.  I think he lost a game to Sarah and I know Jackie went deuce or 9 in 3 of her games.

Jasna lost to Judy in the Pan Am Trials and from my vantage point it was due to the fact that Judy was in better shape and taking more offensive shots.  Jasna simply couldn't hang with the tempo.  Jackie played Judy and since Jackie does physical training and is comfortable with footwork and an uptempo game beat Judy 4-0.  Jackie also beat Jasna very comfortably in the 7th after having a very tight 6 games where both looked good.  In the end Jasna just ran out of steam.  It looked like a miler fading on the final kick while the other runners kept their pace.  This always seems to happen when someone stops training (training = physcial off the table work) and is just playing matches or coaching.

Greg pointed out that your understanding goes up when you coach but that many bad habits start to creep in.  Is it better not to coach and not touch the ball if your aren't training seriously?  No.  Ball touch is better than no ball touch but physcial off the table training is mandatory to hold your level.  Stop that and your level will go down.

Baboor wasn't in any form of training in Reno and thus he played probably at 60% of his capacity.  He couldn't serve a short ball in doubles to save his life.  We were laughing after one horrendous match of how tough it is to compete with tournament ready players when your focus is totally off the table.  I would post those matches and see how many mis-timed shots he had and how many loops off the edge of the racket he performed.  I don't know how David trains but I have a feeling he plays more matches with Shao Yu than people are aware of.  Cheng's game is a shell of his older game.

Thanks,

Sean

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From MarcoHere

Agreed on all points. 

Here's a few things I do when coaching to make sure that I don't hurt my game:

#1:  I try not to block into the exact same place forever.  If I'm working with such a beginner that it requires I block ALWAYS into the same place, then instead of blocking I'll feed multiball. 

#2:  Tied to #1, it's o.k. to block to different spots in order to help your student get used to such a tactic.  This is usually tied to footwork drills. 

#3:  I loop to my students, which helps my loop, and teaches them how to block.  My first coaches never really looped to me, so I had to learn defense on my own.  I don't want to make the same mistake with my students.  So I loop to them so they can learn defense right from the beginning. 

#4:  Tied to #3, having an equal focus on attack and defense makes a more all around game and also teaches shot selection.  I do a lot of drills that incorporate 3 or even 4 different types of strokes in the same drill.  For example, Student serves underspin, I push, student pushes, I open up fast, student blocks me out of position, I loop the next one easy just to get it back on the table, student finishes the point.  [oh shoot, just realized this might be teaching me to give the opponent an easy ball when I'm out of position...uh oh....]

Marco

 

www.marco-borrillo.com

(be sure to click on Table Tennis)

 

 

From MarcoHere

Oops I forgot to say "thank you" for the video.  It's nice that I don't have to spend hundreds of dollars to go there and watch that final. 

I like google video because unlike Youtube the google video allows you to fast forward through the video. 

But for some strange reason, the "fullscreen" button doesn't work for me with google video.  It does work on Youtube. 

It seems to me that there wasn't as big a crowd as normal at this tournament.  Was that true or just the camera angle?  I think maybe since US Open is in Vegas this year that many people are saving up for Vegas. 

What would be nice is if you could interview Eric and get his thoughts on tactics and the match. 

Marco

 

www.marco-borrillo.com

(be sure to click on Table Tennis)

 

 

From MarcoHere

I agree with you that Stefan made some errors in the end of the match.  I'm not sure if these errors were 100% due to his lack of training or did Eric deserve some of the credit for making a hard-to-read serve.  Some good players can make you think they are going to serve short and then suddenly the serve goes long.  Also Andre said in his interview that Eric was trying to actually serve a little longer on purpose, not so long that Stefan could rip it, but just "half-long" so that Eric could get an easy return. 

As for conditioning, maybe Stefan hasn't been doing sprints but I'm sorry, he doesn't look out of shape to me!  The guy is as skinny as ever.  And his form in terms of bending his knees etc. seemed about the same as ever to me.  Especially in the first few games.  If he got tired in the end, that's possible but Eric wasn't exactly in top tournament shape either.  Andre said in his interview that Eric hasn't really been practicing at all.  So it seemed like a fair fight to me.

I've said many times what the issues with Baboor were in Reno.  He was out of practice but the main problems were being over-worked at the office and not used to the altitude.  Plus he didn't get any rest since his plane got in late the night before the tourney.  As I've said many times, Baboor took 2 years off from Table Tennis in order to get his degree.  Then after only a few months of training with me he was back up to 2700.  This says a lot to me about what a top player can do with only an 1800 level training partner in a short amount of time.  Of course, he wan't really "a coach" so that would seem to help your point.  Soon after Chetan left Arizona and moved to NJ he beat David Zuang.    Of course, as I've mentioned, Baboor was always in great physical shape even when not training due to his vegetarian healthy diet and running.  Eric is also vegetarian btw. 

Ironically, Chetan's table tennis was better when he was here in AZ than it is now that he is in NJ.  I just received an email from him today.  He's still working as hard as ever, ridiculous hours every week.  I hope he finds a way to come back to the game.  His style of play was wonderful to watch, very unique and graceful. 

One last point; what is the level of Stefan's students?  Are they complete beginners or does he have a couple of 2400 level players to train with?  Fan YiYong has seemingly been able to maintain a good level even though he coaches, and his students are generally quite low. 

Marco

 

 

www.marco-borrillo.com

(be sure to click on Table Tennis)

 

 

From Robert Trudell (mesapong)

> What would be nice is if you could interview Eric and get his thoughts on tactics and the match. 

At the end of the match there is video of Eric talking about how he served heavier bottom spin in the final few points.

--Rob

 

 

From Sean P. O'Neill (SPONeill1)

I think you have to be at the decision making level of Stefan to understand why he made errors as he did.  I spoke to Andre prior to the finals and mentioned what Jackie had told me from her match about the level Stefan played and what he was doing.  Andre said the serve Eric did to deuce it up wasn't meant to be that long and that was one reason for the surprise, i.e., it wasn't done on purpose.  The half-long serves were a tactic to get out of the short game with Stefan but there is a huge difference with a half-long and a long by mistake serve.

I can promise you that Stefan isn't spending his precious time doing a ton of physical training or multi-ball where he is receiving. If I remember correctly Baboor always kept his physical up even when not getting any serious training be it in AZ or NJ.

I would hesitate to say that he was a solid 2700 (rating 2750) after hitting with you.  You couldn't help him with 2600+ tactical points.  You don't posess the ability to serve a ball he can't read and the loop it to one of 4 spots and to tie him up.  When he plays in NJ with 2400+ players at least he is able to get a 2450 opening loop that he can than practice is counter attack off of.  A2450 opening means they can use either backhand loop or forehand loop with the forehand have at least 2 locations to go to and a backhand loop that lands on the table at least 75% even though it is to one primary location.  As you go up in level all shots become pretty consistent and the locations expand. 

I am betting that Eric still runs some or goes to the weight room but his primary practice is pretty much non-existant.  Quite different from when he was in Korea or China or with Jimmy in Houston.  Yes that makes it a fair fight but Eric is probably more accustomed to a lack of training than Stefan.  Also coaching does take a fair bit of energy out of you.  If one player is gearing up for a tournament and the other decides 2 days prior the mental sharpness alone is worth 1-2 points a game.

As for where Baboor was playing better.  In AZ at least he was working on strokes and movement.  I doubt he has touched a racket in NJ for over a year. I don't think the long hours at work are a bad on one's game as the lack of high level training.  If you don't have high level training then you must make sure to keep your physical up.  Everyone knows that playing against a robot is far from returning chineses serves at 9-9 in the final game.

My primary practice partner from 2350-2475 was a 1750 player.

Thanks,

Sean

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From MarcoHere

"I would hesitate to say that he was a solid 2700 (rating 2750) after hitting with you.  You couldn't help him with 2600+ tactical points. "

I'd be the first to agree with you.  But you needed to see with your own eyes how well he played!  I brought him to Santa monica and he destroyed the entire field, including Sashin, and a few others.  In Portland, he played #1 player from Phillipines who was on fire!  But he still got quickly to the final, where he lost to Fan.  But Fan is 2800. 

In Paris at the 2004 worlds, he qualified into the main draw, beating 2 people along the way.  (but he told me they were definitely not better than 2500). 

In Chicago, he beat a bunch of people and nearly beat world #16 Joo Se Hyuk, losing at 8 in the 7th! 

So, does that sound like 2600 play?  Khoa is solid 2600.  Chet beat Khoa 4-0 in Chicago. 

Anyway, why am I arguing with you?  You are obviously in agreement that little 1700 me was able to train someone to the 2600 level at the very least.  That's still good. 

Marco

ps... do you think I learned anything along the way?

 

www.marco-borrillo.com

(be sure to click on Table Tennis)

 

 
From: Sean P. O'Neill (SPONeill1)

Date: 2007-06-14T01:02:03

Let me respond directly so there is no confusion.  I'll try to back up every opinion with facts or results.

"I would hesitate to say that he was a solid 2700 (rating 2750) after hitting with you.  You couldn't help him with 2600+ tactical points. "

I'd be the first to agree with you.  But you needed to see with your own eyes how well he played!  I brought him to Santa monica and he destroyed the entire field, including Sashin, and a few others. 

Shashin has traditionally been a 2350-2400 player. 

In Portland, he played #1 player from Phillipines who was on fire! 

I played that player he played from the Phillipines and split with him when I was totally out of shape and I would say he is a solid 2475-2525 player.

Here were the results:

Baboor, Chetan

Viducich Stiga Pacific Rim Open 

Rating before tournament: 2678

Rating after tournament: 2676

Rating change: -2

see complete history for Baboor, Chetan
Event

Results

Score

Rating +/-

Wins
Men's
Yang, Sung W. (2092) complete history
2,4,5 0
Men's
Ebuen III, Ernesto L. (2490) complete history
-1,8,4,-7,4 1
Men's
Miraflor, Peter (2444) complete history
4,7,-5,8 1
Men's
Winters, Craig Douglas (1569) complete history
1,4,4 0
Losses
Men's
Fan, Yi Yong (2775) complete history
5,7,2 -4


Going 5 with Ernesto just shows that Baboor was out of tactical sharpness as he should never lose a game to him.  He also dropped a game to Peter Miraflor.  I will say looking at the scores, he got smoked by Fan and you are right, Fan is not really in practice in Seattle.  He might be 2850+ in practice coming from China after some training, but not from Washington giving lessons.  Frederick Sonnet (BEL) came to Seattle once for a tournament and beat Fan.  Sonnet is generally a top 100 player.

But he still got quickly to the final, where he lost to Fan.  But Fan is 2800. 

In Paris at the 2004 worlds, he qualified into the main draw, beating 2 people along the way.  (but he told me they were definitely not better than 2500).

Don't go NYC TT and only list best results; look as some of his poor performances to balance out the level in the US.  Baboor should be able to beat all U-2600 players without dropping a game if he is in practice.  Did he drop any games in the initial rounds at the worlds?  In Reno I spent time with him and he will be the first to admit he played awful.  I don't want to hear the flight, the work load, lack of practice, etc.  I was there and we spoke about it as it was a comedy.  Tahl played better than he did against David on the video to give you an idea of how awful he played.  Watch the video and you will think the ball was made of flubber he had such a tough time.  Yes, I know what high altititude is I live in Colorado Springs for 5 years.  The thing is everyone had to deal with the high altitude not just Baboor and some were flying in from 16 hours away in different time zones.

In Chicago, he beat a bunch of people and nearly beat world #16 Joo Se Hyuk, losing at 8 in the 7th!

Going 3 games or 5 games or into the 7th isn't the same as winning as you know.  Boggan and I had match point on Waldner and Lindh in doubles, but we were not top 3 in the world. I love lost in the final game to: Liu Guoliang, Ulf Bengtsson, Kim Ki Taek, Appelgren, Lindh and many others.  I am sure Baboor is strong against chop.  Boggan and I went into the final game to reach the final 16 at the worlds with the shibutani/koji choppers.  At the higher levels dropping games is not as big of a deal as it is in the lower levels.  Sort of like him dropping 2 games to the philippeano.  In all reality Ernest should never be able to open up if Baboor doesn't want him to.  But if he is out of practice then deep pushes can be turned against him.

So, does that sound like 2600 play?  Khoa is solid 2600.  Chet beat Khoa 4-0 in Chicago.

Khoa a some pretty big holes that can be exploited if you are an international player.  Everyone has said then when he goes 5 with Peter Chen it isn't so unusual.  I have played Khoa probably 15 times and in 4-5 big finals and I never found his short game or defense to be on par with his step around.  It didn't surprise me that Jacqi beat him a few weeks ago.  When I look at his career he generally would always lose to David, win about 20% against Jimmy Butler, never beat Chartchai, I think he has 3-4 wins against me, but generally was a quarterfinalist at the Nationals.  Clearly he has a handful of nice wins: Johnny Huang, Cheng, David, Jimmy but if you play enough and you are competitive you must have some wins against stronger players.  I know Jimmy had his share, I had mine, Chartchai had his, Danny has his.

Anyway, why am I arguing with you?  You are obviously in agreement that little 1700 me was able to train someone to the 2600 level at the very least.  That's still good.

Not sure why you are arguing.  Chetan was clearly over 2700 and more likely around 2750 to 2800 if you convert his top world level into USATT ratings.  I think Fan's international results would be higher so if we are going to say Fan is a 2800+ level player this makes sense.  Fan went  28-1 in the Eastern European league beating Schlager and all the Austrian's, Hungarians and others in that league. 

A 2750 player knows how to get the most out of a certain situation.  Running, eating right, robot, drills and handicap games are all the normal perscription to get your motor running and to make the best of a non-international situation. 

The problem is he didn't have Lupi or David to punish him for a bad decision when he was practicing and that showed up when he played  Fan each time.  Generally Cheng, David or Lupi take games off Fan.  And I think all have beaten Fan.  We all know that Fan was upset by Mark when Mark was still a junior.  Would Mark do that today, maybe not, but I am betting he would win a game. Winning a game in best of 11 these days is holding your serve for 2 to 3 ends and then breaking theirs once or twice. 

When I played Baboor in 2003 I was not training nor very serious and was at the tournament to help sell ping-pong.com stuff.  I still took a game off him beat Shashin 4-1 comfortable to win the U-2500.  Shashin was 2348 at that event and played at that level.  Since I was so out of shape I had one good game in me in the quarters when I played Baboor.  He could have spotted me 3 games and still won as his game was much sharper than mine was.  I am from an older generation that he is and I retired from training much earlier than he did.  We played doubles against each other in the 1992 Japan Open I am pretty sure Jimmy and I won over him and his partner.

My guess and this is not a dig is to say that Baboor could have gotten very similar practice benefits from Len's son or any of the other 2000 players at the club.  This is not saying that Baboor was a 2000 player and you guys brought him up to 2600.  More like he is a 2750 player that fell down to 2600 who that could still comfortably beat 2500, but would lose games to them as he really wasn't that sharp even with all the running, eating, roboting, drills and games. Send him to Sweden to Kalmar for 3 weeks and he would not lose a game to some one U2700.  Instead he was still battling with 2500 players.

I hope this show how tough it is to maintain a world class level without world class training.  This is the essence of US table tennis.  Train international while you are young and then dominate in the US until you hit age 50.  Look at David, Danny, Chang, Musa, Lupi, Jasna, Wang Chen, Gao.  They put in the time way back when and now only Gao and Wang Chen have anything that resembles being tournament tough and we have seen some surprising early loses out of Gao and Wang Cheng which if you know the sport really aren't that surprising.  It is more amazing that they are still competitive.

Marco

ps... do you think I learned anything along the way?

He definitely opened your eyes but I know for a fact that you don't have all the answer, yet. This would be the question I would ask.  You have seen Ashu's serve and he has helped you with some of the elements of it.  You have seen Baboor's serve and seen how he constructs a point.  Which serve is better and why? Or I could ask, if you had to play international which would you do? And which would you build your game around.

Thanks,

Sean

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From owensmaster

 

54:03 Game Point Eric to serve, Stefan pops serve high, Eric steps in for a forehand winner and bumps the table with his thigh. Stefans point ? Eric won?

 

 

From Sean P. O'Neill (SPONeill1)

Good eyes; this angle show it a bit more:

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-3575663346850788877


Thanks,

Sean

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From owensmaster

I think Eric knew he did it. A quick look at the scorekeeper and shrugs it off like no one wouldve cared.

 

 

From MarcoHere

"He definitely opened your eyes but I know for a fact that you don't have all the answer, yet."

of course.  There's no harm or shame in this.  No one does. 

"This would be the question I would ask.  You have seen Ashu's serve and he has helped you with some of the elements of it.  You have seen Baboor's serve and seen how he constructs a point.  Which serve is better and why? Or I could ask, if you had to play international which would you do? And which would you build your game around."

IMO Ashu's serves were flashier and more exciting.  Chet's serves seemed boring.  I asked Chet about his serves, basically something like "why don't you have better serves for your level."  By "better" I meant "more advanced, flashier, harder to execute, harder to return."  Thankfully I was talking to Chet and not Andrew's boxing pal, or else Chet would have said "let's play a match...."

Instead Chet said "you build your serves around your game, not the other way around." 

Interesting quote.  I happen to know that Ashu probably built his game around his serves.  Ashu developed his serves independently of his game.  He and Dylan Martis would just serve at each other all the time and try to invent interesting wacky serves.  So that's how Ashu developed these mega-spinny hidden reverse pendulum things where you can't see if it's side under or side top and even if you do see it you are surprised at the amount of spin.  But of course the problem was that they were mostly long.

Chet, on the other hand, probably just worked on strokes and footwork, then at a more advanced stage he knew he had world class drop shots and flips, blocks, and counterloops, so he chose serves that give him the type of returns he liked.  So that's why he has these "boring" short serves that are just very slight variations of side under or dead ball, and he also utilizes a lot of "half-long" serves that are again not incredibly spinny but just low and hard to do anything with it.

Ashu's serves make lower players pop the ball either high or off the table completely, setting up his big kill. 

Chet's serves make people try to drop shot or do a weak flip, setting up Chetan's super excellent flips or off-the-bounce counterloops. 

Me personally I don't have any of the talent that Ashu or Chet has.  But I found from experience that when I tried to copy Ashu against players many levels better than me I would get smoked.  When I tried to copy Chetan against players many levels better than me I get 8-9 points per game and occasionally take a game.  Still can't beat them though.  But that's o.k., if i didn't do the work they did then I don't deserve to win. 

Marco

 

www.marco-borrillo.com

(be sure to click on Table Tennis)

 

 

From chopkill

That is my biggest problem right now.  I watch the opponent and I never watch the ball.  I can't seem to fix that problem.  I don't know how to do it.  I'm going to have Sean work on that during the training camp.

If I could fix this problem I could play much better.

 

 

From MarcoHere

Leo (a former international player) says you have to watch both.

M

 

 

From bes (bsalter5)

Play different and strong players so you don't know what's coming and you need to look at the ball and the other players paddle to be able to to put the ball on the table. Try quality strokes, not only what you need to beat weaker players. 

 

From bes (bsalter5)

Marco,

Good answer.  I eventually came to the same conslusion after idiotically trying my sneakiest, spinniest serves against much better players.  They tend to pounce on the inevitable "too high" or "too long" serves, or, worse yet, use my nasty spins against me. 

Against most 2000+ players, the only way I can get in a rally is to serve short and low - dead, backspin, or topspin.  Too short can be a problem too as these are easy (for them) to drop back even shorter.  I try to move them around too...

Once I realized I couldn't fool them or force mistakes, I started concentrating on giving them serves that are difficult to get very aggressive with.  I've also learned to be leery about serveing long to strong loopers.  I tried to surprise Alfred Najem with a couple fast topspin serves - it really didn't work out for me!  The first one, down the line to his wide forehand, left a mark.  He actually stepped around my next one (next game) to his backhand corner.  Most folks I play (under 1800 - most well under) rarely do more than block or weakly spin these back. 

bes

 

From CarlDanner

Yes, I agree.  It's better to build your serves around your game, as Chetan said.  Serve so you get the returns you want, and assume the ball will always come back.  While there's nothing like a point won outright, this gets tricky at higher levels because long serves (the usual point-winners at lower levels) tend to get crushed almost no matter what they have on them. 

Often, when top players win service points it's because the serve is designed to be difficult to return except in the way the server wants.  Opponents miss not because they can't get the thing back at all, but because they are trying to create another kind of return.  Another way to say this is that the strength of your follow-up attack often determines how "good" your serves are.  The better you can stomp on a loose ball, the more I may make return errors trying to avoid feeding them to you. 

Of course, notwithstanding the above, there will always be a few at any level who can whip out something really unusual and spin-laden at a critical time.  That's fun to see, even if it reflects only a fraction of actual serves among top players. 

Carl Danner

 

 

From Sean P. O'Neill (SPONeill1)

Bes,

Good examples of first hand experience.

Here are the rules of thumb of serving in the US.  Remember in the US for the most part we have very limited coaching, players are self-taught and mostly play matches at the club.

If you are under 2200:
  • Juice it up.  The more the spin the greater the deception
  • Serve it long. Most adults have terrible footwork if any and deep to the corners will expose this.
  • Maximum variety.  If they have no clue what is coming they will be guessing.
  • Mix the depth.  Show their in and out footwork is just as bad as their side to side.
If you do the basic four elements you can serve probably 75% of the Under 2200 players off the table.  If they get the bal back it will generally be in a defensive posture.

If you are over 2600:
  • Control the exact amount of spin on the ball.  You are trying to force a return to a certain location and 2-3 revolutions will make a difference.
  • Move the ball 1-2 inches to get a different reply.  Big location changes will get entirely different returns.  You want returns that you expect not returns that are unexpected.
  • Double bounce is key.  If it is a single bounce serve you can go pick up the return at the barriers as you have just lost the point directly on 85% of those serves
  • Brush and graze.  This is more important then depth and speed.  You might catch a player one time above 2600 on a deep serve but don't try it on match point unless you have no confidence in your ability to play a rally.
  • Subtle changes in spin not mass changes.  Players above 2600 can misread a 5 -6 rev change of the same spin, but not a 50 rev change when you go from chop to top.
These are just some very basic well established concepts.  The bigger one is that Over 2600 players have a solid game to not only complement their serves but one that the serves fit into to allow them to play their strengths immediately.  Below 2600 there are still some pretty big holes that can be exploited be it slow footwork, poor shot selection, bad mental, weird technique and often these players will use lower level serves to cover them up.  Serving deep to a 2600+ player regardless of the spin is nuts.  Their loops have so much more spin than any serve you can deliver that they will win the battle of the spins 9/10 times.  That is not to say the element of surprise is not important at the higher level, it is, just not on every serve.

In Ashu's case, and I am friends with him and have great respect for all he is doing to help the sport, he primarily was self-taught and played mostly players U-2600 through out his career growing up and even when he made the US team.  I have played in in Vegas, NJ, CA after I stopped training. In Vegas we had a close match which I won, in NJ same result but not as close and in CA it was a 4-0 which I needed to win 4-0 to get out of the RR since I had lost to Misha.  Each time I got more and more comfortable returning his spinny serves but the real difference was I was more comfortable with my serves and their ability to allow me to open up 95% of the time.  If I am opening up and Ashu is blocking and counterloop my openings, I will take those odds everyday as I will alway look to where I am attacking and place the ball where he looks uncomfortable and not to a power zone.  Ashu beat Wang Cheng at least twice and Wang Cheng has beaten me comfortably twice.  One reason is she does have a tougher time with his serves that push her off the table where mine allow her to do high level returns.  So it does work both ways, it is just against players with reasonably good footwork and a good finishing ball as you have learned it is serve and chase.

One other thing is each players should strive to win 65% of the points on their serve at a minimum.  If you can't depend on your serves to help you win a majority of the points you should lose the match.  Of course, there are time when you are returning really well and you might be able to win with <50% of success on your serves but that is the exeception not the rule.  So anyway you need to be able to win 6 to 7 out of ten on your serve.  On their serve if you can win >%40 you are in hog heaven as 65% + 40% gets you to over 100% and victory.

When you serve long you basically are saying I am happy with a 50-50 chance to win the point if you are playing a strong player.  A strong player is usually defined as a player better than you  in level.  If you do 10 of these serves and the score is now 5-5, you might feel that is pretty good since you didn't really have to work for any of the points but just hoped them missed or overhit your serves.  Problem is that they will be scoring 6-7 out of 10 on their serve and now you have just lost the match 11-8 or 11-9.  They also didn't feel any pressure as they didn't give you a free chance to beat them.  They in essence forced you to show you can really play the game and not just Whack the balls hard.  I go back to the billiard analogy.  The player making the most noise in the pool hall when hitting the balls is probably not the best player.  Table tennis is a sport that requires finesse prior to the power.  Not the other way around.

Juniors with good coaching learn a very systematic way to be able to force their game and serves on their opponents.  They don't give free points unnecessarily due to being impatient in working a point or because they think their opponent will have more trouble with a deep serve instead of a short, low, and varied serve.  Show me a junior with a solid short dead serve and I will show you a kid that has a future in the sport.

Hope this help.



Thanks,

Sean

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From owensmaster

Yes the table did move if you look very closely. I would never have known he touched the table in this blurry video unless I saw it move.

 

From bes (bsalter5)

I went back and watched it 4 or 5 times.  I finally saw it.  If you watch the table leg on Eric's FH side, it appears to move to the left just a bit - probably less that 1/2".

Good eye!

bes

 

From Robert Trudell (mesapong)

> Yes the table did move if you look very closely. I would never have known he touched the table in this blurry video unless I saw it move.

For those who don't know, a higher quality and less blurry version of the video is available for download from Google Video by pressing the "Download" button on the right side of the screen.

Google provides a seperate 'gvi' player for viewing.

 

--Rob

http://outpost81.com/

 

From YohanC1

 

I think Eric knew he did it. A quick look at the scorekeeper and shrugs it off like no one wouldve cared.
Yes, I agree.  So, do you think that makes him a bad sportsman for not pointing it out?  Maybe he didn't realize the table moved and looked to the ref to see if she saw it.  (Though I can't say that I would do differently if I were in the same situation.)