S… as in Success….

Its all over folks !  The 2007 WJTTC at Stanford University finished with a BIG BANG in Maples Pavilion today. More than 2000 spectators cheered on the youngsters whom from start to finish responded with excellent table tennis.

What a fiest for the eye , seeing these junior players perform in-front of a lively and noisy crowd for the fist time in the carrier… Just great !

S stands for Success.. but also for Stanford. What a great time for our future stars touching the sporting grounds at Stanford each and every day for the last week. As a progressive and offensive federation we also managed to bring out the best from our athletes. In some strange way this place – Stanford that is,  brings out the very best in us.

Jeong Sang Eun  from  Korea  won the junior boys singles.  He started nervously, but got his feet’s moving and his game on track just in time. From that point on he was the best.

Both Yang Yang and Wen Jia in the junior girls singles really came to play.. Good match.. Good effort and a more than  happy winner. Yang Yang i am quite sure we will see soon again… Good technique, fast anticipation and strong motivation will work in her favour.. I believe !

That’s it for now



Great Day at Maples

Just very short and very quick. We had a great day at Maples watching some serious Table Tennis action presented by  a number of eager and ambitious young players.

At this point very few of them remain in the competition and will play tomorrows final stages semifinals . Here is what i think;

Junior boys singles world champion; Jeong Sang Eun KOR – Spoke to my Korean friends today about this young guy who reappeared in the junior national team of Korea following more than 12 months practice with the seniors.. Good thinking there. Jeong only lost one match in the team event and has played well all the time here in the USA.

Junior girls world champion; Mu Zi completely sent Elizabeta Samara packing today and appears to have the most poise of all these young Chinese girls as skill-full as they all are.

Junior boys double; Kenji Matsudaira and Jin Ueda is for sure a good enough double to win these championships.. Both players are also knocked out in the singles and it seems like the Japanese mentality always fits well with the doubles.

Junior girls double; Anything with Mu Zi in it..

Personal note; Great to see some odd personalities and styles making their way forward in today’s matches… Amelie Solja played great and deserved to win… Trent Carter put on a show from the first point this morning.. Not good enough yet to win.. But a step forward nevertheless..

Have a great Saturday…. We will !

The time is NOW !

Sixteen boys and sixteen girls remain in the 2007 WJTTC singles at Stanford University.

The time is now for the takers of success at these championships.  With the luck of the draw we will see a couple of interesting matches of crucial nature tomorrow Friday.

In the junior girls singles Elizabeta Samara from Romania faces a tough hurdle in Zhang Mo from Canada. Samara who is making her fifth consecutive start in the World Juniors,  played reasonably well in the team finals against China uuntil she hit the “think /thank wall” leading 2-0 and 10-8  with the score 0-1 in the team match… The time is now for Samara who definitely has the capacity to clinch a spot in the podium this time.. Did someone say Believe ?

I have to admit that i am fascinated by young Kasumi Ishikawa from Japan. This is a girl with all the  correct tools in her bag.. Nice technique, good service, high level stroke tempo and a positive attitude.. The Japanese media is  all over this girl who for sure will be the next one to follow in Japanese female table tennis.

Paul Drinkhall looks very confident. He is smiling, joking around  and did not burn to much energy in the team event.  Paul will face Yan An from China in the next round and i kind of like that draw.. here comes the chance to put some scare in a very young Chinese team who yet is to be beaten in crucial moments. and build on that success.. You do need to grab the opportunities when they arise… Yan An is however, despite being used mainly on the number three position in the team event one of the stronger Chinese players participating here in Palo Alto.. I did see this youngster win the Asian Cadet title in Korea this summer and that is not easy to do…

Looking forward to return to the floor after a couple of days of constant meetings…

Stay tuned



Trent Carter[AUS], a believer, this time…….

As a player during our first meeting with our new chinese coach we were told “anyone who doesnt believe they can be world champion please leave the room”. We all looked at each other but we were not honest, we did not leave the room.

Later as a coach at the World Championships, I told my players “there is no-one here that you cant beat, and no-one here that you cant lose to”.

The bigger the event, the greater the pressure, the more chance for upsets, but the key point is to believe.

Too often we see the body language of a player going into battle against the feared red shirts of the chinese or other highly ranked players and we know already the outcome.

In the Boy’s Team semi-final Abdel-Kader Salifou of France believed and took his 2 matches against China.

His team-mate Vincent Baubet leading 2-1, and 8-6 in the deciding match froze because he did not…

Elizabeta Samara, technically, the equal of any junior in the world, and so close so many times against the chinese, this time led 2-0, in the first match of the team final and lost the next 2 games 12-10 and 11-9. I am not convinced she believes[at least against the chinese]….

Seo Hyun Deok of Korea, perhaps a better choice for 2 singles in the Boys team final, believed and took his match at No 3 position.

His teammate Lee Sang Su, technically complete, but clearly did not believe, playing nervous and tentative table tennis losing both his matches 0-3

So, to the singles qualifications….

Mahmoud Zhagloul of Egypt led 2-0 against Borna Kovac of Croatia, but did not believe…..lost 2-3

Trent Carter of Australia beat world junior No25 Pengfei of Turkey 3-0…a believer….

Non-believers can become believers with a small change of attitude, it’s all up to you guys……

Understanding reality..

Salifou[FRA]-great form at the right time, but wasnt enough to get France over the line

Salifou[FRA]-great form at the right time, but wasnt enough to get France over the line

The final pairings for the 2007 WJTTC team events are now set and cemented. In the junior girls competition China will play Romania whilst the boys crown for sure will end up in Asia with Korea Republic or China clinching the title.

I have to give plenty of credit to a feisty french team who did come to play here in Palo Alto.  Today in Maples , Abdel Salifou was at his best behaviour executing a powerful game with the perfect blend of confidence and respect .  Normally young Salifou  is a player with plenty of capacity who seldom comes through on the winning side of things when the heat is on. Not so  this time , and i am sure that two wins vs Chinese players on the same day is something extra for any player in the world.  Vincent Baubet has the same kind of mental demeanour and that clearly showed when the winning questions were asked in the fifth and final match against a very young Chinese team. Baubet froze ,especially in the fourth game when leading  8-6 and serving.. Close all the way in the fifth , but no french toast this time.

Its actually quite interesting to observe how many prominent European juniors fails to act on the opportunities given. The Junior Boys team from China playing here in Palo Alto is a very young an inexperienced selection probably rewarded with this opportunity for various reasons.. Its also very important to understand that  the chinese athletes are human beings and not consistently top talents.

 In male table tennis China has now dominated the world over ten years with the likes of Wang Liquin, Wang Hao and Ma Lin.. These are three athletes that have it all – Technical skills , Mental toughness, Physical power and tactical sense.. If you to that mix can add internal competition and financial drive you will have a dominant force to deal with..

Its just impossible to maintain dominance over more than a ten year period using the same players over and over again.. I can see great chances for brave coaches and players ready to commit. China is beatable , at least if you look at the boys competition.

Faithful fans waiting for other countries to have success against the Chinese teams should make the trip to Maples tomorrow to see the Korean Team walk away with the Junior Boys title. They quite clearly have the best team here and only tons of unhealthy respect will stop them from winning the junior boys title here in Palo Alto..

In the girls competition it is however no contest. Romania is after all hanging in there mainly due to Elizabeta Samara who should show up with her A game in a non pressure situation…3-1 in less than one hour..?


When the dust settles

Ishikawa[JAP]-a bright future awaits

Ishikawa[JAP]-a bright future awaits

The dust and even some smoke has now settled and the final four teams for tomorrows semifinals  are now decided.. Great quarterfinal matches in Maples Pavillion tonight and really a professional setting offered by the local organizers..

In the end the match of the day.. at least from my point of view was the quarterfinal battle between Japan and China in the Junior girls event…

Yuka Ishigaki, the experienced Japanese defensive player brought her team ahead with an easy opening victory…The match to follow between Kasumi Ishikawa and the Chinese Mu Zi turned out to be a true treat to watch for a passionate group of spectators in Maples.

Ishikawa,  who no doubt can be labelled as the next one in Japanese female table tennis put a real show in diversity and technical abilities… The match went to five full flight games and had it all…Wait a year or two and this 13 year old Japanese lady will be right there.. doesn’t matter junior tournaments or any other world events..

Great table tennis… Thanks is simple enough..

Is the gap narrowing?


Jenny Hung of New Zealand bridging the gap.

Asia and Europe are dominating but how are the “developing continents” fairing and how are the europeans doing against the asians?

At the World Cadet Challenge in Capetown only weeks before there was promising signs…Latin America and Africa both lost narrowly to eventual champions Europe in the Cadet Boy’s Teams event, but how about at junior level?

Egyptian hope Omar Assar jumped out to a 2-0 lead against the talented and well credentialed, Darrius Knight of England, before being pegged back to a 2-3 loss. Maybe a lesson also for Knight as a renowned slow starter and noticing less than 5 minutes preperation on the competition table!

New Zealand “veteran” Jenny Hung, a real product of the ITTF Global Junior Program, with 3 World Cadet Challenge and 3 World Junior Championship events already under her belt, got New Zealand off to a dazzling start against France taking her first match , 3-2 against Lorine Brunet. Sophie Shu, also a regular at these events, narrowly lost the second match 3-2, against Aurore Dessant, a match that would have certainly had the french coach worried, looking at a possible 0-2 start. French nerves prevailed and they took the match 3-1. Problems with transport didnt help the french, waiting for a bus that didnt come before catching a taxi.

Paulina Medina of Colombia, having had a long stint in Sweden continues to mature, taking her first match against Canada’s Shirley Yan and only narrowly losing to one of the tournament favorites Zhang Mo, 2-3, as well as Chinese Taipei’s Peng Wang-Hua 2-3. Unfortunately for Medina, Columbia learnt the hardway not to book flights with tight connections, forfeiting their first match due to a missed connection. One can only imagine the result with a day’s practise on the competition tables instead of arriving mid tournament.

Germany beat Chinese Taipei in both boy’s and girl’s teams yesterday.

Romania girls defeated Japan 3-2, which was a great team effort with each romanian taking one match.

 Promising signs….. let’s see what happens in the main draw and singles……