Hi – Ho Silver. Welcome to the Chinese Canadian Table Tennis Association’s home in Markham just east of Toronto. Canadian Junior Open is upon us with matches from dawn to dusk in a venue that actually is pretty nice. This time we play on eight competition courts in two connected venues.
By now I have lost track of how many junior events we have connected to the Global (soon to be the world) Junior Circuit. Is it thirty – is it forty? The only thing I do know from seeing a few of these events lately is that we probably have too many. The risk is always that we by not having enough international circulation of players force each national association to organize expensive events for mostly national players. It is true that we have eight countries here – but still ninety percent of the players are from Canada and the USA…
Honestly how exciting is it to watch USA A play USA C in one final , just to have USA D compete with USA “whatever” on the court beside ?
This was the case yesterday for the team finals here in Markham. The only team breaking the cycle of American dominance was the Canadian Cadet Boys, who fought well but , still came up short.
I watched the junior boys’ action with some talented youngsters in the court. The top American combo of Kunal Chodri and Kanak JHA, both guys well known to the blogger by early appearances in the ITTF Hopes Programme , finally won the JB team title against Allen WANG and Theodore THRAN three matches to one. The overall quality of play as well as the lack of true competitive spirit in matches like this worries me – a lot! In fact it can even be counter-productive for these talents to play too many matches without the proper intensity – the nerve that makes you go the extra mile , that drives you towards winning.
The only player in the final courts yesterday trying a bit harder was not surprisingly thirteen year old Kanak JHA from Milpitas, CA. With him, both the desire and intensity are present, providing him with the necessary international compete level which can support a dream to do something, anything outside North America.
On the other side – Kanak must, just like all the other young players in North America, learn to play with much more tactical sense and to find solutions in the service and return game rather than in the open pit.. Too much Hi – Ho – open game – nice shots –point here and point there combined with series of missed shot will only make the Butterflies come flying .. and then you have risky business stamped on just about any match on the schedule.
Fixable things for sure. But only with hard work; head to hand – not the opposite way which is more along the lines ; Play First and Think second.
Team mate Kunal CHODRI on the other hand would need some of Kanak’s desire and intensity in order to make a push for the next level. Most of the time he can showcase good power – very strong opening shots with certain smartness (good service) attached to it. However slower style of footwork forces inconsistency and all that quickly puts him down mentally. What at times appears as effective, strong international level table tennis from a fifteen year old, can in the next game completely disappear. Having said that – it is way too early to make any calls when it comes to his long term career. There is a certain well hidden drive behind this player that we all should try to understand. Kunal has also gone through a tremendous growth spurt, something that always will cause problems in Table Tennis. Having said that – it is time to start committing hard – even if the wind blows right in your face. Either you want it – or not ?!
The US Youth Olympic Games qualifier Kris AVVARI is also an interesting player – but still way too much a passenger on the international stage. Maybe a devoted summer schedule with camps in China – Korea and finally the Youth Olympic games will propel this nice young kid to the next level. That was part of the agreement I made with him this morning at the breakfast table.
If we look further down in the ages we can find a bunch of good to extremely good Hopes player. The other day I had the pleasure to enjoy the North American Hopes challenge in Mississauga and you know what maybe there some hope is for the Canadians after all. The final pairing of Alexander BU ( penholder !!) from Toronto and Edvard LY from Montreal are both very strong players.
The level of female youth and junior TT in North America is still strong. As good as Ariel HSING and especially my favorite Lily ZHANG were some six to seven years ago - you can now find the likes of Crystal WANG and Amy WANG entering the scene on basically the same level.
Lots of talk about Table Tennis booming here in the Big Smoke ( Toronto). The newly open SPIN Bar/Club is a cool hit with the Torontonians and in fact it has made Table Tennis interesting for a much wider audience. http://toronto.spingalactic.com/ The blogger almost fell of the dinner chair yesterday when the hard workers from the MY Table Tennis club in Mississauga relieved their table sales figures from last year ( 2013).. Listen to this – only in the Toronto area alone My Table Tennis sold more than 1000 tables with a full service – all installed in the basement package.