Lost track of time by now.. But it was definitely late fall in 1993 when we for the first time brought in a very young left-hander from Nästved to the national training center in Brondby. It didnt take long for the coaching staff and the national coach at the time – that was me ! to realize that Danish Table Tennis in him had a potential top player. Remember one of the first training camps with Maze included. It was before christmas – pouring winter rain and we walked down to the Bröndby forest to hold the traditional 10 k christmas run…. Maze did good time despite his young age.. Of course, nobody was there to keep track of the number of laps around the 2 k trail he made that night…Could have been a lot fewer than the rest of us.
As i am watching some of the action from Stuttgart, it appears that Maze is back in form again. And thats very good – well-needed for Danish Table Tennis and for Michael himself….Suddenly he is focused – energetic and efficient in the court.. With improved physical conditioning comes fast legs – good timing and of course self confidence…. If you ask me it has not been pretty the last few years !! I thought that some of the antics he showed in the courts , both in Beijing 2008 and in Yokohama back in May were horrible…Complete lack of playing rythm and mental focus will not cut it of you are one of the top twenty players in the world.. Thats for sure !! He also seemed to spend nearl all his energy arguing with his bench-coach Peter Sartz rather than re-focus in between games .. I mean ; He was still one of the best European performers in Japan – good for him – but the way he played in his match vs Ma Long late in the singles event was not good…..Self confidence and/or , the lack thereof, is a factor with all the Danes – but a top player like Maze must learn to perform more consistently at the age of twenty seven.. In fact – the explanation might be simple enough. We are seeing a mature Michael Maze in the courts in Stuttgart – at least so far.. Showing good and solid leadership as well…. Nice to see !
Playing in the team finals in Stuttgart are also ; Finn Tugwell and Martin Monrad – two lads that i know better than most people;
Finn Tugwell is a special breed, that over the years has come up with good , solid team performances always enough to earn him a second chance. Was a huge part of the Athens 2004 Olympic doubles bronze . In fact he did outplay his partner Michael Maze in most of the matches down the stretch that year.. Since then – well we have seen the wrong side of Mr Tugwell who clearly spent more energy and nearly all his focus on things outside the court instead of the thing he does best ; just play some table tennis.. Sometimes athletes , in the middle sector of professional sport, needs to learn their place in the hierarchy and just be happy with what they can do , and work with the small things that will keep them a float.. Finn has been a complete hit and miss the last two years and was booted out of the Danish National Team last year.. well earned after completely gone missing internationally in several major championships. But anyway, good to see him back with the team producing wins for a change.
Martin Monrad was for many years , in the early nineties one of the most promising players in Europe. Darkness in Martins life struck twice at the age of 18 when he lost both his parents to cancer.. Table Tennis and not thinking of anything else kept him afloat for a couple of years after that – but when pressure came and injuries starting to set him back – Monrad fell off the chart like few other players have done… I would still hold Borussia Dusseldorf as responsible for some of the turmoil.. Young Monrad played with injury – not being 100 % for almost a complete season – his second in the club.. Anyway – its easy to forget that Martin really was a capable player at the time, appearing in Champions league play semifinals for Dusseldorf..Very good to see him back on the bigger stage.. Nice work and nice patience by Peter Sartz– the Danish national coach/ chief.. He has now been at the helm in Brondby for more than thirteen years…I am sure he would agree that coaching Danish player is not the most easy thing in life.. It requires a lot of patience – a couple of ice buckets to dip your head in and some running shoes of good quality for stress relief…The Danes will just never shut up , listen and play as you like…
Thats all – Now off to Stuttgart in one hour !