As a young coach I used to hate the idea of any kind of qualification overruling my rights to select players for whatever upcoming event there was.
Today – after spending the last fourteen years in North America I can understand the simple principles of a good qualification. You play well – that day you are in – if not you are out. And… I have to agree with the USATT Performance Director Theodore GHEORGHE when he says; “It’s very simple. Here in the USA, whenever you try out for something, players, parents and pretty much everybody understands what you are talking about”
By now the 2012 ITTF North American championships is over – medals presented and the competition crew led by USATT CEO Mike Cavanaugh and the local staff from Cary are cleaning up the venue as we “speak” . Nice venue by the way the Bond Community Center, suitable size, perhaps a bit tucked away and of course the city of Cary in North Carolina is not exactly the center of universe.
Action in Cary – Every Man and Every Women for Themselves
Let me first of all comment on the action offered by the group of players, some 70+ that this time opted to enter into the ITTF NA championships. I am writing opted as in this continent it is still every women and every man for themselves pretty much. National Associations – USATT or the CTTA have very little impact on planning and overall players’ decision – especially once the athletes drift above the junior age.
Best in Cary, relatively speaking, were not surprising the Cadet’s – U 15 competing hard to qualify for the ITTF NA Cadet Challenge team heading to Guam in the end of October. The girls’ singles title went to Tina Lin from the New Jersey area. She played well from the start and actually only dropped two games total in the round robin of eight that was composed to determine the NA selection.
Sensational Drama in the Cadet Boys singles
The boys’ event offered enough drama for a whole year or so with at least five players in the race to win the championships. The whole thing was settled in the last round when the tall and I have to say interestingly talented New Yorker Allen WANG won against two years younger Hopes star Kanak JHA to secure his selection . The hard hitting Jonathan Ou from Florida will be the second player on the NA team after making a miraculous comeback in the second to last round versus Kanak JHA again. Kunal CHODRI (ITTF Hopes selection 2011) had his chances to clinch the title but lost to one of the best Canadian prospects in many years; 14 year old Alexander MORAN from Hamilton , Ontario and dropped to the third position.
Overall the level – especially on the boys’ cadet side is very encouraging for the moment. Players are well developed playing wise and nowadays also prepared properly by a number of quality coaches. In fact I would claim that there are few gyms in the world of junior and youth table tennis with as much competence present as the one in Cary for this weekend.
Drop in Quality paves the way for a “Ghost from the Past”
For the rest – Junior Boys and Junior Girls, Men’s and Women’s singles... Well lets conclude that the US Top players on the female side did what they were supposed to do = WIN. Two titles to Lily Zhang and that was the end of story there. The Male events were clearly missing the bounce and attraction. Perhaps not surprising given that a US 60 000 event was going on in Los Angeles the very same weekend – Hello Scheduling!? In Cary – two or perhaps three of the best ten in the continent showed up for action. Seemed like the most fun belonged to a forty-two year old “Ghost from the Past”; Jim Butler.
All about motivation I guess and when we had quick chat yesterday Jimmy told me that he just eight months ago picked up his racket again after a break lasting for eight years. “After making a few changes to a very taxing work schedule, some 50-60 hours a week, I am now blessed with time and the opportunity to start playing a bit. I walked down the local club in Houston and after only one session I was hooked again – hey – it’s fun to be back again and with only six months full practice I know I can be much better than this said Jim Butler.
You got to love that spirit and even better – the great focus is still there, one of the great attributes that Jimmy possessed when he was making life difficult for a number of players on tour and yours truly on the opposite side of the court back in the early to mid-nineties.
North American Table Tennis
Long day in the gym today – but I am happy that I went here to watch – talk and discuss North American Table Tennis. Clearly we are looking at exciting times and even if it sounds a bit optimistic the word Table Tennis boom was used more than one time to describe the interest for our sport in North America. The challenges are of course as big as the opportunities – but being a born optimist and believer in the power of will I say ; We are on the way to something perhaps bigger than we can imagine. We just have to make sure to identify the moving parts properly and decide for change rather than to like mediocrity.
The new ITTF North America structure and the ITTF ambition / goal to affiliate continental associations are the interesting parts in all of this. Done right , that model could in fact free-write both event planning and hopefully also allow for some action concerning future athletes development.
But then again – change is not easy and we have yet to see how it all will play out. Encouraging talks, among many other things about a potential North American Pro League at least makes you believe in the future somehow.
As I finishing this post for the Elevenpoints Blog very humid and hot day in North Carolina has come to an end. The time is approaching 0200 in the morning and we have the 3 of September on the calendar. The summer is over and what a summer it was with London 2012 providing the thrill and excitement .
The Songs That Saved the Summer
Here are the Songs that Saved my Summer running on my Ipod all around the world – pushing me up for the hill and making life just a little bit more interesting. All of them are to be found on the ITunes. The trick with putting a good playlist together I am sure that you know.. if not I will tell you that you have to make songs count for something – have a meaning of some sort. Otherwise the wont stick.
- Craig Finn – Western Pier : Interesting raw and in your face singer ; Someone saw something east from here , I came up the Western Pier “ Cant get that phrase out of my mind – it is as simple as that.
- Larry Garner – Its Killing Me ; Blistering guitar work from a true bluesman from Lousiana. Sure – Its killing me that I now suddenly is 50 years old. How fast can the clock keep ticking..?
- Bettye LaVette – The Forecast calls for Pain ; Is she singing about European Table Tennis perhaps ? Wonderful Blues tune from 2003.
- First Aid Kit – The Lions Roar ; London 2012 for me . Fresh , interesting and innovative folk/alternative rock from the great country of Sweden.
- The Hold Steady – Atlantic City ; More Craig Finn for you . This time as the leadsinger for the Hold Steady . Why did it take me so many years to stumble across this tune from the Boss – Bruce Springsteen – but here presented a bit tougher and in a straight forward in your face kind of style. Love the saxophone on this one.
- Karen Lovely – Sunny weather ; This is what happens in sunny weather . Cool Blues from the 2011 North American Female Blues artist of the year.. Good pipes !
- Eric Lindell – Aretha Sing One for Me ; Blue eyed soul from the master himself. Favourite artist mind you.
- Nils Lofgren – It’s Not a Crime ; From 1976 and Nils is right ; Its not a crime to change your mind !
- James Armstrong – Somebody Got To Pay ; American Blues man from the west coast telling is the truth in his very own way.
- The Gaslight Anthem – Here Comes My Man ; Alternative rock from New Jersey. Late pick up to my list – but always refreshing with some new stuff.
Have a nice one,
The Blogging Director