In the wonderful world of International Table Tennis you have to celebrate the small stuff. That’s a good way to keep your hopes alive that we one day can free ourselves from the chains of being a sport dominated by one country; China. Unfortunately, their dominance is creating a competitive unbalance that now is ruling elite level table tennis on the international scene.
It is , to use a strong expression ; unbelievable important for the global growth of Table Tennis that we (the ITTF) keep investing time , ideas and resources to pave the way for national association driven – but at the same time more and more privately funded excellence initiatives. Hard to say where our responsibilities do start and where it must end. Clearly as an international federation we must maintain our intergrity and serve our members by the paragraphs . Having said that we must also constantly develop and adjust our programs to the changing reality in order to offer the ever so important opportunities for young players to excel in our sport.
Now – join me for a minute or two to celebrate some of the small stuff that so easily get lost in the bigger picture– unless of course they are brought to the public eye by those doing frontline duties for our sport.
The WSA Hot Spot Team Getting Ready for Action
Three years ago the ITTF Education and Training Department took the initiative to connect twenty one training centers from nineteen countries to form the ITTF Hot Spot Training Center Network. The fundamental idea behind was, and still is, simple enough. We believed in the formula; Passion + Vision + Activities = success.
Today or let’s say in the last month we have been proven right as the activity level within the network concept never has been more intense and the three way partnership formed between the training centers , the involved national associations and the ITTF Education and Training Department never as fruitful as now.
The prime example of that is the formation of a Werner Schlager Academy Hot Spot team to compete in the Serbian Junior Open scheduled for 3-6 October. The two teams; – Cadet Boys and Cadet Girls are composed of players from three continents and five countries. The boys are Christoffer WHEELER from Scotland born 1999, the talented Czech Tomas POLANSKY as the highest ranked player, and last but not least one of the hottest players in International Youth Table Tennis for the moment, only twelve years old, Kanak JHA from the USA.
The WSA girls’ team looks even more competitive with one of Europe’s best ; Andrea CLAPAA from Romania teaming up with Prachi JHA from the USA and the number one cadet player out of Thailand, long time WSA client Tamowlan KHETKUEN. Added to the team for training but representing Latvia in the team competition in Serbia is fourteen year old Inshana MAHURI.
Preparation of the WSA selected group is in full swing – much to the amusement delight of the WSA head coach Richard PRAUSE.
One of our most important goals with the WSA is to try to work across all continents with young talented players. We will do our very best to prepare the players for action and for sure we are very happy to see all these talented youngsters spending quality practice time with us said Richard Prause .
The WSA Hot Spot Team for the Serbian Open is powered by Butterfly, supported by the ITTF Education and Training Department and composed , entered into competition in full cooperation with participating national associations.
The USATT High Performance Director Theodore Gheorghe is looking forward to the completion of the project and to get a quality read on two talented members of the US Cadet National Team;
We support the initiative and we are looking forward to the development of our new generation of players. Kanak and Prachi are young promising players and it is a great opportunityfor them to train at the WSA commented the man better known simpy as “Dohru”
Part of the funding fuelling the team and the training at WSA is drawn from the ITTF With the Future in Mind project as well as from the ITTF Hot Spot budget. The goal is clearly to create a competitive learning opportunity with quality coaching added to the mix. This is happening all in line with the ITTF Hot Spot vision and opens up the opportunity for the involved training centers to showcase themselves at the ITTF Junior Circuit level. Although it is not uncommon to have various types of team-compositions thrown into the fire at JC events – this is the first time for an organized effort involving any of the training centers connected to the ITTF Hot Spot Network.
We consider this project an important trial for the future. Personally I think it would be great for the development of young talents from all around the world if the training centers were given frequent opportunities to compete under their own flag – but in full sync with the NA;s . We need more players on the field, ready to invest in the future and interested in supporting junior table tennis these days – not fewer.
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CAR Sant Cugat takes Good Care of the ITTF World Hopes Team
As we all know by now. To please the hard working and well educated ITTF World Hopes Team manager Mrs Zita PIDL from Hungary , you need to have world class organization and a great deal of readiness to provide quality.
In early August however the Spanish Association – The Catalan Association and most of all the CAR Training Center in Sant Cugat outside Barcelona had Mrs. Pidl jumping for joy together with her group of selected World Hopes team youngsters and their coaches arriving for a ten day – very successful training camp.
This place is great, simply a wonderful environment for sport Zita Pidl commented. We had a perfect training camp with good sparring arrangements in the almost perfect setting. If I can decide – we will be back here also next year.
Then again they have done it many times before. CAR Sant Cugat is after all the first training center ever recognized by the ITTF back in the late nineties and has ever since accommodated ITTF needs as a valuable partner for research, regular training camps and as conference host.
Hot Start by New Arrivals in Falkenberg
The Swedish league season is just underway. It didn’t take long for the new group of players joining Peter Karlsson in the ITTF Hot Spot – Falkenberg, Sweden to put a positive spin on things for the clubs that signed them. The famous breeding ground for talents in the Stockholm area and active participant at the international level Ängby SK, nowadays competing in the Swedish third tier league picked up two promising foreign players from the Close to Karlsson Falkenberg squad for the season.
Joining the yellow and red team from Vällingby is the nr one ranked Thai Junior born 1996 Padasak TANVIRIYAVECHAKUL playing for Ängby SK and the one year younger Puerto Rican Brian AFANADOR , the reigning ULTM Cadet Boys champion , competing for the second team Råcksta SK .Both players had an outstanding opening round of matches and regret was never even close to entering the mind of the charismatic President of the “Ängby Club Nisse Sandberg who offered the following comments in one of his many email releases ;
Two great players that showed to all of us that they were proud to compete for our club playing in our famous shirt. It was great fun to watch. Love to see the juniors and cadets from all over the world improve Nisse SANDBERG said
You can find all the Ängby results by using these links : http://www.cupassist.com/pa/serieoppsett.php?t=SBTF_SERIE_AVD1608&k=LS1608&p=1
In another part of Sweden, Danny Gonzales, also from Puerto Rico and connected to the Falkenberg center started out with four wins and one loss in his first appearance for the Gothenburg club; BTK Linne – also in the Swedish third league.
The Good Cubans
Some 400 km north of Falkenberg you will find the city of Koping – the new home of the Swedish Table Tennis Associations administration and since many years back the main Swedish Elite Center for younger players.
This is the home for two athletes from Cuba training on ITTF With the Future in Mind scholarships ; Andy PEREIRA and Jorge CAMPOS – both in their early twenties and still developing. Like a good Cuban cigar they seem to get better with age!
Funny how it works and who would have thought that we ever would see a Cuban player making his debut in the Swedish Top Division ; This was the case for Jorge CAMPOS this weekend when he was thrown into the fire by his club Tibble /Kungsängen – newcomers in the Swedish league . Andy PEREIRA on the other hand is playing in the Danish Top League for the OB club.
It’s Heating Up in California
Anybody still listening to a tall Swede, always interested in the Future, travelling the world preaching Global Reach and Excellence in Table Tennis , should know by now that the Bay area, California, USA is developing into a true hot bed for our sport.
The two ITTF Hot Spot-s in the area are not only alive – but they are kicking as well. Free Competition is the spirit in this part of the world . And.. compete fiercly they do ICC in Milpitas and Top Spin in Santa Clara – separated by a twenty minutes busy Bay Area drive . This situation is overall healthy for the clients involved ; young players , parents and eventually USA Table Tennis, who should be able to pick up a bunch of good player from the Bay area during the next Olympic cycle . Private coaching is intense and the players are developing.
The ICC is the main driver in the Bay area with a flow of young players taking up the sport each fall following an intense summer with weekly camps on the schedule. This is a never sleep , always on the go center, open seven days a week – 365 days a year , offering private lessons ( more than 150 each week) and a long range of leagues and tournaments. They are also flirting with the idea of establishing an international event after running the JUIC International Junior Open two years in a row. Head coach at the ICC is the experienced Italian Massimo CONSTANTINI
Looking for constant Facebook action – check out the ICC Facebook page; http://www.facebook.com/icctabletennis
The Top Spin Club is using a different business model. They lease tables to the World Champions Academy who then works with a smaller group of talented players, carefully selected and monitored. Excellent young players are on the move from the Top Spin group. Kanak JHA, the promising twelve year old is one of them, and in the same age the lefthander Howard TONG is well worth checking out. He will make his international debut in the upcoming Scotiabank Canadian Junior Open in Markham, Toronto 3-6 October. I really like the talent level of this young player – here is nice video picked up from the WCTTA facebook page.
The right-hander Kunal CHODRI is born 1999 and another good protégée of the four time world champion LI Zhen Shi; s World Champions Academy. Also actively coaching for the academy is Stefan FETH, USATT National Team coach.
Top Spin / WCTTA web; http://www.butterflyonline.com/WCTTA/
Both Hot Spot-s in the Bay area will come in focus by mid October serving up some quality preparation time for both the North and Latin American Cadet Challenge teams heading for Guam and the eleventh World Cadet Challenge scheduled to start October 27.
The Brave Girl from Aberdare
The other night I had the honor to volunteer for my old employee Canadian Table Tennis Association , in need for some late night assistance to pick up a young sixteen year old girl from Wales arriving for training in Ottawa – supported by the ITTF Hot Spot budget.
Turned out to be refreshing meet with the young, energetic and motivated girl from Aberdare, Wales; Charlotte CAREY. We had a good chat in the car.
I started playing with my grandfather in a club for elderly people. We were a few young players and soon enough they had us organized in a youth section. Didn’t take long for all of us to be on the Wales National Team and on that route it is said the fresh faced and chatty sixteen year old arriving directly from the ICC Center in Milpitas where she had trained for ten days.
Much to my surprise Charlotte is going hard with her Table Tennis for the moment.
“I am playing in the Hungarian league for the Kecskemet club and also train with the Hungarian Junior National Team in Budapest three times week. I was also last year in Hungary – but this year is much better and I can feel that I am improving Charlotte said. But when I asked for the results in the JUIC Open down in California the interview was over.
Well, really I don’t want to talk about it! I lost in the semifinal of the junior singles in a match that I should have won. But I had a great time and made many friends so it was sad to leave in a way.
Next stop for the brave girl from Aberdare; – Toronto and the ITTF Junior Circuit. You can follow Charlotte CAREY on twitter; http://twitter.com/charlcareytt