It has been a long winter in Ottawa. Not only did the snow and the cold decide to be present much longer than normal, also other more life related things made this winter extremely testing. The Blogger is returning to his homeland Sweden with family and a surely to the last cubic foot filled container. If things proceed according to the plan and the property at 1588 Delia stands the test laid on by potential buyers, it is goodbye North America – hello Europe sometime this summer.
But we are obviously not there yet. .Just explaining why the Eleven points truth-seeking blog has been quiet for a while now, that’s all.
However this morning the Table Tennis gods came calling for attention – knowing all well that “not right now” would have been the most likely answer. But , with Westchester county north from New York City within driving distance from my home, the old general’s desire to draw into battle was awakened , just enough to justify brushing up the SAAB 93 for a quick three day road trip. Of course we have the professional angle too – High Performance progress and development in North America is one of the more interesting projects in my ITTF portfolio for the moment.
So..Early wakeup call it was. At 05.30 we were under way with my old friend “Mr. GPS Garmin”, alive and well. . This time I allowed him to take charge completely, and what a thoughtful and scenic ride he presented to his master. It started off with a smooth border crossing in Cornwall and the route of choice didn’t disappoint either. The rugged landscape and the pure wilderness took my breath away as we cruised down through the New York State, often in splendid isolation. He wanted obviously to show me Lake Placid, the Winter Olympic site in 1932 and also 1980. The thought behind that move is now obvious; Garmin wanted me to touch the grounds that many years ago made me a believer in the ability to do what other people deem the impossible. Who can ever forget the MIRACLE ON ICE, one of the biggest sporting sensations all time, forever edged in my memory?
Another brilliant pick was the Taconic State Parkway which on top of being an extremely scenic route also showed me the Springwood Estate right on Hudson River in Hyde Park . This is the birthplace and home of the great Franklin D Roosevelt four times elected US President between 1933 and 1945 . His home is a now a natural historic site; http://www.nps.gov/hofr/index.htm
All in all I had a seven plus hours of mostly smooth driving, a good selection of songs running on my IPod and good time to think some Table Tennis. Westchester home for the 2013 North American cup is by the way a bit of hidden gem , 47 minutes train ride from the central station in New York and therefore home to many commuting New Yorkers .
Part of the excitement of coming here is the positive energy surrounding our sport in North America for the moment.
It is important to try to understand the dynamics behind Table Tennis in North America. I believe that in depth understanding of the marketplace is an absolute key to any kind of successful input.
There are still many, many issues in need for some quick fixing. Organization and presentation of events is one point high on the agenda. At the same time we have to recognize that things have changed for the better – especially when it comes to athletes’ development. Young players are, by the minute, taking up the sport of Table Tennis as their nr one choice. We are talking the real stuff in terms of talent level – this is the nr one lesson in the process of understanding. The up and coming US players and a few Canadians here and there, the next generation of Hopes if you like, features ten – eleven year old extremely talented kids training hard under the guidance of world class coaches. If they keep going in this pace and if we as an international federation can show the correct level of excitement, gentle push and some support it will not take long before Table Tennis fans all over the world can enjoy good and marketable athletes from this continent for a change.
If you do not trust the blogger , definitely on record for being the true believer in a better future, then you should have a chat with Long-time coach – USATT magazine editor –writer of numerous books on Table Tennis and science fiction , passionate Table Tennis fan ; you name it ; Mr. Larry Hodges from Maryland TTC .
“I made presentation for the USATT board on junior development in 2006. That year we had 8-10 full time training centers offering junior programs in the USA . Today and I do keep track of them on my website http://tabletenniscoaching.com/ – we have 58 training centers with plenty of excellent coaches working seven days a week. The kids that now are coming up are excellent young players said Larry when I bumped in to him in the venue this morning”
Also in Canada the growth of Table Tennis is evident.
“We cannot show the same numbers but the numbers of full time clubs are growing also north of the border. Only in Toronto we have gone from one to six clubs with good facilities only in a short period said the CEO of Canadian Table Tennis Tony Kiesenhofer.
I am not sure if the owner of the Westchester Table Tennis Center – host of the 2013 North American cup Mr. Willy Shortz can be counted in as one of the believers just yet. Most likely he has been busy on the local scene setting up his club that moved into this fine facility only two years ago. Interesting person by the way Willy Shortz, who for over twenty years has been working as the puzzle and crossword editor for the NY Times. 50 000 monthly subscribers pay 49.95 in subscription fee to solve Willy’s riddles. On top of that he appears in seven minute national radio segment on puzzles each and every week with more than 3 million listeners. Learning lesson nr 2 ; There are some interesting , very smart passionate individuals out there working hard to promote our sport. Willy is clearly one of them.
Last but not Least; First day of action in Westchester in summarized form;
- Both Crystal WANG and Amy WANG from the USA could be the best and most advanced female Hopes players we have seen in the program so far. They are not related by the way so looking forward to see one of them in Vienna come June.
- Jeremy HAZIN is born in the year 2000 . He was a member of the ITTF World Hopes Team last year and clearly picked up a few stuff that he now tries to apply in competition . I can see the good focus – the intensity and overall he is just a breath of fresh air for the Canadian Table Tennis Association. This guy has the energy and the will to JUST do it.
- More from the” WANGY” world of US table tennis… Timothy WANG came to play for the first time in a long time at this level and was aggressive from the start in his quarterfinal against the top seed Canadian Pierre Luc Theriault . He won 3/0 and is through to the semifinals tomorrow ..
- I also like the sixteen year old Allan WANG from New Jersey – a lot. One of the youngest player in the field (mens singles). But IMO clearly the best if you count technical skills. Excellent modern backhand stroke is his best weapon. He came into this event as the substitute but showed no mercy and will also play tomorrow Sunday in the semis.
- Lily ZHANG or Ariel HSING ? That’s the question for tomorrow afternoon!