And… The Play goes on. Day six (out of ten!!) at the 2013 European championships in Schwechat, Austria. On the programme we have some goodies. What about qualification groups of four in doubles to be added to the singles group stage that somehow seems to be put in, with the main purpose to have players playing as much as possible , mind you stretched over three full days, and unbelievably enough with matches played in the best of five format !! .
The flip side of such a concept is that the seeded players are given a three day; “what to do now break” with relatively speaking poor or sparse training conditions to work with. I did pick up that some of the German A stars considered going home to recoup and re-tool. Not sure if they did – but with the championships held in your own backyard – perhaps that will work. Let’s see.
Honestly nobody knows why it looks like this. Someone obviously believed in this format – took the decision and for sure we can also live with it somehow. That is us; the TT nerds knowing how to behave in a training hall – in the b-hall jungle and occasionally enjoying a good match in the Multiversum. Any outsiders will struggle to understand. End result; we are playing mostly for ourselves and not for spectators. Of course by now some families and friends are starting to find their way to this magnificent venue in a not so magnificent part of greater Vienna. Part of it is also that almost all table tennis championship events nowadays with web stream available is becoming a four day maximum spectator’s event.
Here is my point – it is not the fault of the local organizers who are presenting the championships with class and good organization. Rudi Sporrer and his crew – the WSA Academy admin team – full credit.
Instead – European Table Tennis and the newly elected board will have to take a close look in the mirror with the nr one goal to find some kind of map for the future. It is not going to be easy and like a nice strike from “out of the blue” – we are all heading to Portugal next year for a full scale team event ( only). But there are a few IF;s to work with – one would be to get the allocated host to accept conditions – format and well I guess after speaking to the Portuguese president the idea of hosting it all together.
“I did send an email to the ETTU sometime ago indicating that we would be interested to look at the possibilities to host the championships. When I came here I had not prepared anything and suddenly we are communicated as the host. The Table Tennis community in Portugal is going wild asking all kind of questions – but we now have to go back home and consider our options. I might need as much as two month to look at different options he said.
The future format of the European championships is in my opinion one of the most important issues in Europe and it is not easily solved. Still, many of the so called smaller (read weaker) countries are against a split format with singles and teams lined up with the World Championships as the guiding principle. I am not sure how that should be solved other than that we ( European Table Tennis ) needs quality input and commercial risk-taking involved to take the only logical step with a team and singles split perfectly aligned with a new set of qualification rules ( time for that to be clarified ) for the ITTF World Championships.
It is quite amazing how many officials that will , even if you wake them up in the middle of the night make or take the march for ; “We need to play as many matches as possible” I would like to say – why here ? Why at the championships level? Today any association has a whole battery of various levels of events to participate in. But maybe – maybe the statement itself is a request for new ideas and a different format for the professional tour altogether or perhaps a specific slimmed down / qualification only European Tour added to the concept. The confusing; Euro – Africa challenge tour (can someone please change that name??) has proven nothing in terms of pushing the level of play or encouraged the professionalism in organizing our event – rather the opposite when participation first is the existing paradigm. We need surely the ITTF Competition department to spend time and thought to provide a more appealing tour concept.
But let’s wait and see. The newly elected ETTU board has a number of urgent fires to get under control before something will start to move. To team up with pro level experts – both to get the ideas and the formulas in check will be the key (one of many) for Mr. Kramer and his new group.
Speaking about ideas. I feel that we should – not only at the ETTU level , perhaps even more for the World championships make the connection between a strong team performance and the quotas for entries in the upcoming singles event. Such a formula would absolutely help the NA; s to keep control and make the team event count the way it should.
So, all in all.. Here are some news picked up from the corridors of European Table Tennis. Portugal will finally come through with a team event next year – as it seems.. Germany will take the full championships in 2015 and then perhaps the singles will come into play in 2016. Italy will have the European Youth Championships next year in Riva De Garda and it seems like Slovakia will push forward with a bid to host in Bratislava 2015. That part is not yet official of course . But knowing the Slovakians and Mr Kriz – there is a reason that they offered to host the next ETTU board meeting in Bratislava …Like I said this morning when i met my friend Zdenko Kriz in the press-center..You guys always knew how to “Skin the Cat !”