Interview with Oceania's Best William Henzell
I was lucky enough to interview William Henzell recent winner of the Oceania Cup, 8 times Australian National Champion, 5 times Australian Open Champion and 3 times Oceania Champion. Having recently got to know William a little bit I can tell you all he is a very professional and humble athlete, very nice guy and very approachable. Thanks for the time William. Here is the interview below.
Image Courtesy of Adelaide Now: http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/
Date Of Birth:
23 March 1982
Kalmar BTK (Sweden)
Lyckeby BTK (Sweden)
FC Tegernheim (Germany)
Highest World Ranking:
Blade: Yasaka Ma Lin Carbon
FH Rubber: Tenergy 05
BH Rubber: Tenergy 05
How long have you been playing table tennis for, when did you start?
Since the age of 6, so 23 years now. I left home at 14 and moved to Sweden to make a go of table tennis. I stayed for 10 years before playing in Germany for two years and then relocating back to Australia before the 2008 Olympics.
Who has been the biggest influence on your career?
My parents have supported everything I’ve ever wanted to do in table tennis, including allowing me to ship out to Europe when I was 14!
Do you serve practice often?
Not often. I prefer to practice my serves in rally situations. I certainly don’t think service practice is a bad thing though and am planning to more of this when I move back to Europe later this year.
You’re a very successful table tennis player now, what do you feel has been your biggest achievement to date?
Winning silver in the men’s singles at the 2006 Commonwealth Games was huge for me personally. I had to walk out on my club contract to compete at the Games so I basically lost my job to compete there. I played the best table tennis of my life to beat players ranked a long way ahead of me.
I also played great at the 2008 Olympics, beating Jens Lundqvist and having chances to beat Wang Liqin and Yoon Jae-Young of South Korea.
Ok, maybe you don't like looking back to this but what was your biggest low in your career?
Losing the final of the men’s singles at the 2006 Commonwealth Games.
Tell us about your new website ttEDGE.com
ttEDGE is an online table tennis coaching website that I’ve created with the help of fellow Australian national team member Robert Frank. The site has coaching videos, training exercises, match analysis videos and blogs. We use a lot of ultra-slow motion footage to get across what we’re trying to explain.
Are you looking forward to the 2012 Olympics?
My focus at the moment is solely on qualifying for the Olympics. I’m moving to Austria and the Werner Schlager Academy in September to spend 5 months preparing for the qualifying. 2 players qualify from Oceania (Australia, New Zealand, Pacific islands) for the singles and I want one of those spots.
What's your view on the Chinese dominance at the moment; why are they so good do you believe?
Numbers and dedication. If you’ve got millions of people who are desperate enough to do whatever they can to succeed then you’ve got a winning recipe. Most other countries rely on a handful of players who are serious enough to do what it takes.
How do you train on the mental aspects of the game? Do you find this side of the game is just as important as the technical parts?
It is and I think that table tennis players, coaches and clubs put too little effort into this in general. I’m working on a few things at the moment but could dedicate more time and effort to the area.
What impact has playing in Oceania had on your table tennis, how do you train to compete at a level higher than the Oceania standard?
It isn’t easy. I don’t get the level of competition that I used to in Europe. I used to lose matches all the time in Europe which forces you to evolve and come up with solutions on your feet. I might lose just 1 or 2 matches per year in Oceania and that restricts my development. And I know most of the top players games inside out here so I don’t have to adjust to unfamiliar situations enough. I try to keep my training levels up and focus on technical weaknesses in my game.
Who's the toughest opponent you have ever overcome in a match?
I’ve had a 20-year rivalry with Simon Gerada from Australia and we’ve been number 1 and number 2 in everything we’ve done from Under 11’s to seniors. The matches are all about getting the upper hand mentally so it’s more a psychological battle than anything else.
What is the most memorable match you have ever played?
The match against Wang Liqin at the 2008 Olympics will stay with me. I was playing really well and was leading 1-0 and 7-1. During the 2nd set, the normally so loud Chinese crowd went almost completely quiet and was an eerie silence throughout the hall.
What is your advice to the many forum readers around the world about how to achieve their goals as table tennis players?
Get as much good coaching and advice as you can. Looking back at my career, I realise that I didn’t always have the best help and advice, which cost me years in development.
A match of William's I really enjoyed watching from the 2007 Swedish Open
William beats Japan's Koji Matsushita in a well controlled and tactical match!
Off the Topic Questions
Who’s your favourite sportsmen of all time?
I don’t watch sport often as I much, much prefer to be playing than watching.
Donnie Darko was good. I like Lord of The Rings as well.
What car do you drive?
No interest in cars so it’s a ’92 Nissan Pulsar.
What’s your favorite music?
Temper Trap right now.
What do you do in your spare time other than table tennis?
Table tennis takes up almost all my time – working and spare! Working on ttEDGE.com has been very rewarding but equally demanding. I do collect wine in my spare time.
Do you eat well or eat junk?
Well. Eating junk makes me feel like crap.
PS3 or XBOX 360?
I used to have a 360 but just don’t have any time these days.
Your Team Mates
Who’s the funniest player in the training hall?
Boajn Tokic from Slovenia provided endless entertainment during the two years I was training at Frickenhausen in Germany.
Who trains the hardest in the training hall?
I try extremely hard at training and always try to get the most out of it. I remember Patrick Baum being a very hard trainer and deserves all his recent success.
Who’s the funniest team player?
In Germany, I had 3 Serbian guys in my team (FC Tegernheim) – Rade Markovic, Boris Vukelic and Bojan Milosevic. All crazy, all hilarious.
Who has the best nickname?
Mark Smythe from Australia (former top player and now coach) is nicknamed ‘Duck’. If you see him walk you’ll understand – he actually waddles!
And lastly, thanks very much for your kindness in taking part in this interview for all the members of the Table Tennis Daily forum to learn and know more about the life of a professional player.
Would you like to add one last tip, or an inspirational message to us all?
I’d like everyone reading this to get a picture in their mind of a recent match they won and played well in. That feeling of satisfaction is hard to beat and I know it provides me all the motivation I need to get out on the table and practice every day. You get back out what you put in.
Good luck in your next competition
Matt Hetherington and the Table Tennis Daily Staff
Thanks Will, gotta get some media from down here up there and you are without doubt the perfect candidate. Best of luck for in the leadup to Olympic Qualifications! :)