Saturday, 26 November 2011

A Trio of Answers from Vegas' Hottest Act

I decided to up the stakes with this one, the interviews were getting a bit too uniform for me and I wanted the chance to get a bit more creative. One trio of amazing young ladies I knew would certainly participate in my fun are Carmencita, Luoana and Cynthia Alexandrescu who have just asserted themselves in the public arena with this new page on facebook HERE. Thanks ladies for taking the time to answer some of my more intruiging questions so we can all get to know you a bit better!

Full Names:

- Carmencita Doinita Alexandrescu
- Luoana Johanna Alexandrescu
- Cynthia Jessica Alexandrescu

Dates of Birth:

- June 25 , 1968 - Carmencita
- October 17 , 1991 - Luoana
- December 30 , 1997 - Cynthia

Luoana, Carmencita and Cynthia
Please check out

Im interested to here from Luoana and Cynthia first for this question. Whats the attraction to table tennis? For girls your age there are so many opportunities for other things, sporting, musical and cultural, what makes table tennis number one for you guys?

- Luoana: My attraction to table tennis is watching my mom play and seeing how happy this sport makes her. It’s good exercise, great way to keep yourself in shape while you are having fun , and make lots of friends all over the world.

- Cynthia: My attraction to table tennis is the nice outfits, equipments , and fame. Table Tennis is number one for me because it’s a very challenging sport , different and unique than other sports.

You guys have recently been involved in some table tennis events in different places. What has been your favourite table tennis event so far, whether a publicity or competitive event?

Our favorite event was the World Championship of Ping Pong held in our city Las Vegas February 2011, which aired on Fox Sports and local sports channels in over 800 million homes around the world. We had the chance to spend time with some of the top players from all around the world. It was lots of FUN and fantastic experience ! Check out the site here.

This is a clip from the World Championships of Ping Pong 2011 with some celebrity umpires ;)

More photos from the event of the players and of course the star umpires

Whos the best player in the family? Are you guys quite competitive among yourselves or are you just happy to be there playing against each other for fun?

- Luoana &Cynthia: Our mom, Camy  is the best player in the family. We have a table and play at home sometimes. We play for fun but after a couple points we start getting into our competitive mode. Especially in doubles against our mom and our dad Adrian who is an ex-professional soccer player but loves to play table tennis!

Where is your guys favourite place to dine out together?

It’s hard to choose especially in Las Vegas there are endless of places to go eat,  but we enjoy a lot of Thai & Japanese Restaurants.

How cool is it to live in Vegas, I mean that place goes off I saw some of your Halloween photos and everything is so intense there. What do you guys do for fun on weekends etc?

Las Vegas is a crazy exciting city! For fun we usually hang out with our friends and go walking and shopping on the Las Vegas Blvd ( Strip ) or watch some Vegas shows. Also sometimes we play table tennis on the weekend and after go out to eat or watch a movie with our Table Tennis friends. Vegas always has interesting events going on where we are invited to, and enjoy different types of experiences.

The Girls turn Dolls for Halloween 

If each of you could choose a celebrity (actor, musician etc) man of your dreams who would it be?

- Carmencita:  Paul Walker ;)
- Luoana: Taylor Lautner <3
- Cynthia: Hayden Christensen <3

Who is your favourite table tennis player on the international stage and why?

- Carmencita: Jean-Michel Saive , he always was my favorite player and good example not just table tennis but life in general that it’s never too late , never give up , and keep fighting for what you love !

- Luoana: Timo Boll is my all time favorite player , I love his backhand and enjoy watching his games. I also like Dimitrij Ovtcharov , he has a very unique signature serve and has lots of potential to be number one in the future!

- Cynthia: Michael Maze is my favorite player because no matter what injury he has he always fights to play the sport he loves and  also because he is a unique cool player with awesome tattoos :D

Where do you want table tennis to take you in the future do you have big goals or is it just something you would like to be a part of regardless of your level of play?

- Carmencita: I would love to go forward with what I started, to coach the present and future generation, and to be more involved in different international events relating table tennis. One big goal is to have my own unique International Table Tennis Academy with coaches and players from different countries!

- Luoana: I wish I started playing Table Tennis when I was younger. But at the time I liked soccer a lot and my dad took me to play on his team he was coaching. Now I regret not starting earlier. I took Table Tennis serious about two and a half years ago after I graduated from High School and had more free time on my hands. My goal is to make my USATT rating higher, keep coaching the little kids at ITTF Hot Spot ICC Table Tennis Club in Milpitas, to be involved in different events around the world regarding Table Tennis , and to keep going forward with my studies to have a good future and help my family !

- Cynthia: One of my big goals is to make it to the national team. I started taking Table Tennis serious about two years ago , which is not a very long time. But I will practice hard and try my best to reach my goal !

CLC Trio at the National Air Show Recently

 Ok lets have some fun now. For each of these, I want all three of you to answer separately. Write down the first word that comes to mind for each of the words I write below :P

Ok first one, when I say....
You say:
-Luoana: Pong

You say:
-Carmencita: Freedom
-Luoana: Bahamas
-Cynthia: Getaway

You say:
-Carmencita: Ferrari
-Luoana: Ferrari
-Cynthia: Ferrari

You say:
-Carmencita: Happiness
-Luoana: Dance
-Cynthia: Dancing

Table tennis:
You say:
-Carmencita: Love
-Luoana: Paddle
-Cynthia: Sport

Ping Pong's Best Looking Family!
Ok scenario time, these are fun and great for insight into character and the way people think :P
Each of you give a short answer and be creative!

Scenario 1:
You are trapped in a burning building and have in your bag a can of deodorant, a table tennis bat, a sports towel, a bottle of water and a pair of table tennis shoes. How do you escape?!

- Carmencita: To escape I put on my table tennis shoes so I wont slip and fall , then pour water on my sports towel which I use to cover my mouth, I spray deodorant by my nose so I don’t smell the smoke and I cover my head with the table tennis paddle. This is my escape plan :D

- Luoana: The way I would try and escape is I put my table tennis shoes on, put the towel over me , hold the paddle to my face. That way my feet, body, and face will be protected. I run through the fire out the door, use the water to stop my towel from getting all on fire and last but not least use the deodorant to smell good and fresh like nothing happened ;D

- Cynthia: My escape plan is first of all I don’t use the deodorant because it’s flammable , I use my table tennis shoes so I wont slip or step on glass, I use my sports towel to cover my mouth so I wont inhale smoke and to roll over the fire without burning my self. Then I use the bottle of water to stop mini fire traps on my way out and the paddle to knock down doors! That’s my escape plan :D

Scenario 2:
You are caught at the table tennis stadium on Valentines Day and someone gives you a gift, feeling like you should give something in return and using table tennis equipment only, what do you make for them? :P

- Carmencita: I would put together 8 Orange Butterfly 3 star table tennis balls ;D arrange like a heart with Butterfly glue , because it sticks really good togetherJ Then draw on the table tennis balls little hearts and my signature …… Happy Valentine’s Day <3

- Luoana: On a table tennis paddle one side I will make the shape of a heart with table tennis balls and on the other side I cut out pieces of Red Tenergy 05 rubber and spell out : Happy Valentine’s Day ;)

- Cynthia: I would make a customized paddle with their name on it and paint it their favorite color. I would also give them chocolates shaped as table tennis balls <3

The lovely ladies feature in this artpiece by Mike Mezyan

Scenario 3:
Somebody embarrasses you in public and you have the chance to get them back in front of lots of people. You have a bucket of water, a weak firework with matches, a chocolate cake and a raw steak. Go get em! What do you do?
- Carmencita: I don’t use any of the tools I have all I do is … I turn and leave !

Luoana: I stuff the raw steak in the yummy chocolate cake and use the weak firework as a candle. I use the matches to light up the cake and then the cake explodes all over the persons face. Then I take the bucket with water and pour it all over the person to help clean up the damage >:p

- Cynthia: If someone embarrassed me in public and I tried to get them back , I would throw water at the person first , then I would throw raw bloody steak on their face , and then smudge chocolate cake all over them ! ;D

Thanks for the time ladies!

Monday, 14 November 2011

Oceania Champion Building Pathway to London

Over the past weeks we have been able to bring our good friend William Henzell into our homes, no not literally, via youtube. Now based in Austria, William (via TTEdge's youtube channel 'tabletennisedge') has been sharing his European experiences with all his supporters. From his first weeks starting off training in the inaugural Werner Schlager Academy in Schwechat, Austria, William shares his experience in returning to the intensity of full time training in Europe.

William's Log #1

William's Log #2

William also elaborates on his performance at the Austrian Open which took place at the Academy, he analyses his abilities throughout the matches and explains the feeling of returning to the Pro Tour and how different it is from his experiences playing in Europe in the past, when he was arguably fitter and faster and of course a bit younger, but for William's sake we won't take that one any further.

William's Log #3

A major point which William makes is how different this intensity is compared to his time spent back in Australia and the real difference between training full time and juggling training with a job. His 3rd video shows some of the physical training which is directed at the WSA.

William's Log #4

This video is centred around gym workout sessions and William gives us some insight into what he is feeling in terms of improvement in speed and movement around the table as a result of the physical programmes.

William's Log #5

The Swedish Open is a familiar competition for William who played in Sweden from a very young age. Here he elaborates on how tough the schedule is becoming between training, competitions and league matches. He also analyses some of his performance at the Swedish Open.

As William anticipates his upcoming team event, the Intercontinental Team Cup in Magdeburg, Germany, he talks about Australia's opponents and where the team stands against them. He specifically spends time speaking about how he will be preparing and what strategies he expects to need and areas he needs to avoid i.e fast open rallies etc where he felt he may be disadvantaged.

William's Log #6

William's final video to date (below) is a reflection of his performance at the World Cup Singles Event in Paris, France. Particularly he shares some of his disappointment with one of his matches which was crucial in his need to win the Event as the result went to set countback. He highlights his win over Gustavo Tsuboi and shares some clips of his matches while he speaks about his performance.

William's Log #7

So there you have it! That's William's journey in Europe to date, some great experience shared and definitely one to keep up to date with. I have really enjoyed this particularly as I myself will be moving to Europe in just over 6 months to train full time in the Czech Republic and I think for any player wanting to move to train overseas these videos have some real value. Best of Luck on your way to 2012 Olympic Qualification William and we will of course be following closely behind!

Image courtesy of ABC Adelaide

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Wheeling His Way to the Top

The 38th Mitsubishi New Zealand Para National Champs was an eventful day for me and I'd like to take the opportunity to do as I did for the Northland Open and delve into a bit more of a personal perspective. I was the Tournament Manager for the Table Tennis Championships but at the same time I was also there to support two para players I have been involved in coaching this year, wheelchair player Shakti Krishnan and Jacob Phillips who is a standing player. Not only these two but a good friend of mine Victor Kamizona from my old table tennis club in Tauranga who I have known for over a decade was competing. 

Me coaching Shakti at the Para Nationals
Image courtesy of John Tuki

Para table tennis is an area we should really be looking at developing, we have some very talented players and great opportunities to set them on pathways to being successful. The para nationals is a great opportunity for these players to come together in a social atmosphere and play the sport they love. For me I was requested to coach Shakti which I was glad to accept. I had spent quite a bit of time with him trying to help develop his game. He's only 13 years old and incredibly talented, great hand speed and quite agile for a wheelchair player, he has a superb ability to play angles and also to generate a bit more topspin on his shots than the other wheelchair players he had to compete with. I had also spent a lot of time feeding multiball frequently across his middle area to try and strengthen and define his shots across the weaker zone for all wheelchair players. So the groundwork was there for some results and they certainly came.

Players and Admins at the 2011 Mitsubishi Para NZ
Table Tennis Championships
Shakti was able to claw his way back from 3-4 point deficits in each of the 3 sets against his first opponent James Goulding to win 3-0. James is an experienced left hander and was the highest ranked player there on World standings and hence was first seed. It was a great win for Shakti who managed to get a strong focus at the end of each set when it really counted to seal the deal. Shakti also beat Irimana Kingi 3-1, although he struggled in parts to find rhythm he was able to show dominance in that match too. The big match for Shakti was against the defending champion from Otago, a player he hadn't been able to beat before, John Marrable. The match against John was a great match and caught the attention of most of the present spectators. I managed to find some areas for Shakti to exploit and in the 5th and final set, everyone was watching very nervously, probably me most of all as I really wanted him to prove he could win the match. He did manage to with some great tactics and play which left him with one match to go against Brian McLean of North Harbour. Brian is also a very experienced player and was quite to show that out on the table. He played some great wide shots to Shakti's backhand and really took advantage of key strategies which were working for him. For Shakti he was struggling a little to pinpoint the area that I wanted him to serve to and it was costing him. He led a great comeback in the match but Brian held on to win the match 3-2. With all the round robin results finalised it led us to a countback and with his wins over James, Irimana and John, Shakti was the victor and finished in 1st place. It was really satisfying for me for him to gain that result. A 13 year old and a National Champion, I think it needs to be publicised as much as Roger Rao's 2010 win. 

Para New Zealand CEO Fiona Pickering supporting the
table tennis event down at Waikato Stadium
Image courtesy of John Tuki
Jacob performed exceptionally and drew attention to his improvements in the last year, I had numerous comments in that light. With some new serves and much more consistent strokes which I had tried really hard to repeat with him, he had really clicked the week before the competition and was playing much better and finished 4th among the standing players which I was really pleased with. Victor was the champion of the standing players and took home the gold medal, his antispin and long pimples combination no doubt difficult for the other standing players who are often restricted in their offensive strokes. So it was very satisfying to see those 3 guys achieve so much. Shakti combined with John Marrable to win the gold in the wheelchair doubles and Victor won the standing doubles with Ayush Bhatnagar who was the silver medalist in the singles for the standing players and has a very nicely developed technical game and some great shots. 

All in all some great success and a great bunch of people. I would like to thank John Tuki for helping to organise the event and coming over, and of course coaching against me for John Marrable in the crucial match, Henry Redmond for his classification of the players, Fiona Pickering (PNZ CEO) for taking the time to come down and supporting our efforts in the table tennis event, the team managers, Brian Barker specifically for his involvement with NZ Para activites and for me a very important thank you to Chloe Wickman, my liason with Parafed Waikato who has been supporting the players and the event many months prior to it taking place and was great to work with. Thank you all and I hope Para table tennis will really grow further in the years to come!

Zhang Jike on Top of the World Again

With many questions surrounding a lower back injury, Zhang Jike quickly silenced them by claiming the inaugral 2011 Leibherr Men's World Cup title. This is the second time he has shone in a major world event after winning the World Championships in Rotterdam in May. The final was a 6 set affair with 2010 World Cup winner Wang Hao taking on the current World Champion. The defending champion got off on the perfect foot, claiming the first 2 sets in the match, but Zhang Jike clung on and won the next 4 sets to take the title in Paris. With Ma Long on brilliant form and Wang Hao performing at a very high level, Zhang Jike throws himself back into the top of the mix for Olympic Games selection.

World Cup Champion Zhang Jike
Image from

In the bronze medal match it was celebration for Korea as Joo Se Hyuk carried on his wicked form from beating Timo Boll in the quarterfinal to take out another of the world's finest players, Jun Mizutani from Japan. With Joo having less success in major events lately this is a great result for him and a great advert and inspiration again for defensive players around the world.

Here is Joo's quarterfinal match against Timo Boll which he won 4-3.

Thanks to ttCountenance for continuing to provide the best TT videos in such efficient time!

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Defender on the Offensive

The Semifinalists are decided for the 2011 Leibherr Table Tennis Men's World Cup. It was disappointment for European fans around the globe who's pinned hopes on Germany's Timo Boll were lost when a determined and on-form Joo Se Hyuk ended Boll's World Cup goals. It was a 7 set showdown which saw one of the world's most reputable and skillful defensive players assert himself against Europe's best. A triumph for Korea which was almost repeated with their 2nd player Oh Sang Eun, his 7 set match was with Japanese star Jun Mizutani who claimed victory in the final set, securing a channel for Japanese supporters going into the semifinals. Both were incredible matches and had viewers around the world on the edges of their seats in the fray of some amazing execution.

World Class Defence from Joo Se Hyuk
Image from Ping Pong Italia
For China it was plain sailing, Wang Hao avenging himself with a 4-1 win over Germany's Dimitrij Ovtcharov who defeated him in the World Team Cup on home turf in the Germany city of Magdeburg just over a week ago. Certainly Hao didn't look to be taking any chances, looking forward to his task of defending his 2010 title. Ironically his teammate Zhang Jike finds himself aiming for the final on the opposite side of the draw. Mizutani was also a semifinalist in the 2010 competition. So here we see 3 of the 4 semifinalists repeating their elite performance from 2010. Will the result be the same or different? The finalists have the potential to be the same, Mizutani faces Wang Hao this time and we know that although Joo is on form, Zhang Jike has an amazing affinity for playing choppers with impressive leg strength and great touch. It's all down to 2 matches to determine the finalists, be sure to tune in to ITTV!

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Brazil's Champion on Comeback for London

Having recently returned from Magdeburg where he contributed to Brazil's win of the Intercontinental Team Cup yet again, Thiago was kind enough to do this interview with me. Having been well into the top 100 players in the world Thiago is now recovered from injury and is looking to get back on form in time to try and qualify for the Olympic Games in London 2012. Thanks Thiago and enjoy reading everyone!

Full Name: Thiago Monteiro
Age: 30 years old
Date of Birth: 15/06/1981
Nation Represented: Brazil
Highest World Ranking: 59 (Sep 2008)

Equipment Used:
Blade: Cournilleau Hinotec OFF
FH Rubber: Cournilleau Pilot Advance
BH Rubber: Cournilleau Pilot Advance


How long have you been playing table tennis for, when and how did you start?
I play for 25 years, I start with my father at age of 5 years old!

Who has been the biggest influence on your career so far?
My father was the biggest influence, my first coach and advisor until today!

What does your training schedule for a week period involve?
I practise table tennis twice a day from Monday to Friday and once on Saturday. With 2 or 3 physical sessions during this time. Nowadays I am coming back from injury and it has been a little less than what I would like to.

What is your next big goal for table tennis?
Next big goal is to qualify for London Olympics.

Who has been your biggest rival out on the table since you started playing?
I have had some at every stage of my career. At the beginning some friends in my country who were fighting with me for spot in National Team, then some opponents in international competition.

What do you think is the most important thing in table tennis for becoming a successful player on the international stage? 
There are many things such as discipline, will, intelligence, support from the family. It is impossible to have everything but one need to have some of those to be successful.

Previously you have been well into the top 100 players in the world, is that a position you are fighting strongly to regain?
Yes, I was well but got injured but I am better now and I am practising to be back to my former level as soon as possible. It makes life much easier to have a higher world ranking sometimes.

Why do you think China currently dominate the sport?
Chinese have the best coaches, work harder, study the game, invest a lot. Normal that they are too good, it is very simple actually! They devote their lives to the game and just get back what they deserve.

What is the state of table tennis in Brazil? Do you see table tennis ever becoming a popular sport there?
Table tennis as a hobby is quite a popular sport in Brazil. we are putting a good effort to make it more professional and bring more people to official competition but it takes time. To have the Olympics in 2016 can be a defining moment for us if we do a good job!

Thiago in action
Image from tabletennista

Off the Topic Questions

Who is your favourite sportsperson of all time?
I am not the kind of person who has idols but I like some; such as Ronaldo, Senna from Brazil, Valentino Rossi, Kelly Slater, Jordan. In table tennis I like Waldner, Samsonov, Gatien.

Favourite Food?
I like brazillian barbeque or anything mom cooks when I am home!

What do you do when you aren't playing table tennis?
I read, watch movies, surf on internet. I like to play other sports but I avoid not to get injured.

Dream Car?
Ferarri, Porsche, Lamborghini or some nice car of that style

Ideal Holiday Destination
Fortazela, which is my hometown in Brazil, or any place with hot weather. Hot water beaches and a nice night life!

First thing you would do if you won $1 million?
I would not change my life much if I had 1 million. I like what I do so my life would be pretty much the same and I would actually think of a way to make this money work for me so I never need to work anymore!

Your Team Mates

Who is the funniest player in the training hall?
From the players I have spent time with I would say my good friend Thommy Keinath

Who trains the hardest? 
When you practice with professional players they all train hard, that is not really a problem!

Who has the best nickname?
The best nickname it is the one that Hi Zhiwen has from Spain. He is kindly called Juanito.

And Lastly

Would you like to add one last tip, or inspirational message for other players looking to succeed?
Enjoy life and have fun!!!

Sunday, 6 November 2011

What comes after 10-0?

We have, most of us, been in the situation of being up 10-0 in a game. What comes after 10-0? 11-0 or 10-1? Are you merciful or strictly professional? How do you view winning a game 11-0? Is it a psychological advantage for you, a way of crushing your opponent for the rest of the match? Do you respect your opponents too much to do it? Will it reflect badly on you for doing so? It is interesting to see the widespread opinion and values on demolishing opponents without a glimpse at a point coming their way. I took the liberty of asking a few players what their thoughts were on winning 11-0 against opponents. For me personally I don't do it very often at all. There would be two occasions:

A) I have a point to prove, someone has either beaten me 11-0 or someone has really done something to annoy me in a match.

B) There is a bounty on the line, i.e in Waikato if you beat someone 11-0 they have to buy you a box of beer. Among friends where there is no disrespect intended etc.

Image from TableTennisTalk
What do others think?:

'Nothing special...that is part of the game, no more, no less' Thiago Monteiro, Brazil National Mens Team

'Generally I don't like, I give one point' Gionis Panagiotis, Greek National Mens Team

'I think there is no reason to give a point, if you are much better and can win like this, then do it. From my own experience I was 10-0 down and he gave me a point and I won the set 12-10. But anyway most of the time I give a point, especially for the players I respect, but I only do it because the other players will have not so good opinion about me if I don't' Hunor Szocs, Romanian National Mens Team

'In many ways it is more disrespectful to give away a point than to win 11-0. I'm not fussed either way. I've heard National Team players who think it's bad karma to win 11-0 but I'll stay on the fence' William Henzell, Oceania Champion

'I think you should win 11-0 if you can do it. If somebody had 10-0 on me I want to win a point, not get given one.' Hampus Soderlund, Ranked 11 Swedish Mens on World Rankings

'I think you should always try and beat players as easily as possible! Obviously if they really don't have a chance and can't really play then I would say not to. If they are decent then it's about getting ready for other matches and you shouldn't give any points away' Liam Pitchford, English Number 1

'Many players will give one point if it's 10-0, then it will end 11-1. I have never had this decision because I was never leading 10-0 so I don't know' Patrick Baum" Finalist 2010 and 2011 European Champs

'I prefer to lose 11-0 as if I win 11-0 he will have more respect about me. Some players give one point but sometimes this is not so nice so I would prefer to lose 11-0' Abdel-Kader Salifou, 2005 French Junior Champion

'I think it's something to show your supremacy, and I hate it when your opponent gives you the point when it's 10-0 for him' Quentin Robinot, 2009 European Youth Champion

Is 11-0 a good thing or a bad thing?
Image from China Digital Times
So that's the some mixed opinion for you. As for me, I know at least one player who would be happy to receive a point when down 10-0, and that's Adam Bobrow :)

Special thanks Matt Solt for the starting idea.