Tuesday 23 July 2013

Make Your Table Tennis Experience more Intense!

Any sport gets given a little more intensity when there is a quiet wager hanging in the balance and table tennis is no different. I often enjoy using the knowledge I have off results on the World Tour to string risky multibets and enjoy the satisfaction of winning them! If you are new to table tennis betting I recommend you check out this page before you continue - www.intensegambling.com/sports-betting/online/table-tennis as they explain the finer points in more detail than I can here.

Ma Long the World Number 1 in action

The world of table tennis betting has come a long way thanks to the internet and the ability to online stream and make live bets as you watch. Not only that but the coverage of events has grown immensely. Now you can pick your plays all the way from the biggest World events down to the National leagues of Germany, France, Sweden and even the Challenger Series. You can even multibet across events.

My Advice to you:

  • Learn the Players: To be a winner at table tennis betting you need knowledge! Those who follow table tennis results strongly will have the best chances of making top picks, you will know who the players play well against for example Ryu Seung Min and Lee Jung Woo are both less favoured to beat Joo Se Hyuk but because they are his national teammates and the pengrip style has advantages against defensive players, they often come out on top! You can follow all major and minor world results at www.ittf.com
  • Be Wary of China vs. China: Sometimes the odds of china v china matches can be tempting but you need to be careful at times because it can be very difficult to predict the results. In the intensity of competition these close knit teammates have a habit of beating each other without warning. e.g Xu Xin is world number 1 at WTTC but loses to Zhang Jike, Ma Long loses to Wang Hao.
  • Event Differences: Be aware of different events. League results may differ from tournaments, some players like the great J.O Waldner and Zhang Jike may thrive on the big stage but have unsteady results in national league. Also in smaller leagues you need to watch out for the ex-pats. Chinese players in the Swedish league, German league and French league who are not big house names but are still formidable and the odds may not look well in their favour, someone like Wang Jiang Jun or Wang Xi in the German league, both very high level players. So don't underestimate the unknown names, do your research!

Sunday 21 July 2013

New Champion in Boys Singles while Girls is Repeat Success

The Under 15 individual events were held on the final day of the NZ Junior Table Tennis Championships, the boys field holding a particularly competitive and close matched group of players from the quarterfinal stages. Victor Ma was out to win his first national title with tough competition from Yang Shen of Croydon, Victoria in the draw. Shen the 2012 Oceania Cadet Champion and Ma the current Oceania number 1 it was sure to be tough. Ruofei Rao was looking to repeat success with some of her usual competitors waiting to take their shot at her, Rao was the 2011 Under 15 girls champion in North Harbour.

Victor Ma crowned 15s singles champ
Image courtesy of Trimage Photography
In the boys singles draw Victor Ma set on his way with 2 straight set wins in his first and second rounds over Mana Placid from Canterbury and Frank Fu from Wellington. Yang Lun Zhao struggled at times with Lawrence Shum but finally came through his match to win 3-1 before beating Dean Shu in straight sets. The result is somewhat surprising considering Shu and Zhao met in the final stage of the under 13 boys last year where Jon Jon came back to win a narrow 3-2. 

Kevin Lin was the big contender in his quarter of the draw. Despite strong chances, Alfred Dela-Pena wasn't able to close out his 2-1 lead over Lin who went from strength to strength during the match. He did well to pick up any loose balls that drifted long with his forehand which made a crucial difference in the match. The 3-2 result led him into a semifinal match with Yang Shen who had accounted for Roger Wang, a member of last year's Oceania Cadet Team. 

The big twist came in the semifinals. While Victor Ma had some trouble holding his head above the water against Yang Lun Zhao, he closed out the first 2 sets both 12-10 before Zhao fired back by winning a set. Ma seemed to be missing some of the easier balls but when the time came he made all the right shots, winning the fourth set 11-5 to advance to the final. The big twist was in Kevin Lin's matchup with Yang Shen, the match swayed with Shen taking the first set before Lin fought tooth and nail to win the 2nd set 15-13, giving him the momentum to continue to a 2-1 lead. Shen hadn't finished yet and won the 4th set but when the big question was asked it was Kevin Lin who brought all his game to the table and won the final set 11-7. Kevin seems to have blossomed in 2013, coming seemingly from nowhere to pickup some great results in tournaments.

In the final it was tense moments for Victor Ma who took to some big leads but when the important points to close out the set were called for he let his foot off the pedal. Winning the first set came down to a strong focus at deuce to win those last couple of points but in the second even with an 8-3 lead he let Lin back into the game and Lin took advantage of that, clawing back from an 8-3 deficit to level 9-9 and then draw up the match 1-1. In the next set it was much the same, going down to the line. Ma was executing some fantastic third ball attacks yet in the rally the big shots just weren't landing as often as they needed to. It was close but Ma was able to take the third set 14-12 before bringing the title home in the 4th set, knuckling down to get the job done and winning 11-4.

Lea Lai Van (NCL) quarterfinalist in the u15
Image courtesy of Trimage Photography
Ruofei Rao repeated her success of the Under 18s though the final was different this time after the efforts of Nai Xin Jiang. Nai Xin played well to overcome Lea Lai Van in straight sets and then storm on to the final by beating yesterday's under 18 girls finalist Grace Huo also 3-0. The big shots were landing for Jiang today. Hui-Ling Vong ended the streak of Zhiying Cheng who had beaten her 3-2 on two occasions in the teams and individuals, she brought her big game and won 3-1. In her semifinal she faced Ruofei. Having performed well against her in the teams, Vong didn't quite look as comfortable this time round with Rao really putting the pressure on. While Vong trailed 2-0, she made a big move in the 3rd set and held a 10-8 lead, but Rao showed she was ready to sweep the event by claiming 4 points in a row to win in straight sets. 

In the final match it was Ruofei who proved a little faster, stronger and more tactful. While Nai Xin on a few occasions was able to dig the ball in with her short pips to the middle and then play some devastating forehand shots down the line, it was Ruofei who won out, with more consistency and some great placement before lining up for the big winners. Jiang worked hard but didn't seem to have the answer on this occasion, nevertheless a great effort to be in the final.

Alfred Dela-Pena
U15 Boys Doubles Champion
Image Courtesy of Trimage Photography
The champions of the doubles exited the singles draw in the quarterfinals and were looking for revenge and of course a medal! Dean Shu and Alfred Dela-Pena were crowned champions after a very close semifinal match with singles finalists Victor Ma and Kevin Lin. The match went down to the wire but Shu and Dela-Pena showed sheer determination to win 3-2, they met Frank Fu and Olav Dahl in the final after Yang Lun Zhao and Roger Wang had suffered defeat to Andrew Mei and Logan Xu 3-2 and Dahl and Fu had capitalised on the opportunity, beating Mei and Xu 3-2 also. In the finals however it was Shu and Dela-Pena who made the most of their surprise opponents and really showed no sign of struggle as they blitzed their way to a gold medal in 3 sets.

In the girls doubles it was a repeat of yesterday's under 18 girls final where Nai Xin Jiang and Zhiying Cheng had overcome Ruofei Rao and Grace Huo in a close and hard fought 5 set duel. Well it occurred all over again, the pairs met in the final one last time and again it was the pair of Nai Xin and Zhiying who really brought the fight to the higher seeded pair. The left and right combination of Jiang and Cheng, combined with the well used short pimple rubber of Jiang to set up attacking balls proved to make the difference as they battled to a repeat 3-2 win to claim the 15s title to add to yesterday's success.

In the mixed doubles the big contenders Nai Xin Jiang and Dean Shu were eliminated by the young Alexander Zhou from Canterbury and partner Hui-Ling Vong. In a strange match it was 11-9, 11-9 and 12-10 for the 3 sets going in favour of the lesser favoured pair while Shu and Jiang won their only set in a very decisive manner 11-1, the second set of the match. A great win for Vong and Zhou who met with Victor Ma and Ruofei Rao in the final. In that final they fought incredibly well, while Rao and Ma were eventually the winners it was Zhou and Vong really fighting it out, while their one set was won 11-6, the 3 they lost were 11-9, 14-12 and 11-9, the sign of a close and entertaining match.

Congratulations to all the participants and medallists and of course a great big thank you from all of us to the staff of Auckland Table Tennis' ITTF Hotspot centre, tournament manager Shane Warbrooke, controller David Jackson and the many coaches who travelled here. We wish our friends from Cook Islands, New Caledonia and Australia safe travels home and it was our pleasure to host you here in Auckland in 2013!

Saturday 20 July 2013

Hopes Shine in the Under 13 Events at NZ Junior Champs

The two Oceania Hopes champions Yang Lun Zhao and Hui-Ling Vong made strong impacts on the under 13 events at the NZ Junior Open, having developed strongly after their experience at the ITTF Hopes Trial in Austria earlier in June. 

Yang Lun Zhao defends his Under 13 Boys
Singles Title
Yang Lun (Jon Jon) was successful in winning the Under 13 boys singles and doubles. After his bronze medal performance in the under 18 boys singles he was looking in good form to make a strong contention. In the Under 13s he showed his class, leading to the final he won 3 matches all 3-0 with only 1 of the 9 sets scoring above 5 points, Nathan Xu having scored 6 in one of his lost sets. Kevin Lin had advanced to the final in a similar fashion, without dropping a set. Just a month ago Kevin Lin had imposed two victories over Jon Jon at the Auckland Junior Open and for a while it looked as if the result could repeat. The first two sets falling 11-4 and 11-5. Inconsistency was playing on the Waikato player but he soon turned the table on the Aucklander, Lin. Fighting hard in the open rallies and combining soft and hard shots with accurate placement it was Zhao that came back and took the match to the 5th set. With all the spectators bringing their focus in on the match it came crunching all the way down to 10-10. A big rally ensued and the Waikato player came out on top to a large round of applause. A service receive error ended the match and the early efforts of Kevin Lin fell short as Yang Lun Zhao won the Under 13 singles title from behind yet again in 2013. 

Zhiying Cheng wins the Under 13 Girls Singles 
The Under 13 girls singles was a face-off between Auckland's Zhiying Cheng and Wellington's Hui-Ling Vong. Hui-Ling had pushed Zhiying in the team event, 2-0 up but had lost in the 5th set. This battle swung wildly with Vong winning the first set 11-7 before Cheng stung back with an 11-2 win and then Vong came back yet again 11-4. Zhiying found her attacking pace and forced some opening errors on Vong's backhand and disrupted the rally rhythm, at this point she took a lead and was able to claim the next 2 sets to win the match and the title.

Jon Jon and Bay of Plenty's Xavier Lea combined to win the Under 13 Boys Doubles, a very well fought duel with Canterbury pair Alex Wilson and Alex Zhou who were somewhat robbed in the final moments. Despite a 2-1 lead to the northern pair the south did not yield. Their tactics proved superior and into the 5th set it was neck and neck. Granted a net saved the north from defeat and flustered their opposition, while soft blocking from Jon Jon forced Xavier Lea to retrieve some very difficult balls, a superb rally at 10-10 gave a match point back to the two and with some fortune it was a net which ended the match, much to the disappointment of the Canterbury pair who had fought so hard. Alas one of the unpredictable and uncontrollable aspects of the game and one which I'm sure these young players will grow to accept as such in the future.

Three Canterbury players graced the final of the Under 13 girls doubles. Emily Stewart paired with Oceania Hopes Champion Hui-Ling Vong while Fyfa Dawson paired with Jiayi Zhou. The two young Canterbury players worked hard with Jiayi chopping and going for some big forehands too but the more consistent and powerful style of Hui-Ling Vong provided the advantage to her side and in 3 sets her and Emily Stewart clenched the title. 

Kevin Lin and Zhiying Cheng teamed up to win the Under 13 mixed final in straight sets over Nathan Xu and Iris Liu. Congratulations to all competitors and medallists!

Success for the Rao's at the Final Asking

It was a great display of table tennis by Roger and Ruofei Rao who took out the Under 18 singles titles at the NZ Junior Table Tennis Championships today and then combined to win the Under 18 mixed title as well. There were a number of big names falling in the main draw as the pressure of the biggest junior event of the year all boiled into action.

Roger Rao wins the U18 Boys Singles
In the Under 18 Boys Singles the big upset came early in the round of 32 with Auckland's Guan Chao rising to the occasion and pulling off a 5 set win over Croydon, Victoria's Yang Shen. The win for the local was met with a standing ovation around the stadium, well deserved for the scale of the upset over the 2012 Oceania Cadet Champion. Dean Shu was also making noise taking a 3-0 win over Michael Zhang and a hard fought 3-1 win over Liam Young before he bowed out to Roger Rao in the quarterfinal stages. 

Roger Wang avenged his 2012 loss of the under 15 final by defeating 3rd seed Victor Pollett before losing in the quarterfinals to Croydon's Dillon Chambers who was yet to suffer defeat in the teams or singles to that point. Yang Lun Zhao showed that size is no barrier as he battled a 5 set win over Alfred Dela-Pena, the North Island Under 13 champion and followed it up with a huge 3-1 win over Daniel Lowe. Zhao made the semifinals where he lost to Chambers. Roger Rao accounted for a determined Victor Ma in his semifinal in straight sets and set up a chance to reverse the result of the team competition in the finals showdown between Rao and Chambers. 

Quick off the mark and showing slightly more tact and aggression it was Roger Rao who showed no sign of letting up, even as he trailed in each set. Not letting his Australian opponent get too far away he worked hard to push through to the end of each set, playing tight to shut down the Croydon players strong attacking game and executing well timed counter shots. With the NZ support behind him he sailed to a 3-0 victory. Rao once again a New Zealand singles champion in the Under 18 boys.

Ruofei Rao wins the U18 Girls Singles
In the girls singles Auckland were dominant in the draw, save for the efforts of Lea Lai Van of New Caledonia. Lea defeated Maggie Ngo 3-0 and then went on the offensive against Ruofei Rao, winning the first set 13-11, losing the next two with 9 before Rao took the 3-1 win. Nai Xin Jiang repeated her victory of the teams in 4 sets over Mariam Seif while Grace Huo accounted for Angel Huang 3-0 and then Nai Xin by the same margin in the semifinals. 

Ruofei had beaten Ola Ratka by a substantial margin in the first round and after her win over Lea she faced the top seed, Grace Huo. With seemingly little difficulty it was Rao who opened first on most occasions, dominating her opponent in the open rallies and in the opening attacking plays. The first two sets fell with comfort before Huo made a stand, but even at deuce it was Rao who made the final strike and won the final 3-0 just like Roger.

In the Under 18 Mixed Doubles Victor Ma and Angel Huang had beaten Canterbury's Jesse Wilson and Mariam Seif 3-0 in their semifinal while Roger Rao and Ruofei had overcome compatriots Dean Shu and Nai Xin Jiang. In the final Victor Ma was making all the big plays, some incredible shots. Angel Huang kept the ball tight with heavy backspin balls causing some issues for Ruofei. While Ruofei struggled in the opening sets and Ma and Huang took a commanding 2-0 lead, she found her ground for the rest of the match with some sharp attacking strokes and fast reflex counters. Slowly but surely the Raos found their pace and started reeling back the points. Despite their best efforts Ma and Huang couldn't hold on and the match slipped away from them with the two singles champions combining to win 11-7 in the 5th and deciding set after having come back from 2-0 down.

Michael Zhang, finalist in the U18 Boys Doubles with
Nathan Watson
In the Under 18 Boys Doubles the pairs fell like flies. Expectation went out the window and seeds were unplanted. The pair of Roger Rao and Daniel Lowe found themselves at the mercy of Croydon's Dillon Chambers and Jakob Smith who defeated the local pair 3-0. With the top seeding in hand they moved into the next round but met a road block in the form of Manawatu's Nathan Watson and Southland's Michael Zhang. With the momentum of the previous match it was the Australian pair who soared ahead to a 2-0 lead, but Zhang and Watson held fast, switching from passive to aggressive, loose to tight and they came fighting back all the way to the very end. 18-16 in 5 long sets and the kiwi pairing prevailed, a fantastic result for the two. Victor Pollett and Liam Young were probably hot favourites to win with two of the toughest pairs out of contention. They had a close 5 set duel with Alfred Dela-Pena and Roger Wang but fell to Victor Ma and Dinyar Irani, the eventual winners. Zhang and Watson fought back from 9-6 down in the 5th to beat Taichi Akaoka and Guan Chao who had been up 5-1 at the half. In the final it was plain sailing for the Auckland pair of Irani and Ma who took advantage of lots of attacking opportunities and played strong opening balls and counterattacks with great placement to cruise to a 3-0 win.

In the Under 18 Girls Doubles it was the young generation proving they had the energy to make it through with Nai Xin Jiang and Zhiying Cheng combining to make a sensational effort in the event. They won 3-0 over Canterbury's Ola Ratka and Mariam Seif and then stormed through the final with Zhiying playing some astounding offensive table tennis. A hard pitched battle, Grace Huo and Ruofei Rao fought hard but in the 5th set it was the two young players who claimed gold. Well done Nai Xin and Zhiying!

Friday 19 July 2013

Team Events Conclude at NZ Junior Championships (Under 18)

At the halfway point of the third day of competition at the 2013 New Zealand Junior Table Tennis Championships we saw the conclusion of the team events at the ITTF Hotspot Centre in Auckland. The finals battle was the ultimate test for the teams who had worked hard to make the cut.

Daniel Lowe captured by Ben Jung serving.
Image courtesy of Trimage Photography
In the Under 18 Boys team event it was Roger Rao, Daniel Lowe and Dinyar Irani who stood for Auckland against the overseas competitors from Croydon Districts, Victoria of Dillon Chambers, Yang Shen and Jakob Smith. The Croydon team had had a narrow victory over North Harbour early on, a 4-3 win with each of their 4 points broken down into an 11-9 win in the 5th. Chambers led the charge for the Australian team, trailing 1-0 and 9-6 against Roger Rao the top ranked u18 boy in Oceania he swiftly moved to even the score 1-1, recovering from the deficit. After that point he didn't look back and the first knife blow went to Croydon with Chambers winning 3-1. Auckland struck back with Daniel Lowe's brilliant performance against Yang Shen. Yang was the 2012 Oceania Cadet champion and was undefeated until Lowe scored a straight sets victory to level the team score 1-1. Dinyar followed with a win over Croydon's 3rd player Jakob Smith and the locals lead the battle 2-1. The doubles was a crucial battle, the Australian pair of Chambers and Yang Shen held an early 2-0 lead before the kiwi pair fought a set back but the Croydon pair outplayed their opposition on attack and took the match 3-1. 

Tense moments as the team score drew level at 2-2. The pressure fell upon Daniel Lowe as he faced Dillon Chambers, there were some outstanding plays from both players but Chambers held the edge on attack and in the tight game and for the 2nd time it was Chambers who gave Croydon the lead. With the match in the balance Roger Rao stepped up to the plate and brought the Auckland team back with his win over Smith. At 3-3 all the pressure was on Dinyar Irani and Yang Shen to bring the result home for their respective teams. There were moments of hope for the kiwis but by the end of the match it was Croydon celebrating victory as Yang Shen won the match 3-1 and Croydon won the title in a full 7 match duel. 

Playing off for 3rd and 4th it was North Harbour who earned the 3rd spot. Having narrowly missed out on a finals appearance they were out to secure the best possible finish. Victor Pollet, Liam Young and Leroy Gov won 4-1 over Waitemata's Alfred Dela-Pena, Max Rogers and Kelsey Amor.

Auckland win gold in the U18 Girls Teams
In the Under 18 Girls Team Final it was Auckland playing Canterbury. Ruofei Rao, Nai Xin Jiang and Grace Huo faced off with Mariam Seif, Ola Ratka and Angel Huang. The Aucklanders wasted no time in their campaign to victory with Grace Huo proving too much for Ola Ratka. Grace forced the errors from Ola and played with consistency and speed to win 3-0. Mariam is the newest edition to the Canterbury team, the Christchurch born Egyptian player returning home last September and back into table tennis after a break. She uses medium pimple rubber with no sponge on her backhand, her ability to use it had caused quite a number of problems for her opposition on her way to the final. For Nai Xin and her short pimple backhand it presented a few less problems. Nai Xin was able to use her short pips to return even the quickest of Mariam's forehand loops and take advantage of the errors in the follow-up shot by reducing the recovery time. Nai Xin won 3-1 to give Auckland a 2-0 lead.

Ruofei Rao is the top player in the Under 18 girls team draw and she wasted no time showing it. While Angel Huang showed sparks of brilliance in her offensive game she couldn't match the strong attacking play of Ruofei on both wings. With another 3-1 win for the Aucklanders they needed just one more match to seal a gold medal. The doubles proved to be that match, Ruofei and Nai Xin teaming up to win in straight sets over Mariam and Ola. 

With a 4-0 win it was gold for the team of Ruofei Rao, Nai Xin Jiang, Grace Huo, Maggie Ngo and Carolyn Zo of Auckland. New Caledonia, lead by Lea Lai Van were victorious over North Harbour to claim the bronze medal position on the podium. Congratulations to all teams competing across the team events and particularly to our medallists today!