Sunday, 3 August 2014

European Stalwart Aims for Academy: MHTT Exclusive Interview with Petr Korbel

It was a huge honour for me to interview Petr Korbel. He is certainly a player to be admired, still a force to be reckoned with on the international stage, many years after his best performances. I used to watch Petr as a junior at the age of 14 years old when I was (at the time) also using his Butterfly blade which has been and remains to be very popular. Petr is now focusing on starting his own table tennis academy in the Czech Republic.

Name: Petr Korbel
Age: 43
Date of Birth: 6.6.1971
Nation Represented: Czech Republic
Highest World Ranking: 15


Petr Korbel (Czech Republic)
Image from ITTF
How and when did you start playing table tennis?
I start to play at the age of 7 years old, but only once a week. After the age of 11 I started to play table tennis every day. 

Petr is still active in international competition, making him one of the most experienced players still active along with other legends, the likes of Jean-Michel Saive and Jorgen Persson.


What has been your most memorable moment in your table tennis career?
To beat China at World Championships 1991 in Japan
Olympic Games Atlanta 1996 (4th place in singles)


How do you feel about the changes in the sport over the years? Which era of the game did you prefer playing in?
I prefer to play the time before changing the scoring system (score to 21, 5 serves each) and with 38mm ball. 

Which international table tennis player have you held the most respect for over the years for their playing ability and attitude to the sport and competing?
Guo Yue Hua
Jan-Ove Waldner
Andrzej Grubba
Jorgen Persson
Jorg Rosskopf

You placed 4th in the Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games, what can you tell us about your match with Rosskopf? There must have been a lot of mental pressure?
I would not to say mental pressure. For both of us(we are very good friends) the match was difficult to be ready and to be focused for this match after both losing in the semifinal stage.


Petr Korbel stretches Mizutani to 7 games in 2011 Japan Open


How important do you think experience is in table tennis? You still managed to beat players like Koki Niwa and had a very close match with Mizutani a couple of years ago, well after your peak level. Was it experience that allowed you to still continue to achieve results against formidable rising players at that time?
I think experience, concentration and the right tactics. Basically experience makes a lot in TT.


What is your current table tennis focus? Will we be seeing you on the World Tour this year?
Focus is on my own Team in Czech Republic(STEN Marketing HB Ostrov) and I want to play some World Tour tournaments. This year I also started with APEKO(Academy Petr Korbel).

Petr is in the early stages of starting his academy APEKO which opened 3 weeks ago but is looking to build to a permanent venue.


Butterfly's Petr Korbel OFF blade


What is your opinion on Zhang Jike? Do you think he has what it takes to be the first player to achieve 2 Grand Slams?
At the moment he is the best TT Player that is why he can do it. On the big tournaments like Olympic Games and World Championships he is the strongest player mentally.


How do you feel about the level of play in Czech Republic within Europe? Do you think there is a lot of promise for the future with the current juniors and the strength of the league system?
My opinion is, we have a few talented young players, but a bad system...We have to start to invest in the coaches, make a system for the young players like practise system etc. This is for a long discussion, which I try to explain to our TT Asociation already since more than 10 years. But most important is that the players need to work very hard.


Across your career who were your toughest opponents internationally and what made them so difficult to play?
I did not like to play against any crazy-risky players...


Off Topic Questions


Favourite Food: Japanese and Czech food
Favourite Holiday Destination: Florida in summer, Austria in winter
Favourite Sportsperson: Pete Sampras, Phil Mickelson
Favourite Music Band: U2
Favourite Actors: Al Pacino,R. DeNiro, Morgan Freeman


What do you like to do when not playing table tennis?
To have my own Academy and teach TT. In free time play Golf....


What advice can you offer to anyone aspiring to play table tennis at international level?
Hard work and never give up.



Thanks Petr! It's a great honour and privilege to be able to do this interview with you! :)


With Pleasure, Matt!

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