Wednesday 7 January 2015

Croatia's Champ Aiming for Top 10 and Olympic Medal

I had the pleasure of interviewing one of Europe's stronger players, Andrej Gacina from Croatia. Check out the interview below and for more top international player interviews head to my Interviews Page.

Full Name: Andrej Gaćina
Age: 28
Date Of Birth: 21.5.1986.
Nation Represented: Croatia
Highest World Ranking: 18

Croatia's Andrej Gacina
Image from ETTU
Equipment Used?
Blade: Butterfly Innerforce ZLC
FH Rubber: Tenergy 05
BH Rubber: Tenergy 80

Your Career

How long have you been playing table tennis for, when and how did you start?
I am playing table tennis since I was 6 years old. I started at age of 6, first I started with football (played it for about 3 months) but then I switched to table tennis because at that time Croatia was in war against Serbia and I played table tennis inside the hall and football was on open field so it was less dangerous.

Who has been the biggest influence on your career so far?
I had many coaches so I cannot say that only one coach influenced my career. But some of coaches that made a big influence in my career are: Zvonimir Korenic – present Croatian team coach; Dubravko Skoric – present coach of TTF Liebherr Ochsenhausen and the one who probably helped me the most is Chen Zhibin – former Chinese national team player and Top 10 in the World ranking list back in the time

How did you progress from starting table tennis into becoming a professional player?
The biggest turning point in my career was when I left education and started to pursue more professional my table tennis career. I made that decision at 18 years of age.

You just reached a career best World Ranking of 18th. How does it feel to be in this position and do you see a possibility to reach the top 10?
It feels great to be among 20 best players in the world and I feel I have more room to improve my game which will hopefully get me to better places then 18 in the world.

Andrej's amazing effort to save a match point from Timo Boll

You had an amazing rally with Timo Boll in the 2013 European Championships where you managed to retrieve a number of difficult balls to try and save his championship point. What was in your mind during this point?
I just did not want to give up no matter how difficult the ball was that Timo played against me and I think the last shot I played with my forehand was really difficult to play against because I gave a lot of downspin but Timo just played it back with ease, and that shows how great a player he is.

You have won a gold medal in doubles at European Championships, do you feel you are in strong form to content for a singles medal next time?
If I will be in good shape at that tournament then I think I have a chance to win a medal.

In the recent Euro championships the new ball was played. How did you feel about playing with the new ball and its performance?
The new ball is not that much different but there are some differences. Like, it is not possible to produce much spin like with the celluloid ball and the ball is a bit slower then the celluloid one. But the biggest issue is the quality of the balls. They break much easier than the old ones and I think the manufacturers should think better how to make the balls firmer.

A formidable pairing, Marcos Freitas and Andrej Gacina in Doubles together

What is your biggest goal in table tennis?

To win a medal at Olympic games.

Off the Topic QuestionsWho’s your favourite sportsperson of all time?Michael Jordan

Favourite food?
Steak with grilled vegetables

What do you do when you aren't playing table tennis?
I rest :)

Dream Car?
Aston Martin V12 Vantage

Ideal holiday destination?
Croatia ;)

First thing you would do if you won $1million?
Think good where to spend it ;)

And Lastly
Would you like to add one last tip, or an inspirational message for other table tennis players looking to succeed?
There is always a solution,if you look hard enough for it, you will find it to reach your goal, no matter what the goal is.

Thank you Andrej!

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