Next week, from July 2-6, is the annual US Open tournament, with prizes awarded for Singles, Doubles, and Mixed Doubles in a range of age and ability divisions. Last year’s Singles winners – Eugene Zhen Wang and Liu Juan– set a truly high standard for their challengers, and we’re all excited to see new heights of athleticism and technique on display this week.
The US Open has been a focus for change and development in the sport since its inception. This year will feature hard bat competition, a trend which recalls the early days of the sport and may forecast its future. It was also a lightning rod for calls for increased professionalism in table tennis competition as early as 1976, when the sport was well underway to its current refinement.
Whether it’s evolving technique, scientific refinement, or sheer athleticism, there is always something exciting on display for table tennis fans at the US Open. We hope you enjoy it as much as we do!
Ever noticed how the Chinese team’s primary playing shirt colour is red? Well, perhaps they have accidentally (or purposefully) chosen a colour that actually makes them more likely to win.
British anthropologists Russell Hill and Robert Barton of the University of Durham in England studied the outcomes of one-on-one combat sports such as boxing, tae kwon do, Greco-Roman-wresting, and freestyle-wrestling matches at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece.
In those sports, Olympic staff randomly assign either red or blue clothing to competitors. When otherwise equally matched by their opponent, athletes wearing red were more likely to win.
On the subject of lighting, the author cites a German study of the influence of light levels on athletic task performance. Humans exposed to higher light levels – such as the regulation 1,000 lux at the US Open – perform noticeably better on athletic and endurance tasks.
Love him or hate him, Tim Boggan’s life and career has mirrored the development of Table Tennis as a professional sport – even extending to when we played Ping Pong, instead. Here, he recounts the contentious 1976 US Open, which was picketed by several players:
At the 1976 U.S. Open, I was at the forefront of a group of players who picketed the Philadelphia venue because we all felt the prize money was grossly inadequate. Back then, and for some time after, I was quite outspoken about what I felt or thought. I remember one player passing me as I was on the picket line who hissed, “You’re disgusting.” But our boycott of this tournament was heard. Thanks to Neil Smyth and Bill Hodge the first U.S. Closed was held at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, with 10 times the prize money that had been offered at the Open.
While Boggan’s opinions and play were often controversial, his work chronicling the history of the sport is invaluable.
While entries for the 2013 US Open are still being processed, it looks like Coach Liu Juan of the New York Table Tennis Club is not (at the time of writing) on the list of confirmed entries for this year’s Women’s Singles Championship.
Last year came down to an incredible match between her and HuiJing Wang, showcasing Liu Juan’s trademark blend of power and spin control:
Who’s your pick for Women’s Singles champion this year?
Eugene Zhen Wang is a player to watch this year. As we write this, he holds the highest win percentage in the sport (98.48%) and is the current US Open Men’s Singles champion. From his Olympic profile:
Eugene Wang is the No. 1 ranked table tennis player in North America and will be making his first appearance at an Olympic Games at London 2012. He became a Canadian citizen in June 2012, in time to represent Canada in London.
His to date greatest success came on the ITTF World Tour where he finished 5th losing only to World #1 Ma Long of China. Wang recently won the 2012 Butterfly Cary Cup and has been building on an impressive 2011 that saw him crowned as champion of the Badger Open, the L.A. Open and finalist of the U.S. Open.
Table tennis is nothing if not dynamic – watching Eugene defend his position this year should be incredibly interesting.
This year’s top players are gathering in Las Vegas at the LVH to compete for international recognition and cash prizes. This week, we’ll be taking a look at some of the most interesting players, trends, and trivia surrounding this prestigious event.
We’ll start the week with profiles and videos of last year’s Singles winners, before moving on to items of historical and scientific interest – including one which may forecast a change at the heart of table tennis, itself. Stay with us!
What a week! We hope you enjoyed these classic games from some of the greatest table tennis players of all time. If we missed your favorite player, or you want to highlight a game from one of these star athletes, please contact us and share your thoughts! It’s always a pleasure to meet and get to know other table tennis fans.
It’s hard to pick just two figures from the early days of old school table tennis. We settled on Richard Bergmann and Viktor Barna, seven- and five-time World Champions, respectively. Their contributions to growing the game of table tennis cannot be undersold, from raising the level of competitive play to working to popularize the sport.
These two arguably laid the foundations for the three players many consider the best table tennis competitors off all time: Waldner, Kong, and Liu. All three of these men are legends, having completed Grand Slams in international competition and captured Olympic gold. Waldner and Kong, in their turn, have dominated all five of the major international competitions, while Kong went on to additional honor in the 1996 ITTF Pro Tour Grand Finals. These three men are perhaps the best athletes table tennis has ever produced.
We hope you enjoyed these games – and learning about these fantastic players – as much as we enjoyed sharing them with you! Come back next week as we explore the US Open in Las Vegas: who’ll be there and what to expect at the oldest table tennis competition in the United States.