As you may remember, a few months ago Amelie Solja kindly agreed to do an interview with me, to answer questions from our forum members. Below is the interview, which I have conducted via Email over the last few months. It took a while since she's got quite a hectic schedule. She insisted to answer the questions in English, and I think she's done pretty well. Although she's very busy, I'll be happy to pass on any follow up questions, and hopefully she can answer these.About Amelie Solja
German player Amelie Solja is one of the world top antispin blocker combination players. ITTF Under 21 World ranking 31!Recent accomplishments:
She just played in the ITTF's recent India Open.
She got to the quarter-final of the German Championship
She won the TTstar pro series in February
You can see (and discuss) Amelie in action in the video section here: Amelie Solja Videos
Interview with Amelie Solja, (Copyright OOAK 2010, please do not copy and paste this elsewhere!)1. Can you tell us a little about how you got started in table tennis?
Before I got started in table tennis I often had watched my sister Susanne (4 years elder than me) doing training with my father in our house ... with great pleasure. Susanne belonged to the national cadet team, too. Once she returned from a tournament with several cups. When I saw them twinkling on our table I was so fascinated that I decided to win my own cups in the future. This was the beginning of my "great passion".2. Your style is unique. Did you develop it yourself, of was it designed for you by coaches?
When I started playing table tennis I used double inverted equipment. When my father noticed that I was developing a tendency for defensive play it was he who let me try anti on my backhand. But with anti I only played for a short time. This was the beginning of my defensive block game staying close to the table. After that I blocked with long pimples and frictionless long pips. I know that my style is unique. If you mean my sidewipe ... I just did it.3. You sister Petrissa plays the more "normal" table tennis equipment. Have you ever considered going mainstream?
In the beginning I tried to go mainstream (double inverted). But then, at the World Table Tennis Championships in Eindhoven (1999) I saw Ni Xia Lian blocking with long and short pimples and twiddling. I was so fascinated by her style of playing and she became my idol. ... and last week we played together double in the Morocco Open.4. Long pimple/antispin blockers worldwide (like many of us!) feel somewhat disrespected by mainstream players. Do you ever feel you don't get the credit you deserve for being a great player?
Before you play against my style you should first think about it and then play cleverly. I don`t get credit from players who don't do that. 5. Following up on the previous question, any truth to the rumor that you were not welcomed to play for the German National team because of your style?
I was not welcomed with anti.6. How long did it take you to make the transition from long pips to your current material, and what types of products did you evaluate?
The transition from long pips to anti took me a short period of time. In the European Championships Oct 2008 (St. Petersburg) I played with long pips and in the World Junior Championships Dec 2008 (Madrid) with anti. This means that after merely two months playing with anti I became the runner-up in the World Junior Championships! I evaluated rubbers from JOOLA and Dr Neubauer.7. What is the future of the 'Störspiel' style in table tennis? Any other players on the horizon or are you the last of them?
The `Störspiel`style has a future in combination with twiddling. Then playing on a high level is possible. This of course is not so easy (I would say it`s very demanding!). When I practise I often twiddle, but in competition I rarely do it at the moment. But I`m working on this.
In the Pro Tour tournaments I participated in there was nobody who played `Störspiel`style with anti.8. Some say the ITTF frictionless pimple ban was put in place mainly to stop you and Fabian Akerstrom. Do you agree with that?
I don`t agree with that.9. Do you feel vindicated that despite the ban you have been able to continue with a high level disruption game at the table?
Yes I do. With frictionless pips I could play a safe game. With anti it`s more difficult. But by now I have achieved better results with anti than with frictionless pips.10. We understand that you use an old blade no longer in production. Why? Aren't any of the current blades suitable for your style? Hypothetically, if you had to use a currently available blade, which would you pick?
It`s a matter of confidence that I use an old blade no longer in production. I achieved good results with it. Certainly there are several blades currently available and suitable for my style. If you put a blade in your hand you must feel comfortable. Generally I recommend fast blades.11. It's quite an honor to have a rubber named after you in the Joola AMY. How does that make you feel?
That makes me feel proud and really means much to me. Of course it`s a great honor to have a rubber named after me. It also makes me feel that my style is unique. With AMY I get the credit.12. Tell about the shots you can play with the Joola AMY. Especially how do you deal with no-spin or low spin balls?
You can almost play everything with it e.g. blocks with reversal spin, sidewipes, aggressive pushing and lifting on chopped balls, smashes. No-spin or low spin balls I try to smash or I press them down.13. What properties does a blade need to have to get the best results from AMY? Stiff/flexible, hard/soft, fast/slow, etc.
The best results you get from AMY with fast and hard blades. With them you gain plenty of spin reversal. It depends on the player. An aggressive player with a lot of feel can use a hard and fast blade. But with a soft and slow blade you have a better ball control.14. Not only do you play a disruption game on the backhand, you also have a disruptive game on the forehand with medium pips. Do you find more advantages using Dr. Neubauer Diamant as opposed to short pips or an inverted forehand rubber?
Meanwhile I`m playing an inverted forehand rubber.15. What are the main points for someone who would like to learn to play your style?
Someone who would like to learn my style should stay close to the table and should have a good reaction. 16. What are some of the main tactics that you use in your game? How do they change with the various styles of players? Does the Anti give you a particular advantage in these tactics?
I try to play patiently, the ball safely on the table, at first with little risk, with good placement, smashes. Against attacking players I play with more risk. With anti I can play the ball faster forward than with long pips and with my blocks I can disrupt the rhythm of my opponent by reversal spin.17. How much training do you do?
I do training at the table about 20 hours a week.18. What are you future hopes and expectations?
I hope that in the future I`ll get better and better and that in 10 years I still will have as much fun as today and as I had before playing table tennis. Furthermore I hope that in the future I´ll receive more chances to participate in big events.19. Do you see yourself as a bit of a role-model for other anti / long pimple players, who perhaps felt they could never make it as far as you have, because of the style they play?
Yes, I do a bit because I had big results with both styles and a lot of players asked me in the past and today how I handle it with my unique technique.20. Do you feel it's appropriate for young players that are interested in your style of play, to start early with your kind of equipment, or do you think they should learn to play with regular equipment first?
I think they should learn to play with regular equipment first.