Quick, go back to double inverted!
My last post about Terry took us chronologically somewhat out of order. Around the time that my Christmas holidays started (quite early in 2012), I had a panic about my inability to chop or play any form of defensive game. My game was (and still is..) predominantly aggressive forehand-based and through my practice with Terry and the coach, my backhand topspin and counter strokes had developed well too.
I panicked, and started to convince myself that a two wing looper style was better. If Joo Se-Hyuk can't be the World Champion, then I probably shouldn't try to re-enact his style, right?
Half under the guise of buying a bat for my apprentice (budding two wing looper) to use, I bought a DHS Power G7
with max thickness DHS Hurricane 3 Neo
and Galaxy Mars v2
. Including express shipping from China and building (with plain red edge tape, I hate the branded stuff), via http://www.eacheng.net
, everything cost £60. That's half the price of just my Innershield...
I spent a little bit of time playing with it, and it truly is a lovely bat. The weighting, the touch, everything is excellent. The Hurricane 3 Neo is nowhere near as quick as a tensor rubber and I wish I'd bought it on my first bat. It's hugely spinny and the bat's control for short pushes and deep, heavy backspin pushes is just incredible. One thing's for sure - your stroke needs to be right, and your body needs to move, if you want to get any power with it at all.
Fortunately, it wasn't long before the modern defence style firmly re-implanted itself in my desires.My first "big win"
By this time the first half of the season had come around - I'd played every team in the league once (excluding our club's team called the Ravens, as we played them on my birthday). My results hadn't been too impressive, frankly - I'd picked up only 7 wins out of 21 games, and a few of those were against casual youngsters.
I'd had no "big wins" - and maybe now is the time to qualify that statement. By "big win", I mean any player that at that time I would find it difficult to beat. One of these such players was Pat, who I mentioned in my very first post. Pat has been playing the game for a number of years, and is an excellent retriever. He doesn't have the spinniest serves and he uses double inverted, but returns the ball with a small chopping motion. He has around a 50% average every season in Division 4 and although he's the weakest player in his team, I didn't even take a game off him first time round.
This time round, having played for three months or so, I managed to beat him 3-1. I won a lot of points from serves but I also played well in rallies and gradually managed to overpower him. He didn't return too many of my hard drives. After the game he surprised me by taking the emphasis away from me winning the game. "Someone with different rubbers wouldn't have much of a problem playing against those serves" he said, but then very quickly he caught himself and smiled. "Not taking anything away from you though kid, you played really well". Thanks Pat - that's the first compliment I've ever had in table tennis, and I really appreciate it!The handicap cup
Spiked throughout the normal schedule of our league season, my local league puts on a Handicap Cup. Your usual league team gets entered into the Cup and you're randomly drawn against other teams from any division.
Every player is given a grade, from which we work out a handicap. You then put your handicap against your opponent and work out if one of you gets a handicap. My pre-season grade was 55, with the lowest being 50.
The Handicap system favoured me this year as the entire Cup is based on your pre-season grading and I'd come a good distance since then. Looking back, I would've estimated myself as a 70 or 75 grade player at this time.
My team got drawn against Ouston B - a Division 3 team. In fact, if you look at the tables
, you'll see they're an effective Division 3 team who will likely be promoted to Division 2. The only team better than them is a top Division 2 team who were relegated last season due to problems with player numbers.
All of their players had high grades - between 160 and 180. As such, I had a 12 point lead against Mike and Mark, and a 13 point lead against Neil. All matches are "old school rules", i.e. best of 3 games to 21 points with 5 serves each.
I was absolutely delighted to win all three of my matches in straight sets. My first opponent Mike was getting himself massively wound up until I won against his teammates, at which point he became decidedly lovely. Neil explained afterward that he was having a bit of a rough patch in form and thought that losing to me was just an extension of that. My games against Neil were a lot tighter, and if I'd had the correct grading I suspect I would've lost not just one game but probably the entire match.
At 18-12 up in the second game against Neil, he suddenly turned round to his teammates and declared (with a sigh), "ahhhh, he's using pimples!". That explained it, seemingly - both Mike and Mark were now satisfied as to why they lost against a new Division 4 player.
Already, at this stage in my "playing career", I found it quite obvious when I won what I'd call "pimples points", i.e. an opponent pushing off the table because they weren't aware that the ball they'd just received had been given to them as topspin. I can honestly say that in all three matches against Ouston, I can count on one hand the number of pimples points I won. I won a lot
of points on trick serves and setup serves (topspin -> pop up -> smash) and not many in rallies, but similarly few from their misreading of the pimples. Besides, how can three opponents in 60+ points fail to realise that I was using LPs?
Neil took me to one side after the game and asked how long I'd been playing. He then jumped in to asking me why I was using LPs. I explained that I wanted to play a modern defence style, which didn't seem to compute with him, and he hastily added "you'll not be popular with those, mind. Where I play we call those twatbats
As I was clearing the table up, a Division 3 player from my club came in to say that he'd just caught Ouston on the way out and they were really impressed with me. Really, I queried? That isn't the way it came across in my conversation with Neil, more that I'd only won because of the LPs! Some strange folk around.
Unfortunately we didn't progress further in the cup as the youngsters in my team were unable to pick up any games.