Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Ping Pong: Yokohama World Championships

I've been following the 2009 World Table Tennis Championships over the internet, on Japanese TV and live in person at the Yokohama Arena. Whew!

The finals just concluded yesterday.

Let's begin the day appropriately with a little dimsum in Yokohama's own Chinatown (横浜中華街):

Then head on up to Yokohama Arena in Shin-Yokohama (新横浜) to watch the matches.

Me, clutching my precious ticket for the men's and women's singles finals.

6,000 yen. Arena premium seating. Row 7. Worth every penny...

I sat in the section opposite the umpire. Apart from the tv cameras moving around, I got a great view.

Below is Wang Liqin (王励勤), world #5, in game 3 about to deliver a blistering forehand loop to Wang Hao (王皓), world #1:

It's a shame Wang Liqin lost 4-straight. But to be honest, I was really rooting for the other Wang anyway. Wang Hao uses the less common penhold grip. He has a great reverse side backhand loop game as well as a very strong forehand (the traditional hallmark of a penholder).

Here is a HD video clip of a point I recorded using my Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ5 from my seat. It nicely illustrates Wang Hao's two-winged attack style:

(Also available on Vimeo here.)

Simply put, his two-winged attacking style is the definitive version of the modern penhold game.

(As a penholder, I'm trying to learn the reverse side backhand loop to update my game. See my Shenzhen Ping Pong series on the topic: in particular, the entry here, and the series link here.)

The women's final featured the rather intimidating world #1 Zhang Yining (张怡宁) against the young defending world champion Guo Yue (郭跃), ranked #2.

I also love to watch the attacking style of the lefty Guo Yue. I like this motion blur shot of her looping because, for me, it captures her incredible speed.

All eyes on Guo Yue, as she is about to serve:

She won the first two games, but proceeded to lose the next four. Here is a HD-available video clip I took of a point illustrating her attacking style (score: 5-3 in Guo's favor but Zhang Yining is up 3-2 in games):

(Also available on Vimeo here.)

I used a little bit of zoom on my DMC-TZ5 to capture that rally.

The final HD clip below (at 10-6 and 2-2 in games) when viewed in full-screen mode is more representative of the kind of view I got from row 7 of the premium seating area.

(Also available on Vimeo here.)

(I honestly don't know how people up in the stands can see anything. After all, the ball is only 40mm in size.)

Videos of all the matches are available on the International Table Tennis Federation website (ittf.com). My favorite point in the men's final is at 30:19 in. Score: 2-0 in games and 4-2 in points. Check it out!

A last (panoramic) look at the venue for the 2009 Worlds: the Yokohama Arena:

Awards ceremony: China swept the men's singles (and women's too):

(L to R: Wang, Wang, Ma, Ma)

The championships are over for another two years. Let's head on back down to Chinatown to put on some more weight...


  1. Enjoyed your clips. The best points and moments were captured. Happy that Wang Hao crowned the champion after having many silver medals.

    The setting for dimsum looks delicated and classy. Life is good! Isn't it?:-)

  2. Hi Sandiway,
    My name is Alex, I live in Boston and played lots of table tennis in the 90's, just like you.
    I too came close to reaching 2200 but never quite made it.

    I am curious, if you are still in Boston maybe we can practice once in while.

    Email me if interested.


  3. Oops, forgot to give you my email.