jimlangley

Please Read: SCCTTC Basic Operating Principles & Rules of Play as of April, 2018

Dear Santa Cruz County Table Tennis Club players,

Based on a few recent questions, comments and emails from players, Willie and I thought it was time to share some of the club’s basic operating principles and rules of play.

The one big change you will read about below is that Reuben has volunteered to open the club on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 5 p.m. (Thank you, Reuben!) BUT, please continue reading to learn all the important details.

Wyreless & Willie

Wyreless & Willie

About our club

We are a fun, friendly and loosely organized club. From day one we always wanted the club to be a place for all players, beginners to experts. We never wanted ours to be an elite club like those that give you a feeling that you’re not good enough or unwelcome. Thanks to you all, we have an awesome club and in many ways one of the best you’ll ever play at.

The club was founded circa 1991 (no one is certain of the exact date), by J.P. Monnerey, Willie (Richard Williams), Stephen Pollard and Jim (Jim Langley). J.P. left the area and Stephen Pollard died. Willie is the president and Jim is the vice president. These are the only club officers. Ray is the club webmaster. Debbie has helped a tremendous amount with legal advice and documents. And many of you pitch in in many ways which is greatly appreciated and very helpful. The club wouldn’t work without great members.

Who “owns” the club

We have never thought of the club as having an owner, but from a legal standpoint, Willie is the defacto owner of the club. He deals with all the bill paying and banking and equipment purchases, etc. Willie and Jim do talk about this stuff and make decisions based on the best interests of the club. If something were to happen to Willie, Jim has the access to the books and bank to keep the club going.

Willie is also the reason we get to use the Portuguese Hall. He is a member of the Hall. We are very lucky to have been able to play at the Hall for 27 years non-stop (!). It is extremely difficult to find a place in our super expensive Santa Cruz, that’s big enough to play and where you can also store your equipment. And, while our rent has gone up over the years, we have always been able to offer a low entry fee nightly (fun trivia: in 1991 we charged $3 to play all night; today it’s only gone up to $5).

We pay rent to the Hall. The $5 fee the club charges you to play covers our rent (which includes a fee for storing our equipment) and allows us to buy new equipment. We are a not-for-profit club. We are a member of USA Table Tennis and pay a yearly fee for this, too – in part to have insurance.

Things we’ve tried at the club

Since players ask about certain things that seem like good ideas, we’d like to explain that over the years we have tried all kinds of different “great ideas.” If they didn’t work, we discontinued them. For example,

  • We tried having little punchcards so you could pay the club fee for many months and get your card punched instead of having to pay each visit (sounded good but turned into a bit of a nightmare).
  • We ran 2 pretty big USATT approved tournaments attracting a few high level players (great fun but a ton of work for only a few members who wanted to help – and we lost money).
  • We tried opening on Sundays but there weren’t enough players to pay the rent or to open and close. (Now, Brooks and Reuben are trying this again with the league – see them for more information.)
  • We have also tried robots and devices like this that let you practice alone. (Very unpopular because 1 person takes up a table, and these machines can be loud and constantly require adjustments and repairs.)

Hours

We’ve always had the official opening time of 7p.m. The idea of the 7p.m. opening time is that we should definitely be open by then. We didn’t want to promise players we would be open before then because in order to open, someone with the key has to get there and we have to get the tables setup. This isn’t always possible. Sometimes people get sick, etc. We didn’t want people to show up and have the club be closed, so we made 7 p.m. the “official” club opening time.

A couple of years ago, though, Willie retired, so we started opening earlier (approximately 5:30) for the purpose of giving lessons. As mentioned earlier, we are a learning club. We have always had lots of interest from players in lessons, so we open early for lessons. In this way we are not taking up tables for lessons when people want to play matches on them.

AS MENTIONED AT THE BEGINNING, Reuben has volunteered to open the club at 5p.m. So, we are letting you know that there’s a good chance the club will now be open earlier than 7 and maybe as early as 5. Remember that the club has to be setup on Tuesday nights, which takes some time. Players who get there early help setup. And, the money box and sign-in sheet need to be out for collecting the fee from players. This 5p.m. opening time is new and Willie and Jim aren’t comfortable guaranteeing it yet – so if you get there and the club is closed, you just have to wait for someone to get there to open.

PLEASE NOTE that tables number 5 and 6 are reserved for lessons from when the first lesson starts to approximately 8 p.m. If no coaching is going on, it’s fine to use the tables. When coaches arrive, players need to move to another table. Usually, coaching on one of these tables will end by 7 so only one table is being used later.

How coaching works

Will and Jim are certified USATT coaches. Willie is a Club level coach and Jim is a State level coach. The coaches charge a fee for lessons. This fee goes to the coach not the club. The reason for this is that the coaches paid for their education to become coaches and learn how to teach table tennis. Stephen Alfred (our highest rated player ever) has also starting coaching some players (we didn’t have a chance to ask him about his coach level or details about taking lessons with him, so please ask him to learn more).

You are welcome to ask Wille, Jim or Stephen to explain more about coaching or anything else. Coaches are happy to give basic tips and advice for free, too. It’s just actual lessons that cost.

Advice for buying paddles

If you are looking for advice on types of paddles and rubber to buy, the club’s leading expert is also one of our best players, Charley Aebersold. Charley has actually made his own paddles and has travelled in Asia to train and learn more about table tennis. But, don’t interrupt match play to ask him. Wait until he’s not playing and see if he has time to give you some tips. You can also ask the coaches and there’s endless information online.

Rules of play

We have 7 excellent Butterfly tables. The tables have numbers on them from 1 to 7. The number 1 table is to the far right as you walk in the door. Number 5 is closest to the door to the far left. Number 7 is the only horizontally placed table and the one at the back and middle.

To repeat, tables 5 and 6 are usually reserved for coaching between 5 to 8. If no coaching is taking place, the tables are open for play until/if coaching begins.

How our “challenge system” works

Anyone is allowed to challenge on any table in the club where matches are being played.

“Challenge” just means telling the players on the table that you want to play next. If people are waiting ahead of you, you become next in line. Or you can ask other tables if a “line” of players is already waiting for that table. Some of the tables have little racks near the floor for putting your paddle as a way to keep your place in line. First paddle is first challenger, second is the second and so on. If there’s no rack on the table you wish to challenge or you don’t want to put your paddle in the rack, then you need to keep track of who is challenging the table. It’s easy.

If someone challenges the table two players are practicing on, then the two players need to start playing a match within a few minutes. Be considerate to each other. If you need to warm up a little longer, that’s fine but keep it reasonably short. Challengers are free to remind players warm ups shouldn’t run on too long. As a related factoid, in professional table tennis competition, the official warm up time is two minutes. We try to keep warm ups to 5 minutes.

If doubles are being played, find a partner and challenge to play doubles or wait until the match is over and see if people want to play singles on that table. Often one doubles partner has to leave and a doubles table becomes a singles table.

BE SURE TO READ THIS SECTION

There is a special rule on table 1. If a person keeps winning they can stay up and keep playing on that table as long as they want. It doesn’t matter how many people are challenging the table. Table 1 is where our best players usually play so we call it a “winner’s table,” i.e. the winner stands if they want.

All the rest of the tables, 2 through 7 follow a different and important club rule – the “two match wins” rule. Please understand, remember and follow this rule. When there are players waiting to play and those waiting players have said that they are challenging tables, the rule is that players currently playing on that table may stay up on the tables for two (2) consecutive match wins.

After that player has won 2 matches, they must leave the table and the loser of that second match must leave the table too. That means that 2 players that are challenging get to play on the table, while the 2 people who were just playing leave the table.

So, please remember, you can win 2 matches and then you have to leave that table. It’s fine to re-challenge the table or challenge another table.

If no one who is waiting to play is challenging a table, it’s fine to ignore this rule. But if people are challenging, then players must follow the rule. Challengers should remind players that they can only win two matches and then must surrender the table to the “next 2 players.” In this way, more people play sooner and no one has to wait too long. Many clubs follow this exact rule and it works well in a small club like ours. But only if players abide by it.

Also, this rule is an equalizer when there are experts and beginners trying to get on tables. If two “experts” are on a table and let’s say that “three beginners” want to get on that table, the beginners all challenge that table. Once one of the experts has won two matches, the table now changes to having “beginners” on it. Of course the experts can do the same thing.

Related to this rule is that it is not allowed to play on one table and challenge on another table UNLESS there is no one waiting in line for the 2 tables affected.

Summing up, the “challenge system” and the club’s 7 tables help make it so you don’t wait too long to get on a table – even if you get to the club when coaching is taking place. Be sure to ask the players on a table the status of their match and how many people are challenging. That’s the only way to know what the status is. Try to ask in between points, never during a rally.

We know the challenge system and rules can be confusing. Please ask Willie or Jim or other players to explain how it works if you don’t understand.

We hope this letter answers most of the questions we’ve been receiving. Feel free to talk to Willie or Jim or others if you need more information. Thanks for coming to our club and keeping it so much fun – and thanks to everyone who pitches in and helps!

Jim & Willie
April 10, 2018

 

Next League Night Postponed

This is just to let everyone know that, due to summer vacations (I’m leaving next week for a 3-week getaway – and some others have plans, too), that we will postpone league nights until the month of August and decide at that point when to resume. Enjoy your summer!!

Steven Alfred is now the highest-rated SCTTC player ever at 2307!

StevenPlayers, next time you come to the club, be sure to congratulate Steven Alfred who last week won the Over 40 years-of-age tournament in Fremont taking out the amazing Avi Schmidt in the process 12-10 in the fifth in the semis and then double-winged power looper Kevin Au in the final. This earned Steven $200 for first place and a new rating of 2307, the highest rating of any regular player at our club going back to our founding in 1991. Wow.

With Mickey Boyle’s Nationals Title last year and Charlie Aebersold’s highest rating of 2152, our little old club just keeps getting better and better! In case you aren’t familiar with USA Table Tennis ratings, the lowest is 0 points and the highest rated players in the country are about 2700 to 2800. Coach Jim reached a highest rating of 1825. Mickey is closing in on that. Most USA players dream of breaking the 2000 barrier, but it takes a lot of practice and focus and playing tournaments (you win and lose points based on wins and losses in tournaments).

Here’s a short report from the Alameda tournament, Over 40 – On the opposite side of the age bracket events, we gave the adults a respite from the juniors in Over 40. Despite a few Warriors-inspired defaults (oops, sorry, they were all just tired after the morning events) the die-hard players who stuck around created plenty of their own entertainment. Steven Alfred, who came all the way up from Santa Cruz TTC for the tournament, played the longest match of the day against former Alameda coach Avishy Schmidt in the semifinals. Really, people were wondering just how many matches they were playing, but in the end they assured us that they only played one, with Alfred ultimately emerging as the winner, winning 12-10 in the fifth set. The other semifinal was much quicker, with Topspin’s Kevin Au overcoming Alameda’s Kock Loe in three close sets. Ultimately, Alfred’s patience was richly rewarding, as he beat Kevin in the final to claim the $200 prize. Kevin’s $100 check consoled him as well and we still got them home in time to catch the last half of the Warriors game.”

Way to go Steven! Thanks for bringing home the gold for the club!

Results for our first Doubles League Night Thursday, June 2, 2016

This was a super fun league night with a lucky 13 doubles teams playing on four tables and our first mixed-doubles event and first double-elimination format for tables with three teams.

A little housekeeping: if you are not receiving the club emails, please send me your email address at jim @ jimlangley dot net

I want to give a big thanks to David Bergevin for preparing the beautiful match sheets for all the tables and Jane for bringing some tasty treats. And mega thanks go to Wireless who actually didn’t have a teammate to play doubles with – yet still went to the trouble to (I’m still not sure how he did this) bring a large-screen laptop to the club and somehow stream live the first Warriors game! It was awesome having our own little doubles world championship while being able to watch the Warriors play in theirs!

Table 1 consisted of the best 3 teams: PD and Shrikant from the Monterey/Seaside club, Steve (also from the M/S club with Mickey, and Joey and Victor.

Table 2 (Coed-Division) saw Pat and Barry, Suzanne and George, Crystal and Ari and Sharon and Jane battling it out.

Table 3 was Craig and Jim versus Bob and Ron and Ed and Ray. Great to have Jon back in the house!

Table 4 saw some exciting action with Max and Paco, Sebastian and Willie and Thom and Charlie driving down from their secret Bonny Doon ping pong training camp.

Because I was playing I didn’t get to watch enough of the matches, but I did see that Ari and Crystal had an epic match with Sharon and Jane that went to deuce in the 5th with Sharon and Jane coming back from down 8-10 to winning.

On table 1, I enjoyed a Victor/Joey vs PD/Shrikant game, where, with a series of perfect Victor chops and Joey loops, their team came back from a 0-8 deficit to tie it up before PD and Shrikant rallied to take control.

Meanwhile on table 4, the Dooners Thom and Charlie were the only teammates with cool matching ping pong shirts and most of the matches went 5 games with Sebastian showing his stellar placement skills from all his tournament play.

On our table (3), it was great having Bob and Jon back after injuries have kept them from playing for some time. They both hit some nice winners.

Champions on the night were:

Table 1: PD & Shrikant

Table 2: Pat & Barry

Table 3: Craig & Jim

Table 4: Max & Paco

Thanks to everyone who participated!

League Night 04.28.2016 Results

LeagueNight4282016League Report

Thanks everyone for another super fun league night – official league photo attached!! Don’t we look marvelous? Feel free to share on your channels.

High fives to Dave Bergevin for the design work and printing of our amazing match sheets (they even show which player scores each match – and soon we will have enough score cards for every table). Dave also bought and brought all the tasty treats. Wow, thank you Dave!!

More thanks to all who arrived early to setup and for everyone who came to watch and cheer us on.

I appreciate everyone handling their own table last night, which allowed me to play. That was great and I hope it didn’t cause any issues for anyone. If so, let’s talk about it. If anyone has ideas or questions or improvements for next time (date to be determined later but it will be more than 2 weeks this time), please pass them along. Let’s keep the league fun for everyone.

ONE CHANGE we will try to implement is to make sure we have at least 4 players per table. The 3-player tables last night ended too quickly and I think players would have liked more matches.

Congratulations to all players. The matches were fiercely competitive.

Our league champions for 4/28 are… (much applause and fanfare heard throughout pingpongdom)

T1: PD
T2: Mickey
T3: Victor
T4: Bob
T5: Paco
T6: Jane

5 Simple Tips for Winning your Matches

In the interest of sharing and ensuring everyone has an even chance in league, here are 5 things that work well. I sent this today so you’d have time to practice these tactics. And please feel free to ask me for more if they aren’t clear to you.

QUICK DISCLAIMER: Please don’t read this wrong and get the idea that winning is everything and the league is about destroying the other guy. My intention here is to give everyone a little bit of the knowledge that better players already have, that’s all.

  1. When you are serving, vary your serves. This means make the ball land in different places on your opponent’s court each time you serve (their side of the table can be dividing into roughly 9 squares, so use them!) It’s surprising how even skilled players sometimes serve to the same place over and over. It’s much better to keep them guessing. If you can get them to move for the ball, they will leave where they were and you can often put the next ball back where they were and make an easy point. Of course, you can also vary the speed of the ball when you serve, how short/long it is, the spin on the ball and the height, too. All these things when changed and mixed up can surprise and win you points. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Sometimes players have the hardest times with things you wouldn’t believe.
  1. When you are receiving your opponent’s serves, judge the ball. The most common mistake is judging the ball wrong. See no. 1. They are trying to surprise you, move you, make you think the ball has a certain spin when it actually has a different spin. At his camp, Danny Seemiller (once #17 in the world) told me, “Jim, returning serve is like getting in a street-fight. The other guy is trying to punch you in the face. You have GOT to get ready!!” So, don’t get sucker-punched. To avoid it, stay very stable and balanced so your eyes can focus on the ball very closely. Lean your head forward so your eyes are closer to the ball. Do not move until they actually touch the ball with their paddle. Wait and watch very carefully. Do not crowd the table or else it’s easy for them to serve fast right at you and win the point. In most cases, use a short stroke and play the ball to the middle of the table. That ensures sidespin balls don’t bother you too much. Also, keep in mind that you will learn to return better as your judgment improves. So at first you miss a lot but after a while you get a lot better. Enjoy the process and use what you learn to improve your own serves! There’s nothing better than giving them back what they were giving you and seeing if they can handle it.
  1. If possible, attack their serves. I already told you that you want to vary your serves and try to benefit from surprise, placement, spin. Your opponent is trying the same things. You can’t let them dominate you or you won’t win. They may have great serves and be driving you crazy, but putting back weak returns just means them hitting winners. So, try to learn from your mistakes and judge the ball carefully, and see if you can do something/anything that improves your chances. For example, even a high lob can force a mistake if the other person isn’t expecting it. Better is putting the ball deep to either corner of the table, the deeper the better. For returning short serves, the ball is very close to the net and that helps you do some fun things. First, you can try to get close to the ball (move your dominant foot beneath the table near where the ball hit the table on your side and lean over the table so your head and eyes are close to the ball and you can judge it right) – and then try to drop it over the net even shorter than they served. Even more fun is to step in close like that and pretend you’re going to push the ball short, but at the last second you roll your paddle up and over – a little flip motion, very soft touch, and you float the ball right at them. It looks like an easy ball to kill but it’s very hard to hit it effectively. Overall, keep service return fun and positive by trying to gain the initiative and not letting the other guy just serve and dominate the match. If the same thing happens several times, you really want to try to change something/anything to change what’s happening. It can make all the difference.
  1. Try to be the first person to attack – or another way we say it is to be the first person to loop/topspin, or be the first person to “open,” which means attack. Table Tennis is unlike pro football. Defense doesn’t win championships in table tennis, offense does. Knowing this fact, your basic strategy at the table is to be the first person to get an attack shot in. BUT UNDERSTAND that an attack does not mean to murder the ball or smash it or kill loop it. It’s not about that. An attack is just being the first to do something/anything offensive, and that can be as simple as topspinning a slow spinny ball at your opponent after they thought they gave you back a ball that had a lot of backspin/chop on it. Another attack is placing the ball where they can’t reach. It’s not a hard hit, just a carefully placed hit. Back to getting the first attack in, obviously you can’t attack if you’re serving until you’ve served and waited for the ball to come back. So, when you’re serving your objective is to serve so that they CANNOT attack. That’s important. All good players serve to avoid being attacked and to setup their first attack on the 3rd ball, which is their return of your serve. Ball 1. the serve. Ball 2. their return. Ball 3. your attack. So, try to serve a ball that when it comes back you get to do what you want. And, when they serve, try to attack (see no. 3 above). Between 2 good players, it becomes a game of cat and mouse seeing who gets their attack in first. Keep trying to win that chess match and if you get yours in the most you will usually win the game and match.
  1. Try to handcuff them and prevent their attack by either playing to their “weak” side over and over or playing to the “decision point,” also known as the middle. This sounds complicated but it’s not. Almost every player has a week side, either forehand or backhand. It’s usually better to play to someone’s weaker side over and over than going to their strong side. It can ensure they don’t attack until they get you to move the ball closer to their strong side, or sometimes they’ll run around to get their strong side to the ball letting you play the ball back to the part of the table they left open! Playing to the decision point means the pocket or elbow of their playing arm. If you can put the ball there, they have to choose between hitting with their forehand or their backhand. That’s difficult and often forces a miss-hit ball. Keep in mind though that people stand in different places at the table. So, when coaches say play or control the middle, they are talking about the player’s middle not the middle of the table. Ultimately though it’s about judging where your opponent is standing and trying to place the ball to their elbow. When you get it right and hit the spot it’s like hitting a jackpot because a lot of players – even the best – will try but end up hitting the ball right off the table for an easy point to you. And usually if they do manage to get the ball back, you can attack that ball and win that point.

Okay, there’s 5 good tips for you. The long paragraphs after the tips are just to explain. The tips themselves are short so that they are easy to remember and use mentally in a match. You can write them on paper if you want and read them before playing. I always have some cheatsheets like this with me at tournaments.

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