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10-Day Countdown to Change in the ITTF's Presidency

By Sheri Cioroslan | Aug. 22, 2014, 12 a.m. (ET)

Day 10, August 22 - Krisztina Tόth Advises Players & the ITTF to Collaborate to Create Stars 

“We need players who are stars and who attract people to want to watch them.”

Kristina TothHow did you become involved in the sport? 

I started to play TT at the age of 8, in my hometown Gödöllö. My uncle was a professional TT player. He visited us often and suggested to my parents to take me to a TT club. My mother went there with me.  At the beginning I practiced with her two times a week. After that, my father drove me to every tournament.    

What are you doing now? 

I’m working in Germany for the Bavarian TTA in Munich.  I’m both a coach and the administrator of the junior program.  I spend 50% of my time in the playing hall and 50% in the office.  In German my position is called “referent.” 

I’m responsible for all the activities, such as camps, practice and workshops.  It’s the biggest local association affiliated with the German TTA, or DTTB. There are 1,600 clubs and 70,000 players. 

That’s just wild.  You said: 70,000 players? 

Yes, they are all registered players.  To take part in the league, they have to be a member of the Bavarian TTA.  In our selected team, we have 33 players, boys and girls. 

That sounds like a good fit for you! 

Yes, I am very lucky to have this job.  Having a post-playing career in TT is still difficult, especially for women. There are not many job offers in table tennis at the organizational level.  But I think that the ITTF is trying to improve this. 

Speaking about improving the status of table tennis, as you know, the ITTF recently announced an initiative to be in the TOP 5 IN ALL WE DO. Can you share some of your thoughts about what we can do to accomplish this goal? 

I think over the past several years the ITTF has taken some important steps, especially in promotion, to make table tennis more popular and to win new people over to our sport. I find the "P5 plan" very good! 

We need more TV coverage at the big events. For this we need players who are stars and who attract people to want to watch them. For this we players also need to change a lot. We need to be more professional and believe that we are really important for the show. We don't have at the moment enough entertainment. But for this we need the help of the ITTF and all tour organizers to help us grow into becoming those kind of stars. 

For that to happen, we need better playing conditions, like in tennis or golf, etc. If we have this, then we can show our best capabilities. But we are still far from this, especially in women’s table tennis, although the level of the game is really high!! 

As I was preparing this interview, President Sharara told me something that he really appreciated in particular about you.  He recalled, “Before we introduced the new 11-point game rule, we asked the players for their opinions and we also conducted several test events. At one event, I asked all the players to gather for that purpose. Of course, in general most of the players were against it, but Krisztina Tόth surprised everyone and said, ‘I really like the idea of 11-point games. I get very nervous when the score is 19-19, so I will never be nervous again.’" Apparently your support for the rule change was something that made a deep impression on him. 

I remember this story. It's really funny. But I loved the idea to play shorter sets.  It’s nice that Adham still remembers that incident. :-) 

I have known Adham for many years. Maybe not everyone knows that his wife Mariann Domonkos is originally from Hungary.  So first I met Mariann, then Adham. I feel honored that Adham has always asked me for my opinion. He always makes time to talk to me.  I think he also liked watching my style of play. :-)  

In only 10 days, Adham Sharara will become the ITTF’s Chair and Thomas Weikert will become the next ITTF President.  What are your reflections about this transition? 

We need to thank Adham a lot! He always had the courage to make decisions to help table tennis. He knew the right time to change some things. It was for sure not easy. Many players and other people might have thought that we had too many changes over the past 15 years. But the passage of time shows that most of these were, in fact, good decisions. 

Let’s look at three examples: changing the scoring system to the 11-point game, offering equal prize money for women, and forbidding toxic glue. There are still some points to discuss, of course, but in general, these were all very good for the sport. 

Adham contributed greatly to the professionalization of table tennis.  I wish him all the best and thank him for what he did for our sport! 

I wish Thomas Weikert also good luck as our new president. I have a special request for him: Please continue to help women’s table tennis. It's not only "A Man's World," to quote from a popular song. :-)