20 year old Mishel Levinski immigrated to the U.S. about four years ago when his family chose to relocate. Originally from Beer Sheva, Israel, Mishel had already accomplished a lot in terms of table tennis before he moved here to be with his relatives. He had climbed up the ladder from the Israeli Cadet National Team to the Junior Team at the young age of just 12. In fact, he continued to play at the national level right until the time that he left the country in 2011.
I hope you enjoy getting to know Mishel!
Quick facts about Mishel Levinski:
Highest USATT rating 2542 (currently)
Israel Junior National Team Member (2007 - 2011)
2010 Israel Junior National Champion
Plays for Baruch College
1. You are at your highest USATT rating currently. Tell us what you've been up to in terms of table tennis to see this big leap.
|Mishel Levinski, 2010 Israeli Junior National Champion
Photo: Glen Randmer
|With Mishel Levinski at Fashion Institute of Technology, NYC
I think that I have been able to improve my mental game. Mentality is a much bigger part of the game than most people think. I've been able to concentrate more and stay sharp.
2. Tell us about how you got started with table tennis.
My dad, who plays as well, gave me the opportunity to fall in love with the game. From the time I was very little, he would let me play with his paddle. It was at the age of 7 when I actually started playing and practicing. It has been such an honor for me to be introduced to this sport.
3. What equipment do you currently use?
Timo Boll ALC
4. How often do you currently play and train?
Up until two months ago, I was practicing everyday. Now that I'm busy with school, I can only get in serious practice about once a week.
5. What are your short-term and long-term goals with regards to table tennis?
My short-term goal is to get to the top 15 in the country, as well as to qualify for the U.S. National Men's Team next year. My long-term goal is to hopefully win the National Championship and represent U.S. in the Olympics.
6. What is the most memorable moment of your table tennis career so far?
It would have to be the 2010 European Youth Championships in Turkey. It was the last and deciding doubles match against Croatia. My partner, Itamar Avramov, and I were down 8 - 10 in the fifth game, but managed to win 15 - 13 to earn a spot in the 16 best countries. This was the first time that Israel had earned this place in the last 15 years.
7. You play collegiate table tennis at Baruch. How is that experience? How is it different from playing in club tournaments?
It is a great experience that allows me to meet a lot of different players and styles. My team members love to learn and are getting better each time. The team concept is what makes it so much more interesting and fun. We gather together, bonded and ready to win as a team.
8. If you could go back in time and get a "do-over" for any one match from any tournament that you have ever played, which one would that be? Why?
To cho, or not to cho?
It would have to be the Under 16 semi-finals match against Itamar Avramov at the 2010 Israeli National Championship. Avramov was in the top 20 European Juniors at that time. I was leading 2 - 1 and 10 - 7 in the 4th game. Knowing that I was winning, I got too happy and relaxed and ended up losing 2 - 3. It would have been a great achievement for me to have won this match at that time.
9. Who is your favorite international table tennis player? Why?
Jan Ove Waldner has always been my role model. I loved his technique and his smart play ever since I was a little kid. He didn't use much power, but focused on ball placement instead. My style of play is similar to his.
10. Couple of rapid-fire questions:
Talent or hardwork?
Talent, but a combination of both is what allows me to play my best game.
Skills or Confidence? I would say, confidence in your skills.
21-point games or 11-point games? 11-point games. I only had the opportunity to play 21-point games for few years. The 11-point game makes it quick and every point matters.
Poly ball or Celluloid ball? Celluloid because it was a challenge for me to adjust to plastic.
More drills or more matches? Matches are the only way to be exposed to all the elements of table tennis together at the same time.
Give a point at 10-0, or not? Yes, as a sign of respect. Off the table, we are still friends. A player should never try to embarrass another player.
That would depend on the match and the situation. I don't think it is wrong, but it has to be appropriate. The goal should always be to boost oneself, and not to intimidate the opponent.
11. What do you like to do when you are not playing table tennis?
I love to travel at every chance I get. I enjoy learning about different places, people, and cultures.
12. Anything else that you would like to add?
I would like to thank Nison Aronov. Without him and his support, I would have most likely quit the sport by now and only focused on school. So, I am very thankful and appreciate all of his support. Also, thank you, Rahul. It was my pleasure to do this interview.
Mishel, thanks so much for your time. I know that you are juggling many things. Also, congratulations to you and Team Baruch on winning the NCTTA 2015 Fall NYC Downtown Divisional last night! And, good luck with the National Team Trials next year. I am sure that you will do very well.