USATT Insider poses 11 questions to 2012 US Olympian Erica Wu
11 Questions with Erica Wu
1) Why do you play?
I actually started playing when I was 7 because I was knocked around a lot in basketball and really tan from soccer so my mom wanted to find me an indoor non-contact sport. So I guess the original reason was to stay in one piece and avoid skin cancer. But now I play because I love the sport and the community of table tennis players.
2) Which is your favorite tournament?
World Junior Championships! I get to hang out with friends my age from all over the world.
3) Who is your primary nemesis?
Nobody, now that I’m semi-retired. ;-) But a year ago I would’ve said my primary opponent is anyone on the National Women’s team. They also happen to be my closest friends. Strange how that works.
4) What is your favorite game tactic to score?
I like slowing down the rhythm of the rally to throw people off. A lot of players are used to reacting to fast shots, but don’t know what to do when a slow, spinnier one comes their way.
5) Thoughts on the Poly Ball
It’s probably for the best we’re not using a flammable material anymore. I also appreciate how ITTF is taking steps towards making table tennis a more spectator-friendly sport. Still, I didn’t like adjusting to the new ball.
6) Toughest loss?
There have been too many tough losses to count. One particular loss I remember very clearly was during the quarterfinals of the team event at the 2013 World Junior Championships in Rabat, Morocco. I played Bernadette Szocs from Romania and was down 2-0, caught up to 2-2, but lost in the fifth. We ended up losing 3-2 to Romania, which meant if I had pulled through and won my match, we would’ve advanced to the semis and won USA’s first ever medal at the World Junior Championships.
7) Greatest win?
That would be my last match of the Olympic Trials. Everything I had trained for was riding on that final match; if I won I would be an Olympian, if I lost I would always say I was one match away. I lost pretty badly in the first game and had a brief moment of panic as I walked toward my coach, but I was able to pull myself together and take it one game at a time. Even now, 3 years later, my palms sweat whenever I think of that match.
8) How do you prepare for a tournament?
In the last few days leading up to a tournament I’ll focus more on practicing serve receives and variations of serve and attack combos because those drills more accurately reflect what happens during a match (versus skill-building drills like full table forehand loops). If it’s a tournament like Nationals or Olympic Trials I’ll also watch videos of my opponents with my coach and go over strategies.
9) When you see a new player at the club?
I say hi! I’m currently co-president of the Princeton Table Tennis Club and my main goal is to make sure everyone enjoys themselves at our practices. I’ll play with anyone who isn’t matched with someone around their level, no matter how good they are, and if I see someone new I’ll run over and play with them for a while too.
10) Player you would most like to play in a tournament?
Zhang Yining. I’ve always wanted to meet her but she retired right before I started my international career.
11) If you had to face Jimmy Butler, Lily Zhang, or Kanak Jha what would your game plan be?
My game plan is always to try to get the ball back on the table ;-)