USATT Insider poses 11 questions to Daryl Sterling, Jr.
11 Questions with Daryl Sterling, Jr.
1) Why do you play?
I play to see what I am capable of. Before table tennis, I had no idea I could do the things I can do now: physically & mentally. Thanks to my coaches, I am in the best shape of my life and the strength and confidence that I gained on the table transfers directly into my everyday life.
2) Which is your favorite tournament?
The U.S. Open. I like it so much because I get to see my fellow competitors from around the country that I don't get to see very often. Moreover, I get to watch high level competition with my favorite people that appreciate the sport.
3) Who is your primary nemesis?
My primary nemesis is my 37 year old body! Even though I am 60 pounds lighter than when I started table tennis, my body can't keep up with the world class shots my mind wants to pull off during a game. If only my one crutch and one leg was as fast as my mind wants them to be.
4) What is your favorite game tactic to score?
Oh, this is an easy one. I love serving wide, off-the-side, to the backhand side, then cracking the return wide to the forehand. Even if it's not hard, it feels SO good! The person I'm playing has to be pretty agile to make it from one the two extremes of the table and produce a quality shot.
5) Thoughts on the Poly Ball.
I think the Nittaku ball (that is made in Japan) is a really good ball. But other than that, there's a LOT of variance in the sound, feel, bounce and speed of the other brands. PLUS they can be really expensive! I guess it's like gas prices: as long as we're willing to pay it, that's what it'll be.
8) Toughest Loss?
My toughest loss was in the bronze medal match of my first Parapan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico. I faced the player from Argentina earlier in the year and beat him easily. But the roar of the Mexican crown for their fellow Latin American was louder and more disturbing than I could ever imagine.
7) Greatest Win?
Ever since I started, I wanted to play an international player from Germany named Thorsten Schwinn. He uses one crutch and has one leg just like me. After 5 years of playing internationally, I finally got the chance to play him. I stayed patient, stuck to my strategy and beat him in 4 games.
8) How you prepare for a tournament?
Well beforehand, I like to do model training against the guys I'm going to face. Another good thing to do is to watch videos of myself and others to pick up on and improve game tactics. When it gets close to the tournament, I try to avoid sickness by being extra diligent with my diet and nutrition--as well as avoiding sick people.
9) When you see a new player at the club, what do you do?
I usually say hello and ask them where they are from. Lots of times, we have visiting players from overseas or out of state that travel to San Diego on business. You can meet players from all around the world without ever leaving!
10) Player you would most like to play in a tournament?
Tahl Leibovitz. I got to play him at the 2008 National Championships when I was only a 1300 player. He SMOKED me. I've gotten a lot better since then and want my revenge!
11) If you had to face Jimmy Butler, Lily Zhang or Kanak Jha what would your game plan be?
Since they have such high technical skill, I would just try to do things that work on everyone: make the table big, make them move, change the ball. Also, since they have the knowhow to receive any serve, I would do my best to deceive them by having the same beginning motion to my serve.