11 Questions with Steve Hochman

By USATT | June 27, 2016, 12 a.m. (ET)

2016 World Vets 

USATT Insider poses 11 questions to Maryland's Steve Hochman alongside David Sakai and Danny Seemiller at a 2016 World Vets Championships

1) Why do you play?
I play because I LOVE competition. Fighting hard for every point….pulling out a match deuce in the 5th. It’s exhilarating. And then after the fight, shaking hands or even hugging your opponent.

2) Which is your favorite tournament?
My favorite tournament is probably the U.S. Open. You can play so many events and then spend time watching and learning from some of the best in the world. Can’t beat it.

3) Who is your primary nemesis?
My primary nemesis is Julian Waters, and coincidentally he’s one of my best friends. It’s always a war between us and he usually gets the best of me, regardless of where our ratings are at the time. I guess it’s just not a good style match-up for me! My other nemesis would be Frank Caliendo, but only because his Morgan Freeman impression is better than mine.

4)What is your favorite game tactic to score?
Best game tactic for me is the backhand kill from the forehand side, especially off the serve. I’ve beaten a number of players higher than me with it as they just don’t believe it and keep repeating short dead serves to the forehand.

5) Thoughts on the Poly Ball.
I don’t think that poly ball is that different. Although, initially, it felt like I was hitting more balls long. Minor adjustment with a tad more topspin helped.

6) Toughest Loss?
Toughest loss: Did I mention that guy Waters?!?!? Too many deuce in the 5ths to count.

7) Greatest Win?
Best win: It’s a tie: Lim Ming Chui, Michael Leshinski, Nazruddin Asgaralli, John Beaumont. Have gotten games off of 2400 and 2500 level players...but a game ain't a match.

8) How you prepare for a tournament?
Tournament prep involves match play and when working with my coach, Boris Shafir, ramping up drills that simulate game situations. That way, they become automatic in game situations. The key is to get your strengths into the match.

9) When you see a new player at the club, what do you do?
When I see new players my goal is to want them to return and play again. I’ll hit with anyone and I’ve done a decent job turning “basement players” into lifelong participant members of USATT. I love the sport so much and it’s clearly infectious, so just go with it. In fact, I just started a program at the local Y and already have a colony of new potential players.

10)  Player you would most like to play in a tournament?
The person I’d like to play most would be most any player at the edge of my upper abilities. I’ve beaten folks low to mid-2300s, so I always want a shot at them. It’s exhilarating to push players that level. Why can’t we always play at our upper potential? Seems the days I’ve beaten someone 300 points higher I find a way to lose to someone 300 points lower too! Most people can relate.

11)  If you had to face Lily Zhang or Kanak Jha what would your game plan be?
If I had to play Khanak Ja or Lily Zhang my strategy would be pretty simple. Pray….and then try to play my own game. My strategy is always to bring my strengths into a match and exploit the opponents weaknesses. I have difficulty identifying weaknesses in those two, so I’d try to focus on getting my strengths into the game….and just enjoy the moment, playing people that skilled.