11 Questions with Ari Arratia

By USATT | May 16, 2016, 12 a.m. (ET)

Ari Arratia 

USATT Insider poses 11 questions to US Para Star Ari Arratia

1) Why do you play? 

Table tennis in general is just very rewarding for me. There’s this quasi-unconscious state I can get into while practicing or playing really well where it feels like my body is a self-driving car and my brain is just in the backseat giving directions and enjoying the ride. Winning big matches against tough opponents is also one of my favorite feelings in the world.

2) Which is your favorite tournament? 

It’s not an officially sanctioned tournament, but it holds a special place in my heart: the first table tennis club I ever played, the Westside Table Tennis Club, has a round robin tournament every Saturday night. These Saturday night round robins were where I first got a taste of competition, and I must have played at least a hundred of them in my life.

3) Who is your primary nemesis? 

Honestly myself. Table tennis has helped me overcome a lot of really bad and self-destructive habits, but I’ve still got some work to do.

4) What is your favorite game tactic to score? 

It varies from opponent to opponent. If I can find at least one specific ball they dislike, I try to give them that ball as much as possible. Sometimes it’s a very specific 2 or 3 -ball long sequence.

5) Thoughts on the Poly Ball? 

The manufacturing process should have been more refined before ITTF officially made the switch. Right now we pay a higher price for a lower quality ball than we were using before. Hopefully future generations of poly balls will be more consistent and durable. Alternate answer, if i’m not supposed to say anything bad about the poly ball: I got used to them pretty quick, it doesn’t make a huge difference to me.

6) Toughest Loss? 

Losing to Matias Pino in the finals of the 2015 ParaPanAm Games. I had come back from 0-2 down to beat him in the group stage. The night before our match, I found out about the death of my aunt Loli. I was up 1-0 and 10-8 when he got two nets, an edge, and then played an excellent point to tie it at 1-1. From there, my concentration was completely gone, and I lost the next two sets.  

7) Greatest Win? 

In the group stage of the 2014 Slovenia Open I won 3-2 over Germany’s Thomas Rau (world ranked 8 at the time) to win the group in spite of being the 4th seed in it. 

8) How do you prepare for a tournament? 

I try to do a lot of physical training in the weeks leading up and then rest for a few days to let my body recuperate and peak for the tournament. I also do extra serve practice before a tournament, and maybe play more matches or match-like drills.

9) When you see a new player at the club, what do you do? 

If I don’t have anyone waiting for me, I’ll offer to play with them.

10) Player you would most like to play in a tournament? 

Peter Rosenmeier is a Danish man currently world ranked 2 in my class. He has almost the same disability as me and we play very similar styles. Even if I couldn’t win, I could definitely learn a lot about how to work around my specific disability.

11) If you had to face Lily Zhang or Kanak Jha what would your game plan be? 

I feel like the “right” answer to this question is something along the lines of “just have fun and enjoy the experience,” but I’d also try to figure out how to make them work as hard as possible. It’s more fun for me to play much lower-ranked players when they give it their all and force me to pay attention, I’d imagine Kanak and Lily feel the same.