Table Tennis Tidbits #25

By Robert Ho | April 23, 2018, 9:25 p.m. (ET)

Yuka Ishigaki

TABLE TENNIS TIDBITS # 25  By Robert Ho  8-30-16


Ishigaki:  Moving Up in the Whirl?

The winner in the women’s division at the Bulgaria Open (8-24—28-16) was Yuka Ishigaki of Japan via her win over countrywoman Misaki Morizono.  As of  8-2-16 Ishigaki’s world ranking was 42, Morizono’s 50.  No players of either sex in the top 20 in the world were competing in this tournament; yet I thought this women’s final was significant for reasons I shall elaborate.

Morizono is a right handed conventional attacker and Ishigaki is a RH “chopper”.  I have watched Ishigaki perform over the past 2 seasons in which she might “win a few and lose a few” but was never a finalist.  This time it wasn’t just that she was a winning finalist but also her manner of winning.  Ishigaki uses inverted rubber on her FH and some sort of pimpled rubber on the BH.  In the past she seemed focused primarily on chopping and attacked “opportunistically”—I’m referring to the practice of many choppers who seem to be hoping their chopping is good enough that they will score primarily because of their opponents’ errors in attacking.  This tactic is effective up to a certain level of competition above which it becomes a losing proposition.

It is possible to hone attacking skills to such a level of consistency, speed, spin,

and placement which exceed the ability of an opponent to make an effective chopping response.  An example was Joo Sae Hyuk’s (currently the best male chopper in the world) 1, 4, 4 scores against world champion Ma Long of China at the recent Olympics.  It is feasible, as illustrated by the top Chinese players, to employ chopping as a method of returning the ball when caught out of position or to disrupt the opponent’s rhythm.  Otherwise it is possible to play the game without a deliberate use of chopping as a major tactic.




Therefore to employ chopping as an important tactic in winning requires a special psychological as well as technical performance for success.  One must think in terms of using chopping to set up one’s own attack.  This seemed to be Ishigaki’s intent as she employed more 3- and 2-ball attacks than I noticed in previous tournaments.  She also employed more counterattacking efforts than before, including BH counters which seem infrequently employed by current “choppers”, perhaps because the frequently used long pips on the BH makes topspin strokes less reliable.  Perhaps another “chopper” will arise who’ll find inverted rubber on the BH side, with well tuned technique, facilitates an even more threatening all around game as did Takashima of Japan 5-6 decades ago.

Ishigaki is entered in the upcoming Czech Open which begins 8-31-16.  It will be interesting to see how she fares in the competition which will include players at a higher level than at the Bulgarian Open, tho still not the elite.