Table Tennis Tidbits #20

By Robert Ho | March 06, 2018, 9:40 p.m. (ET)

Joo Sae Hyuk 2016 Zagreb Open


TABLE TENNIS TIDBITS  #  20     By Robert Ho  5-27-16

The Zagreb (Croatia) Open  5-24—28-16  Choppers’ Delight

Two older (in their 30s) male and two younger (one 16 and one probably in her 20s) female choppers reached the quarterfinals and one of each sex was the winner in the finals.  Panagiotis Gionis of Greece (who is also a dentist) lost in the quarterfinals to Ho Kwan Kit from Hongkong.

Jun Mizutani of Japan, who has been as high as 5th in the world was probably the highest ranked male player in this tournament.  In the quarters his opponent was Joo Sae Hyuk of Korea.  Joo’s current ranking is 18; of course he was the losing finalist to Werner Schlager of Austria in the ’03 World Championship in Bercy France.  There are numerous extended points involving Mizutani’s forehand loop to Joo’s chopping defense.  Mizutani’s bent elbow forehand loop fosters consistency but sub maximal power compared to the extended elbow start to the loop used by the Chinese which enables greater momentum to be imparted to the ball.  Also by chopping to Mizutani’s forehand side of the table, the power of the loop is diminished because the table crowds the looper a bit compared to its execution at the looper’s backhand corner.  Most of the time Joo also makes good choices as to when to counterattack with a strong forehand loop or long pips backhand. Joo wins 7, -6, 10, 6, 6.

Gionis chops with long pips on the backhand.  Although he also chops with the forehand, more often he uses a “soft” forehand topspin to return the ball.  He also uses a harder forehand loop at times; backhand attacks at times with his pips or flips his blade and uses the inverted rubber. Ho is a young steady looper with bent elbow technique.  Gionis makes many unforced chopping errors so this was not an aesthetically pleasing match to watch.  I have seen Gionis play very well on occasion but he is not as consistent as Joo.  Ho wins 7, 9, 5, -4, 8.


Ho succumbs to Joo in their semi 5, 3, 3, -5, 5.  Ho uses the bent elbow loop like Mizutani.  Joo exhibits good chopping, 3 ball attacks, counterlooping, long pips BH attacks, and wins comfortably.

In the men’s final Joo faces young countryman Jung Young Sik, a looper who beat him in a previous meeting.  Their match is closely contested in which Joo prevails -4, -5, 6, 8, -6, 11, 7.  The grueling repetitive exchanges leads to Jung taking a medical timeout at 5-4 Joo leading in the 7th for a massage of his left thigh.  With many long exchanges in a 7 game match it is understandable that the young looper may have experienced cramps in his left lower extremity.  Their handshake at the close of the match is accompanied by smiles.


Currently the 3 top Japanese women are Kasumi Ishikawa (absent from this tournament), Ai Fukuhara, and 16 year old Mima Ito.  At age 15, Ito won the ’15 German Open and earlier this year she upset 2 time World Champion Ding Ning of China.  So not surprisingly Ito won the Under 21 class at this tournament beating another Japanese woman Yui Hamamoto.   I picked Ito to win the Women’s Singles—only she didn’t!  Instead she lost in the semis to countrywoman and chopper Hitomi Sato: 4, -6, 5, -4, -6, 8, 9.

In one quarterfinal women’s match, Polina Mikhailova of Russia, a chopper who likes to attack not infrequently with either her inverted rubber FH or medium (?) pips BH, defeats a more passive Japanese chopper Honoka Hashimoto.  Mikhailova meets her end in the semis losing to Miu Hirano of Japan.

The women’s final is an all Japanese affair with chopper Sato neutralizing Hirano 4-1.  So the Japanese were dominant among the women and the Koreans were dominant in the men’s division.  It was a nice change to see players from other countries emphasizing defense reach the top in the absence of the dominant Chinese.