2019 Maryland Hopes Regional Camp and Tournament

By Larry Hodges | March 12, 2019, 10:46 p.m. (ET)

2019 Hopes Table Tennis Camp

2019 Maryland Hopes Regional Camp and Tournament

March 8-10, 2019 at Maryland Table Tennis Center

By Larry Hodges

Forty-two kids, the large majority ages 9-11, congregated at the Maryland Table Tennis Center for two days of training on Friday and Saturday, and (for those born after Jan. 1, 2007, i.e. 12 and under) the regional Hopes tournament on Sunday. Here's a group picture. Here is a photo gallery by Jay Chelur.

Running the camp was USATT National Team Coach and Alameda TTC Coach Pieke Franssen, who flew in from California - taking an all-nighter to Charlotte, NC, and then to Dulles Airport in Virginia around noon, where I picked him up. Wang Qingliang was the main assistant coach - he's on the USATT National Coach Development Team. Others assisting were myself, Lidney Castro, Jeffrey Zheng, and two new Vietnamese Regional Team Members who just moved to Maryland, the brothers Khai and Khoi Dinh. (Khoi Dinh was #2 player on the Vietnamese Junior National Team this year before their family immigrated to the U.S. three weeks ago.) Also hosting were organizer Wen Hsu, and Carolyn Klinger, who took charge of meals at the club. (Here's her non-Facebook picture.) The camp had four sessions, Friday 4:30-6:30PM and 7:30-9:30PM, and Saturday 12:00-2:30PM and 5:30-7:30PM. (Players in the Hopes Tournament were required to come to the camp.)

Each session started with jogging, followed by agility exercises. This usually took up to 30 minutes. Pieke had a range of different ones, all involving various side-stepping. Then we got the tables. The level of play was very high, with two rated over 2140, eight over 1890, and nineteen over 1700. Here are pictures and video (from Facebook). (The kid running side to side in one video is U.S. Open and Nationals 10 and Under Champion Stanley Hsu, who is demonstrating the drill for others. They then broke into six groups and everyone did this and other speed drills.)

How do you run a camp with 42 players on 17 tables? Pieke and Wang organized it so that for the first three sessions, about one-third of the players would do multiball. We had four multiball tables, with Lidney, Jeffrey, Khai, and Khoi feeding as I called the drills. We generally had 14-16 players, so each table had 3-4 players. For many drills, we'd do two players at a time (the others doing ball pickup), with the players doing a footwork/stroking sequence and the rotating out so the player did the drill. Other times one player would do the drill while one or two others stood behind them, shadow-stroking the drill. We also did some interactive drills, where 2-3 players would sometimes get involved. We finished each multiball session with the "box" challenge, where we'd put a box (actually a spaghetti colander) one racket length from the far end of the table, and the players on each table would do drills where they took turns, 2-4 shots each, trying to knock it off the end. It took a number of hard shots, but when they did it, the winning team each got a "trillion dollar bill" (I had a collection of them), or, later in the camp, their choice of that or a Jolly Rancher candy.

The rest of the tables were one-on-one practice, with Pieke and Wang calling the drills and coaching. Alas, I rarely got to see that since I was back in the multiball area. However, I had a copy of the practice schedule, with lots and lots of drills that were mostly centered around serve, receive, and footwork. The players worked hard! (We didn't really give them a choice, did we?)

On Sunday we had the Hopes Tournament, with 20 boys and 7 girls. The girls played a complete round robin while the boys played five groups of four, with two advancing from each group to single elimination. Congrats to the Champions and Final Four! Here are the main results:

  • BOYS: 1st: Patryk Zyworonek; 2nd Mu Du; 3rd Andrew Cao; 4th James Zhang
  • Here's a group picture of the Boys - L-R the players are Andrew Cao (3rd), Patryk Zyworonek (1st), Mu Du (2nd), and James Zhang (4th). Coaches are Jack Huang, Wang Qingliang, Larry Hodges, Pieke Franssen.
  • GIRLS: 1st: Michelle Kang; 2nd Rachel Wang; 3rd: Rachel Ku; 4th: Alyssa Kang
  • Here's a group picture of the Girls - L-R the players are Rachel Ku (3rd), Michelle Kang (1st), and Rachel Wang (2nd) (Alyssa Kang missing). Coaches are Wang Qingliang, Pieke Franssen, and Jack Huang.

After the Hopes events, we had three rating events - Under 2300, 1900, and 1400. Here are complete results (including Hopes), care of Omnipong. And here are the ratings, processed by USATT on Monday. Below are the main results, linked to pictures:

A big thanks goes to all those who helped with the camp, to the superlative job of fellow coaches Pieke, Wang, Lidney, Jeffrey, Khai, and Khoi, and to Referee Paul Kovac and Umpire Stephen Yeh, to Jackson Beaver (and half the local junior program!) for helping at the control desk, and to sponsors USATT, MDTTC, JOOLA, and HW Global Foundation.