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Table Tennis Tidbits #48

By Robert Ho | Nov. 17, 2019, 11:58 a.m. (ET)

’19 German Open: Teen Terrors and Rubbery Issues

In Bremen, Germany 18 year old, baby-faced, Sun Ying Sha of China (she’ll be 19 on 11-4-19) won the Women’s Final over 18 year old Mima Ito of Japan (she’ll be 19 on 10-21-19).  The scores were 3, -11, 5, 5, 5.  Ito’s short pips-BH, inverted-FH were apparently not a major barrier to Sun’s victory.

Ito appears dedicated (if not constrained) to playing close to the table in part because she uses short pips on the BH.  She focuses on quick hits off the bounce, sometimes outside-in side-spin blocking with her BH.


With inverted on both sides of the blade plus exceptional anticipation and nimble footwork, Sun plays both close to the table and afar with a high “batting average” reflected in the game scores.  Ito’s body language (slumping shoulders, “hanging head”, grimacing) expresses her frustration and disappointment repetitively thru the match.  Sun is generally far less expressive whether she wins or loses a point.

In tennis, racket stringing and tension variations do not apparently result in major spin-speed variability, but in table tennis inverted rubber, compared to long/short/medium pips, produces greater spin and speed.  Inverted rubber users usually select such rubbers for the maximum spin-speed such rubbers enable.  Pips-users usually want the lesser reactivity to spin of pips and different (flatter) trajectory in reaction to spin.  Long pips users want the diminished speed, altered trajectory of the ball, and reflection of the opponent’s heavy topspin as heavy downspin.   Because the majority of players prefer the “offensive advantages” of inverted rubber, pips users may also enjoy the advantage of being less frequently encountered in competition.  Thus a player using inverted rubber against pips must adjust quickly during a match to offset the “pips advantage”.  If the inverted user adjusts promptly, the pips user may suddenly find himself at a disadvantage.


Ito had beaten Sun -8, -8, 9, 9, 8, 3 in a semifinal at the Swedish Open a month before the German Open.  Ito then lost in the final to Chen Meng of China in the final of that tournament. Whatever “equipment advantage” Ito might have enjoyed in that competition was neutralized against Sun in Bremen.

Hence the recurrent issue of whether table tennis (players/spectators) would be better served by allowing the use of only one type of rubber, i.e. inverted, or allowing any number of varieties of rubber to “bloom”.