I grabbed 3rd in the BLUEHOST tournament

by Varghese on September 21, 2008

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Varghese Pallathu bluehost Championship Winner

Varghese Pallathu bluehost Championship Winner

I was little confident that I could perform well in the tournament, but not to grab a medal though. There are few preparations I had to do to raise my confidence level at this tournament. (1) On Friday at the Salt Lake club, I’ve tried hard to make sure my forehand and backhand are working okay. I was pretty happy. Everyone here in this region knows my game, and they all resort to push and drop shots to get points against me - nobody would like to take the risk of looping. That strategy has worked against me long time ago. I hate to be a victim to that anymore. Things have changed. Being a modern defensive player, I have taken any defensive posture of my opponent as an opportunity to get point. So, a stable forehand countering and looping were very important. That has finally worked well in this tournament. (2) Everyone is familiar with my serves – they know where I’m going to serve. That’s where I have worked on three days this week. I have made the serves unpredictable. It was amazing to see how some of the third ball attacks worked well when the opponents can guess where you are going to serve and you can move well to finish the point. (3) I had to make sure I have good footwork. I know I will kill myself if I don’t have my footwork of backhand and forehand working. Throughout this week, I’ve practiced some exercise for quickness. I’ve also practiced some multi ball practice with my Butterfly robot. The preparations paid very well.

I have used TSP Yanagi Alpha table tennis blade in this tournament. In the last tournament which was in April, I’ve used the TSP BalsaPlus 3.5 blade. Although I like TSP BalsaPlus 3.5, the Yanagi Alpha has low throw angle which I have liked it well recently. On the backhand I’ve played with TSP Curl P1R 1.3 mm which is my favorite rubber and the XIOM Omega III Euro Max on the forehand.

My first match was against Dennis. He creates a lot of trouble to me at the club. Recently he plays defensive game against me. He cuts top spin and no spin ball very good. It is hard to push such spinny strokes with long pips. He smashes very well which has caused me problem in the first game. I’ve tried to keep the ball low but his cuts were getting into the pips and the balls were popping up. In the second game, I’ve tried to keep the ball low and that worked well. When that has worked well, I’ve got into looping his cuts. That required a close to the table play and that has caused problem for me while chopping his smashes. I had to step in and out for looping and chopping but that paid well for a win 3 to 2.

James is a trouble maker too with his Hinoki JPen. He is a very good pusher and hitter. He is one of those players who play from the center of the table to the center of the other side. It is a very hard style to play. How hard I try to push the ball to the forehand or backhand of James, he pushes me into the middle of the table. My chops are less effective against him because he does not loop but directs the spin back to me. The strategy I have against such players is looping with heavy top spin as soon as the opponent goes into push. Against Dennis and James, I have taken the opportunities to attack for any pushes and that has worked well.

Ryan is the top player in Utah. I was his student a year ago. He is a good looper and plays very strategically. I hate to upset good players like Ryan and I plan only to give competitive game. Things went wrong this time and I had to grab the win by 3 - 2. The serves have helped me well in this match and gave less predictability to Ryan to loop - he loops any loose ball. I have also played my new serves which have helped my third ball attack. Ryan defended and I’ve taken those opportunities to attack. One major strategy used by some higher rater players is to push forward my chops which don’t have any spin sometimes and redirect the spin back to me to handle. I would love to loop those shots though it takes a little work. I have found less weakness in my forehand to such shots. I have to agree that some of my loops have gone out against the no spin balls that he has pushed back to me, and all the time I was in a very bad position and had to react faster - short loops would have helped me in thouse situations.

The match against Noel was terrible. He beat me 3 to 0. He uses hard bat and is the master of ball placements and a very good hitter. He was the Hardbat doubles champion at the US Open last year. He plays both defense and offense, so it requires a lot of footwork from me. There was something which worried me throughout the match was the light condition. There was a wall on side of the table and that paused me when I wanted to move to the backhand side to loop. The depth perception I had about the table was lost whenever I’ve tried to loop – the ball went long. A loose ball to Noel means a sure win for him. I’ve tried to avoid that but I’ve made so many mistakes when I’ve tried to keep the ball low. There is another area where I have struggled is looping the no spin ball from Noel which he carefully places at the center court. I should have looped those balls with forearm lowered rather than raised – the depth perception took me for a ride. I have written before in a blog about the difficulty in looping against no spin balls with tensor rubbers. I was stupid and did not bring to my mind this thought.

The semi-final match against Ryan happened at the same table where the match against Noel happened. As the practice started, I had hard time figuring out the wings of the table. Although I have noticed a change in the speed of the ball from Ryan, I’ve tried to adjust to the speed to hit at the wings of the table. I was not successful. In this match also, I’ve made the same mistake I’ve made against Noel – the loops against no spin ball went long.

In all the tournaments I’ve played before, this is the first time I’ve received a cash price. Matt is a wonderful guy who has helped to promote table tennis in Utah. We play each other every week if possible except he is away on his business – one of the best leftie looper I’ve seen. He uses XIOM ZETA on his forehand and XIOM Yanus DF on his backhand. To read his blog go to http://www.mattheaton.com

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Buyer September 21, 2008 at 2:27 am

Congrats Varghese! I too find myself in some of the same things that you are facing. I can chop my opponent’s loops and they have a hard time doing the second loop or killing my chop returns. So they stop looping and provide me with lots chance to attack. Then the rally becomes push and kill. I just need to be the best in this situation.

Varghese September 21, 2008 at 2:28 am

You have to attack their first push with top spin to either to the wings of the table or to their body. Even the world top players have problem with that. If you can’t loop, then hit with the long pips. I don’t hit with pips so I loop.

Buyer September 22, 2008 at 2:29 am

Great advice and I agree. I want to add that the loop attacks should be heavy SPIN (and placement) oriented and don’t need to be too agressive such that ending up missing the table.

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