Table Tennis News & Videos
by Andrew Chen
It was a memorable trip participating in the Southern Open and AAU Junior Olympics. I finished 1st place in the 2012 Junior Nationals Championship and won two gold medals after almost 7 months dormant from table tennis due to a medical condition.
I have always enjoyed my games physically. I have quick reflexes and I react quickly; in most cases I have succeed. When summer break approached in June; my medical condition started to get better and I started playing again. For 7 months away from playing, a big question dangled around regarding whether I could still play as well as I used to. I resumed my practice with my coach Cheng Li for about an hour a day carefully trying not to worsen my medical condition. Unfortunately, my problems started to come back and I had to miss days and days without practice. Physically I was slow and mentally I was frustrated.
My coach has always been confident and patient with me even though he was just as disappointed and frustrated as I was. He constantly reminded me to trust myself and believe in my ability to play. My games were up, down and very unstable. My coach saw my potential even though I had many problems that needed to be fixed. As an experienced player himself, he actually started coaching at very young age in Europe. While he was the assistant coach in Sweden, he trained the Women's National Team and Boy's Junior National Team with outstanding results. For him, the bar was high and coaching experience was plentiful. Instead of adding more physical training drills; he emphasized more on mental strength. The clock was ticking and I was definitely not ready for tournaments. My mom hesitated, waited, and eventually registered me in the Southern Open and AAU Junior Olympics. In order for me to get reacquainted with the tournaments� environment, my parents drove us to the Louisiana Summer Open on July 20th. There, my coach and I finished as first and second place of the tournament. After the tournament, we visited French Quarter and then hurried back home so that we could be ready for Houston�s tournaments.
On July 28th, the first day of the Southern Open, I went through all my individual matches without losing a match to anyone below my rating. I played okay and played better than I anticipated. By the time doubles started on the 29th, I realized how lucky I was on the previous day and became nervous; I did not perform well. I dragged us down in the doubles match and we lost in the semifinals.
Playing similarly aged as well as lower rated players has always been a challenge for me. When I continued on in the AAU Junior Olympics on Monday, July 30th, I told my coach that I might not be able to play well because I was extremely rusty and totally out of it. He did not budge and left me no room for excuses at all. As I sailed through the matches, I felt better and became more confident. I was excited and wanted to play more and more. I constantly looked around for anyone who was available to practice with while my coach was coaching the others. With an open mind and a positive attitude, I fought hard in the finals and won the 1st place trophy of the USATT 2012 Junior Nationals Championship. Plus two more gold medals along the way from the AAU Junior Olympics. I played two outstanding matches and they had made my parents and my coach very proud. I won the matches with the right mindset and determination.
In my 7-year table tennis career, I have enjoyed great success. I was commonly the anticipated winner in most of my matches. This tournament was different and I was not the anticipated winner but, instead, I was the under dog; the pressure was excruciating. My matches were guided by mental strength and determination. Although I did not run as quickly as I used to and missed quite a few shoots that I wouldn�t normally miss, I was able to block out the pressure and focus on the match. I commonly found myself down 4-5 points but I was able to fight back and win. I think this was a wonderful experience for my life and table tennis as well. If you believe you can win and compete, you will have a great chance to win. I believe that I learned very valuable lessons from my last tournament such as: technique is necessary but mental strength is a must.
I was lucky enough to find good coaches to help me to improve my table tennis skills. Since last year, Cheng Li has coached me and has helped me tremendously by increasing my rating to 2465 and bringing me to the top of my age group last year. Coach Cheng Li is also a well-liked coach by several table tennis players in the Plano area. Coach Yin Wang also helped me from 2100 to 2300 and coach George Fang led me to my 1st US Open Championship title at age of 10 in 2007. With more than a dozen National elite titles under my belt, I am still the most decorative player in DFW area. For that I am proud for what I have accomplished and still forever thank my coaches and practice partners of the Plano Table Tennis club. Happy pingponging!