My incredible story at the very high level

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Let me begin by saying I'm only intermediate, maybe even lower than that. But then how can I access the very high level ? you ask, because my country of origin is not into table tennis at all, while I live and play/train in France and have this mid-level, I'm among the best in my country of origin, mostly because the lack of players. Last december, there was this regional tournament for clubs, where every country in the region send their two or three best teams. Many countries have very good players, other countries have a level that is not great but still better than my country. I accepted the invitation, which means that I now need to prepare for a trip to Cairo.

I'm in Cairo now and my team-mates didn't arrive to Cairo yet but it was our time on the main tables so I said maybe I just go to check the Arena and maybe find someone to play with. One important piece of information wasn't communicated to me was that every club has the right to hire one international professional. So I'm walking into the tables and I was like, is that Gacina ? whats going on here ? it was actually him, so I totally forgot that I'm supposed to be a player just like him not a fan and I actually went to him and told him that I was so happy for him winning that WTT title. Took some balls and tried my serves and players started pourring in, ok thats Meshref and Goda, oh this Gardos ? Quadri , what a beast , Szocs aussi ? this is absolutely crazy you know.

Now comes the most irritating part of this whole experience. In France, the mid level called "regional" and there is only one general umpire, the real referees are the players themselves. So we kinda only inforce the general rules of not hiding the serves, and even that only to an extent. Having played only in France, and now I'm in this international thing, two umpires per match, and all my serves are wrong !!! you ask what was it, do you hide your serves ? do you not launch the ball 16cm ? well non of that, it was just the starting point, I have the ball on fingers, instead of starting from the palm. Many of you would understand, but changing the starting point to the palm, screwed all my timing and rythm of the serve, now I'm playing very strong ppl and I can't keep the serve short or with good underspin !!! Let me be clear, with my original serves, many matches the best I could have done is maybe winning a set, few others nothing at all, only one match I felt like the guy has the same level as me, and if I would have won that one, my team would have won because we also hired a semi-pro younger guy who wins most of his matches. So winning, other than that one match wasn't the point but at least I could have enjoyed playing, which with new shaky serves, I didn't really.

Let me serve you the main dish. I think it the second day when I met Antoine Hachard, nice guy, being both from France I approached him and when I told him about my ranking in France, we were both dying laughing, because you know, I have absolutely nothing to do here lol. The thing is, people saw me talk to him and laughing together so they assumed we knew each other beforehand or something ?!! I'm saying this because when it was the time to play the big names, I'm now on the table opposed to #100 in the ITTF ranking !! someone I used to see on Youtube for God sake. However, for some reason, he was really really serious, like upon doing the toss, he actually chose to change sides !! like only ppl who are really serious about winning their match would do that. First set, tight serves, on his toes and absolutely crushing me, my only concern even before the match begin was not to loose 11-0. Upon 8-1 he realised he doesn't have to actually be that serious, so the next two sets he just played whatever and I didn't loose a set with 0 points. two days later it actually hit me, the guy saw me with Antoine, he doesn't speak french , so he thought, this guy (me), maybe I should be careful playing him hhhhhhh

To my defense, I wasn't in my normal form even if the serves weren't called out. It was the first time in my life I'm playing TT and there are actual ppl in the stands shouting either for me or against me. There was this woman cheering for me loudly and I really wanted to tell her to shut it down but I can't because I'm a nice person hhhhh. In addition, as I'm writing this, I believe there are many examples of what NOT TO DO. Firstly, two years without getting covid, I got it just a week from my flight, I actually had to change it for the next day. One month before the tournament, I used to play with a wood blade, with Hurricane 3 Neo and Rakza soft. Felt the Hurricane would be slower so I changed to a 09c. I feel like I would have been better off with my USED-TO setup. I also have bought new sport glasses few months back but I felt there is some difference when I put them comparing to my original glasses so I stopped using them, but for this tournament I said let me put it 24/7 instead of my usual glasses so that I'm used to them already. I feel like there was something wrong completely with it and made literally my vision to be a bit worse. I guess the message here is : don't change anything if you have big event coming..

Lastly, that was really cool, just the fact that I lived the life of those I admire for one week, having a badge, players bus, being in the training hall and in the Arena. Sitting in the stands next to them and there is a still a chance that I re-do this in the future too. When I came back to France, I couldn't care less about who I'm playing against, because who ever you are, you are not even in the top 1000 in the ITTF ranking ROFL.
 
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Let me begin by saying I'm only intermediate, maybe even lower than that. But then how can I access the very high level ? you ask, because my country of origin is not into table tennis at all, while I live and play/train in France and have this mid-level, I'm among the best in my country of origin, mostly because the lack of players. Last december, there was this regional tournament for clubs, where every country in the region send their two or three best teams. Many countries have very good players, other countries have a level that is not great but still better than my country. I accepted the invitation, which means that I now need to prepare for a trip to Cairo.

I'm in Cairo now and my team-mates didn't arrive to Cairo yet but it was our time on the main tables so I said maybe I just go to check the Arena and maybe find someone to play with. One important piece of information wasn't communicated to me was that every club has the right to hire one international professional. So I'm walking into the tables and I was like, is that Gacina ? whats going on here ? it was actually him, so I totally forgot that I'm supposed to be a player just like him not a fan and I actually went to him and told him that I was so happy for him winning that WTT title. Took some balls and tried my serves and players started pourring in, ok thats Meshref and Goda, oh this Gardos ? Quadri , what a beast , Szocs aussi ? this is absolutely crazy you know.

Now comes the most irritating part of this whole experience. In France, the mid level called "regional" and there is only one general umpire, the real referees are the players themselves. So we kinda only inforce the general rules of not hiding the serves, and even that only to an extent. Having played only in France, and now I'm in this international thing, two umpires per match, and all my serves are wrong !!! you ask what was it, do you hide your serves ? do you not launch the ball 16cm ? well non of that, it was just the starting point, I have the ball on fingers, instead of starting from the palm. Many of you would understand, but changing the starting point to the palm, screwed all my timing and rythm of the serve, now I'm playing very strong ppl and I can't keep the serve short or with good underspin !!! Let me be clear, with my original serves, many matches the best I could have done is maybe winning a set, few others nothing at all, only one match I felt like the guy has the same level as me, and if I would have won that one, my team would have won because we also hired a semi-pro younger guy who wins most of his matches. So winning, other than that one match wasn't the point but at least I could have enjoyed playing, which with new shaky serves, I didn't really.

Let me serve you the main dish. I think it the second day when I met Antoine Hachard, nice guy, being both from France I approached him and when I told him about my ranking in France, we were both dying laughing, because you know, I have absolutely nothing to do here lol. The thing is, people saw me talk to him and laughing together so they assumed we knew each other beforehand or something ?!! I'm saying this because when it was the time to play the big names, I'm now on the table opposed to #100 in the ITTF ranking !! someone I used to see on Youtube for God sake. However, for some reason, he was really really serious, like upon doing the toss, he actually chose to change sides !! like only ppl who are really serious about winning their match would do that. First set, tight serves, on his toes and absolutely crushing me, my only concern even before the match begin was not to loose 11-0. Upon 8-1 he realised he doesn't have to actually be that serious, so the next two sets he just played whatever and I didn't loose a set with 0 points. two days later it actually hit me, the guy saw me with Antoine, he doesn't speak french , so he thought, this guy (me), maybe I should be careful playing him hhhhhhh

To my defense, I wasn't in my normal form even if the serves weren't called out. It was the first time in my life I'm playing TT and there are actual ppl in the stands shouting either for me or against me. There was this woman cheering for me loudly and I really wanted to tell her to shut it down but I can't because I'm a nice person hhhhh. In addition, as I'm writing this, I believe there are many examples of what NOT TO DO. Firstly, two years without getting covid, I got it just a week from my flight, I actually had to change it for the next day. One month before the tournament, I used to play with a wood blade, with Hurricane 3 Neo and Rakza soft. Felt the Hurricane would be slower so I changed to a 09c. I feel like I would have been better off with my USED-TO setup. I also have bought new sport glasses few months back but I felt there is some difference when I put them comparing to my original glasses so I stopped using them, but for this tournament I said let me put it 24/7 instead of my usual glasses so that I'm used to them already. I feel like there was something wrong completely with it and made literally my vision to be a bit worse. I guess the message here is : don't change anything if you have big event coming..

Lastly, that was really cool, just the fact that I lived the life of those I admire for one week, having a badge, players bus, being in the training hall and in the Arena. Sitting in the stands next to them and there is a still a chance that I re-do this in the future too. When I came back to France, I couldn't care less about who I'm playing against, because who ever you are, you are not even in the top 1000 in the ITTF ranking ROFL.
Thanks for a great laugh. Really appreciate it.
 
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Hi @Musaab

that was quite funny. but you make me curious.

- what is your point ranking in France (I'm French too, i used to have 1350. Left for Japan more than 20years ago, i believe i'm still worth around this level, maybe only slightly better despite all the coaching)?

- what competition exactly were you playing ?
 
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Hi @Musaab

that was quite funny. but you make me curious.

- what is your point ranking in France (I'm French too, i used to have 1350. Left for Japan more than 20years ago, i believe i'm still worth around this level, maybe only slightly better despite all the coaching)?

- what competition exactly were you playing ?
Thanks, well I'm officially 11, but I know I'm 13 because I only really struggle against ppl above 15. I tend to play good in team competitions where I only need to play 3 matches, I gain alot of point rankings here but then I lose alotta of point ranking too when I play individual competitions, these ones tend to take the whole day and I'm not functionning anymore in the afternoon.

well I thought you have guessed that competition by now, just from the location it was held in. Let me add that there were also Asian teams in there, not only african teams.
 
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Thanks, well I'm officially 11, but I know I'm 13 because I only really struggle against ppl above 15. I tend to play good in team competitions where I only need to play 3 matches, I gain alot of point rankings here but then I lose alotta of point ranking too when I play individual competitions, these ones tend to take the whole day and I'm not functionning anymore in the afternoon.

well I thought you have guessed that competition by now, just from the location it was held in. Let me add that there were also Asian teams in there, not only african teams.
no i don't see which competition it was. Jeux Mediterranéens ?
 
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how come Szocs / Aruna / Gardos / Hachard / Gacina .... were there ?
they're not arab are they ?
This is the funny part of the story, every club has the right to hire only one international professional, I didn't know that and I was surprised the first time I went to the Arena to train. Some clubs/countries can't afford stars, like my club, so we hired a young promising pro who is willing to play for free in exchange of a chance to play in the tournament hoping to gain experience while playing other top level athletes. Some other clubs/countries have the capability, just like PSG, to pay alotta of money. I actually heard something about 40K for a player, hired for one week. I tend to believe that because the tornament was Christmas time, I don't think european players would scarifice that for less than 10k , right ?
 
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It's possible that the guy didn't even notice you laughing with Hachard.
He simply didn't know you so he started strong just in case.
Then he realized your level and relaxed more.

As for getting a feel of the "high level"......not sure now with WTT, but in the ITTF World Tour tournaments anyone could play if they sign up and pay the fee.
With a player badge you could go anywhere, use the warm up tablets, etc.
You could even use the same bus as other tournament players and even stay in the same hotel (this also you have to pay).

Imagine warming up in the table next to Timo Boll.....then sitting next to him on the bus back to the hotel......then at 3am you knock his room door
"hey timo, I really need you to sign my Boll alc blade.....also good luck tomorrow against Mladenovic and his Dr Neubauer rubber.....don't be like Waldner who would always lose against Johnny Juang and his weird pips......do you think I'm drunk timo??......good night".

On the way back to your room you'd stop by bernadette socks room "hi berns....being that we are both very high level athletes I think we should start a nice friendship......good night bernsy.."

After this security would probably kick you out of the hotel and you'd end up in a cheap motel.
I used to meet european players in the french league, so I'm kinda not that surprise by their existence, but if ML or FZD were in the same city not even same hotel, I will be absolutely loosing my mind about it
 
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As for getting a feel of the "high level"......not sure now with WTT, but in the ITTF World Tour tournaments anyone could play if they sign up and pay the fee.
With a player badge you could go anywhere, use the warm up tablets, etc.
You could even use the same bus as other tournament players and even stay in the same hotel (this also you have to pay).
It would be great if its still possible. I'd love to try it once !!! lol ...
maybe the WTT should allow it. they would replenish their coffers with "tourist" money

----

i have much less incredible stories to tell, but I'm lucky to be able to play with a lot of pros and ex-pros here in Japan. private lessons (MATSUDAIRA, SAKAMOTO, OYA, FOERSTER, MACHI) or exhibitions (SAMSONOV, KISHIKAWA)

but I've had "almost" my chance already several times as there are 2 competitions open also for amateurs where many (lesser ranked) pros participate.

One of them is called 国民体育大会
its a JTTA yearly competition between the 49 prefectures in Japan and there is an open qualification tournament in each prefecture to get selected to represent your prefecture.
the first time I went, if I won my R1 match I would have faced Kenji MATSUDAIRA (elder bro, also an ex-JNT member and still active pro) . Actually he was the referee of my R1 match but I played quite bad on that day and lost 1-3 to a young guy who was beatable but I didn't play well (enough) on that day.
Among other players at nearby tables, Yuto MURAMATSU, Taku TAKAKIWA etc...

the other one is the National Championships 全日本卓球選手権 in DOUBLES where they allow foreigners to play whatever their age or level. [provided they spent already enough time in the country. However its not allowed to compete in singles] Of course we needed to go first to the qualification event [for Tokyo]. I was there last year with my buddy E. who is French and his 50s like me.. lol. We were lucky last year to face in R1 a pair of our level that we finally beat 3-2 coming from 0-2 and match point down. even if it wasn't a great match it will stay as a great memory.

but as soon as R2 we were facing a university champion pair and lost badly 0-3, not a single rally in the match, they killed everything with chiquita and 3rd ball attacks...

on the nearby tables many pros, especially girls, notably because new pairs formed all have to go from zero I think. I remember for example seeing Kyoka IDESAWA among many others.

So our hope is to win at least one match next time to have the right to defy those pro players.
 
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It would be great if its still possible. I'd love to try it once !!! lol ...
maybe the WTT should allow it. they would replenish their coffers with "tourist" money

----

i have much less incredible stories to tell, but I'm lucky to be able to play with a lot of pros and ex-pros here in Japan. private lessons (MATSUDAIRA, SAKAMOTO, OYA, FOERSTER, MACHI) or exhibitions (SAMSONOV, KISHIKAWA)

but I've had "almost" my chance already several times as there are 2 competitions open also for amateurs where many (lesser ranked) pros participate.

One of them is called 国民体育大会
its a JTTA yearly competition between the 49 prefectures in Japan and there is an open qualification tournament in each prefecture to get selected to represent your prefecture.
the first time I went, if I won my R1 match I would have faced Kenji MATSUDAIRA (elder bro, also an ex-JNT member and still active pro) . Actually he was the referee of my R1 match but I played quite bad on that day and lost 1-3 to a young guy who was beatable but I didn't play well (enough) on that day.
Among other players at nearby tables, Yuto MURAMATSU, Taku TAKAKIWA etc...

the other one is the National Championships 全日本卓球選手権 in DOUBLES where they allow foreigners to play whatever their age or level. [provided they spent already enough time in the country. However its not allowed to compete in singles] Of course we needed to go first to the qualification event [for Tokyo]. I was there last year with my buddy E. who is French and his 50s like me.. lol. We were lucky last year to face in R1 a pair of our level that we finally beat 3-2 coming from 0-2 and match point down. even if it wasn't a great match it will stay as a great memory.

but as soon as R2 we were facing a university champion pair and lost badly 0-3, not a single rally in the match, they killed everything with chiquita and 3rd ball attacks...

on the nearby tables many pros, especially girls, notably because new pairs formed all have to go from zero I think. I remember for example seeing Kyoka IDESAWA among many others.

So our hope is to win at least one match next time to have the right to defy those pro players.
Kenta Matsudaira gives lessons ? for me he is as legendary as ML and FZD , take my money
 
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Kenta Matsudaira gives lessons ? for me he is as legendary as ML and FZD , take my money
Yes he does. But you have to come see him in Japan, and he has a busy schedule.

IIRC he is charging around 12,000 yens per hour.
Current approximative FX rate
1 USD = 141 JPY
1 EUR = 157 JPY
 
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All looking to take a bath session anyhow, we need some offday of the hellish urbanic swelter.
 
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