Tennis, Table

Tennis, Table
▪ 2003

      China dominated singles play at the 2001 table tennis Pro Tour grand finals, held Jan. 10–13, 2002, in Tianjin, China. Ma Lin won the men's title over world champion Wang Liqin, and reigning world and Olympic champion Wang Nan defeated Niu Jianfeng in the women's final. Germany's Timo Boll had the best individual year. He defeated Vladimir Samsonov of Belarus for the Europe Top 12 championship in Rotterdam, Neth., in February, secured the European men's championship in Zagreb, Croatia, in April, and captured his first World Cup title over China's Kong Linghui in Jinan, China, in November. Croatia's Tamara Boros earned her Europe Top 12 title by beating Nicole Struse of Germany. Former European women's champion Ni Xia Lian of Luxembourg won that title again with a victory over Hungary's Krisztina Toth. Zhang Yining of China successfully defended her women's World Cup over countrywoman Li Nan in Singapore in September. Zhang again triumphed, this time over her countrywoman Guo Yue, the youngest finalist ever, at the 2002 Pro Tour in Stockholm in December. Chuan Chi-yuan snatched the men's title from Kalinikos Kreanga of Greece.

      In 2002 the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) instituted a new service rule to ensure that a serve could not be hidden by any part of the server's body and always had to be visible to the receiver. The ITTF also launched a junior tour, the World Junior Circuit, similar to the Pro Tour. In addition, the first World Cadet Challenge, a new competition between continental teams, was held in Tiszaujvaros, Hung., in June, and all singles and doubles titles were won by China.

Tim Boggan

▪ 2002

      At the 2001 table tennis world championships held April 23–May 6 in Osaka, Japan, the Chinese were totally dominant. They scored easy victories in the team events—the men defeated Belgium (which had upset defending champion Sweden in the semifinals), and the women topped North Korea. Pro Tour grand final winner Wang Liqin won the men's singles and, with his partner from the 2000 Olympic Games, Yan Sen, captured the men's doubles. Olympic gold medalist Wang Nan won the women's singles and, with her Olympic partner, Li Ju, secured the women's doubles. Qin Zhijian and Yang Ying took the mixed title. World Cup winners were Belarus's Vladimir Samsonov and China's Pro Tour grand final women's champion Zhang Yining. The Europe Top 12 men's and women's champions were Samsonov and Hungary's Csilla Batorfi, respectively.

      On September 1 the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF), in an effort to create more drama, changed the scoring in its tournaments from the traditional 21-point game to an 11-point game and increased match play to best three-out-of-five or four-out-of-seven games. As of Sept. 1, 2002, a new service rule would ensure that the receiver sees the server make contact with the ball—that is, the server would not be permitted to interpose part of his or her body to hide, and so delay the receiver from seeing, the spin applied to the ball. It was likely that the ITTF's 186 member countries would observe these new rules in their domestic competitions.

Tim Boggan

▪ 2001

      At the world team championships in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, held Feb. 19–26, 2000, the Chinese women, who had lost the title only once in the last quarter century, again dominated play. In the final they defeated a Taiwanese team led by the Pro Tour grand final winner, Chen Jing. The Chinese men, however, lost their title, held since 1995, to their Swedish arch rivals, among whom were former world champions Jan-Ove Waldner and Jörgen Persson.

      At the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia, the Chinese team reigned supreme. World women's singles and doubles champion Wang Nan won two gold medals, defeating her doubles partner, Li Ju, in the singles final. Taiwan's Chen won the bronze. In the men's singles Kong Linghui bested Waldner to capture the gold medal, and Liu Guoliang, the current world singles champion and 1996 Olympic gold medalist, took the bronze. The China Open champion, Wang Liqin, paired with Yan Sen to defeat Kong and Liu in the men's doubles.

      On October 1 the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF), in an effort to reduce the speed and spin of the ball and so increase the length of the points, changed from the traditional 38-mm (1.5-in) to the new 40-mm (1.6-in) ball in all its tournaments. The ITTF's approximately 185 member countries were expected to follow suit in their major domestic competitions.

Tim Boggan

▪ 2000

      In 1999, for the first time ever, the men's and women's table tennis team events were not part of the world championships. Originally scheduled for Belgrade, Yugos., on April 26–May 9, the now biennial championships had to find another host city quickly—hence, the unique inclusion of just the singles and doubles events in Eindhoven, Neth., on August 2–8 and the upcoming “off-year” adjustment of “make-up” team play to be held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in February 2000.

      Chinese players totally dominated all 1999 world finals. Liu Guoliang, who earlier had lost the Pro Tour grand final to 1998 Asian Games champion Wang Liqin, won the men's singles title over Ma Lin after Ma had upset both the number one seed, Vladimir Samsonov of Belarus (European and Europe Top 12 champion), and defending champion Jan-Ove Waldner of Sweden. Liu, paired with his 1996 Olympic gold medal partner, Kong Linghui, also took the men's doubles. Pro Tour grand final titleholder Wang Nan won the women's singles over Zhang Yingying and, paired with 1998 Asian Games champion Li Ju, the women's doubles. Ma and Zhang combined to win the mixed after Zhang had eliminated the current European champion and 1998 Europe Top 12 champion, Chinese expatriate Ni Xia Lian, in the singles.

      As of July 1, the International Table Tennis Federation shortened the “long” pimples on rackets favoured by players who sought to gain an advantage with unpredictable spin, but the bid to push for a larger (40-mm [1.6-in], as opposed to the current 38-mm [1.5-in]) ball fell just short of the three-fourths majority it needed from member countries for passage.

Tim Boggan

▪ 1999

      Vladimir Samsonov of Belarus, the 1997 world men's singles runner-up, justified his ranking as the International Table Tennis Federation's (ITTF's) top male player in 1998, winning not only the climactic 1997 Pro Tour grand final but also all the most prestigious 1998 European tournaments, including the European championship, the Europe Top 12, and the European Masters. Other prominent players included Croatia's Zoran Primorac, the 1997 men's World Cup winner; Jörg Rosskopf of Germany, who won the 1998 World Cup; and Jean-Michel Saive of Belgium, the 1998 U.S. Open champion. Luxembourg's Ni Xia Lian, formerly the world mixed doubles champion for China, captured the 1998 European women's championship and her third straight Europe Top 12 title.

      China's "old wave" stars Wang Tao and Deng Yaping won, respectively, the men's and women's singles and doubles in China's 1997 national games, while Kong Linghui (1998 Japan Open winner) and Liu Guoliang (1998 China Open winner) triumphed in the 1997 Pro Tour men's doubles final. Newer players were led by Wang Nan, winner of the women's World Cup in both 1997 and 1998, the 1997 Pro Tour doubles final, and the 1998 China Open.

      In an effort to induce longer rallies for more spectator appeal, the ITTF took steps to make racket play more predictable and sought to restrict service and increase the ball size. An innovative Pro Tour move allowed a player to call for a single one-minute time-out during a match.


▪ 1998

      At the 1997 world table tennis championships in Manchester, Eng., China again dominated play, winning six of the seven titles. The men's team from China defeated France (the first time since 1948 France had reached the final), while the women's team downed North Korea. Deng Yaping, the 24-year-old 1992 and 1996 Olympic champion, won her third world singles championship, then announced her retirement. In men's doubles 1995 world singles champion Kong Linghui and 1996 Olympic champion Liu Guoliang took gold, just as they had in Atlanta, Ga., in 1996. Only Sweden's 1989 world and 1992 Olympic champion Jan-Ove Waldner broke the pattern, beating Belarus's Vladimir Samsonov in the men's singles. Deng and Kong were also the 1996 singles winners in the grand final of the International Table Tennis Federation's (ITTF) newly inaugurated Pro Tour.

      The historic "Ping-Pong Diplomacy" breakthrough exchange visits of the U.S. team to China in 1971 and the Chinese team to the U.S. in 1972 were commemorated in 25th anniversary reunions in both the U.S. and China.

      The ITTF considered staging one-table centre-court matches in a boxing ring or theatre-like setting that would bring the action closer to the spectators. Given the increased firepower of the glued-on sponge-rubber rackets that encourage very aggressive, even risky, serve and serve-return follow-up play, the ITTF also sought to continue experiments with a larger ball.


▪ 1997

      The Chinese continued their domination of table tennis in 1996, collecting all the gold medals at the 1996 Olympic Games. Liu Guoliang, the men's singles runner-up in 1995, won men's singles by besting Wang Tao of China. Deng Yaping, the women's world singles champion in 1991 and 1995, successfully defended her 1992 Olympic singles title by beating Chen Jing of Chinese Taipei (Taiwan). Liu joined the 1995 world men's singles champion, Kong Linghui, to win the men's doubles, while Deng and 1993 world champion Qiao Hong retained their 1992 Olympic doubles title.

      According to the International Table Tennis Federation world rankings that immediately preceded the Olympics, 18 of the top 19 women players playing in the federation's newly formed "Pro Tour" were Asian. The sole exception was the European and German national champion, Nicole Struse. Though the European men were not as outclassed, defending Olympic, 1989 world, and current European men's singles champion Jan-Ove Waldner of Sweden was upset in the Olympics by Johnny Huang of Canada, the 1996 North American champion. Sweden's 1991 world champion, Jorgen Persson, and France's 1993 world champion, Jean-Philippe Gatien, did not qualify for the round of 16 at the Olympics, while the top European seed, Jean-Michel Saive of Belgium, was ousted in the quarterfinals. None of the U.S. men and women made it through the preliminary rounds.

      (TIM BOGGAN)

▪ 1996

      In 1995 the table tennis world championships returned to China in two senses: they took place in Tianjin, and all seven events were won by China, as they had been in 1981. Thus ended Sweden's domination of the men's team event (in 1989, 1991, and 1993) and the run of European triumphs in the men's singles over the same period. The world champions were: men's singles, Kong Linghui; women's singles, Deng Yaping; men's doubles, Wang Tao and Lu Lin; women's doubles, Deng Yaping and Qiao Hong; mixed doubles, Wang Tao and Liu Wei; men's team, China; and women's team, China.

      Table tennis in the United States continued to advance as an increasing number of immigrants brought a new vitality to what had been more of a summer pastime for children than a serious sport. Half of the top 20 players in the United States had been born in China, and only one player on the men's national team, which finished third in the World Team Cup competition held in Atlanta, Ga., was born in the United States.

      The use of toxic glues for attaching rubber to the rackets continued to cause controversy. In the world championships Kim Taek Soo of South Korea was disqualified after the men's singles quarterfinal for having used a previously banned solvent.


▪ 1995

      In the years between the biennial world championships, attention focused on regional events, the largest of which were the European championships. At the 19th staging of this tournament, in Birmingham, England, during March-April 1994, Jean-Michel Saive of Belgium became the new European men's singles champion by defeating Olympic gold medalist Jan-Ove Waldner of Sweden in the final. In the women's singles Marie Svensson of Sweden bested Gerdie Keen of The Netherlands.

      The North American championships took place in Quebec in May. Winner of the men's title was Cheng Ying-hua, who represented the U.S., and Geng Lijuan of Canada who triumphed in the women's competition.

      As the year drew to a close, table tennis fans were looking forward to the 43rd world championships in Tianjin (Tientsin) in April 1995. (TONY BROOKS)

▪ 1994

      At the 42nd world championships in Göteborg, Sweden, Jean-Philippe Gatien became the first Frenchman to win the world men's singles championship when he defeated Jean-Michel Saive (Belgium) in the final game 21-18. Jan-Ove Waldner (Sweden), ranked number one in the world, lost to Saive in the semifinals. For the first time since the 1950s, no Asian player reached the semifinals. Sweden captured the men's team event; China was second, followed by Germany and North Korea.

      In the five other events, no European reached the finals. Hyun Jung Hwa (South Korea) beat Chen Jing (Taiwan) to win the women's singles crown. Wang Tao and Liu Wei (China) captured the mixed doubles, and Wang and Lü Lin (China) won the men's doubles championship. The women's doubles title went to Liu and Qiao Yunping (China). In the women's team event, China placed first, North Korea second, South Korea third, and Hong Kong fourth.

      The 1995 world championships, previously planned for Belgrade, Yugos., were reassigned to Tianjin (Tientsin), China. At its annual meeting the International Table Tennis Federation banned the use of liquid glues on racquets following complaints that the substances were toxic. The computer-ranking system introduced in 1991 proved to be widely popular and would continue to be used extensively. (TONY BROOKS)

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also called (trademarkPing-Pong 
 ball game similar in principle to lawn tennis and played on a flat table divided into two equal courts by a net fixed across its width at the middle. The object is to hit the ball so that it goes over the net and bounces on the opponent's half of the table in such a way that the opponent cannot reach it or return it correctly. The lightweight hollow ball is propelled back and forth across the net by small rackets (bats, or paddles) held by the players. The game is popular all over the world. In most countries it is very highly organized as a competitive sport, especially in Europe and Asia, particularly in China and Japan.

      The game was invented in England in the early days of the 20th century and was originally called Ping-Pong, a trade name. The name table tennis was adopted in 1921–22 when the old Ping-Pong Association formed in 1902 was revived. The original association had broken up about 1905, though apparently the game continued to be played in parts of England outside London and by the 1920s was being played in many countries. Led by representatives of Germany, Hungary, and England, the Fédération Internationale de Tennis de Table (International Table Tennis Federation) was founded in 1926, the founding members being England, Sweden, Hungary, India, Denmark, Germany, Czechoslovakia, Austria, and Wales. By the mid-1990s more than 165 national associations were members.

 The first world championships were held in London in 1927, and from then until 1939 the game was dominated by players from central Europe, the men's team event being won nine times by Hungary and twice by Czechoslovakia. In the mid-1950s Asia emerged as a breeding ground of champions, and from that time the men's team event has been won by either Japan or China, as has the women's event, though to a lesser extent; North Korea also became an international force. In 1980 the first World Cup was held, and Guo Yuehua of China won the $12,500 first prize. Table tennis became an Olympic (Olympic Games) sport in 1988, with singles and doubles competition for men and women.

The game
      Table tennis equipment is relatively simple and inexpensive. The table is rectangular, 9 feet by 5 feet (2.7 metres by 1.5 metres), its upper surface a level plane 30 inches (76 cm) above the floor. The net is 6 feet (1.8 metres) long, and its upper edge along the whole length is 6 inches (15.25 cm) above the playing surface. The ball, which is spherical and hollow, was once made of white celluloid. Since 1969 a plastic similar to celluloid has been used. The ball, which may be coloured white, yellow, or orange, weighs about 0.09 ounce (2.7 grams) and has a diameter of about 1.6 inches (4 cm). The blade of a racket, or bat, is usually made of wood, is flat and rigid, and may be covered with a thin layer of ordinary stippled, or pimpled, rubber, which may be laid over a thin layer of sponge rubber and may have the pimples reversed. Whatever combination is used, each of the two sides of a paddle must be different in colour. The racket may be any size, weight, or shape.

      A match consists of the best of any odd numbers of games, each game being won by the player who first reaches 11 points or who, after 10 points each, wins two clear points ahead. A point is scored when the server fails to make a good service, when either player fails to make a good return, or when either player commits a specified infraction (e.g., touches the playing surface with a free hand while the ball is in play). Service changes hands after every two points until 10-all is reached, when it changes after every subsequent point.

      The serve is made from behind the end of the table, the server tossing the ball upward from the palm of the free hand and striking it as it descends so that it first bounces on the server's own court and then, passing over the net, bounces on the opponent's court. In serving, no spin may be imparted to the ball by the fingers. This was not always so. Finger spin, especially in the United States, reached a stage where the experts could produce untakable services and the game became farcical. Finger spin was universally banned in 1937.

      Interest to the spectator lies in observing the ability of one player to defeat another by well-thought-out strategy. Increasing the speed of the game, slowing it down, varying the direction of or imparting different spin or pace to the ball, and employing gentle drop shots over the net when the opponent is out of position are some of the tactics that may be used to support the strategy planned.

      Slow or defensive play at one time was so dominant that, at the 1936 world championships in Prague, an hour was needed to decide a single point. Play is now restricted. If a game is unfinished 15 minutes after it has begun, the rest of that game and the remaining games of the match proceed under the Expedite System. Thereafter if the service and 13 following strokes of the server are returned by the receiver, the server loses the point. The service changes after each point.

      Table tennis may be played with one player at each end of the table or with two players at each end who may be both men or both women or one of each. Worldwide, the women's game is comparable in organization to the men's, and women take part in world championships and all other organized events. Table tennis as well as being fully organized is also extremely popular as a recreational game and is so played in all types of sports clubs, social clubs, and game rooms, in the home, and even out-of-doors when conditions are reasonably calm.

Victor Barna Ed.

Winners of select table tennis championships

Table Tennis World Cup
       World Cup, Table World Cup, TableWinners of the Table Tennis World Cup are provided in the table.

Men's world table tennis championships
       World Table Tennis Championshipsmen World Table Tennis ChampionshipsmenWinners of the men's world table tennis championships are provided in the table.

Women's world table tennis championships
       World Table Tennis Championshipswomen World Table Tennis ChampionshipswomenWinners of the women's world table tennis championships are provided in the table.

Mixed world table tennis championships
       World Table Tennis Championshipsmixed World Table Tennis ChampionshipsmixedWinners of the mixed world table tennis championships are provided in the table.

Team world table tennis championships
       World Table Tennis Championships-team World Table Tennis Championships-teamWinners of the team world table tennis championships are provided in the table.

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Universalium. 2010.

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