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William Henzell's Blog November 13, 2013


I competed at the World Singles Cup in Belgium the week before last and was happy with how it all went. The World Cup is one of the best tournaments to play. There's only a small number of players (18 at this one) which means you receieve great treatment throughout. This World Cup was no different and the players were well taken care of.

I arrived on the Wednesday evening after a 35 hour trip from Australia, struggling to stay awake from the jetlag. My scheduled practice partner (the Canadian representative) had made other plans so I was struggling to find a hit the next day. Fortunately Jean-Michael Saive and Vladamir Samsonov are great guys are let me join in their training session. Having trained only in Australia for a year since the 2012 Olympics, I straight away felt the difference. The quality of the shots of these top guys is so much better. Even their bad shots when out of position and out of time are difficult. They'll add a little bit of topspin kick, or place the ball well which increasing the chance I'll miss or play a shot that allows them to stay in the rally.

I drew Indian number 1 Kamal Ashanta (50 in the World) and one of the top Hong Kong players Tang Peng (29 in the World) in my group. There are no simple groups so I was happy enough with the draw. I had no expectations on myself and felt no pressure to perform well. I usually don't play well under those circumstances as I often need that pressure to get me going. I started very well against Kamal, taking a 3 sets to 0 lead. To be fair I was fortuante to be in that position, coming back from 6-10 down in the 1st set and 3-8 down in the 3rd set to win both. He fought back winning the 4th set easily. I led 6-4 in the 5th set but lost and he won the 6th set easily. He took a big 6-0 lead in the 7th set but I cam back to lead 8-6 and 9-8 before succumbing 12-10. I played well through the match and very well at times.

Against that level of player, it's imperative that I get to my strong backhand topspin as often as possible as it is my best chance of competing with the strengths of my opponent. If I get caught back fromt the table or in too many topspin to topspin rallies, it's going to be tough for me to do well. Kamal is a big powerful playing with big forehand and backhand topspins when he gets time to play them. I needed to be the aggressor, trying to take the ball early and play quick shots to keep him as passive as I could. Considering he plays in Timo Boll's team, Borussia Dusseldorf, in the German league and I sit behind a desk all day, I'm pretty happy to have played well and gotten close.

Next up I played Tang Peng from Hong Kong. He has short pimples on his backhand side which he uses well. I usually don't mind playing against short pimples as the ball usually comes through consistently with no spin or a little backspin, which sits up nicely for my backhand topspin. But I found his short pimples tricky as he was particularly skillful in mixing the length, speed, dip and spin of his shots. This made it more difficult for me to take the ball early and play aggressively off the bounce. I made too many errors as I was going too hard and it wasn't until I scaled back my attacks that I found better consistency and more flow in my shots.

I actually ended up serving quite a few long serves deep into his backhand as the match went on. I don't serve a great deal of long serves usually but found this tactic effective against Tang. My long tomahawk serve with backspin worked the best as he was passive and either pushed or lifted the ball. I played well against but lost 4-2. He played very well the next day to almost beat top seed and eventual winner Xu Xin from China.

You can view the matches at these links William Henzell vs Kamal full match and William Henzell vs Tang Peng full match and William Henzell vs Tang Peng highlights.

Published date: 
Wed, 11/13/2013 - 07:45