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Ian Marshall, Editor of Table Tennis Illustrated
More Than A Subtle Difference

LIEBHERR Men's World Cup


William HENZELL found Vladimir SAMSONOV in imperious mood

Vladimir SAMSONOV is one of the world’s most complete players; it’s arguably easier to find a needle in a haystack than find a chink in the armoury of the stylish man from Belarus who must have felt almost at home playing in the Liebherr Men’s World Cup in Ličge. He plays for Villette Charleroi in Belgium, the club being less than an hour’s drive from the Country Hall du Pays de Ličge. He played in his usual unhurried manner and duly won in straight games, quite simply proving to be too good for Australia’s William HENZELL, a man who like SAMSONOV is a true sportsman, good manners and total effort.

“It doesn’t get any better than playing in a tournament like this; in table tennis this is as big as it comes”, said William HENZELL after being given something of lesson in how to play table tennis by Vladimir SAMSONOV. “He just doesn’t miss, he doesn’t make any mistakes; you just can’t find a weakness in his play”, continued HENZELL. “The ball keeps coming back, the problem is it comes back faster and faster!”

HENZELL is from Adelaide in South Australia and has played in Sweden for the last nine years; first of all for Kalmar and then for Lyckerby, the club he now represents. “I made the move to Sweden on the advice of my coach in Australia, Suante ATLAS”, he continued. “If live in Australia and you want to progress in table tennis then you must move away, the number of good players in Sweden is so much greater and for thirty years they’ve been one of the world’s leading table tennis countries.”

Very true but it’s now some forty years since the late Hans ALSÉR and Kjell JOHANSSON were the dominant players in Europe!

Playing in Sweden, William HENZELL has been a regular visitor to England in the past twelve months and he’s been very successful on the country’s Grand Prix Circuit. “I know Martin RODGERS well, he’s also from Australia and works in England for the Daily Mirror, so I came to see him and do some coaching in the Derby, Nottingham area.” added HENZELL. “At my level, playing in the English Grand Prix is important, I can win some money!”

A very realistic comment but of course playing in the Liebherr World Cup is not quite the same. “Yes, the first round here is a little different to the first round in a tournament in Wolverhampton”, smiled HENZELL. Now, that’s not an adverse comment about Wolverhampton who over the years had several players, especially their women’s team, who have performed very creditably in national competitions. However, HENZELL is right; I live near Wolverhampton and I’ve not come across anyone in that city or in an English Grand Prix tournament who plays quite like Vladimir SAMSONOV!

“Vladimir SAMSONOV is different from many of the world’s best players”, continued HENZELL. “He’s very fluent in the way he plays, it’s a style I really like, one I try to emulate, it’s the way I try to play.” HENZELL is a player who is at his best in rallies and his style is very fluent; also, he has a goal, to do well in the Commonwealth Games that will be held in Melbourne in his native Australia in 2006.

So, what are his chances? “I think it will be won by one of the Chinese players who have moved”, explained HENZELL. Certainly in the Women’s Singles with such players as the lady currently ranked number three on the World Ranking List, LI Jia Wei, eligible to play, the potential chances for other female players do not look rosy. Similarly, in the men’s events, LI Jia Wei’s Singapore’s colleagues GAO Ning and YANG Zi are formidable opponents as is Canada’s ZHANG Peng, so for players like HENZELL, the table tennis event in Melbourne is going to be tough.

No Sympathy
“England won in Manchester in 2002 and we had a real chance to beat them”, said William HENZELL. “It’s still hurts, we could have won.” Now, William HENZELL is talking to the wrong man, am I, an Englishman, expected to feel sorry for an Australian?

For the past twenty years we’ve lost to them at cricket in the series of matches which is always known as the Ashes but this year who won? “Yes, the Poms have some good cricketers now”, conceded HENZELL, for those who don’t speak fluent Australian, a Pom is an Englishmen and in England we are still celebrating the success of the summer; in fact we’re still celebrating winning the Football World Cup in 1966.

On Friday 21st October, William HENZELL didn’t have a victory to celebrate but he could celebrate the fact that he had qualified to play in one of the world’s major table tennis tournaments; he’d acquitted himself well, he was richer for the experience and throughout the contest his demeanour and behaviour had been impeccable. He may just cause a few surprises in Melbourne next year.

Vladimir SAMSONOV, the master craftsman (Photo: Martin)

Date Title
10/29/2006 Ma Lin Crowned Champion for the Fourth Time
10/29/2006 Wang Liqin Clinches Third Place at the Liebherr Men’s World Cup in Paris
10/29/2006 Wang Hao Beats Vladimir Samsonov to Make it an All Chinese Final in Paris
10/29/2006 Ma Lin Beats World Champion to Reach the Final of the Liebherr Men’s World Cup
10/28/2006 Chinese Stars Book Semi-Final Places at the Liebherr Men’s World Cup
10/28/2006 Semi-Finalists Decided in Paris
10/28/2006 Damien Eloi Departs as French Hopes End at the Liebherr Men’s World Cup
10/28/2006 Werner Schlager Once Again Shows his Liking for Paris
10/28/2006 Vladimir Samsonov Beats Kalinikos Kreanga but Both Reach Quarter-Finals
10/28/2006 Belgian Star Fights in Trademark Style but Austrian Prevails in Paris
10/27/2006 Did You Know?
10/27/2006 Wang Hao Joins Compatriots in Second Stage at the Liebherr Men’s World Cup
10/27/2006 Ma Lin Progresses to the Last Eight and Patrick Chila Wins Cliffhanger
10/27/2006 Defending Champion, Timo Boll, Exits Liebherr World Cup in Paris
10/27/2006 Wang Liqin Reverses the Result of Earlier in 2006 to Reserve a Last Eight Place
10/27/2006 Chuan Chih-Yuan in the Fast Lane whilst Damien Eloi Tests Wang Hao in Paris
10/27/2006 Ma Lin and Werner Schlager Survive Opening Encounters but Both are Tested
10/27/2006 Greek Star Causes Opening Match Upset to Beat Defending Champion in Paris
10/27/2006 Wang Liqin Makes an Impressive Start at the Liebherr Men’s World Cup
10/26/2006 The First Goal is a Place in the Last Eight at the Liebherr Men’s World Cup in Paris
10/26/2006 Hear what the players said after the Draw in Paris
10/25/2006 Mixed Memories as Wang Liqin Aims for a First in Paris
10/24/2006 German Star Well Prepared to Defend his Title at the Liebherr Men’s World Cup
10/19/2006 Korean Players Cancel Entry
10/1/2006 The Suffering Ends for Guo Yan as she Beats Zhang Yining to Capture Gold in Urumqi
10/1/2006 Li Jia Wei Turns the Tables to Clinch Third Place at the Sinkiang Women’s World Cup
10/1/2006 Zhang Yining and Guo Yan Reach the Final of the Sinkiang Women’s World Cup
9/30/2006 Tie Yana Extracts Revenge as her Tremendous Form Continues in Urumqi
9/30/2006 End of the Road for the Defenders as Zhang Yining & Li Jia Wei Prevail
9/30/2006 Viktoria Pavlovich Flies the Flag for Europe as she Reaches the Last Eight
9/30/2006 Ai Fukuhara Maintains Record over Gao Jun to Reach Quarter-Finals in Urumqi
9/30/2006 Appreciating the Opportunity, a Chance for Egyptian Star to Play the Very Best
9/29/2006 Chinese Stars End the First Day on a High Note in Urumqi
9/29/2006 Strength of Character Sees Li Xiaoxia Recover to Win Seven Game Thriller
9/29/2006 Adulation, the People of Urumqi Welcome Table Tennis with Open Arms
9/29/2006 Liu Jia Recovers to Cause the First Upset in the Sinkiang Women’s World Cup
9/29/2006 Crowd Support Motivates Tie Yana to Victory over a Testing Adversary
9/29/2006 Experience Proves the Telling Factor in the Early Exchanges in Urumqi
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