Cuenca (ECU) and Havirov (CZE) were host to the only Continental Hopes weeks held on-site in 2021, the first step out of a locked-down world and a step towards more on-site activities.
In Cuenca, the top Hopes players from all four regions of the Americas united for the 2021 Americas Hopes Week and Challenge, a four-day training camp followed by a two-day Challenge tournament.
A total of 10 girls and 9 boys from 11 different Member Associations (USA, PUR, BRA, ARG, GUA, ECU, COL, DOM, PAR, CRC, VEN) accompanied by 16 coaches attended 7 sessions of table tennis practice alongside 2 sessions each of physical and service training.
Additionally, coach education was an important part of the activity. Meetings and discussions were organized between coaches and the activity experts to discuss their interests, how to improve the performance of athletes and what challenges they face.
In the last two days of the activity, a challenge was organized. The first stage was held in a round-robin group format, with the first four players moving to the semi-finals and finals respectively.
The event was well organized by the host association, the quality of the hall and the hotel was very satisfying. On the free afternoon, before the Challenge, sightseeing was organized in the beautiful city of Cuenca.
„I liked the diversity of the players and coaches. All the participants were fully motivated, which is essential for a coach! The improvement of our sport across the whole continent during the last decade could be seen clearly.“ Zoltan Batorfi (Head Coach).
“The balance of the camp was very good. We worked on consistency, reinforcing basic main techniques, opening with backhand topspin, techniques beyond the basics, variations of forehand topspin, different exercises of footwork and strengthen the core.” Rafa Armendariz (Assistant Head Coach)
“The Hopes is a very good program which helps a lot of children not only in America but around the world. It also gave us the opportunity to meet coaches and share impressions, to make new friends, training hard was great for the children, it was a very great job from Zoltan and Rafael during the Hopes week. I really appreciate all the effort made and the excellent organization of the event”. Larry Hodges (USA; coach)
“I was very happy with the Camp and grateful for the work done by the Coaches. I really liked the recommendations they made to me about my backhand and the most appropriate distance to make these shots”. Diego Suchite (GUA)
“I am very satisfied with the improvement achieved in my blocking, timing and using my index finger better to improve sensitivity and rotation to the forehand topspin”. Ricardo Bernal (ECU)
“I am very grateful for allowing me to be part of this camp, I had the opportunity to make new friends from different countries, the exercises were very good for me and I improved my technique a lot. The physical preparation was hard but very good for everyone”. Karolayn Maldonado (ECU)
Meanwhile, in the Czech Republic, the ETTU Hopes Selection Camp was organized in the National Training Center Havirov. The training was led by Czech coaches Renata Strbikova, Petr Nedoma, and fitness trainer Patrik Kaizar. The evaluation was conducted by Dominique Plattner, Sasa Dragas, Renata Strbikova, and Neven Cegnar.
A total of 28 players from 14 European Member Associations (CZE, SVK, HUN, CRO, SLO, UKR, ESP, GBR, AZE, SRB, MNE, AUT, ROU, KOS), along with 15 coaches participated in the camp which concluded on 17 September.
The camp’s program included 11 Sessions of table tennis practice, service receive-return and multiball training. Additionally, there were 3 sessions of physical preparation and one session for regeneration.
The current and former Czech Republic national players, Lubomir Jancarik and Renata Strbikova assisted the athletes in the camp with table tennis shots practice and fruitful discussions.
“The camp ran with no issues, all coaches were involved also during the sessions. We had a discussion about regular things, tips, news and new ideas. I think everybody learned something, the kids were satisfied, and everybody did well the week over.” – reported Renata Stribkova
The next step in the ITTF Hopes pathway is the ITTF World Hopes Week & Challenge in Amman.
The 20 girls and 20 boys who will participate in the prestigious event were selected based on a combination of factors demonstrated during the onsite Hopes activities, as well as during the Hopes Around The Clock, the online element that was an integral part of the Hopes program in 2021. In the Americas, the winner of the Continental Hopes Challenge and the winner of the U11 age category of the ITTF Pan American U11 & U13 Championships qualified directly, while in Europe the two players per gender with the highest evaluation booked their ticket to Jordan. To fulfill the continental quote, the additional spot per gender was filled based on the evaluation during the Hopes Around The Clock, which was also the basis for selection in those continents where no on-site activities took place. The evaluation considered common attributes of a player’s performance and attitude during the online training sessions.
Following the ITTF World Hopes Week and Challenge, participants will have the opportunity to be selected for the Hopes Squad, which will offer more opportunities to train together, along with a chance to be selected for the ITTF Hopes Team.
Qualified players 2021 ITTF World Hopes Week & Challenge (as of 5 November 2021)