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Saturday, 28 June 2014

Interview with Adam Bobrow - The Voice of Table Tennis ! (Second part)

In the first part of the interview, you discovered Adam Bobrow and how he became the new ITTF Official Commentator.  In the second part, you will know how he lived during the competition in Tokyo for the World Team Championships.   He met the best World players, took photos with them, and share some great moments on his Facebook timeline !

How did you prepare before each encounters and matches?

Good question. There was a media kit for all of the media to refer to which was very helpful and other than reading through that thorough media kit, I did some searching online for interesting stories or gems of information. I also used whatever knowledge of past performances I had from watching these top players play
professionally over the years.

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Fortunately I was surrounded by some human table tennis encyclopedias and did my best to pick their brains whenever I could and I even snuck into the practice hall to talk to some players and learn some interesting back stories. It definitely helped that I had a team of people supplying me with stats and interesting info. Matt Solt, Matt Pound, Chris and Davy from Piing of Power and probably many others worked really hard to make me appear more knowledgeable and I learned a lot in the process.

Which ones did you prefer commentating ?

Britt Eerland vs. Kasumi Ishikawa was outstanding. One moment that I think was over-looked was when Eerland was leading something like 4-1 in game 5 and Ishikawa had the serve. Eerland popped up her receive a bit and Ishikawa went for a BIG forehand and missed it completely. This unforced error silenced the crowd as they thought their player had just lost a point to go down 1-5 but Eerland gave the ball back to Ishikawa to serve again as she pointed to the net and said “let.” I don’t think anyone in the stadium noticed it, but despite it being a HUGE point and maybe the most pivotal point in the match, Eerland’s integrity was as strong as the rest of her game.
Adam with Japan's number one, Kasumi Ishikawa !
Actually that whole overall match (Netherlands vs. Japan) was just marvelous! For that matter, every time the Japanese women played, there was so much excitement in the stadium but even independent of the home crowd, I felt that just the focus, attitude and emotion that was felt within the Japanese women’s team was like watching a Korean soap opera…. in the best possible way.
OH! Yuka Ishigaki (Japan) vs. Li Jie (Netherlands) I found very exciting as well. That was the first time I had commentated a match that required the expedite rule… which I think makes the match SO interesting and exciting. It was really fascinating to see how the game changed so drastically once the expedite rule was put into play.
Irene Ivancan and the entire team of German women were great to watch. They had a wide variety of styles of play on their roster and Ivancan specifically I felt had a VERY versatile and coachable game. Lee Ho Ching and the Hong Kong women were also great to watch.
On the men’s side, Chuang Chih-Yuan vs. Joo Saehyuk was just EPIC! My goodness… that was arguably the match of the tournament and it seems to be the most talked about match as well. It was really an honor to SEE that, let alone to commentate it. Dima vs. Jun Mizutani was an outstanding match as well. And of course, Dima vs. Zhang Jike. CRAZY impressive!

There were so many matches I commentated that I can’t remember them all at this moment, but those were the ones that stood out to me that I got to commentate. And I know you didn’t ask this… but I really look forward to commentating the matches of Masato Shiono, Panagotis Gionis and Xu Xin in the near future.

TTImpossible community loved the way you commentated matches ! What reviews did you get from fans, friends..? And what have you thought about it?

Thanks!!! I am really happy to hear that! I was very pleasantly surprised to receive the reviews that I did. My friends seemed impressed… haha… like they didn’t expect that much from me. Hahaha. :D Although I think many of them thought it makes sense that I would end up doing something like this (commentating for table tennis). Fans were very supportive and encouraging as well. I even read some reviews from people who definitely did not sound like supporters before the tournament but were at least happy that I didn’t ruin the experience for viewers. I am sure there are some people that thought I did… but I was very thankful that things went well.
Adam with World Champion, Zhang Jike
Adam with World number one, Xu Xin
All that being said, I am still new to this and have LOTS to learn so I try to find constructive criticism to help me improve. The one note that I heard a few times only from the avid TT fans who are probably more used to TT commentary was that I don’t need to fill every silence… and at times it would good to be more concise with my words. I think that makes great sense and I will try to apply those concepts in the future… starting right after this interview. :D A funny, short story… a friend of mine who is a big supporter of TT and also a big supporter of mine, came to me and said some really nice things about my commentary but after about 5-10 seconds of compliments he said “Adam, can I give you a word of advice though… sometimes, you talk too much… you’ve gotta give our ears a rest. It’s good but too much good can be bad… we need a break…” and went on and on to say this in about 10 different ways for a solid 2 minutes. I got it loud and clear and found it sort of ironic after the first minute … but in the end, I received his message, said “thank you” and walked away with a clear sense of some adjustments to make moving forward.

Globally, what will you remember from this experience? How did you live this week in Tokyo? Which events will you comment in the future?

I will definitely remember all of the excitement outside of Yoyogi Stadium and how well this event was set up as a spectator’s event. I will remember the KILLER music that the DJ played. Every time I hear “Cut Like a Guillotine” by Tha Trickaz and “Kyoto” by Skrillex I will think of the WTTTC in Tokyo and remember running down to the DJ booth to high-five the DJ.
I will remember watching Chuang Chih-Yuan warm up and drill for about 45 minutes virtually non-stop while working his loop and footwork just before a match. I will remember volunteering to be the ballboy for the North Korean team during their practice... playing with Ma Long and Ibrahim Hamato (who has no arms and plays holding the paddle in his mouth), I will remember meeting Xu Xin and the Chinese team… the matches I mentioned earlier and ESPECIALLY the moment that Kasumi Ishikawa won the match vs. Britt Eerland in game 5. As the ball sailed past the baseline of the table Ishikawa PUMPED her fist with authority and in that instant her she burst into tears. It was a beautiful dichotomy of raw emotion… triumph, relief… and so many other things happening all at once.

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I will remember watching Dima’s backhand vs. Zhang Jike and thinking… “I can’t even IMAGINE how much he must’ve trained to be able to hit shots like that for 3 complete games in a row.” I will remember the ramen, the sushi that was served to me by a computer and a machine. I will remember thinking how safe it felt to be walking around on the street at 3, 4 and 5 in the morning,

I lived that week in Tokyo not exploring non-stop and going on adventures like my normal vacations, but mostly engulfed in world-class table tennis. For 6 days in a row, I spent probably as many as 15 hours a day in the stadium and tried to go out and explore late at night when I could. I managed to see many table tennis friends and even some old non-TT friends on this trip and on my very last day, I made time to walk around and explore in my final hours and really got to experience a bit of Tokyo outside of the stadium.
As far as upcoming events… I will commentate another pro tour event in Canada in August and possibly some others in the near future… but just wanted to focus on the four in front of me right now before overwhelming myself with many other events. Hopefully after my 3 weeks in Asia, I’ll have several other international tournaments on my calendar. I’ll keep you posted via FB.

This was the second part of the Adam Bobrow's interview, the photos are from , and the video belongs to International Table Tennis Federation.

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