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    Posted: 11/14/2021 at 12:01pm
I have been watching Youtube videos from recent competitions and league play and sorta keeping tabs on young European players in an attempt to see if any of them are really going to make a breakthrough, rise to the top of European table tennis and have a snowball's chance in hell to challenge the Chinese.

I find men's game stylistically more interesting, so I have been mostly watching that.  Nothing against the women's game.  They are really good, but I find it technically less interesting.

Samsonov has essentially retired.  Boll is getting there.  Current generation of mature European players (let's say 25 and up) is reasonably strong, but a bit of a step down from the previous generation I think.  That having been said, between Ovtcharov, Franziska, Gauzy, Falck, Pitchford, Freitas, etc this is still a pretty strong generation, especially given that European players tend to mature a little later.

Looking at the younger players, there are a few that are either already getting there or looking really promising.  In no particular order:
Darko Jorgic: he is really stepping up. Mentally strong.  Greatly improved FH and intelligent point contruction
Anton Kallberg: very complete game.  He is getting better at winning ugly, but that still needs work.  Needs a change in handling pressure to step up in competition.  His game might be too straightforward to really challenge the Chinese
Truls Moregardh: great talent. Somewhat technically, but clearly good enough.  Mental toughness... seems questionable, but he is young and it is getting better.
Lev Katsman: workhorse type of a game, but after wining Euro doubles his mental toughness really took a step up as did his footwork.  He needs to learn how to win some easy points to make a step up.
Maksim Grebnev: He used to be a little wild, but really benefitted from the last Euro.  I think we will see some serious technical improvement next year in how he constructs points and executes his game plan.
Ioannis Sgouropoulos: always had great hands.  He seems to finally take physical conditioning seriously.  He is adjusting to that now.  His newly found fitness gives him some new options he is not yet using to full potential.  Next year could really be a breakout year for him.
Samuel Kulcyzcki: Great physical talent.  Mental aspect is virtually non-existent for the time being though.  We'll see how that develops.
Alexandre Cassin: If you look up fast twitch muscles in the dictionary, there will be a picture of that kid in there.  If his coach is competent, he could really do something in a couple of years.  Very raw, it seems, but great potential.

Who am I missing?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Simon_plays Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/14/2021 at 12:50pm
Kai Stumper has really improved this season and might still make it to the top 20 if things go his way. 

Dang Qiu is also playing well and has a very high top level if he's playing well. He might be 26 already though.

Felix Lebrun had a good win against CCY at a recent tournament, showing some promise there considering he's only 15.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote koshkin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/14/2021 at 1:04pm
I thought about Dang Qiu and Felix Lebrun, but I am always dubious about penholders that are coming up in Europe.  Penhold game may require some coaching aspects that are not easy to find outside of Asia.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote DonnOlsen Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/14/2021 at 5:20pm
Looking at the younger players, there are a few that are either already getting there or looking really promising.  In no particular order: . . .

Your posting is an excellent overview of the rising talents in Europe.

Kallberg is a proven top European player.  Whether he can reach the below-China standard of the Japanese/Korean as the two great Germans have done we will wait and see.

Truls is probably the biggest uncertainty due to the components of his game being exceptionally diverse.  He is allocating his skill development more broadly than others, so we will see if it all can consolidate into an organic whole against the enormous firepower in the game today.  I, for one, am cheering him on and the benefit of being in the Swedish table tennis culture should be highly recognized as an advantage he holds.

Sgouropoulos now has an upper limit in his reliance on the successful responsiveness to offensive opponents.  This limit is evident in his Calderano match recently.  Were he to build a more pro-active, assertive offensive game, his prospects are great.

My main training partner has fallen in love with Katsman for his spirit of play, which is thrilling to watch.  If he's in the right environment with the right coaching direction, he could be as good as Europe gets.

Thank you for your contribution.




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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote piligrim Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/14/2021 at 5:28pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote lgxb Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/14/2021 at 5:32pm
Felix Lebrun--- I hope he will be next penhold superstar
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote piligrim Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/14/2021 at 6:09pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote koshkin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/14/2021 at 9:00pm
Originally posted by piligrim piligrim wrote:

Duda

Duda is 27 and likely hit his ceiling already.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote blahness Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/14/2021 at 9:10pm
Imo Truls has a BH weakness, although he has great punches and variations and short game, when it comes to BH-BH rallies, the lack of a consistent quality topspin BH really hurts him a lot. 

Kallberg actually has a really amazing game with amazing short game and takes the ball early and fast reflexes/footwork, he's gonna go far imo. 

The Greek guy Sgouropoulos has just amazing fluid strokes (and so effortlessly powerful) on both wings and just great touch, unfortunately the guy is just relatively slow and unathletic compared to the rest which hurts his game a lot.... Is he young tho? I saw him already balding...

I was quite impressed by Lev Katsman, he's very fast on his feet, uses all the lefty angles to the max, and has amazing spin on both wings which cause trouble for everyone playing him. Really good tight serve too. I think he even won against the amazing Lin Yun ju recently!

Darko Jorgic has a really weird BH oriented stance which makes him quite vulnerable in the middle, but if he manages to get the first attack in he is really lethal due to his very explosive power. But the weaknesses are too easily exploited by the CNT....


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Snakefish Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/15/2021 at 3:55am
Originally posted by lgxb lgxb wrote:

Felix Lebrun--- I hope he will be next penhold superstar


Me too.  I hope he makes penhold great again!!  ClapStar
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AndySmith Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/15/2021 at 6:59am
Sgouropoulos's semi-final and final matches in the Euro U21 Champs are incredibly entertaining.  Well worth a watch if you have time.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote DonnOlsen Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/15/2021 at 8:41am
Hi,

If we broaden the topic to non-Asian-continent "European-like" players, then Mr. Calderano should be mentioned.  He, at age 24 (I think), has declared his career objectives to include defeating the Chinese.  It is oh so rare to hear that publicly for the obvious reason of its difficulty.

Hugo plays like a developing player, in that he is always pushing himself to the limits of his capabilities to execute point-winning shots above his opponent's ability to respond.  No top 10 player is doing that.  This sets him apart.  He does not, 100% of the time, "play within himself."  He is playing in preparation for the Chinese.

Every year he improves upon his extreme execution.  His specialness is found in his ability to attain excellent results in a context of improvement striving.  [Our boy Truls is of the same ilk.]  His swings in stability, game to game, and match to match, are directly attributable to his process of ultimate attainment.

The beauty of sport is that the end point is indeterminant.  Unlike the masses, Hugo has all the right stuff: his philosophy, his commitment, his spirit of play, his athleticism, his success momentum.  

We have two on the men's side with a chance for great distinction; walking side by side with Hugo is the already-great Harimoto.   Our next great look will be the World's.  I do hope the draw results in the best exposure to be able to see the most.

Thanks.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote koshkin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/15/2021 at 2:40pm
Calderano is definitely an interesting prospect, although the decision to pay for a Russian league team can not be good for his development.  It probably pays him well, but is not good for training.  I am sure he is still training in Germany though.

To compete successfully against the Chinese table tennis juggernaut, you have to have something different in your game.  Something that will throw a wrench into their game planning during those crucial moments where the pressure is at it highest.  Some players have those quirks in their game already (Moregardh, for example) and the question is whether they can develop their game further without losing that unusualness, for lack of a better word.

That is one of my concerns about Kallberg.  His game plan is too orhtodox, it seems.  You can beat one Chinese player with it on a good day, but not three and that is the style they practice against day in and day out.

Same for Lev Katsman.  He is absolutely a talent and has phenomenal work ethic, but he needs an extra gear and some of that unusualness to step up. 

Harimoto is interesting to me because he became so good so young.  Now, that is growing up, he has to figure out how to play with an adult body and adult psyche that weighs risks differently. 

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TTslurp Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/15/2021 at 5:04pm
Truls is a great talent but imho he looses too much on the backhand side because he has a problem to consistently produce strong topspin there. The best players just blow him away at the bh side. I think it is his unusual grip that is the culprit and personally would like him to slightly alter his grip to overcome that weakness. 

Edited by TTslurp - 11/15/2021 at 5:25pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote blahness Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/15/2021 at 7:15pm
Originally posted by AndySmith AndySmith wrote:

Sgouropoulos's semi-final and final matches in the Euro U21 Champs are incredibly entertaining.  Well worth a watch if you have time.

He did so many Kreanga like BHs lol, but unlike Kreanga he stays balanced and positionally much more secure. Clap 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote zeio Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/15/2021 at 9:23pm
It shows how weak Europe is, which I've been preaching for years, when Calderano and Harimoto get mentioned in a thread about young European prospects.

The only young prospect from Europe worth keeping an eye on is Lebrun. Forget the other ones over 20. They should be competing against the world's best by now and looking ready to replace "Ovtcharov, Franziska, Gauzy, Falck, Pitchford, Freitas, etc."
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote amateur Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/16/2021 at 7:07am
Nice thread. Calderano has a Portuguese passport, so in that sense at least he kind of belongs here. But he is 25 years (and 5 months) old already.

Speaking of really young European prospects, female players like Pavade and Kaufmann look more promising. The Chinese women will stay unbeatable though for the foreseeable future.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote blahness Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/16/2021 at 7:38am
Originally posted by zeio zeio wrote:

It shows how weak Europe is, which I've been preaching for years, when Calderano and Harimoto get mentioned in a thread about young European prospects.

The only young prospect from Europe worth keeping an eye on is Lebrun. Forget the other ones over 20. They should be competing against the world's best by now and looking ready to replace "Ovtcharov, Franziska, Gauzy, Falck, Pitchford, Freitas, etc."

Lol yeah Calderano is Brazilian and Harimoto is Japanese LOL 

The U21 stars are decent tho, I think some even defeated the younger CNT men players like Zhou Qihao... 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote zeio Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/16/2021 at 12:08pm
Originally posted by amateur amateur wrote:

Nice thread. Calderano has a Portuguese passport, so in that sense at least he kind of belongs here. But he is 25 years (and 5 months) old already.

Speaking of really young European prospects, female players like Pavade and Kaufmann look more promising. The Chinese women will stay unbeatable though for the foreseeable future.

I tried to make that connection last time and it didn't end well.

Pavade looks decent, but needs more matches against Asian styles to tell.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote koshkin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/16/2021 at 2:00pm
Originally posted by zeio zeio wrote:

It shows how weak Europe is, which I've been preaching for years, when Calderano and Harimoto get mentioned in a thread about young European prospects.

The only young prospect from Europe worth keeping an eye on is Lebrun. Forget the other ones over 20. They should be competing against the world's best by now and looking ready to replace "Ovtcharov, Franziska, Gauzy, Falck, Pitchford, Freitas, etc."

I am not sure onboard with that, since European players do mature later.

As far as Lebrun goes, I went and found a couple of his matches on Youtube and, honestly, I do not know what you guys see that is impressive outside of a novelty factor of a French kid playing penhold.

It will be interesting to see how he develops moving forward.  If I were to make a guess, I'd guess that he will fizzle out rather quickly, but I've been wrong before.

With all of the players I mentioned, what I am looking for is a clear record of improvement.  Naturally, we do not know how long that will go on, but with European players, I expect them to be hitting their peak performance in late 20s/early 30s.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mykonos96 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/16/2021 at 11:34pm
Originally posted by amateur amateur wrote:

Nice thread. Calderano has a Portuguese passport, so in that sense at least he kind of belongs here. But he is 25 years (and 5 months) old already.

Speaking of really young European prospects, female players like Pavade and Kaufmann look more promising. The Chinese women will stay unbeatable though for the foreseeable future.


Calderano has never played for portugal.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote zeio Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/17/2021 at 4:12am
We'd be lying to ourselves if we keep saying that. Care to look up the age of those European legends in the 80s and 90s when they became world class players? The majority were between 18 and 23 at Seoul 1988. By Barcelona 1992, quite a few of them were already winning medals in the majors. By Atlanta 1996, several of them were already World Champs and/or World Cup holders. By Sydney 2000, they had already achieved enough to cement their status in table tennis history when they were washed up in their 30s.

The impression that European players mature later stems from the educational system reform, as pointed out by Rosskopf in 2019. And that's what makes Lebrun worthy of attention because he's not bogged down by that. He's on a similar trajectory as Harimoto and LYJ by starting really young, competing against players many years his senior, even scoring wins and making the main draw at 15 years and 2 months old in a senior event, which is very difficult after the World Ranking reform in 2018.

For comparison, Harimoto(then 15 and 3) and LYJ(then 17 and 1) stopped competing in junior events after the Youth Olympic Games 2018. Moregard is going to compete at the World Youth Championships this December, in the U19 event at the age of 19 and 9. Come on. To add insult to injury, Moregard is ranked even lower than Februn in the U19.

Calderano, who didn't switch to table tennis until 14, was already making a name for himself at WJTTC 2014, YOG 2014 and Rio 2016. He also stopped competing in U21 events after that Olympic games when he was eligible for another year. Think about it.

https://www.tabletennisdaily.com/forum/showthread.php?21060-Germany-in-Decline-Rosskopf-Working-to-Revert-It
Quote TTW: The German team is still recognized as the most powerful team in Europe. What is the current status in terms of the echelon?

Rosskopf: We have Boll and Ovtcharov on the team for the time being, so we are still a strong team in Europe and in the world, but beyond them, the German team actually has a generation gap. Due to the reform of the educational system, the enlightenment period and growth period of German teenagers are now postponed, so the younger generation of players generally lack sufficient training time. Most people start their careers after graduating at 18 years old. Boll and I both joined the Bundesliga when we were 14 years old. The training of the reserve echelon is not only a problem for the German team, but also a problem for the entire European table tennis. Nowadays, young players have a lot of hobbies, and they all hope to get early results, but they have neglected hard training and techniques. We are actively working in hopes of changing this situation.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote amateur Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/17/2021 at 11:55am
Originally posted by mykonos96 mykonos96 wrote:

Originally posted by amateur amateur wrote:

Nice thread. Calderano has a Portuguese passport, so in that sense at least he kind of belongs here. But he is 25 years (and 5 months) old already.

Speaking of really young European prospects, female players like Pavade and Kaufmann look more promising. The Chinese women will stay unbeatable though for the foreseeable future.


Calderano has never played for portugal.


I didn't say that. But it seems that he has a Portuguese passport, which allowed him to count as "European" in the German league (TTBL has a limit for non-European players that a club can use in any given match).
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