First Family of Table Tennis
By David Fullen
First Family in table tennis Ė first not only because collectively they play
more table tennis than probably any other family, but also because individually
they come in first in table tennis matches most of the time Ė friendships made
are as important as matches played. I had a chance to talk with most of the
Yip/Dattel/Hugh family Ė Yip is Lilyís last name and in
What led to your outstanding performance at the recent Nationals? (see inset for results)
Judy: Probably more practice and game playing. You have to play games to have the mentality. I play with Barry. I play more games with him, more
drilling with mom. I used to prefer playing games over drilling, but now I see that drill practice really makes a difference. When I don't practice for a couple of days or a week, when I pick up the racket it takes a while to get the touch back.
Barry: Judy has this ability to come from behind in tournament matches. She probably did it 10 times last year. She's not rattled by being behind. She's focused on the next point.
Lily: I won Mixed Doubles with Adam. We've finished second before, but this was the first time we won. I'm so happy that I won with Adam.
Barry: And this might be the first time a mother/son team has won a mixed doubles championship. Three years ago I played with Judy and Lily played with Adam. It seems like a popular event now, with 32 teams this past year. Judy and I lost in a close four games to the team Adam and Lily beat in the finals.
I don't consider my performance at Nationals outstanding. I tried my best, but players beat me. Iíve won over 30 singles and over 40 singles at least once before. Semis aren't as good as winning, but Iím not unhappy with my performance.
Would you list your major table tennis titles in addition to Nationals?
Barry: Adam is the North American champ. He's won every age category starting at age 11. He hasn't won anything on the international scene, but I believe he came in around 3rd in the world junior challenge championships.
Judy: #1 under 18 years in Ď04, #1 under 16 girls in Ď03. 6th '03 in world cadet challenge.
Lily: Top 16 women's singles in
Barry: Over 40 national champ, Over 30
Are you surprised at how well Adam and Judy are doing?
Lily: I'm not surprised. They have better conditions than most of the kids. They're very athletic. Adam started when he was 10. They have it their genes. They should be #1.
How did you keep them interested when they were growing up?
Lily: I tried not to push them too
much. I let them know how lucky I was to play table tennis. That's one of the reasons
I play, too. They see I'm happy when I play. Sometimes they don't put in the
time I expect, but I try not to push. But I don't let them off completely. They
enjoy travel and they have so many friends, and they can continue to meet a lot
of friends. Judy has a good friend in
Barry: When Adam and Judy started playing, I put quarters on the table. If they hit the quarter they could keep it. It supported the idea that if you hit a good shot you were rewarded. I think I lost 5 dollars that night. They were very talented to begin with - coordinated. Lily's genes.
In 2005 your family played 594 USATT matches and won an average of 74% of the time. How did you build this habit of winning throughout your family?
Lily: I think Judy and Adam give me motivation. I want to show the kids. I do swimming and walking. The harder you work at it you have a better body. They grew up more mature. They understand that if you want to win you have to try your best.
In the last 2-3 years I don't train with them as much. If you want to keep your game you have to practice, but with so much homework they're under pressure. They understand that if they want to win they have to practice. They learn by watching other people, too. I just practice with them now. And Barry does, too.
In '05 Adamís USATT won about 84% of the time. How does he do it?
Barry: He's much better than the people he's played. Adam is well trained. He's obviously fairly smart. He knows how to think and play at the same time with good technique. Good concentration. He has the whole package.
well. He has an aptitude for most sports, but especially table tennis. He
What is your daily/weekly Training routine? Coaching routine?
Lily: I find time to train with my kids 2-4 hrs/week. I coach 2-4 hrs/day maximum and I swim twice a week. I really need to organize my schedule.
Barry: I play with Judy. I play sometimes at the club. I play whenever I have a chance. Some weeks are better than others. I think Adam does more running and weight lifting now to keep in shape with table tennis a couple times a week, plus competition. The family tries to go down on Friday night to play with him at the Princeton TTC.
Judy: There's no concrete schedule. It's pretty much when I finish homework. I shoot for an hour a day, then 2 hours on the weekend on Saturday or Sunday. 6-7 hours a week. It should be more but with school it's hard. I'm a junior and there's a little bit of pressure in your junior year of high school.
When you play are you doing battle or feeling joy? (Or experiencing the joy of doing battle?)
Lily: I enjoy it more, especially when I get older. The game has given me so much. I lost a match to a younger player at Nationals, and because of that match I didn't make the American team. But I thought, "Hurray for the younger generation." When I was young it was a competition and I had to win. I still want to win, but you have to win fair. It's the same in business. You have to have a good attitude.
Judy: Probably more joy. I'm not as competitive as some people. It's not like I want to kill the other person - it's not personal. I'm pretty much in a zone when I play. People have asked me what I think about †- they †wanted to know what I was thinking at Nationals when I was down in the fifth game and I came back to win, but I didn't know what to say.
What is your current equipment? How would you classify your playing style?
Judy: I use a Stiga offense blade, with Magna on my backhand and Mendo MP on my forehand. I'm a close to the table looper. Iím trying to become more of a two-winged looper.
Barry: Adam is an aggressive attacker. Good power shots on FH and BH.
Iím an all around player. Mostly an aggressive spinner. I use a Butterfly paddle with Chinese inverted rubber on the forehand, and Killerspin inverted rubber on the backhand. But it changes.
Lily: Aggressive FH attack. I play
fast and hit hard. When I was in
Lily, how did your background in
Lily: I was among the best on the
Chinese youth team - top 16 - in the Chinese National Championship four-five
years straight. I was the best in my province. I was Top 16 in the country many
times. Also #3 in Women's Doubles at the Chinese National
Championships. After that they sent me to college for Phys. Ed to be a
women's coach. I graduated, then came to the
look back I'm happy I became a
Barry: We'd play and practice. A couple of years later we had a relationship. My parents also met through table tennis and married.
like the social aspect of the game. We have friends all over the world, and we
like playing to see our friends. Judy has great friends in
Tell us about your table tennis background. How did you get started? How did you reach your current level?
Judy: When I first started we always came to the club because of my mom and Barry. Adam and I didn't know how to play. Every single day we saw people play, so we got started.
Barry: I started playing seriously in college
at 18. I was part of the Rutgers team -
My parents played table tennis - they made the finals in Mixed Doubles in the late 40s. My parents used to go to the club, but I stayed home. It wasn't until I was about 17 that I saw it properly played.
the New Jersey Table Tennis Club in
What are your next steps in table tennis?
Lily: Since we don't have funding from
the USOC, I'd like to use some resources from
Beijing to see if I can arrange to bring 16 players this summer - 8 boys and 8 girls - to the National Chinese training center in Beijing - to the "secret" Zheng Ding International Table Tennis Training Center where the Chinese National Team conducts its secret training sessions for two months of intense training before the worlds.
Judy: I'm not sure what '06 will bring. I'm hoping to make the national team someday. I finished 6th this year and they take four players. Age isn't really a factor in table tennis. Like my mom, for example. So it'll be awhile before older players stop playing and open up some spots.
What are Adamís goals as part of the US Men's National Team? What will he focus on as he prepares for the World's this spring?
Barry: It's a good question. He's got
to get approval from the school and figure out how he's going to keep up and go
to the World's in April. We don't know what they think - we hope they think
it's a good thing. But he's got to be able to keep up and school takes
precedence. I think his level helped him get accepted to
Clearly academics are a priority in the First Family. Judy, how do you balance academics with table tennis? What subjects do you like most?
Judy: Academics come first. I try to finish 75% of my homework first, then play. I like languages - I'm taking French. I used to like math, but now it's one of the toughest subjects.
How is college going so far for Adam? How does he balance academics with table tennis? What has the transition been like?
Barry: It's been a great transition. Heís very busy, though. He has about 20% of the table tennis time that he used to have because of so much schoolwork.
What are Adamís plans for an Operations Research and Financial Engineering/ Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering major?
Barry: No idea. We have no clue what he might do with it. He might go into some kind of financial thing, but who knows. He's a first quarter freshman.
Volleyball player Gabrielle Reese talks about how much she has learned about life from Volleyball. What has table tennis taught you about life so far?
Barry: Adam has a very good understanding of different cultures. He's traveled the world. He has better patience for himself and other things. He's a lot more in control of his emotions because of table tennis. He has a burning desire to perform well.
Judy: It's helped me know that if you set a goal you'll be able to reach it. If you never believe you can do it, you never will.
Lily: Discpline. If you want to be a good player you have to train. And sportsmanship. You have to earn every point. Commitment. You have to set goals. You have to be a good person - that way you make more friends. I teach my young students how to respect the coach and the other player in a match.
Barry: Itís given me an appreciation for all different cultures. Itís also taught me that there's always another game tomorrow. For the kids, it shows what discipline and dedication can bring to them.
What are your interests outside of table tennis?
Lily: I have some interest in the real
estate business. I want to buy real estate in china and
Barry: Adam has to do school and table tennis. But he likes all sports, including watching and playing basketball. He's a sports enthusiast. He played competitive Frisbee in high school.
Judy: I like other sports, but none seriously. I play basketball, tennis, and swimming, but more for pleasure than cross training. Table tennis takes up most of the time.
Barry: I still play tennis and golf. In
tennis I was
Barry, tell us about your work outside of TT.†
Barry: I'm a computer consultant. I develop Web applications and business applications. Iím a programmer - I have a degree in computer science. But I enjoy helping Lily with her business, too.
Lily, how do you balance being an entrepreneur, a player, a coach and a mom?
Lily: #1 I enjoy the game. The more I play the younger I feel. Iím able to train with kids and still show the kids I'm a good player. I can still win, so why not keep playing. I enjoy the travel, meeting new friends, and seeing old friends. It's fun. As a mom, I'm still good enough to play doubles with the kids.
Almost five years ago you said in an article with the Star Ledger that, "I think I can play forever. The longer I play, the better touch I have." Could you expand on that idea?
Lily: You play so many years that you
have a better hand. European players play for twenty years. They have a better
touch. The Chinese keep changing players Ė they think the young player is
always better. They're afraid to take a chance. Ma Lin was world champion and
now plays in
Itís like Chen Yinghua at the Nationals in 2004, when you coach you touch the racket, so your touch improves.
Would you give one key training tip for recreational players?
Lily: Learn good technique. Find a
coach. Do multiball training. In
Barry: Consistency. Get the ball back on the table.
Judy: Just practice. Repetition on forehand and backhand. Practice makes a big difference.
What trends do you see in junior/cadet table tennis for girls and boys?
Lily: I think the new generation is much better than the last generation. I like to focus on the women. The Women's team is in the top 16 in the world. There is more competition for the men, but I think the girls have more of a chance. Itís easier to get a medal, and if we get a medal, maybe we can get more money and professional training. The girls will have a better chance.