Coach Corner

ITTF article by Ian Marshall

Laurie PHAI PANG of France is one of those players who responds to the pressure of competition.

"I see some players who, when it's close, become nervous, the play in a negative fashion, they are not enjoying the heat of battle; they hope their adversary will make an unforced error. "

It is not the case with Laurie PHAI PANG; she lives for the moment

Eighteen years old, just; she was seventeen when the ITTF World Junior Championships in Kobe started. Laurie celebrated her eighteenth birthday on Tuesday; perhaps celebrated is the wrong word but playing table tennis is what she clearly enjoys doing and being at a World Championships is something special. I'm sure she'll never forget where she was and who she was playing against on what is a landmark birthday.

The surname catches the eye; it's certainly not of French derivation. "My father is from Cambodia and he left when the war broke out and moved to France", explained Laurie PHAI PANG who, earlier in the year, won the Junior Girls' Singles event at the World Junior Circuit event in New Caledonia beating Japan's Nozomi HASAMA in the semis and Hong Kong's YU Kwok See in the final.

"You certainly gain in experience playing on the World Junior Circuit", explained Laurie PHAI PANG who competed in 2004 in Poland, Sweden and New Caledonia, whilst also playing on the ITTF Pro Tour in Austria and Poland. "Even in the groups you have play well to qualify for the main event on the ITTF Pro Tour", she added. "The World Junior Circuit is also a very good standard, you have concentrate all the time, you can't relax."

Laurie is licensed to play for Montpellier where she lives but she doesn't play for the club in the French League being part of a special programme where players attend training at INSEP, the National Sports Centre in Paris. The programme means that she can concentrate her efforts on training and international tournaments; the only domestic competitions in which she competes being the French National Championships and the French Top Twelve

She started to play table tennis at the age of nine, following in the footsteps of her elder brother now twenty-one years old. "He just plays for fun now", explained Laurie who had concentrated her sporting efforts mainly on tennis prior to the age of nine.

"The Chinese are so good at 10-all, they concentrate, they are focused, intense, they don't make errors." A very true comment, they maintain the pressure; any weak return of service is punished and the return of service is an area which Laurie feels she must improve.

In 2005 we'll no doubt see her playing more on the ITTF Pro Tour; last year she went with the French team to Sendai in Japan to train; next year she'll go again and no doubt she'll return a better player.

An intelligent young lady, she has a charming personality but don't be fooled; there is a quiet determination and when it's close she's at her best, she enjoys the moment.