Top players comment on new service - Most players see no difference
Sunday, October 20, 2002

ITTF Press Release At the recent German Open in Magdeburg players and coaches were invited to give their views on the recent alterations made to the service rule. The reactions were varied with a distinct feeling that if the free arm was withdrawn, then officials would accept the service as meeting the new rules; however it would appear that it is important that umpires address rules that have existed for several years, with throwing the ball back on to the racket the moment common complaint.

GUO Yue (CHN): Not much difference really, I've not had to make any big changes to my service, only minor ones.

LI Xiaoxia (CHN): The quality of my service is not as good as before, the receiver can return the service more effectively which sometimes means that my first attacking stroke after the service is not as good as before.

NIU Jianfeng (CHN): I haven't had to make many changes to my service action, so for me it's virtually the same as before.

CHANG Gao Jun (USA) For me no difference at all, I still play the same way.

Michael MAZE (DEN): The main problem at the moment is that some players still throw the ball backwards when they serve. We need to make sure that all umpires are consistent with the interpretation of the rules and that any rules that are introduced regarding the service are simple and easy to follow.

Petra LOVAS (HUN): No real difference; all that happens is that most players use the same service action but withdraw their non playing arm away from the ball; some move the playing arm away later that others.

Tamara BOROS (CRO): I practised for three months in the summer so that my forehand service action met the requirements of the new rules. However, I still think that some players don't follow the new rules; sometimes I can't see the ball and there are players who remove their free arm at the very last possible split second.

Neven CEGNAR (CRO) - Coach: The frustrating part is that when a player reverts to the old service action and hides the ball, no-one seems to say anything. I know the umpires are volunteers and give their time freely but perhaps it's time to consider the creation of an elite group of umpires who officiate at the major events.

Timo BOLL (GER) I think the problem is not necessarily the free arm hiding the ball but the ball being thrown back on to the racket. I think that's the main area on which the officials need to concentrate.

Balazs NAGY (HUN) - Coach I don't think a great deal has changed; many players still turn their body to hide the ball and just simply withdraw the free arm. Umpires in major tournaments don't want to make mistakes and perhaps are reluctant to call fault on a player's service. It's disappointing that some players still throw the ball backwards on to the racket; the reverse service is certainly not as effective if the ball is thrown vertically and visible to the opponent at all times. I think this service may well die out.

Krisztina TOTH (HUN) It looks like nothing has changed; players serve fairly at the start of the match but when it's close some revert to the old style and either leave the free arm in the same position as before or move it away at the very last split second. Some players still seem to throw the ball backwards.

Ferenc PAZSY (HUN) It's not much different than previously. It's sometimes a case of fighting fire with fire; your opponent does a service and you can't see the point of contact, he's not faulted so you do the same. We must stop players throwing the ball back on to the racket.

Mihaela STEFF (ROM): It's not as big a change as I expected; it has taken me some time to get the feeling of changing my service action. I expected the changes would be much greater.

Eva JELER (GER) - Coach: The difference is minimal, too many players haven't changed and they still adopt the old style of serving. Perhaps we should insist that the service is in front of the body at all times. We must encourage skill whilst also giving the receiver a fair chance to see the ball in order to make a good return.

Andrzej GRUBBA (POL): I really don't see any difference, it's quite disappointing, I think it's difficult for the umpires but I think we have come to a time when we need professional umpires for the ITTF Pro Tour and other major world events. I think the very best players follow the new rule but it's those who are a level below who seem to fall short.

Kalinikos KREANGA (GRE): Against Timo Boll at the German Open the new rule meant that I could see the spin on the ball better and I could attack more often when receiving service.

Werner SCHLAGER (AUT): There are some services that I'm no longer allowed to use so that reduces the effectiveness of my play when I'm serving.

Chen WEIXING (AUT): Previously I could hide the service with my left arm and win points directly from the service, now I have to rely much more on winning points in the rally or by playing a strong first attacking stroke.

Richard PRAUSE (GER) - Coach: I wonder if some players have made any changes at all to their service action, it's important that the umpires react and that serve is clearly visible and not thrown backwards.

Vladimir SAMSONOV (BLR): I've not had to make any changes, I was told my service action was fair before the rule change and at the German Open I could have no complaints. We must be patient, everything takes time, players have to adjust and umpires have to come to terms with the new rule.