Sport for Women

Table Tennis

Australian Olympic & Paralympic Women: Table Tennis

Olympics: Jian Fang Lay, Miao Miao and Vivian Tan.

Paralympics: Melissa Tapper and Rebecca McDonnell

Miao Miao

Jian Fang Lay

Melissa Tapper

Table Tennis 101

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Shakehands: style of grip favoured by Western players, so called because you hold the paddle as if ready to perform a handshake.

Penhold: grip popular in Asia, so called because you hold the paddle as if holding a pen.

Blade: The flat, rigid part of the racket used for striking the ball.

Loop: An attacking shot, often played with plenty of topspin.

Let: As well as service lets (similar to tennis), a let may be called if play is interrupted – for example, by a ball from another table entering the playing area. If this happens, the rally is replayed.

Time-out: Each player may claim a time-out of up to one minute during an individual match.

Basic rules

The aim of the game is to keep the ball in play for longer than your opponent, so it relies on tactics similar to those used in tennis.

The service changes after every two points have been scored. Once the score gets to 10–10, the serve changes after every point. In doubles games, as well as the serve alternating between teams, it alternates between players too.

Singles matches are played over the best of seven games, with the first player to eleven (by a margin of two) winning each game. In team matches, four singles matches and one doubles match are played, each decided by the best of five games.

Both disciplines are run in a knockout format with players and teams going through to the finals where the medals will be decided.

It is estimated during a rally the average speed of a ball is 25mph, meaning that it can travel the length of a table in a quarter of a second. Serves travel at around 60mphs.


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