As promised, here are some other things about Jeff you would like to know.
The year 1989 proved to be a good one for you as you won a tournament and was a runner up in the other. Was that the breaking point you were looking in your career?
It really was. After that tournament I was selected as part of the National Training Squad. That provided me with some great opportunities to travel from Canberra to Melbourne during school holidays where I could practice with the best players in the country. It led me to eventually moving to Melbourne where I went to University and trained on a more regular basis at the National Academy. Without that opportunity I simply would not have been able to improve my game to the level I did.
What is the best match that you have played and against whom? Why is it so memorable?
My best match was a doubles match in the Sydney 2000 Olympics. Myself and Brett Clarke were playing a pair from Cuba. Australia had never won a Men’s doubles match before in the Olympic Games. The Cuban’s started the game very nervously and we managed to win the first set quite comfortably. The second was a different story and they started playing some really good Table Tennis. We were down 20-18 but thanks to the huge crowd support we manged to take the second set 22-20 and win the match. Being the first Australian pair ever to win a match at the Olympic Games was a great honour and something I will never forget.
Your experiences in representing your country in the Olympics.
It was like being famous for 2 weeks. As the 2000 Olympics were in my home country we had so much support. Normally if Australia you are lucky to have any crowd at all for most Table Tennis tournaments. At the Olympics we were playing in front of thousands of people all wanting you to win.
If you remember an instance when you had a doubles match with Timo Ball on the other side, your home crowd cheered your team instead of Timo’s. What does something like that do top a player’s morale?
That was a funny situation. We were playing against Timo Boll and Jorg Rosskopf. Rosskopf was a former world doubles champion and Timo Boll as we know has become one of the best players in the world. When the announcer called out Timo Boll’s and Jorg Rosskopf’s name, the crowd gave a small cheer. Then we were called out and the crowd erupted. I looked over and Timo and Jorg were laughing to each other. It was a great feeling to have such support. Unfortunately it didn’t translate to much on the scoreboard. The German’s superior skill showed through and they ended up beating us comfortably.
What are your best shots? What types of rubber did you use?
My best shot was my forehand topspin. I used to like making the first attack with my forehand and I was quite quick around the court which allowed me to play a lot of forehands. I especially liked counter topspinning with my forehand. That is my favourite shot!
Which other sports do you like? Do you play any of them?
I am quite a big sports fan and will watch almost anything. I particularly like cricket and tennis. I played cricket and rugby league when I was younger. Nowadays I try to go for a couple of runs each week to keep myself fit.
Nowadays parents are discouraged to let their children play table tennis because of the fact that it eats away the time for their studies. Do you agree with that? Your thoughts. Do you encourage your children to play? If yes, what was their initial reaction?
I think that sport is very beneficial for kids. It can fit nicely alongside study. Sport teaches you resilience and to deal with winning and losing. It also keeps you fit and healthy. I encourage my kids to play sport although they have never tried Table Tennis. They are interested in Tennis, Soccer and Swimming. Both my kids really enjoy playing sport.
What do you think is the future of Table Tennis in Australia? How much of a role does the media and the television channels play in this?
I think there is a lot of opportunity to increase the profile of Table Tennis in Australia. At the moment it is difficult for Table Tennis to get onto TV although through the help of the ITTF, the recent Oceania Cup was televised on Foxtel.
Most people I talk to say they like watching and playing Table Tennis. This makes me optimistic about the future. Also seeing how popular the PingSkills website has become also makes me believe that Table Tennis can become much bigger in Australia.
On that note, how much of the sports is actually covered by the primetime television in Australia?
As I mentioned above, the Oceania Cup was televised on Foxtel. As part of this deal that ITTF struck with Foxtel, they are also going to be showing the recent World Championships. Other than that there has not been any Table Tennis on primetime TV for years and years.
There is a saying that the first day is always the worst. What happened at your first ever, practice session?
I can’t remember my first ever practice session but I do remember the first time I ever went to a Table Tennis club. I played in a handicap competition where you got given a head start if you played against someone better than you. I played against an A grade player called Andrew Berg in a match up to 31 where I started on 27 and they started on -20. You can guess what happened. I only won 2 points for the match and ended up losing 31-29. It showed me just how much I had to learn!
Do you like reading books? What is your favorite book?
Yes I like reading books and my favourite book is The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle. I highly recommend it. Along the same lines are 2 other great books, Bounce by Matthew Syed and Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell.
Something about you that nobody knows.
I have memorized how to solve the Rubik’s Cube and was once a hand double in a short film made by a local University where I had to be filmed solving the puzzle.
Stay tuned as next week Jeff talks about his and Alois’ creation – Pingskills.
- One on one with Jeff Plumb Part 1
- One on one with Alois Rosario
- Jeff Plumb talks about Ping Skills (keepingintouchblog.wordpress.com)