This weeks TTFit interview is with 36 year old female Ukranian Table Tennis player Tetyana Bilenko. TTFit Co-Founder Keith Knox was very lucky to spend almost a year training with Tetyana in Montpellier, France. At that time Tetyana was an up and coming female player playing in Pro A. Tetyana has been ranked in the top 100 female players in the world since 2012 and reached her highest ranking of #38 in March 2016. Bilenko practiced at the Werner Schlager Academy in Schwechat, Austria, and has competed at no less than 3 Olympic Games. Tetyana is a modern day chopper, so, is mainly a defender but also has the skill and ability to attack, mainly with her F/H. She is renowned for her twiddling in order to confuse her opponents and also for her athleticism. Keith remarked how incredibly patient she was during training and never liked to make a mistake. Tetyana treated her training as if it were a match.
We are delighted that Tetyana took some time out from her busy schedule to do this interview and we wish her all the best for the future. Please check out some of her matches on Youtube.
1. Can you tell us who inspired you to become a top defensive player?
My first coach introduced me table tennis and made me a good athlete. But Aya Umemura made me the top player when I was invited to the Schlager Academy to play for this club. She helped me to reach the top level and believe in myself.
2. Which style of opponent do you find the most difficult to play against?
For me, the most difficult opponents are left-handed players. I’m not very comfortable with their topspin rotation and serving.
3. You are famous for your twiddling, can you give some tips on how to master this extremely difficult skill?
My first coach taught me to receive topspins only with pimples, that’s why my twiddling started. Later I realized that I could confuse my opponent like this .
4. You have great footwork and speed around the table. Do you have specific training for your movement?
I have a physical training coach who helps me to be in physical shape. Of course, we work with him on leg movements. This is mainly work on the stairs, movements on elastic bands and a lots others. For defence player, most important to be in good physical condition.
5. How many hours per day and week do you train?
I have 3 physical training sessions every week and train 2-3 hours every day of table tennis. I take every Sunday off. Of course when I was younger I had more hours of table tennis training ,but now I dont need more as its more important to be fit.
6. Can you give 3 of your best tips to any young upcoming Choppers who want to improve?
Now with new balls, the defensive player must be able to attack as well as defend. With just defence it’s not realistic to win now. It is also very important to be able to change the rotation and confuse the opponent. And of course it is important to have good serves
7. Who is your favourite Chopper and why?
I really like to watch the games of all Asian defenders. They have good defence, super attack and incredible patience, which is very important for defensive players
8. What gives you the most joy from your profession in Table Tennis?
I think everything together. The ability to travel, the opportunity to have friends all over the world. Also, sports can help strengthen your personality. By losing, I learned to draw conclusions and become better. Sports teach you discipline, responsibility. And of course I just love table tennis.
9. Which coaching style brings out the best in you?
Every coach in my life helped me at a certain stage of my career. and I am grateful to everyone, but my best result was when my coach was Aya Umemura from Japan. I loved playing with her. Her calmness and faith in me brought results. Her ability seeing the game gave me a huge advantage over the opponent. With her I was not afraid of any opponent.
10. What would you consider to be your greatest accomplishment in Table Tennis?
I think that being in the 50 best of the world in any business is an achievement for any person. Being the best in your country is also an achievement. But I think I have not reached my main achievement, I still go reaching for it.
Thank you Tetyana for a very insightful interview! Good luck for your up and coming events.
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