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Classic Hardbat World Championships: Under 17

Under 17 at the Classic Hardbat World Championships

“Because It’s Fun” says Champion Bryce Milford

By Larry Hodges

“That’s about it – just school and table tennis.” That’s what Bryce Milford, 15, said when I asked him what he did outside school and table tennis. Of course, you have to be somewhat single-minded if you want to be great – and Bryce had just won the Hardbat World Championships for Under 17. The tournament is being held in Missouri, TX, just outside Houston, Aug. 6-7.

He’s normally a sponge player, with a USATT rating of 1808. But relative to each other, he’s much better at hardbat. Hardbat keeps their own ratings, which are similar to USATT ratings but a little higher. Bryce has an old 1928 hardbat rating, which he quickly proved to be inaccurate. In the final, against Michael Guo (USATT rating 2246, hardbat rating 2359), Bryce won at 4,6,9.

While he normally trains as a sponge player, he said he’s been practicing hardbat “every day for three weeks, with AJ [Carney] and Sharon Alguetti.” He described his game as “very aggressive from both wings.” And Bryce is a counter-hitting machine. This is very similar to the style of Alexander “The Flash” Flemming, the reigning World Ping-Pong Champion (sandpaper), who is hoping to transition that success into hardbat. Bryce got to play “The Flash” in the team competition. While he lost three straight, they had great rallies.

“With ‘The Flash,’ we were counterlooping back and forth, Bruce said. “I can’t do that as well with sponge.” As to his opponent, he said, “He’s ‘The Flash’ – he’s super quick.”

As to why he likes hardbat, his answer was simple, and similar to what legions of others say about the hardbat game: “Because it’s fun, longer rallies.”

Results should go online after the tournament. It is being livestreamed at:

https://www.facebook.com/ClassicHardbat/

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