Which is better shakehand or penhold? Star players battle it out

Beijing, June 25 (IANS) Olympic and world table tennis champions were grouped into shakehanders and penholders at a competition recently in the northeastern Chinese city of Shenyang to probe the pros and cons of the two styles of paddlers.

Olympic champions Ma Lin and Wang Hao from China, and Ryu Seung-min from South Korea formed the penhold team, while world champions Ma Long and Zhang Jike from China, and Germany’s Timo Boll were in the shakehand team.

Several game fixtures were planned in advance and the organizers opted for the system: The best of five, with four singles and one doubles game.

It was a see-saw tournament Tuesday with the two groups exchanging the lead until reaching a two-all tie. The winner was decided by a sudden-death play-off where Ma Long and Ryu Seung-min were pitted for a one-set do-or-die game. Ma edged Ryu, 12-10, China Daily reported.

The game was proposed last year by head coach of the Chinese men’s team Liu Guoliang amid controversies of which is the better option.

In China, most of the female players are penholders and two of the three Olympic men’s singles champions – Liu Guoliang from 1996 and Ma Lin from 2008 – use penhold.

Shen Penghua, the first coach of Zhang Jike, said nearly all of the new table tennis players in China choose penhold, but top shakehanders have more advantages in near-table plays.

Regardless of the debate, the ‘penhold vs shakehand’ showcase is a way to further popularize the sport in which China has an overwhelming dominance, the daily quoted coach Liu Guoliang as saying.