INTERVIEW OF THE WEEK
We interview one of the most talented players in the world, Michael Maze from Denmark, who is considered to have one of the best ball feelings in the world. He has been able to win points against top Chinese players lobbing, especially proved during the 2005 World Championships in Shanghai where he finished third in men's singles which resulted in him being selected as Denmark's Sportsman of the Year in 2005. Maze won a bronze medal in the 2004 Athens Olympics in men's doubles with Finn Tugwell. Denmark won the European Championships in team in 2005 at home in Denmark which was the country's first major title. This year, he won a bronze medal in singles at the European Championships. He lives in Denmark's capital, Copenhagen, and practices together with top Danish and Swedish players.
MICHAEL MAZE IS PICTURED HERE CELEBRATING HIS QUARTERFINAL VICTORY OVER HAO SHUAI AT THE 2005 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS IN SHANGHAI, CHINA WHEN HE WAS DOWN 3-0, 10-7 BUT CAME BACK TO WIN THE MATCH.
NorCal Table Tennis: Has table-tennis become more popular in Denmark with the recent results?
Michael Maze: It is one of the top 3-4 biggest sports in Denmark along with soccer and handball. When we won the European Championships at home in Denmark, there was a 25% increase in the number of players which is quite a lot considering it's only one year.
NorCal Table Tennis: Do you consider the 2005 World Championships bronze in men's singles to be your best accomplishment?
Michael Maze: Yes, the World Championships is the World Championships and it was played in China.
NorCal Table Tennis: What was going through your mind when you were down 3-0 in games and 10-7 in the fourth game in the quarterfinals against Hao Shuai?
Michael Maze: I was fighting until the end and not thinking too much. I wasn't thinking about winning the match but just one set.
NorCal Table Tennis: What club do you currently play for?
Michael Maze: I play for Levallois in Paris along with Peter Karlsson from Sweden and Damien Eloi from France.
NorCal Table Tennis: How much do you train?
Michael Maze: If there are no tournaments, I train twice/daily. Before tournaments, I train twice/daily or once on the table and one physical training session.
NorCal Table Tennis: In Denmark, do corporate sponsors or the government provide the funds?
Michael Maze: The money comes mainly from the government. There is "Team Denmark," which gets money from the government and they decide how much goes to soccer, how much to table-tennis, etc.
NorCal Table Tennis: What goals do you have?
Michael Maze: Now I have won medals at all major tournaments so now would like to improve on the type of medal. I would like to win gold, especially in singles.
NorCal Table Tennis: What do you hope for when you play Pro Tours?
Michael Maze: I hope to have a good world ranking, especially as January 1 nears, as that's when the World Ranking that counts for automatic qualification for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The top 20 players in the world automatically qualify and only two per country can be automatically qualified so only two Chinese count with the other Chinese players taken out from the world rankings when seeing who automatically qualifies. Roughly, the top 30 ranked players in the world will automatically qualify.
NorCal Table Tennis: What is your goal for the China Open?
Michael Maze: I haven't played tournaments for a while because of injuries so am just excited to get on the table again and hopefully, I can have a good result. (He lost in the final 32 to Cheung Yuk of Hong Kong)
NorCal Table Tennis: Do you get recognized in Denmark when you walk down the street?
Michael Maze: Not by everyone but yes, I get recognized.