Recently I met up with Britt Eerland, one of the best players in the Netherlands national team who happened to be in Jamaica on a few days vacation. She wanted to get in some practice, and naturally, that led her to my venue where all the best players in the country play.
I watched her decimate National level players Watson, Marsh and Parham all 3-0 with some amount of comfort.
Based on the warrior code, (I should have known better) I was urged by all present to ‘defend the city’ and even though I was tired and injured, I decided to at least try to level things for Kingston, for Jamaica, for my friends (Old champions never die, and it seems like they can’t stay away either).
I actually managed to win a set and came close to winning another but eventually lost 3-1. I admit it was difficult and I never expected the Jamaicans present to be rooting and cheering against me, even jeering me, in my hometown they were hoping I would suffer the same whitewash the others had. Misery indeed loves company.
Among female players, I was thoroughly impressed with her backhand skills especially her opening backhand loop and follow up backhand drive. Even though she did not have overwhelming power on the forehand side, she was very accurate and always seemed to be on the attack , able to counter loop even very strong opening loops.
I sat down with Britt for this quickie interview last month.
PM:You are a National player for the Netherlands, whats your position in the team?
BE: I am the third player on the team behind Li Jiao and another Chinese girl a chopper.
PM: So you’re actually the best Dutch born player in the team.
BE: You can say it like that. Sure!
PM: And what about your world ranking?
BE : At the moment I’m number 67 in the world.
PM: And how old are you now?
BE: Im 20. I went to high school and after that, I chose table tennis as a career.
PM:Is it financially worthwhile to pursue a career in table tennis?
BE:Yes i think for me it is.
PM: So how big is table tennis in the Netherlands?
BE: Its not that big. I actually play and practice with the male players but I play for a club in Germany.
PM: So what is your club?
BE: I play for a Bundesliga(top division) club near Frankfurt
PM: So tell me a bit about your early career.
BE: Well initially my father sent me to many training camps, Including in Hungary and at about age 16 I showed some promise when I beat a Hungarian girl to win the European junior championships.
PM:So I saw your match in the recent world championships. You were in the quarterfinals of the team events against Sarano of Japan. How was that for you? Is that the biggest match you have played?
BE: For me that was quite a big occasion. It was a very big arena and everyone was against me (we were playing Japan in Japan).
PM: How did you find playing against her?
BE: In the beginning my main problems were with her service. She also plays at a strange tempo some fast some slow. I decided to play back with spins and I needed up playing really well. I was behind 2-0 and ended up losing 3-2.
PM: And the final team score.
BE: We lost 3-2. It was really close!
BE: I had a really good performance over all. I actually beat a Korean girl who was ranked at 15th in the world. I also beat a Taiwanese girl who was about 50.
PM: And in your career so far, who is the best player you have played against?
BE: A lot of Chinese players. Some amazing girls that even beat Li Jiao.
PM: And have you been to China to train?
BE: Yes of course.
PM: And how would you compare the situation there with at home.
BE: Well the training there is very intense. Its like survival of the fittest.
PM: And how would you compare theirr physical fitness with europeans?
BE: I think they are fitter and stronger that we are. They are crazy. They practice and after practice they do some other training and then they go and do something else.
PM: And who is the best European player you have faced?
BE: I think Georgina Pota. I absolutely hate her game! Another one in Samara, its strange but I actually like her game!
PM:So who is your sponsor and what is your equipment?
BE: I’m with Butterfly and I use the Timo ZLF with both sides Tenergy 05.
PM: And do you boost your rubbers?
BE: No I don't boost. I think its more important to have good technique than to boost.
PM: And have you tried playing with the new 40+ plastic ball yet?
BE: I must use this ball. Since August we are using this ball in Europe.
PM: And what is your impression of the ball?
BE: Its a little bit heavier and a little bit slower and the bounce is higher but I think you can adjust to it.
PM: What do you feel about all these chinese in the team? If another one arrives that might just take your place!
BE: In the beginning it was very hard for me., but i think they are improving the standard and they are there for me to practice with. They also create a lot of training opportunities for me. They helped us to get to the quarter finals .
Pm: Who is your favorite player to watch?
BE: There are too many great players to watch. But for me I like to watch within my own age group so I can observe their progression.
PM: So tell me. Other than table tennis, what do you like to do?
BE: Well I like to dance.
PM: Really! What type?
BE: Well I’m a big fan of dancehall reggae and I like that style of dancing.
PM: And this is your first time in the Caribbean? What do you feel about Jamaica?
BE: Its really nice. Different from Holland. Nice to be outdoors, in Holland we are mostly indoors especially at this time (winter).
PM: Whats next for you.
BE: Well really I cant say because Im just recovering from an injury. I had tendinitis and am just coming back. After China I played way too much and I think thats the cause.
I cancelled a tournament but I need to play again I don't want to lose my ranking.
PM: Well thanks for spending this time with us and all the best.