At the age of eleven he became German champion in under 15. He is the most successful cadet player in the table tennis history of Germany, surpassing both Dima Ovtcharov and Timo Boll..
Most successful German
Cadet of all times
At the age of eleven, Kay Stumper became German Champion in the Under 15 category. He is the most successful cadet player in the history of German table tennis, surpassing both Dima Ovtcharov and Timo Boll. Now Kay Stumper – born 2002 and ranked number ten on the World ranking list for his age – is stepping up his game in order to be more competitive and to prepare for the challenges awaiting him on the next level.
It is no wonder Kay Stumper plays table tennis. His father Rudi played in the Bundesliga, the highest division in Germany – and his mother Bao Di was in the top Chinese squad even though the enormous competition there never enabled her to play internationally. Kay started to play aged three and a half. Initially he would only play about ten minutes a day. But little Stumper enjoyed the game and soon wanted to play more. “From the very beginning I thought table tennis was great fun,” Kay says. “I soon understood and appreciated all the different variables you can play with in table tennis: speed, spin, placement, technique. I wanted to explore this complex game.“
One issue was the height of the table. Kay’s parents considered constructing a smaller table or a small pedestal at the bottom of the table, or perhaps lowering the table altogether to enable Kay to play with the right technique right from the start. “The solution was that I stood on a number of carpets when playing. And as I grew taller, the carpets were taken away one by one.”
The Chinese way
Soon the time spent practicing was increased to two hours a day, but Kay’s father and mother did not want their son to compete too early. Kay only played his first competition at the age of eight. It was mainly Kay’s mother who did not want him to enter competitions earlier: “She is Chinese, and this is the Chinese way. Before going to a competition, you should manage the basics of the game, the strokes and movement. I think it was a clever decision. Normally, when you start competing early, you lose around half of the matches you play. This could be bad for your self confidence. When I started to compete, I won almost all the time. That confirmed my skills and boosted my confidence.”
At the age of eleven he became German champion in under 15.
And a couple of years later, Kay made history, winning the German closed Under 15 Championships at the age of eleven! After this sensational win, he has won the championships two more times, one time he became no. 2. “Dima Ovtcharov and Timo Boll both won twice when they were my age, while I won a third title this year. To be the most successful German under 15 player of course makes me very proud.”
When we meet him, Kay has just arrived home after one week of training at the Liebherr Masters College in Ochsenhausen, a training center for the most promising players in Europe. There Kay practiced with Lev Katsman from Russia and Italy’s Carlo Rossi, among others. Next to them, the Bundesliga team was preparing for their quarter finals against Germany’s record champions, Borussia Duesseldorf, the team with Timo Boll as their number one. “It was great practice and I got a lot of tips from the very competent coaching team there. They said I have good services and a good backhand. And also that I have to improve everything to reach the next level, especially my receives and my forehand.”
Step up training
In the future Kay Stumper aims to step up his training at the table tennis table. He currently practices two hours a day when he is at home. Three times a week he goes to his personal fitness trainer for intensive work-outs. During school holidays, Kay is always in camps with the German Youth National Team, or elsewhere, like in Ochsenhausen. In the league, he plays in the fourth division, but he is number one on his team and only meets the best players of the opponents, who are strongly competitive. The plan for 2017 is to be at home an average of two weeks per month and away for 5-6 hours of daily practice the other two weeks. This is necessary for him to catch up with the best players of his age, and to ensure his game improves steadily.
“Playing table tennis is never boring but it can be exhausting. I played my first European Youth Championships
in Zagreb in the summer of 2016. There I played very well in the beginning, but by the second half of the tournament I was sooooo tired and my performance suffered as a result. So I need to gain more experience to help me keep up a good level throughout the whole tournament.”“By the next European Youth Championships, I will have learnt my lesson!”