If you try to graphically reflect the dynamics of the performances of Maria Taylakova’s from Russia in the end of season, then we can see the graph that is steadily increasing, striving for its highest point: the gold point of the European Championship winner, or the winner of the main competition of European Union table tennis’s calendar.
And if in the March Russian junior championship (under 19 year olds) Masha (who is now only 14 years old), ranked third, slipped up only once (lost to Daria Chrernova), while in April, she won the national Cadet championship (in the final her teammate , Anastasiya Kolish proved to be defeated).
Favorable trends for coming out in shape for the 2015 European Championship were achieved and provided by the Maria’s coaching staff under the leadership of Victor Pavlenko.
Cadet Girls’ Singles: European Champion 2015 — “quite expected”
Taylakova’s victory in Bratislava, to be frank, was quite expected. Moreover, almost all the specialists agreed that Masha could become the absolute winner of the European Cadet championship. Unfortunately, Taylakova failed in getting four gold medals. Gold in teams, singles, mixed doubles events were supplemented with bronze in doubles. Despite this, Masha’s result can be described only as spectacular!
Today, Maria Taylakova, who lives and trains in Samara, is the undisputed number one in Europe for Cadets, ahead of her nearest rival, Romanian Andrea Dragoman, by more than 150 points.
An even more interesting picture opens up to us, if we take a look at ranking of our continent’s Junior ranking. Taylakova ranks fifth there, yielding her age from 2 to 4 years to those who stand above her! The closest (in the rankings of the European Table Tennis Union) are Masha’s peers in the juniors rankings, also Russians, but they are located at a considerable distance from her: Anastasia Kolisch (ETTU 26), Kristinа Kazantseva (ETTU 53) and Elina Rub (ETTU 61).
Our guest today, the Cadet Leader of the Russian team and athlete BUTTERFLY Maria Taylakova, and we bring you the interview with her.
– Masha, under what circumstances did you pick up a racket for table tennis for the first time? How old were you?
– My mother brought me to a section of Wushu, to look at the training, but we were not allowed in there. However, there was an opened door beside, that led to the table tennis’ hall. That’s how I determined my choice, I was only 6.
– Do you remember the emotions experienced at that moment?
– To be honest, I don’t.
– Who was your first coach?
– Zykin Pavel Nikolaevich.
– At the last European competitions (Bratislava) all the specialists considered you as one of the favorites to win even before the beginning. Is it difficult to play Championship feeling such a psychological load?
– On the one hand, I was sure of myself, of course, but on the other, I felt a great responsibility. I feel responsible at every competition, and especially at competitions of such rank, as the European Championship.
– Which table tennis player is your idol and why?
– I don’t have idols. I believe that you should always be yourself. I do like how Jan-Ove Waldner, I like the Chinese work ethic and commitment.
– When you are playing, it seems you are completely in control of yourself. I have never seen you losing your temper or doing something out of the ordinary, throwing rackets or conveying unworthy remarks toward rivals or umpires. Is it difficult to keep yourself in that state? How do you do it?
– You cannot vent your emotions when playing, whether they be negative or positive ones. I got used to it. However, sometimes I think that if I had to do something out of the ordinary to achieve victory, my racket would have been flying all around the hall (laughing).
– Did you have moments in your life when you fatigued from table tennis so much that you wanted to quit?
– I guess everybody felt like this at some point, not because of fatigue, but from the bitterness of defeat.
– How time-consuming are your studies? Do you manage commit enough time for it?
– I sorely lack time to study, maybe it’s impossible to find balance. Table tennis is my life, so my favorite subject is English, because it is needed for training and competitions abroad
– What is your favorite subject? What subject don’t you like?
– I don’t believe there is subject that I can’t stand.
– What quality will have a greater value with growth to the next age category? Have you thought of it?
– Work ethic.
– Do you like to go to the movies? What was the last movie you watched?
– Actually I don’t remember the last time I visited a cinema. But the last video I watched was the Top-10 best table tennis rallies.
– Are you greatly exhausted with travel and flights?
– Of course I’m getting tired and get a special discomfort from substantial jet lag.
– One can probably call you a seasoned traveler already. What is your favorite country? Why?
– I like China, evening on the boardwalk in Shanghai looks beautiful. However, we athletes, can usually only appreciate the beauty of the airport and the sports hall 🙂
– How much attention do you pay to your diet? Do you eat everything in sight? Do you diet? Describe it, please.
– I eat everything in sight. In Samara, meals are organized by the boarding school, but at competitions everyone eats the same.
– What is your favorite dish?
– I have a lot of them: solyanka, hash, kebab, eggplant cooked in any way, I like chicken that my mom cooks very much.
– Do you love to cook yourself?
– It depends on my mood and available time.
– How many hours a day do you sleep?
– I go to bed at 10 pm, I get up at 7 am, so 9 hours.
– What are your favorite websites on the web?
– Facebook and VKontakte.
– Do you have a hobby?
– I’m lucky, table tennis is my favorite job as well as hobby.
– What about your musical tastes (music style, artist)?
– I think I don’t have a favorite style. I love to listen to any music that sounds good.
– Which of your victories to date do you consider the most worthy?
– Winning the European Championship (European Youth Championship 2015 – author)
– Which Russian and World players are the most uncomfortable for you?
– The most uncomfortable are waiting for us in the future.
– Do you watch videos of your rivals before the game?
– Basically video of rivals I haven’t met before.
– How quickly do you get over defeats and how do you analyze them?
– Everything happens. It’s especially difficult to insight that I’ve lost by my own stupidity. I shoot on video all of my games without exception and after watching the video, everything becomes clear, I see if I made technical or tactical errors.
– What is your Equipment? The blade (handle), and rubbers?
– I play BUTTERFLY INNERFORCE ZLF blade (AN), and my rubber is BUTTERFLY TENERGY 64 (2.1 mm) on both sides.
– Do you continue to look for new equipment, or you are completely satisfied with the present?
– The choice of equipment are involved my coaches, for example, at the end of last year, we changed the blade. Today I am very happy with my setup.
– How many hours a day do you train? Is it enough for you or are you ready for more? If yes, why is it not enough?
– 6 – 6.5 hours a day, 5 times a week. On Thursday and Sunday I do one session of training (3 hours). At the training camp in China, I withstood 3 training sessions a day, but I don’t have the strength to work in this mode all the time.
– Tell us, please, how is European table tennis inferior to Asian?
– Asians have a very strong serve, always with a strong or smart first shot and Asians play very obliquely.
– What qualities in a person are the most important for you?
– Honesty is Important in a person! I really do not like hypocrites, I do not like when someone talks behind your back.
– Do you have a dream?
– Yes. Become an Olympic champion.
– Have you set any tasks in front of you for the coming season? What are they?
– The task for the near future is to put on decent performance at the Junior World Championships, if they take me on, of course. The next task is to take the prize at the next European championship among juniors, again, if they take me on. And of course, climb as high as possible in the world rankings.
– Please give some advice from Masha Taylakovoy on how to prepare and adjust to a crucial game and how not to crack under the pressure of emotion?
– I think that universal advice cannot be given here.
– Traditional question. Your advice for beginner table tennis players, who are only making their first steps in table tennis. How do you keep the interest and devotion to our sport and what is the most important in the training process?
– I can only give one piece of advice: work, work and work some more!
Photo By: Oleg Bozhko