Winnipeg’s Matthew Lehmann has moved to Ostrava, Czech Republic, to train with the Champions League team TTC Ostrava 2016. The short distances in Europe gives him the opportunity for more tournaments and league play and therefore more game practice. 

Link to Club: http://www.ttc-ostrava.cz

Here is some reflection from Matthew on the 2020 World Team Championships trials and what his next steps are. 

I am really fortunate that I was able to bring my Czech coach, Tomas Demek, to coach me at the World Championship Trials, and help me prepare for a week in Winnipeg beforehand.   

I have found that it always takes time for a new coach to understand you and your game, and to figure out how to work together. Training was getting better and better over the past couple months, but after having a week of one on one, I think he really knows me now, and after seeing me play in a tournament, I think he has an even greater understanding of what I need to improve in matches.  

I am really looking forward to the upcoming months of training, because I think I am starting a period where I will be seeing the continuous increases in my playing level that I have been working towards.  I am really lucky I am in a place where they want to help me and see me improve. My coach, Tomas, would also like to come coach me at the 2020 Polish Open (as it is driving distance from Ostrava), so I am looking forward to that!

In Winnipeg, a lot of the focus was on cleaning up my footwork, being more consistent, and using my backhand more/shot selection. (All three things of those things really went hand and hand).  I used to try to play forehand as much as possible (or actually more than what was possible), and I always went for risky counters. Now I am starting to be able to keep more balls on the table, and wait for the right ball to counter aggressively.  I’ve seen a lot of improvement, but still much more to go!

I attached a couple of short clips of some of our training in Winnipeg.  I recorded a lot of our training, and we would constantly stop to take a look at the videos, to analyze my form, footwork and technique.  It makes a huge difference for Tomas to be able to see what I was doing wrong from a better angle, and for me to better understand what I needed to fix.  

My favourite video is when he is looping free from middle, and I am blocking/playing defensively.  I have never been able to do that drill (I have always had a bad block, so that’s why I always played so unsafe, always trying to counter) so I am quite pleased that I was able to do it quite well now, and that I was able to use the new skills in the tournament.

I am obviously happy with the wins I had on Friday.  Finishing in the top 4 was a good improvement from 8th at the September tournament, but I’m still not satisfied…. Next tournament, I’ll be gunning for top 3.

Video 1

Video 2