Interview with Georgina Pota Who Loves When The Adrenaline Level Goes Up
I had a chance to interview the vibrant Gerorgina (Gina) Pota who is currently No. 33 in the world and she is a multiple European Champion and participated in three Olympics.
Gina besides playing table tennis likes to spend time with fiancé boyfriend, friends and family and she prioritizes maintaining the right balance between her professional and personal life.
DK: I am sure that lots of your fans would like to know how you began to play table tennis. Could you share it?
GP: Absolutely. I started playing at age 5 when I couldn’t even reach the table. My mom took me to training since she was playing table tennis competitively. My mom was playing with me and she encouraged me to play at Statisztika PSC. She supported me, organized all the logistics for my practice and she was my biggest cheerleader. I am very thankful to her.
I am coming from a very sporty family my mom and my grandma played volleyball as well and they always follow and watch may other sports, including tennis. I would like to highlight that my grandpa was always my biggest fan he is still following all my matches online at the Bundesleague. He was really happy to receive his tablet that allows him to watch my matches from anywhere!
DK: What are you most thankful that ping pong has given you?
GP: I am very thankful for the sport because it gave me so many things and basically everything that I am today comes from being a table tennis player. I had to give up many things but it gave me much more. I love table tennis, this is my work and I feel very lucky that I am able to do my passion for living. Of course, sometime it’s really difficult to keep practicing but I love playing matches and competing. I think not many people can say that they have been doing something that they are passionate about for living since their childhood.
DK: Your coach Peter Teglas who is the Hungarian Women’s National coach highlighted when I interviewed him your ability to cope with stress extremely well at the highest pressure of competition. Could you tell me more about this? How do you manage your stress or what goes through your mind in these situations?
GP: I love stress. I love when the adrenalin goes up during high pressure of competitions and I enjoy it because low-pressure situations feel unexciting. I am a little bit introverted but I get most excited when I have to play the deciding match for example at 2-2 team event. You know when the stake is high and I am the one who is able to win my match and put clinch the victory for the team. Even if I beat the world number 15 th player in an easy match 3:0 or 4:0 I understand that I won but I don’t feel that satisfied. It has to be a close match.
DK: What’s your message for young players? What lesson did you learn during your career?
GP: Never give up. I had so many challenging times through my carrier but I never gave up. There are always slumps and when this happens we have to train more and take it more seriously until we can go through this period. It happens with everyone that you don’t play well for a certain time and can’t bring out your potential. When this happens it is very important to keep practicing and just keep going. European table tennis is improving continuously and for example French players are getting better and better. There are more and more table tennis centers in Europe and more and more players are going to train in China. It is very important to have a great coach and have a great attitude, and personality.
For example, are you the person who gives up quickly or you are the one who is extremely resilient? There were so many great talented players in Statisztika PSC and they quit and were forgotten because they gave up. The hardest part of my carrier was when I had to switch from junior to adult professional table tennis. This was the most challenging part of my early career because there is a huge difference between being in the juniors and playing among the best adult professional players.
DK: What was very challenging during your career?
GP: I didn’t know my schoolmates since I was in homeschool from grade 5 and I had only 10 days break during summer time. My schoolmates were hanging out together and I didn’t know them… I was eccentric and I didn’t spend time with my classmates. I didn’t like to communicate with others and I was very introverted. This changed age 18-20 and I started speaking and opening up to others. I decided not to live only in my world and I realized the beauty of getting to know the world and other people’s views.
DK: Who helped in this process? Did it happen naturally or did somebody help you?
GP: Maria Fazekas helped me a lot. I started training with the adult national team at age 16-17 which is very early and there were 10 years age difference between me and the other players. I had to grow up to the standards very quickly. I became very good friend with Maria Fazekas and we hung out a lot and went to tournaments together. She is very open-minded and likes to talk a lot – and she helped me tremendously. I am very thankful to her. I had only one very close friend in school and I think it tells a lot about how I used to be. I was very introverted and shy.
DK: What helped you to become much more expressive?
GP: It was very challenging for me when I started playing in Berlin because I had to say thank you to the fans after our league matches. Since I was shy and I didn’t get used to the big crowds beforehand, it was really difficult and challenging for me. I had to overcome this fear. It was even easier for me when the fans cheered against me because there was no pressure and it was easier to just play very lousy. I had to grow up and understand that the more people I speak with and interact with the more open my views become and I also realized that I am not always right 😉 I changed my perspective and reframed my fear and it helped me to overcome it. I also realized how I affected the crowds and the fans. My teammates helped me a lot.
DK: You mentioned earlier during this interview that the hardest thing is the transition from a youth to adult professional? What helped you in this transition?
GP: I learnt so much from Krisztina Toth who won many medals in the European Championship, World Cup and the World Table Tennis Championship. I feel so privileged that I got her as a doubles partner. It took six months or a year to really get used to each other then we achieved many fantastic results together. I am very thankful to her and she really helped me in this transition.
DK: Do you have any role models?
GP: I always looked up to Tamara Boros when she played at Statisztika PSC. She was the World’s number 2 player in 2002! I admired her for her hard work ethic and how she could train with 150% effort every time. I am very different because I like to do many other things and going out, hanging out with friends, doing sightseeing, shopping, ice-skating, skiing even playing tennis. Coaches don’t like some of these activities because they are afraid that I will get injured though 😉 These activities energize me and help me to play better. Tamara was very very focused on table tennis. I am not the one who stays longer to train… so I admired her hard work ethic and her personality. I never saw anybody train so hard like her.
DK: What are the most important thing for you regarding your mental preparation?
GP: Self-confidence is the most important aspect for me regarding my mental game. I prepare for my matches by watching and analyzing my opponents’ game and we set up strategies against them. It is hard to keep the quality of my trainings because I’ve been traveling a lot during whole year. Good quality of my training and able to keep my quick footwork by doing multi-ball and other footwork exercises help me to keep my self-confidence. I’m not doing any specific mental preparation consciously. I’m keeping my routine and I know what’s important for me before my matches so everything comes naturally.
DK: What are your future plans?
GP: I have a very important mile stone in my life. I’m getting married in Budapest May 19 th 2017!
I am not going to stop playing table tennis. I would like to compete at the next Olympics in Tokyo!
About the Interviewer:
Dora Kurimay is an author and mental performance coach with a long pedigree in table tennis as a player. Her book is available on Amazon.
I had a chance to interview the vibrant Gerorgina (Gina) Pota who is currently No. 33 in the world and she is a multiple European Champion and participated in three Olympics. Gina besides playing table tennis likes to spend time with fiancé boyfriend, friends and family and she prioritizes maintaining the right balance between her professional and personal life.