National table tennis player Clarence Chew has faced Germany's world No. 6 Dimitrij Ovtcharov on the other end of the table just once.
That meeting, at the quarter-finals of last year's World Team Table Tennis Championships in Tokyo, went by quickly. The Singaporean world No. 200 lost 0- 3.
Last week, however, the 19-year-old got a much more personal encounter when the three-time Olympic medallist spent four days training here with the Singapore national team.
Said Chew, who is competing this week at the International Table Tennis Federation China Open: "It was really an eye-opener for me to be able to watch and train with Ovtcharov. He was very humble and was willing to share tips on different techniques with me.
"I felt very inspired by his professionalism and work rate."
Ovtcharov's short stay in Singapore was arranged by table tennis equipment distributor Donic which sponsors the 26-year-old German.
The company is also the Singapore Table Tennis Association (STTA)'s apparel sponsor.
It is understood that he came to Singapore after representing the Jiangsu team in the China Super League, and before flying back to China to compete in the China Open in Chengdu.
While the arrangement lasted only four days, Singapore's national players can look forward to more players of similar calibre training here in the coming months.
Eddy Tay, the STTA's senior high performance manager, told The Straits Times that many international players will be looking to acclimatise in the region before the World Team Table Tennis Championships from Feb 28-March 6 in Kuala Lumpur .
He said: "It will provide the STTA with an opportunity to invite top players to train in Singapore before the event."
Tay also noted that the STTA had for many years invited top players to train with the national team, including European champions Li Jiao and Li Jie of the Netherlands as well as Austria's Liu Jia.
The Taiwan team's Chiang Hung-chieh and Huang Sheng-sheng as well as South Korean Jeon Ji Hee were also in Singapore to train with the national team while they prepared for the SEA Games this year.
Said Tay: "The STTA is constantly looking for opportunities to invite top players to train with our national players. It will benefit our players tremendously."