I have always loved ping pong and have been a very competitive player for many years. When I was a freshman in high school, my father and I rescued a beat-up table from a yard sale, stripped the warped wood off the frame, and built a new table from scratch. That table saw hundreds of games and bore distinctive marks of character. It has since been warped from too many Colorado winters, being covered with snow, even with a tarp over it, but along with my paddle that was held together with two different colors of athletic tape, will always be symbols of growing up and learning from my dad. It drove me insane to lose to my dad, and I still remember the first time I beat him in a best of seven. I have always loved table tennis, and still enjoy heated games with my father, as well as my best friends and the rest of my cousins and family.
This year, I am living off campus on the Hill with five other friends in a Big Yellow Home (BYH). With a ping pong table in the basement, competition naturally progresses from friendly volleys to an intense environment with abundant yelling and paddle throwing. However, an opportunity presented itself in the form of my roommate Philippe's father, a nationally ranked table tennis player who invited the two of us to come play with his club this past Monday. Philippe and I grabbed our paddles, filled up water bottles, and left for the St. Vrain Memorial Center in Longmont.
The scene that we encountered was one that I was not prepared for in any way. A basketball court had been converted to a table tennis arena, with ten tables set up amid rows of barriers dividing the gym into two columns of five tables each. Players were wailing at each other with the ferocity seen in the Olympics, and while the competitors were mostly male, there were a few girls scattered amongst the table. Family members of players sat in the bleachers, cheering on their husbands and sons. To enter the fray, one placed his paddle on the side of a table during a game, and the winner would then hold up the paddle resting on the table, accepting the challenge to come. Philippe and I grabbed an open table and played a few games, but when we started playing the other club members, the fun really started. The games were played in a best of five series, games to 11, win by two, with serves switching off every two time. I lost in five games to a lawyer from Louisville and got swept by a CU physics grad student, but then beat a Korean father of two named Albert 3-1 after losing the first game 11-2. I was absolutely pumped after that, and after another game with Philippe, we headed home at 10:15, almost three hours after we had arrived. Philippe and I never challenged some of the top players at the club, with the exception of his father, but it was an awesome time. Sweating, tired, and filled with nothing but love for table tennis, we headed home to many more battles in the BYH to come.
Until next time,