When I first played table tennis, I thought it was such a simple game. Then as I slowly improved and stepped through the entrance into the labyrinth, I became hooked.
It doesn’t matter at what level you are or aspire to become, the sheer intricacy of table tennis becomes the inspiration. My motivation is to become just that little better, each day, each week, each month, each year, just a little better from time to time.
When and Where Did My First Play
I went to Dougs club in the blue house lane Washington with a few mates as we had played a bit at school, about 3 months later the worlds was on tv every day, live from rum…well that was it Bengtson Douglas Joyner Guo, long pips high serves deceitful deceptive orientals who lost on purpose, Europeans beating the Brum in the team event where they did not lose on purpose 8 million viewers , the last great terrestrial tt coverage apart from channels 4s Euro Asia..
Ah, the memories.. then practice every day or 4 years, even practiced when the 77 jubilee was on. Lucky to have a club 300 yards away on 3 times a week..
My inspiration was two-fold: a crippling knee injury and the London 2012 Olympics.
I played football four evenings per week until I tore my cruciate and cartilage in a challenge. Myriad misdiagnoses, three operations and multiple years later, I realized that it had been nearly 4 years since I’d done any form of exercise.
I wasn’t sure I could do any kind of exercise at all as my knee would randomly flare up if I’d be unable to walk for a few days at a time. When I went on holiday to Berlin and our hotel had an outdoor ping pong table though, I thought “ooh here’s a sport I might actually enjoy”. Little did I realize just how important the knees are in table tennis…
Literally a week later I accidentally caught the South Korea vs. Hong Kong China semi-final at the London 2012 Olympics. I was absolutely hooked. I loved the team format, I loved the tactics and most of all I love the guy in my avatar – Joo Saehyuk is far and away from the most inspiring table tennis player I’ve ever seen.
And that is why I try to chop. Try being the keyword.
When I was younger, my brother bought a set of table tennis bats where we would play on the dining room table. We did this for about a year then we stopped playing altogether! Then when I went to my new school, they had brand new butterfly tables, etc so I and my friends decided to go.
Obviously, I had the advantage as I had played before! I beat all my friends easily and started playing every dinner time, and I played in some competition for school and loved it! Then I met the Richardsons who got me involved in a local club gave me a good bat etc! By this time I was absolutely hooked on the sport and wanted to play every day!
I start playing on holiday 2 years ago and got in with some really nice genuine people, who showed me the ropes before table tennis I never stuck at anything. I love the game and the people, who are mostly very helpful and will do anything for you where they can.
I initially played between the ages of 8 – 10 at a youth club, but once in my teens, other ‘things’ took over. That was until a year ago that I bumped into a certain baldy table tennis coach who invited me to play at the tournament. I was somewhat skeptical as to whether I could even remember how to play table tennis, however soon blew the cobwebs off.
What made it an easier re-introduction was the attitude and the approachability of all the club members, who were more than happy to offer advice and were more than welcoming. I’ve well and truly got the bug back and I love to play again.
My Father played local league and I used to go and watch. Then started playing myself at the local youth club and at school at lunchtimes on dinner tables pushed together. After that, I started playing for my dad’s team before progressing and moving on to other teams.
My dad was my inspiration and in his twilight years always asked how I’d got on, whether it be a league or a tournament. He was never a great player but as a kid still inspired me to play. As they say, a dog is not for Christmas it’s for life … So is ping pong …. 40 years & still going !!!!
My Playmates Story
In the early 1970s, my friend Don was a badminton player. He joined the Civil Service in 1974 and also started a flat share with (the late) Chris Strathearn and (the late) Roger Pendleton.
They introduced him to the inspirational Connie Warren and Larkhall TTC. He was further inspired by Malcolm Sugden who found the time and patience to coach just about anyone! He gave up badminton as he found himself trying to topspin a shuttlecock!
He has never risen to a great level but has been able to give most opponents a decentish game. He used to have a good reputation against defenders and in the mid-1980s found himself among the top 200 men thanks to drawing Babs Adedayo, Andrew Dosher & Syd Montgomery in the Middlesex Open.
Having now been diagnosed with a dickie ticker he played less and spending more time in table tennis photography which has always been ‘challenging’ due to available lighting.
For this, he gets inspiration from the French photographer Remy Gros who he thinks is one of the best table tennis photographers in the world and he does much for the ITTF (lucky man!) He also likes to help the Surrey juniors make progress as this is something he missed out on earlier in life.
One of his playing highlights was in the Leeds British League, playing against Larkhall, with victories over Frank Hams and the late Gordon Chapman. He now encourages juniors to practice against the defense as many of them are, or have been, fairly clueless against combination bats!!