Wednesday, December 26, 2007

A New Appreciation for the Game

Whenever there's a table tennis tournament broadcast on TV, my colleague turns on the one above her desk and stares at the screen.

The players dance back and forth behind their respective ends of the table, at times gently hitting the ball on angle so it lands in corners, or smashing it leaving their opponents no chance to defend themselves.

China used to dominate in this sport for a long time. But this year, it's losing its grip as the champ of table tennis. Some of its top players lost a few key tournaments, giving other teams the hope of chipping away at China's armour, while Chinese fans question their team's performance for next year.

While the Chinese paddlers are trying to keep cool about public opinion, I never really had an appreciation for the game until last night.

We went to my parents' friends' house for Christmas dinner last night. And after gorging on the endless array of food from sushi to turkey, curry and jello pudding, I tried playing some table tennis in the basement.

They bought a table that was recently used in a local tournament, and also a machine that lobs balls for practice, similar to a tennis ball machine. If you hit the ball correctly, it hits a protective net on the other end and falls back into the bucket to be lobbed again.

I didn't have too much difficulty hitting the ball, but hitting it back into the other court was hard, as I hit it out most of the time.

I tried a few slices, but my backhand wasn't too hot, and missed the balls completely. My forehand was fine, except they still would have been easy shots to slam back at me if I actually played against someone.

It was a pretty good workout, as the balls kept coming, fast and furious, at different speeds and angles.

And it definitely gave me a new appreciation for the game. Those players make it look so easy...

1 comment:

ks said...

there is a picture in the december issue of sports illustrated on two chinese kids playing pingpong on a concrete slabe . they dont have paddles but use cardboard as make shift paddle. it is a far cry from what we have here in canada. the new table and ball machine will sure be much appreciated if it can be shipped to the rural kids in china.