Thursday, September 24, 2009

Ping pong playas

I took my first ping pong class today, in the gymnasium at the Milwaukee Academy of Chinese Language. It was really fun — there were kids, parents, and 73-year-old Gloria, who played college tennis.

Our instructor, Ben, watched as we took turns rallying at the two tables. He said he expected a beginner group but there’s lots of experienced players.

I did okay even though I was wearing three-inch heels. Being taller gives me better court sense (table sense?), but I think I’m going to have to wear tennis shoes next week.

Also, I just realized that, unlike in my tennis game, my backhand is much stronger than my forehand. In ping pong, I'll chicken-wing it to avoid using the forehand. Who knew?

I learned some cool stuff today. From Louis, who also started playing in his basement, I found out that a paddle with a smooth surface helps you create more spin. Being an experienced player, he has both kinds of paddles, including one with pips (the pimples on the rubber surface of a paddle).

He carries his paddles in a zippered leather case, and they are much nicer than my ten-buck number from Sports Authority. He also showed me how you use different grips like the pen-hold or the crane. (For now, I think I’ll stick with my handshake grip.)

For the next few weeks, I'll be spending my Thursdays at the tables. Maybe I'll rent the movie to get motivated.

For what, you ask?

For the satisfaction of being a respectable basement player among my tennis friends. There's Chris, who attacks every shot. And Ron, who hits fluid, sweeping strokes. And how can I forget Doug (really, I can't: he told me in the parking lot at Highlander that he would "crush me like an insect"). During a game, he also announces, "What are you gonna do with this?!" before he serves.

They can be a tough crowd, ping-pong-wise.

This game is awesome. I'm so glad my dad taught me how to play. He was — and probably still is — a fierce player.

No comments: