Table tennis has become a popular pastime of college students for many reasons: Anyone can learn how to play, the rules are straightforward, and it’s easy to start a quick game at one of the many pingpong tables in the dorm lounges, or at the HUB.
But during the table tennis tournament on Feb. 11, the seemingly simple game became an exciting competition.
Table tennis tournaments are held in the HUB every quarter with players entering for a small fee. Among the 13 players participating this quarter were professors, advisers, graduate students, and exchange students. Each game consists of five 11-point matches. After the first set of games, the tournament is divided into a winners’ bracket and a losers’ bracket. The winners of the two brackets then play each other for the title of first place.
As they watched other competitors warm up, a few players described a common strategy. They explained that every player has a unique style that is seen soon after the game starts.
“I try to script, like a football game, my first four plays,” said Aaron Robertson, an adviser in the Foster School of Business. “I kind of go from there, based on what the other person is doing.”
Minutes later, the tournament officially began, and the only sounds heard in the room were the taps of the pingpong ball against the table and paddle. The energy was high, and players would occasionally stop to get a towel to wipe their foreheads. Some players hit their hands against the paddles in frustration or yelled out after narrowly missing a point. But at the end of the day, the players agreed these tournaments are all about enjoying the game.
Adam Shinn, also a Foster School adviser, began playing table tennis with Robertson two years ago.
“We were just looking for something to do at lunch to get some exercise,” Shinn said. “We decided we’d try it, and we love it.”
The players also mentioned that the HUB’s prices are very affordable. For just $6, competitors receive a paddle, a ball, and a chance to compete against the school’s best players.
“And free popcorn,” added professor Shailendra Pratap Jain, who teaches marketing in the Foster School.
Brian Park, one of the final two competitors in the tournament, is a member of the UW’s table tennis team. The club meets every Monday and Wednesday, and the top five players become members of the competitive team. The club team is part of the National Collegiate Table Tennis Association, and they regularly participate in tournaments against other universities.
When asked about the key to becoming a better player, Park said, “It’s just practice. Whether [you’re playing] for fun or competitively, just practice a lot.”
Other players agreed, and many said that finding a friend to practice with is a great place to start.
“Find another beginner you can play with,” Shinn said. “And you can both get better together.”
The winner of the tournament was Jain, and his fellow competitors congratulated him. The first, second, and third place winners received prizes, such as free bowling in the HUB.
Professors and students, experts and beginners, and participants and onlookers enjoyed Wednesday’s tournament, and they all look forward to an exciting rematch in the spring.
Reach contributing writer Katie Anastas at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @katieanastas
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