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Greetings table tennis fans, and welcome to the story of my “thirty days of table tennis” challenge. We start out on the day of December 4th, 2021. It was a beautiful morning and Brady and I found ourselves at Princeton Pong for one of their monthly tournaments. It had been some time since we had competed and I was out of practice. I decided to enter three events that day, my first starting at 9:30 and my last at 3:30. From a ratings standpoint, the events got progressively lower in level as the day went on. So, my best chance at winning a trophy was the last event. However, halfway through the second event, my legs started cramping up. My body was not ready for the extended play that I was putting it through. By the time I got to the under 800 event, my legs were shot, I could barely move, and it took everything I could muster to prevent myself from just forfeiting the event. I lost over 100 points that tournament and ended up with a 686 rating. Now, I don’t consider myself a great player, but I think that I should be a little bit better than 686. I decided to put some work into an attempt to bring that rating back up again. I decided to challenge myself to complete 30 days of table tennis. Didn’t have to be 30 consecutive days, just 30 days of time total spent with the sport.
Remember when people would tie strings around their fingers to help them remember things? Well I need something like that. Smart phones have been fantastic in keeping me on task, and for this I found two apps that have been instrumental in keeping me going. I put the Android apps Achievements by RogssGame Studio and Smart Counter With Widget by L.droid on my phone and had an easy reminder and progress measure staring me in the face everyday.
Okay! Let’s go! Day 1, December 8th, 2021. Went down in the basement, some stretching, a little weight lifting, serving practice, and some hitting balls fed from a Newgy RoboPong robot. Total time, maybe 30 minutes. Not that impressive, but it is a start. As time went on, I would do something different each time. Jogging before hitting, serving different kinds of serves, hitting to and from different positions, different strokes, you get the idea. Oh, and it helped to have a music soundtrack going during the practice. I have a “Pong Power” playlist.
Now this was my training program. But it started to spread out into the rest of my day. I would watch videos on technique and theory, invited friends over to play, and started to get more involved with the community. Then things started happening to really expand on the experience that made the thirty day challenge seem rather epic.
December 22nd: Brady was contacted about Ping-Pong-A-Thon. This is a yearly event to raise money for charity where ping pong is played for 12 to 24 hours straight. I had lent them a table for their event a couple years ago, now they are looking to borrow tables again, and they are going to hold the event in Brady’s church.
January 5th: I had contacted the Phoenixville Recreation Center back in September about the new facility that was being built less than a mile from my house. I would pass by it frequently as I would walk to play disc golf on the new course that was built in the park right next to it. The program director contacted me to set up a meeting to talk about the possibility of our club playing in the new facility when it opened. Eventually we had a meeting scheduled for the 25th.
January 8th: I sent an email out to the old mailing lists of the Phoenixville Table Tennis Club and the Rising Phoenix Table Tennis Club asking about players’ continued interest in getting the club up and running again. One prior member, Bill Coleman contacted me to say he’d love to play but that he had moved to Florida. After some conversation about his club in North Myers I ended up helping them put together a website, Facebook page, and some advertising on various sites to try and bring them more players. I made them a logo, which I thought was pretty nice. (https://sites.google.com/view/nfmttc/home)
January 25th: The meeting with the directors of the recreation center went well. After some talks we eventually decided for the recreation center to offer table tennis as their own program. We would provide the tables and organize the meetings, they would charge a fee to participate. April 30th 10am-2pm will be an open house for the facility and we will be there to showcase table tennis and the club! The actual start date of playing and the fee structure have yet to be determined.
Feb 1st: The first annual Groundhog Trophy. The Rec Room is a restaurant and bar down on Bridge Street, also within walking distance from my house. They have five ping pong tables in the back and have been open since at least 2018. My wife and I visited it once, but didn’t play. It didn’t appeal to us because we are always bringing our children with us everywhere we go. But now that the children are older, we do leave them home from time to time. So Janel and I went down on a Sunday after I was done working to recon. We didn’t see anyone else playing so we decided that we could run a tournament there on Tuesday and no one would care too much. I sent out an invitation via email and Facebook and we received a lot of interest. We were happy when eleven players showed up to compete. Seven of the players I was meeting for the first time, though two had played at Rising Phoenix during my absence, and four of the players from the original Phoenixville club competed. It was a fun little social event. I learned that when you announce a tournament, no matter the stakes, that draws players out. I am certain the Groundhog trophy will return next year.
But since then, my friends have been meeting us down at the Rec Room regularly on Tuesday nights until our new club opens.
Feb 5th: my work shift is 2pm to 9pm. Princeton Pong was having another tournament that day. The only event I could make it to and be home in time for work would be the under 1750. I thought to myself, I am doing the thirty day challenge, my chances of winning are slim to none, but I have to go. I didn’t fare as poorly as I expected, and I definitely didn’t wear myself this time. I consider it a lose-win situation!
Feb 7th: birth of the PongFather. Today I met with Brady and Ben at the church that will host the Ping-Pong-A-Thon. At the meeting I got a real feel for the event and what it is all about. It is focused on raising money to combat human trafficking using ping pong as the backdrop. It’s a tongue-in-cheek representation of the sport. Basement players bragging and showing off their skills to one another and proving how awesome they are. It’s the silly side of sport. Now they also respect the serious players and want to introduce them to the event and show the sports side to the laymen players. I, however, decided to go the opposite way and become more silly. My inspiration came from a combination of the Youtube video of Adam Bowbrow playing Kazuyuki Yokoyama and that I am involved in a lot of table tennis happenings in Phoenixville. So I came up with the PongFather, one part flashy, one part overlord, 100% ping pong.
And so the PongFather will be appearing at the event and even made you an offer you can’t refuse.
The PongFather then went on to make a music video for the Health Care Access of Phoenixville Virtual Karaoke contest.
Now he waits to make his appearance at the Ping-Pong-A-Thon. That should be epic!
Feb 19th: the final day. I just finished this article and am going to head down to the basement to force my kids to play 10 minutes each of table tennis with me because they can’t handle any more. I am still trying to ignite the desire to play within them. This will conclude the 30 days of table tennis. Quite an interesting journey for such a simple challenge don’t you think? Why don’t you have a go at it?