Big Time Ping Pong matches on TV

As this goes to press, some major league Table Tennis is being played on ESPN, with more on Thursday.

If you have merely dabbled in this game, or have even played it semi-seriously, you really should tune it in. The speed, skill, reaction time of these athletes will make you gasp.

The serves look geeky, but the intent is to just drop the ball over the net with lots of spin on it to make it hard to return. Ideally, when the serve bounces on the receiver’s side, it should land so softly, it would not clear the table’s edge. When it does land too forefully, the receiver can easily smash the hell out of it.

Paddles: one side is red, the other side black. One side (I think the red) is soft and rubbery for applying spin. The other side is hard for smashing.

Check it out. Good stuff!

I’ve been watching with a more than passing interest. A good friend of mine recently bought a table for his garage and we’ve been having some serious matches in the past few weeks.

We’ve adopted some of the things we’ve seen on the ESPN matches and our games have become more interesting.

Good stuff.

Who was it (Sam Snead or someone?) that said about another golfer “He plays a game with which I am not familiar.”

I watched a match the other day between a Greek guy and a Chinese fellow and it resembled not one bit the game I played in my parents’ basement as a kid. Or that I’ve played as an adult. Sheesh, waaaay too fast for me.

I saw about 30 minutes of that match the other day and I thought it was great. It took me a few times to figure out how they were serving and why they did it that way but I would rather watch that instead of pro basketball.

I agree with you, Toddly, but I’d add pro baseball to that list.

Back in the early 90’s I went up (from the greater Danbury CT area) to Waterbury, where I’d heard that a YMCA or whatever featured a big table tennis program. I played ping pong well enough in the USN to win some serious money, but when I stepped into this new milieu I saw immediately I was out of my league.

They played like the guys on TV, not nearly as well, probably, but damned well enough to impress me. It was even fun just to sit and watch’ 'em.

And when someone deigned to play me, I discovered that damned serve first hand! It looks so weak, so ineffectual. Ah, but try returning it.

I couldn’t believe how far away they got from the table and were still able to place their shots! Quite a set of skills those guys have.

My neighbor and I play table tennis for hours on end. As both of us are also avid tennis players, we understand the fundamentals and think it’s one of the greatest games ever.

I’ve been catching the ESPN coverage whenever I can, I love to watch it. The announcers are equally entertaining as they’re grabbing at straws for on-air conversation.

For some unknown reason, I’m enthralled by even the most unfitting activities televised. Spelling bees, curling, poker,…CURLING.

(Off topic) Are these SD message boards keyboard-smashingly slow or have I just hit cyber traffic?


But this website’s so popular, it’s sometimes hard to find an up time.

Watched this for about an hour this afternoon. Nice to see a lesser-known sport get some air time. These guys are impressive. Not many sports where reflexes and hand-eye coordination are so important (more important than athleticism, even). Other sports, like bowling, billiards, or golf, require people to have some great skills. But none of them take place at this speed.

Not bragging here, but in my old dorm, the table was in a large room. With enough practice, I could return from 10-15 feet. Sometimes, just over the net.

There is a replay of a match they’ve been showing recently where one guy backs so far from the table, he climbs over the barrier in the back. The guy close to the table keeps smashing the ball and the opther guy returns lobs from 20 feet or so, that still hit the table. The far guy won the point, too!

Back in the early days of ESPN, they used to show professional Table Tennis late at night. I stayed up a few nights watching it and was blown away. They’d be 15 or 20 feet from the table and nailing the ball, and the points would sometimes go for several minutes before being won. I’d like to see some of that again.

That’s what we’re talking about, photopat, the games afoot! Tonite (at least on the east coast) you can see two half hour episodes starting at midnight. Look it up in your online TV guide.

They play almost as you described in your post. The volleys don’t usually last for several minutes. But man do they smash the ball! Tape it, then watch the games at your leisure.

One thing I’m disappointed in. The TV coverage - so far - doesn’t give the big picture. I haven’t seen a board of the scheduled matches, the way they do with regular tennis tournaments. So you don’t see who has to beat whom on the way to the championship. There’s no sense of progression.

What we get is a half hour at a time, and this iusually includes just one best of five match. But it’s a helluva lot better than nothing.


That’s on Friday, March 19.