You may not have noticed, but tennis has a cool, younger sibling, and it’s breaking out of basements everywhere.
Its name is table tennis (or ping pong, to many). And while many view it as a hobby set in dimly-lit basements and the common rooms of college dorms, table tennis’ reach expands all the way to the Olympics and even touches the sport of tennis itself.
To start, each point begins by a player’s serve igniting a fast-paced rally. Returning serve is crucial to getting in the point and setting up strategy.
Like tennis, movement and anticipation of shot direction is integral, and could even result in a point-ending slam. Power is not necessarily important in the sport, but a finesse feel for the spin and angle of shot can be the difference in winning and losing.
Sounds pretty similar, right?
At the Phoenixville Table Tennis Club, where a group of avid table tennis players meet once per week to compete, the similarities between the two sports are on full display. According to Phoenixville Table Tennis Organizer Nick Flor, there are many similarities, but also distinct differences.
“In our experience, players who have played tennis and not table tennis usually need some corrections when they start,” Flor said. “We have to stop them from trying to lift the ball. Dealing with under-spun balls also proves to be challenging. We have also had players who had to choose tennis or table tennis because their strokes in one sport were affecting their strokes in the other negatively.”
In talking with a few others at the club, which meets on Tuesday nights in the basement of a local church , they are quick to point out the unique aspect of the sport and various skill set required. One key strategy is the importance of deception and disguise of the serve. That skill is even more emphasized in table tennis than in traditional tennis.
Flor said there are a couple of individuals he’s gotten to know through the club who play both sports. He notices those players pointing out similarities within the rules, etiquette, and the overall approach to the game. They also tend to pick the game up a bit quicker than others.
Anyone is welcome to play at the Phoenixville Table Tennis Club, and if you go, you might even find a few people with experience on the tennis court and on the tennis table.