Table Tennis

When I was little, my dad used to play table tennis for the hospital league. He was self taught and was quite good. My dad’s uncle made a table for the family to play at home. It was made out of old chipboard, had green paint, masking tape for the lines and rested on some wooden trestle legs. First the table was at my aunt’s house in her front verandah, it took up the entire space and there was hardly room to move around it. Later it was moved to our house, to the garage. At this stage I could just see over the table. My dad taught me how to ‘block’, he would loop or top spin to me and I would just stand there and block. It was perfect, I was just the right height. Later in about standard 3 (grade 5) I entered a school table tennis competition. I won all my games. The teacher overseeing the competition, told me that her teenage children play table tennis at the Carboneers club and that I should join. My sister by this time could also see over the table and wanted to play as well. For the first few months or so, we all went. By all, I mean all my cousins. It became our Friday night thing. There were about 9 of us. Our coaches were Eddie Coleman and Morgan Govindasamy. As we continued going, the group of cousins dwindled and we were left with 3 of us who really enjoyed playing table tennis (Nevanya, Shahan and myself).

We entered all the school hosted local and provincial tournaments as well as club level local and provincial. We travelled to various provinces (Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Free State, Gauteng and Natal). Our first big tournament was the South African Opens and it was held in Orkney. What stands out for me most was the cold! It was freezing cold. Our first adventure, travelling with the club, away from our parents. My sister won the under 12’s. At that time there was a Natal Midlands team and a Natal team. We represented the Natal Midlands team.  We made lots of friends from different provinces whenever we entered a tournament. Being apart of the table tennis club really added value to our childhood.

My first racket (bat), was my dad’s. It was a stiga all-round classic flared bade with Mark V rubbers. I used it for many years before it needed replacing.

I stopped playing during my second year at Wits university. We still play for fun when the family gets together at my parents’ home in KZN.

Watching the amazing table tennis players during this year’s Olympic games has brought back a lot of good memories about our playing years.  So much about the game has changed (ball size, rules, scoring) and so much has stayed the same. I hope to play again. My sister has been playing in the Gauteng league and has also entered for the South African Opens in October.

I really enjoyed watching Feng Tianwei from Singapore play against Ding Ning of China (One of the best matches I’ve ever watched). Li Xiaoxia also brilliant – what a strong forehand.

Now I need to source a good racket.