Step Up to the Table

"In the U.S., table tennis isn't really considered a sport by many people," says Carlos Zeller, one of the volunteers that collectively run the Broward Table Tennis Club, a non-profit, public center devoted to a game more commonly known as ping pong. "People think that it's something you only play in your garage or your basement. But everywhere else in the world, table tennis is a big deal." Zeller should know: he represented his country of Argentina as a table tennis player in his youth. Now Zeller and the rest of the Club are trying to get what he calls "young blood" back into the sport. And at this weekend's RoboPong Team Tournament, taking place Saturday and Sunday at 9 a.m., they may get that chance.

The tournament will pit teams of two against each other in both singles and doubles play. While the showdown won't exactly be to the death, a la Balls of Fury, the competition will be fierce. To ensure fair matchups, the Club will limit the maximum combined rating for each pair of competitors (you get a rating when you become a member of the USTTA, which you can do for just $40). The tourney costs $150 to enter per team, with the top prize being $600 in cash. Not bad for a game of pong.

If competitive play isn't your thing yet, that's cool too. The Club is open from 5 to 9:30 p.m. during the week, and with 17 tables (including 2 RoboPong training tables), you're sure to get a spot. Play costs $8 per session, and private lessons are also available. Visit browardttc.net.
Sat., Feb. 7, 9 a.m.; Sun., Feb. 8, 9 a.m., 2009

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John Linn