Sign up for our free weekday bulletin.

Members of table tennis club put spin on affordable sport

Published on

Troy Shantz
For Eric Enrique, table tennis is all about the spin.

“You need to read the end-stroke of the opponent so you can return the shot,” says the lifelong paddler.

Enrique casually rallies while warming up for the weekly ritual at Paterson Presbyterian Church. Each Tuesday about 20 enthusiasts arrive for a night of friendly competition at the Sarnia Table Tennis club.

“Basement table tennis and playing in a gym are two different things,” explained club co-owner Rainer Mai, amid sharp ‘pings’ and ‘pongs’ echoing from five regulation tables.

Dave Crimmins and Rainer Mai, owners of the Sarnia Table Tennis Club. Troy Shantz

“I learned in a basement. Here you’ve got essentially no height restrictions.”

It’s a new spring session, and young and old arrive at 7 p.m. wearing headbands and sneakers and carrying equipment in small gym bags.

The group has been running about four years, said Mai, who organizes it with Dave Crimmins from September to May, sometimes drawing players from Chatham, London and Michigan, where Crimmins lives.

The format is casual but they occasionally attend tournaments as a team, Mai said.

“We have some really good players, some beginners. To get the experience, we play,” he said.

Table tennis is an affordable sport. Six dollars gets you in the door and a paddle costs $15.

Enrique, a 40-year veteran, invested almost $300 in a wood and carbon fibre paddle, adding custom rubber to suit his style and increase the size of its “sweet” spot.

Mai prefers affordable paddles, emphasizing technique over equipment.
“The most important thing a beginner needs to learn is hand-eye coordination,” he said. “The more you play, the better you get.”

The Sarnia Table Tennis Club meets Tuesdays from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Paterson Presbyterian Church, 120 Russell St. South. Nightly registration is $6 for adults, $4 for students.

More like this