Rutgers Table Tennis Club encourages players of all skill levels to hone their skills
On Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays, members of the Rutgers Table Tennis Club meet at the College Avenue Gymnasium to learn new skills and hone their existing ones.
Andy Chen, an Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy sixth-year, is the president of the Table Tennis Club.
“The Table Tennis Club is for anyone who's passionate, who loves to play table tennis,” he said. “Ping pong is a great sport because people of all ages can play. You can start as young as like 4 years old, and you can play as old as like, 80 years old.”
Those good enough to make the team compete in tournaments throughout the school year, Chen said. There are only two teams with four members each, so most club members do not compete.
There is a divisional tournament in the fall, another in the spring and a regionals tournament. Based on their results in the divisional tournaments, the team is able to qualify for the national tournament.
Chen said the Rutgers team recently participated in a divisional tournament and is now preparing for regionals. Depending on how well they do, they may compete in nationals next year.
Chen said that although table tennis is not extremely popular in the United States, it is growing.
“There are ping pong tables all over campus on every campus. I see people playing all the time,” Chen said. “The best of the best always show up at first practice thinking they're the best, and then they start losing all of a sudden. That's really how you get better. Just playing with better people, and seeing how other people play and improving your own skills.”
Andrew Lu, a School of Engineering first-year student, plays with the club's team.
“This year a lot of already developed players joined the team. So now we have an actual team and actual practices with good players,” Lu said.
Lu said that he began playing table tennis when he was in seventh grade, and quickly advanced to playing competitively at local clubs.
Thomas Gosart, a School of Arts and Sciences first-year student, plays with the club for fun. He joined the club in September.
“It doesn't matter if you're not good or if you're really good,” Gosart said. “Anyone who likes playing is welcome to play. I play with people of all levels. I've seen plenty of beginners here.”
The club welcomes alumni as well as current students, according to their Facebook page.
Gene Tom, an alumnus of the School of Engineering Class of 1991, said that he regularly comes to the club's meetings.
Tom said that he played as a member of the Table Tennis Club when he was a student, and recently started attending club meetings again after learning about the club on Facebook.
“Instead of sitting on the couch, I'd rather come here and play a little bit,” Tom said. “I actually lost a few pounds just by coming here.”
Most members of the club are current Rutgers students.
Meiyu Zhu, a School of Arts and Sciences junior, joined the club this semester but has been playing table tennis for eight years and also plays with the women's team. She said that they played in the recent divisional tournament, where they beat the Florida Institute of Technology but lost to New York University and Yale.
Zhu is from China, and came to the United States for college.
“Here we're playing just for fun,” Zhu said. “In China, many people take it more seriously.”
Andrew Lu, whose family is from Taiwan, also said that table tennis is much more popular in China than in the United States.
“It's a game that everyone plays in China,” Lu said. “Here, everyone plays, but maybe once a year.”
Maxwell Marcus is a School of Arts and Sciences senior. He is a contributing writer for The Daily Targum.