Tables Are Turning

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We have a new past time. Nope, it’s not cow tipping. It’s more fun than that. It’s ping-pong!

Few months ago, I bought a ping-pong table. After 2 years of having our basement in disarray and left undone (after it was flooded – see previous post), we finally had it fixed and finished. Now, our newly done basement is an official table tennis tourney room.

I learned to play table tennis with my friends, when I was growing up in Manila. Back in those days, our table sometimes was a make-shift one, like a sheet of plywood placed on top of a desk or a dinner table. Though at times we played on a standard tournament table – especially when there was a sports fest in our church.

Our ping-pong paddles were cheap or something that we improvised too. We cut out pieces of wooden board into paddles. Though I already knew in my youth, about Butterfly brand paddles, and have even held one. And boy, it felt so good to play with that kind of paddle. Obviously it was not mine, I just borrowed it.

My parents allowed me to hang out with my friends to play table tennis even for long periods of time. They didn’t mind at all. They just don’t want me to hang out with the other “table” game – billiards. There was nothing wrong with playing billiards, but it was the association and the company they keep. Where I came from, the billiards were usually in the beerhouses and pubs.

I never became a good ping-pong player, but enough to enjoy the game. Though some of my friends became adept at it, that they compete in local or interdistrict tournaments and sports fest. I usually accompany them for moral support.

This is how we play ping-pong. Not!

After many years, now I can afford to have my own ping-pong table, so I indulged a bit. I got us a good quality, tournament-grade table. It really have an even bounce, unlike the sheet of plywood where I used to play before. I even got us deluxe Butterfly paddles! However, even with the top grade equipment, I am still not a good player. It just show that it is not on the equipment, but on the skill of the player.

I may not be an expert but I taught my son and my daughter the basics of table tennis. We also looked at some tutorial videos in the internet, as well as videos of world-class players in action, which were mesmerizing to watch, to say the least. I was pleased on how quickly my children learned, especially my son. It was amazing how my 10-year old son got quite skillful in such a short period of time. Maybe credit the teacher (ahem!).

We had visitors that we invited to play ping-pong with us. Don’t underestimate anybody’s skill, as you can never tell if he/she is a mediocre player or would blow you away.

The first visitor we had was our kids’ music teacher, who was an accomplished pianist and had a master’s degree in music from Juilliard. What does a musician know about ping-pong? Wrong! She schooled us with all kind of spins and drives and we ourselves were spinning. We later learned that she was a varsity player in college.

The next visitor we had was a friend who was a minister by profession. Yes, he can give rousing sermons, can sing, and can play the piano too. But does a pastor know ping-pong? Again, we were wrong!

He watched me and my son play for a while, and was hesitant to join. He finally gave in after much prodding from me. The moment he held the paddle – using the Chinese-hold (also known as pen-hold),  we knew right away that he was good. We were again schooled! He told us later, that he grew up in Singapore and learned the Chinese way of the game. (Chinese dominate the sport nowadays.)

More recently, my son has been consistently beating me in ping-pong. The student is getting better than the teacher. In fact, I have not won for some time now. I charge it to his youth and quick reflexes. But I know, it is a pattern that I should get used to: what I can do, he can do better. And I am fine with that.

The tables are turning indeed. And I don’t mean the ping-pong table.

I can challenge him to play 1-on-1 basketball instead. Because I know I can still beat him in basketball. But I also know, it will not be for long.


  1. Aw, there’s really about family that lets our competitive self take a backseat and rather find delight in the excellence of our loved ones over our own.

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