Who hasn’t played table tennis – or ping pong – at some point in their lives? I imagine we can all admit to having picked up a paddle at some point – at our own or a friend’s house in our youth, in a dorm common room during college, in a relative’s basement, or in my case, most recently, on the pool deck of a cruise ship with my son, who was about nine at the time. It’s a sport anyone can play; age is no barrier. And, it’s a lot of fun, even if you aren’t very good.
I got a refresher in the fun of table tennis, and some expert coaching on paddle grip and stance, when I visited Zing! Table Tennis Center in Easthampton, MA. for this month’s feature story. Owner Noel Abbott, a certified table tennis coach, gave me a quick lesson in proper paddle control as I took on the center’s robotic partner. It was challenging, yes, but also exhilarating, and, as I caught on to the rhythm of play, fun. Abbott – who rediscovered his passion for table tennis in a relative’s basement after Thanksgiving dinner a few years ago – has a beautiful facility in the Keystone building on Pleasant Street, complete with multiple tables, a lounge and pro shop. The fit, 75-year-old former tennis pro and corporate organizational development consultant told me his goal in creating Zing! was to open a center where people of all ages and abilities would feel welcome, supported and inspired. I think he has succeeded.
Diana Kelley, who with her friend, Ellie, discovered Zing! through a special offered at the Easthampton Senior Center last winter, echoed the joy this simple sport can bring, regardless of age.
“Ellie and I started last January. We had so much fun, we signed up for a year [membership].” Kelly shared, adding the two women, both in their 80s, use the membership privilege to play several mornings a week, before the center opens to the public at 12:30 p.m. “It got us through the winter. We’re not very good, but it was funny. It really is fun, and he has great equipment,” Kelly said, adding the two aren’t quite as funny now, as their game has improved over the year, but they are still loving the sport and play at least three mornings a week.
If your New Year’s resolution was to try and stay more active this winter, a trip to Zing! might be the ticket. A round of table tennis can be great balm for those winter blues.
Looking for a volunteer outlet? Prime kicks off the first of a series of volunteer opportunities in 2020 when January’s Three Big Questions takes a look at the mission of the VFW Auxiliary, and the criteria to join this non-profit, the oldest volunteer organization in support of our active and retired military. I hope you will take a moment to read about this group.
Symphony tickets! Who wouldn’t like to win a pair of vouchers to your choice of an upcoming concert this spring? Your chance is on page 20. All we ask is a few moments of your time, and your opinion on how we can make Prime better for you, our readers.
As always, thanks for reading,