All Sport One City Week: Table Tennis

Sport Calgary is doing a blog series on our All Sport One City event happening January 22-27 2018. Our mission for this event is to get adults more active more often by offering over 50 different events in 20 different venues all over Calgary. Matt is a practicum student at Mount Royal University helping out with the All Sport One City event. He is pursuing a Bachelor of Health & Physical Education in Sport & Recreation Management with a passion for sport. Matt’s main activities are golf, soccer, andbasketball. He is looking forward to not only running the All Sport One City event but participating in its activities as well.

After being asked to be a Sport Calgary representative at our table tennis event, I immediately reflected to my childhood where my brother and I would play for hours in our basement. There was no question I was always the household champ whether it was against my dad, brother, mom or anyone who challenged me to a game. Overloaded with confidence, I headed into Geng Table Tennis Academy, where I was very quickly humbled after playing against owner Horatio Pintea. The table tennis professional made me look foolish! I couldn’t rally let alone return a serve against Horatio, who chuckled as he sent a spinning fast serve right by me. Horatio represented Canada for nearly twenty years including World Championships, Pan Am Games and the Olympics.

Horatio delivered an awesome session to me and other All Sport One City registrants. He was able to examine each individual and give them specific tips to really improve their table tennis skills. Between grip, stance, backhands, and forehands, Horatio emphasized their importance to beat your opponent. After we did a quick rallying warmup, our first lesson was based on agility. Horatio explained that he would rapidly serve numerous balls one after the other and we were to return it back to him moving quickly from one side of the table to the other. I made the mistake of leaving my sweater on before participating in this drill for a hard and intense minute…I was out of breath and sweating by the end of it!

Next, we broke up into pairs and rallied against each other while Horatio observed and gave us individual tips to try. For me, he discussed things such as when to be offensive and smash, or when to be defensive and “play smart”. He stressed that game management required you to read your opponent, find their weak spot and make the quick decision that is ultimately going to beat them.

Overall, I had a blast relearning a sport I hadn’t played since I was much younger. Horatio’s passion for table tennis made for a great session where everyone who came to learn a new sport ultimately left a better table tennis player. For more information on Horatio and the Geng Table Tennis Academy, please visit their website atwww.gengtabletennis.com/calgary.

Evans Hunt