Taking hold in Silicon Valley, a Ping-pong boom

Young Men and Women who have been serious about table tennis utilized to Have to make the trip to Beijing, Stockholm or even Moscow to train with world class trainers.

Now they go no further than this Silicon Valley suburb.  "I'm trying to become among the greatest players at the Nation," Srivatsav Tangirala, 14, stated matter-of-factly between drills in the huge new table tennis center here. He and three dozen gamers, some as young as five, sprinted sideways across the edge of the tables, 45 times in a row, optimizing their footwork.

"Lean forward, lean, lean, slender, lean!" Their coach implored.

This is the biggest training program for youths at the Country, run from the India Community Center in a place that is 60 percent Asian. Here, Ping-Pong parents that grew up with all the sport in Sichuan Province or Hyderabad are the new soccer mothers and Little League fathers.

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One of 12 table tennis clubs in the Region, up from 5 clubs in 1990, the India Community Center's Ping-Pong facility was started last year with seed money from two Indian entrepreneurs and has turned into an influential hatchery for Olympic hopefuls, many of whom banter in Hindi or Mandarin in the home.

San Jose, Calif., and Lily Zhang, 13 and ranked No. 2, from Palo Alto, Calif., are a fearsome twosome, together with matching teal braces, bulging calf muscles and a dream of playing in the 2012 Olympics. Ariel cradles the ball in her hands like a baby chick -- until she lets go and smashes it.

They over 100 other teenagers, many the daughters and Sons of technology specialists, are being coached by talent from around the globe: Gaolin Tang from Sichuan Province; Stellan Bengtsson, the Swedish winner; and Rajul Sheth, the centre's executive director, a veteran of the Indian national team.

Before, top players grew up in China and became American citizens so as to play for the United States Olympic team.

"Hyphenated children That Are born and raised here and also have a   In Milpitas, the hollow knocking looks of Ping-Pong balls Reverberate off walls lined with triumphal paper clippings in The Sing Tao Daily and The India Express comprising India Community Center offspring.

Engineer, was weaned on two-volley games on concrete tables in the schoolyard in Henan Province. Growing up bad, she had to borrow white shoes to participate in a championship. " Rain or shine, during school breaks everyone rushes into the tables," she recalled.

Engineer from Taiwan, spend at least $40,000 a year fostering their daughter's talent, and have added an indoor table tennis practice room to their residence. Their plastic House Depot window colors are pocked with holes from the speed of Ariel's balls and top ping pong tables.

Named for Disney's "Little Mermaid," Ariel juggles school Her ferocious close-to-the-table backhand, honed from age 6, has generated so much buzz that two decades ago she had been encouraged to play with "Mr. Bill" -- in Bill Gates, the chairman of Microsoft -- and "Mr. Warren" -- Warren E. Buffet, the investor. She overwhelmed the billionaire Ping-Pongers in Mr. Buffet's 75th birthday celebration in San Francisco. "   Even Though the game's visibility is growing nationwide -- Thanks in part to celebrities like Susan Sarandon, that recently opened SPiN New York, a table tennis social club at Manhattan -- it doesn't have Small League-style cultural clout in the USA, which parents state makes it difficult to compete. In Germany, table tennis engenders a Los Angeles Lakers-like fever, with televised games and a few professionals earning $1 million per year in endorsements.

In this country, the game is still regarded as a hobby; just Three schools -- Texas Wesleyan University in Fort Worth; Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Mo.; and the University of Puerto Rico in San Juan -- offer table tennis scholarships.

Randy Capps, an analyst at the Migration Policy Institute at Washington, said Silicon Valley's rapidly growing Ping-Pong scene represented the state's demographics, where half its school-age children are the offspring of immigrants " They expect their kids to do the same."   California, Los Angeles, stated that among Asian-Americans, there was an understanding that the kids would not excel at football or basketball, which table tennis "is a game where they have an advantage because of cultural affinity."   "Being overly oriented has become a stereotype of The Asian-American child," she explained. " Parents are grounding them so the kid doesn't appear as nerdy."   Currently junior teams from India and Hungary come to Milpitas to Work with coaches such as Sean O'Neill, an Olympian from McLean, Va. "I had to move to Sweden" to train, Mr. O'Neill explained. " But they have brought the world's boundaries inside" the India Community Center.

It is a global game, with the Chinese coaches specializing At a fast "level game" in which the ball is struck hard close to the table, while their European and Indian counterparts are "topspinners" who go from the desk to put more spin on the ball.

The new complex is a satellite of this India Community Center, an ambitious, one-stop-shopping centre for Indian culture modeled on Jewish community centres. It includes a free medical clinic, a program for women and Bollywood aerobics classes.

"In India, you wander from the house and there is a Community all around you," said Anil Godhwani, a co-founder of the center. " At the U.S., we felt we were missing something"   The program started small in 2005 with five Indian players " The Chinese people didn't want to learn table tennis from a Indian, ping pong practice robot" as Mr. Sheth set it. Winning 16 awards the following year in the Junior Olympics helped convince the Chinese of the India Community Center's serious aims. Now parents have nicknamed it "the India-China centre"   Last week, in the USA table tennis national Championships in Las Vegas, 21 players from Milpitas pitted against 653 athletes from around the country, garnering 15 awards -- the most of any club.

Mr. Sheth's team comprised Krish Avvari, a bespectacled Fourth grader famous for his mean loop forehand, and Ariel Hsing, known as a strong "two-winged attacker," familiar with backhand or forehand.

Her style -- an exercise maybe in the most delicate art of twist. 

Published 4 months ago

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