Olympian's Table Tennis Club a Real Smash for Kids on Upper West Side

Kids on the Upper West Side are getting some expert instruction in table tennis from an Olympian. Roger Clark paid a visit and filed the following report.

Seven-year old Enzo will tell you that ping pong isn't about just standing in one spot and waving a paddle at a ball.  

"You're always running around and moving side to side," he says.

Enzo plays at the Wang Chen Table Tennis Club on West 100th Street on the Upper West Side. Owner Wang Chen started playing in China at the age of 7 and realized her dream of participating in the Olympics as a member of the U.S. team in 2008. Now, she teaches kids to play during after-school programs at the club. 

"They come here and they play two hours, ping pong, even maybe two-and-a-half hours, and they play little tournaments and I give out trophies," she says. "Everybody is interested." 

I was definitely interested in playing one of my favorite basement activities with an Olympian, so I jumped right in and grabbed some pointers from her, too. 

I was doing OK until we started working on my backhand. But it was fun, and let me tell you, you can really work up a sweat. 

"The game is a moving game," Chen says. "You know, you have to move a lot if you really want to become a good player. You really have to work out." 

Which is OK with these kids, who say this beats just hanging out inside when it's cold out. 

"It's just really fun because it doesn't really matter if you win or lose," says one participant. 

    Participant: I like that I can run around.

    Clark: Beat the heck out of a little white ball?

    Participant: Yeah.

Not to mention, it's pretty cool to have a coach who played in the Olympics. She is no doubt an inspiration. 

"It would be fun if I could be as good as her," says one participant.

"I really want to be in the Olympics one day," says another. "I'm just practicing a lot." 

For more information on the after-school programs at Wang Chen Table Tennis Center, head to their website, wangchenttc.com.

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