I remember watching experts play table tennis growing up. I'd see games on television and be amazed at how fast they'd return the ball. Back and forth, back and forth until the ball shot off the table, past the player.
When I play, I'm a lot slower, a lot less graceful than most players. The only advantage I have, is I'm a left handed player so I can sometime sneak a ball through but I am purely an amateur.
I often wandered how the game came to be. Did it start as an indoor version of tennis? Did someone have some odds and ends around and created the game? When and where did it come from?
It started back in the 1880's when lawn tennis players figured out a way to bring their game in so it could be played over the winter. The game gained a reputation as a parlor game because anyone could play it if they had a table, a ball, and a paddle. The early balls were made of rummer or cork but were replaced by a celluloid ball that bounced much better in 1900. In the 1890's, the David Foster company began selling a boxed version of table tennis, fully patented. At the end of the 1800's, a company invented the name "Ping Pong" in England while Parker Brothers, the American game company, trademarked the name.
The game became quite popular and was marketed under a variety of names from Ping Pong, Table Tennis, Whiff Waff, Parlour Tennis, Indoor Tennis, Pom-Pom, Clip-Clap, and others. In 1901, over 300 people participated in tournaments sanctioned by the Ping Pong Association. In 1902, a visiting Japanese professor discovered the game and took it back to Japan when he returned. Others took the game to Hungry and Austria before it spread out across the world. By 1922, England had their own All England Table Tennis club and the Daily Mirror newspaper sponsored a series of competitions which drew over 40,000 competitors. In the same year, the Ping Pong Association renamed itself the Table Tennis Association.
Soon afterwards, international matches began with the Hungarians dominating the championships throughout the 30's. Most paddles of the time had a thin layer of pimpled rubber but in the 1950's, the Japanese introduced paddles with a sandwich rubber that changed the face of the sport. The new material caused balls to spin more, and move differently, almost as if imbued by magic. As a result, The International Table Tennis Federation adjusted their rules so the thickness of all paddles was controlled.
In addition, since 1988, Table Tennis has been a recognized Olympic Sport and debuted in Seoul Korea. This lead to the size of the ball being changed in 2000 so it was larger and more easily seen on television when being broadcast. Just a year later, the rules changed again so instead of needing 21 points to win, it was dropped to 11 points. China has become a table tennis powerhouse, winning all the gold medals at the past few Olympics.
Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear. Have a great day.
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