I thought I was reasonably good, but then I was completely overpowered by a 12-year old,” said Adam Davis. “The game’s all about speed, agility, touch and the mental aspect, not strength. That’s why it can be appealing to such a wide variety of people.” Davis is the owner of Salt Lake City Table Tennis (SLCTT), a 4,000 square-foot, 24-hour facility on the west side of the city devoted to the sport where an opponent of diminutive stature can easily humble you.
Inside SLCTT are six professional-level Butterfly Centrefold 25 tables that run about $2,500 each. As someone who spent a significant portion of his childhood locked in hyper-competitive, basement ping pong clashes against my brother wherein the most important things to know were which table irregularities would work in your favor and which angles could turn the adjacent wall into your ally, I was in heaven. Whether you’re looking to take a Forrest Gump-style leap in your game or are simply looking for a new outlet and a little fun, SLCTT is the place.
Membership at SLCTT is only $40 a month. For $1.30 a day, you get round-the-clock keycard access to the club to play any time their schedule allows. Day passes are $10 per person, and drop-ins are encouraged. Even if nobody’s around, you can give Davis a call at 801-886-1415 and he’ll open the door remotely for you so you can play. Just fill out a liability waiver, drop your payment in an envelope and get paddling.
Table Tennis has been an Olympic sport since 1988, so it’s fair to say some people take it pretty seriously. If you’re on that end of the spectrum, you can take lessons from former professionals like ParaPanAmerican Games 5th place finisher Valentin Letelier, Chinese National Team veteran Sun Beih and Ukrainian National Team veteran Ruslan Riabokoniev. SLCTT’s weekly Wednesday night round robins help match people up with fun, competitive matches to test your progress against the club ranking system.
Don’t be intimidated by visions of cutthroat competition, however. Davis reminded me the club’s main goal is to help people find enjoyment by chasing down and hitting a little plastic ball. “Above all else, people just have fun here,” Davis said. “We’re such a friendly club, and everyone’s here to get a little exercise, learn a little bit and have a good time, regardless of their level.”
Don’t Skimp on the Paddle. A paddle is all you really need to get started in your table tennis career, so it’s worth splurging just a little. Davis recommends spending Between $30 and $60 on a pre-assembled paddle from a reputable brand like Butterfly. “The main thing is to get a paddle where the rubber actually has some grip to it,” Davis said. “At the big box stores, you’ll spend $30 for garbage.” Davis can order product through the club to get gear at a discount.
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