Picking Up the Pieces of Public Ping Pong

You never know. I spent the pandemic anticipating an eventual return to playing at the Atlanta Table Tennis Center. If you are interested in buying their building and starting your own table tennis center, it can be purchased for $1,399,000.00. Since I don’t have an extra million available to me, I began to explore my options. I’m happy to report that AGTTA is still thriving in Norcross Georgia. There are a few other places around Atlanta; but I really had hoped the one that was closest would be available. I do have two tables of my own, but I don’t think our neighborhood HOA or USATT would approve of me running a major tournament from my home. 

There was one other possibility. About fifteen years ago, I partnered with Gwinnett County to form a table tennis program in Lawrenceville. I eventually parted ways with the county and left it in the capable hands of the Parks and Recreation Department. The table tennis program that I started at Rhodes Jordan Park was in shreds. Literally – The nets looked like they had been dropped from an airplane and run through a paper shredder. The tables weren’t much better. What had been pristine Butterfly Europa tables appeared to have been dragged down a gravel road. There was one good thing about revisiting the old club. The Program Supervisor was very interested in reviving table tennis. This is the kind of thing that makes all the difference if you’re dealing with county or city government. 

I was granted access to the storage room and found about seventy pounds of net sets in various states of disrepair. Buried in the pile were enough spare parts to piece together eight quality sets. If you haven’t bought a top of the line net set before, you might be surprised to know that it would have cost over $500 to get new ones. There are likely some better tables stacked behind the beat up ones that they had been using. 

Most recreation center employees don’t know much about table tennis. They don’t care that nets should be a certain height. If they set up tables, they are likely to put them too close together. It’s not their fault. At least now, the management at Rhodes Jordan readily admits they don’t know anything about table tennis. It can be a great partnership if table tennis clubs partner with recreation facilities. Like all partnerships, everything will fall apart if either partner bails out. So, there might be hope for rebuilding a table tennis presence at Rhodes Jordan Community Center. We’ll be playing every Wednesday evening. Last Wednesday we had ten players on five pretty beat up tables and had a great time. This week should be better. Table tennis is back in Lawrenceville Georgia. We’re picking up the pieces.

3 Replies to “Picking Up the Pieces of Public Ping Pong”

  1. The picture at the end of the article shows what a good sport you are. You lost badly to Blair Wilson at Rhodes Jordan and were kind enough to put a nice big picture of the champion in your article!

  2. Would love to restart after 45 years of out of regular practice. Is it free if charge to play at these park tables.

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