Judging by the cars in the parking lot – the Alpha Romeos, the Porsches, the Teslas (not the cheap one), Range Rovers and BMW’s – one finds that mostly the ‘elites’ (the nattering nabobs) are playing at our table tennis club. I’m talking about rich people, the kind who have holes in their refrigerator doors dispensing ice (not just cubes, but crushed – they have a choice!). And when they come to play in a tournament, they arrive dressed to the nines (some to the tens), decked out in what most of these silly people think are elegant and stylish uniforms. They think this gaudy and bombastic garb that clowns would wear in a circus are chic. They ain't. I’m tellin ya, the colors and patterns are so dizzying with all that DayGlow stuff. It’s hallucinatory, what they wear, harkening back to Haight Ashbury 1960’s hippie clothes. And the shoes!!! Nowadays they’re all psychedelic and glow in the dark. Chartreuse, turquoise – colors you can’t even spell without the help of a dictionary – these are what they put on their feet! Who would wanna be caught dead in that stuff? Not moi. Nunca!
The other day I got into a match with a lawyer – a personal injury lawyah! Lemme tell you somethin’, this guy was fast with his footwork and looked very trim and well-toned. Oh, yeah, these personal injury lawyers are all in good shape, probably because they’re always chasing after ambulances. (Most of them, as you know, are on Olympic sprint teams.) This guy, with the juris doctor degree, may have been fast but he played like he had no brain, no courage and no heart. If I had to bet on it, I was quite sure he must have just seen The Wizard Of Oz.
First, let me say this: If you’re not having fun, you’re not winning. If winning at ping pong has become your sole purpose, your primary mission in life, then go see a shrink or something, because you’re barking up the wrong tree. Maybe you should find something to do which is less destructive (e.g., tiddlywinks … or barking up a tree).
Remember: It’s a game, it’s only a game. Now, having said that, I realize that everyone wants to win. Some are serious about it – some very serious – while some seem to take delight, judging by their lasting smiles, in just playing “for the fun of it,” winning not being an end-all for them.
Here is some wisdom that encapsulates a winning philosophy in tennis and ping pong: Keep the ball in play against beginning and average (intermediate) players and you will win most of the time. Consistency – not making mistakes – is the key here. Try not to clobber or smash the ball impulsively. Slow down; just keep the ball in play or “Make haste slowly,” is another celebrated way to express this strategy. One of the caesars said this – Caesar Romero or possibly Sid Caesar … or maybe it was Augustus. Yeah, now that I think of it, I’m pretty sure it was Augie who said it a long time ago. Good advice, too. He probably had plenty of time to kill during one of his sieges as he played patient ping pong.