Ping pong takes US by surprise

Ping pong takes US by surprise

Indian delight

“This is the largest training programme for youths in the country, run by the India Community Centre in an area that is 60 percent Asian. Here, Ping-Pong parents who grew up with the sport in Sichuan Province or Hyderabad are the new soccer moms and Little League dads,” The New York Times said on Thursday.

“I’m trying to become one of the greatest players in the nation,” Srivatsav Tangirala (14) was quoted as saying by the paper. He and other three dozen players, some as young as 5, sprinted sideways along the edge of the tables, 45 times in a row, perfecting their footwork, the daily said.

The India Community Centre’s TT facility was started last year with seed money from two Indian entrepreneurs and has already become an influential hatchery for Olympic hopefuls, most of whom banter in Hindi or Mandarin at home.

Some of the proteges from this centre are Ariel Hsing (14), the top-ranked United States junior, and Lily Zhang, the 13-year-old who ranked No 2. Both dream of playing in the 2012 Olympics.

A team of experts, Gaolin Tang from Sichuan Province; Stellan Bengtsson, the Swedish champion; and Rajul Sheth, the center’s executive director and a veteran of the Indian national team coach the Ping Pong aspirants.