5 Around Town stumbles upon the Hanahan Table Tennis Training Ce - Live5News.com | Charleston, SC | News, Weather, Sports

5 Around Town stumbles upon the Hanahan Table Tennis Training Center


Four days a week, the basketball court at the Hanahan Recreation Center lifts its nets, transforming into a training spot for one of the fastest sports played on two feet.

That's right, it is time for some table tennis.

5 Around Town swung by the Hanahan Table Tennis Training Center (HTTTC) Wednesday night to catch a glimpse of the underground world of table tennis. As it turns out, the little-known training center located at 1255 Yeamans Hall Road will play host to the South Carolina State Table Tennis Championships Sunday, August 24.

After getting word about the HTTTC, a place where people can actually train in the sport of table tennis, curiosity took over. We had to check it out.

HTTTC is the brainchild of Srinivas Janardhanan, who goes by SJ. SJ partnered up with the Hanahan Recreation and Parks Department to create the training center in May 2013 after his move to Charleston left him without a nearby place to play the game he loved. Since then, membership has been slowly growing as more and more people stumble upon the sport.

Below are 5 takeaways from our trip to the HTTTC:

1. The Man Behind The Paddle - To say SJ is passionate about table tennis is an understatement. While in Charlotte, SJ says he played in one of the biggest table tennis leagues in the world. He is listed as a "Master" by the USA Tennis Table governing body, with a player rating of 2106 out of 3000, which is perfect. An engineer by profession, SJ spent over $2000 of his own money purchasing six tables to get the HTTTC on its feet, and opened it up to anyone who was curious enough to give the sport a try. "When I moved here I noticed there was not much table tennis, so I had to drive every week to Charlotte to play," said SJ. "Instead of putting the money into gas, driving every week to Charlotte, I thought it would be better to start a center here, and help other people play here."

2. The Venue - The indoor basketball court at the Hanahan Rec Center becomes the HTTTC Wednesday and Thursday from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. SJ positions 7-9 table tennis tables around the vast space, with each surrounded by a barrier to keep the neon orange balls from going every which way. The HTTTC does not offer glitz and glam, but then again, table tennis isn't a "look at me" kind of sport.

3. Don't You Dare Call It Ping-Pong - Just about all of us have played ping-pong at one point in our lives. It is a super common game, with tables being found in rec centers, bars, and garages all over. With that said, these people aren't playing a game of ping-pong, they are playing the sport of table tennis. Ping-pong was a nickname trademarked in 1901 by British manufacture J. Jaques & Son, and later sold to the famous toy and game manufacturer Parker Brothers (feel free to hit your friends with that fun fact). HTTTC works to turn novice ping-pong hacks into table tennis players. "Ping-pong, as they say, is easy to play," HTTTC's website states. "But table tennis is quite hard to master and takes a lot of dedication and work." While the two terms are often interchangeable, HTTTC sees them as worlds apart.

4. Yes, Table Tennis Is A Sport - One of the first things that stuck out at HTTTC is how fast everyone was moving. It takes a degree of athleticism to play successfully. Table tennis takes the hand-eye coordination of tennis and puts it on steroids, going with a smaller ball and racket while putting the players MUCH closer to each other. This creates a fast-paced game where high dexterity and nimble footwork is a requirement. I mean, these players were having to take short breaks to wipe the sweat from the faces. Did I mention they have been playing table tennis at the Summer Olympics since 1988? Yep. Take a minute and check out this YouTube video from the 2012 London Olympics Men's Table Tennis Finals.

5. The Training Center Is Working - HTTTC is open to men, women, and children of any age. Each practice opens with a little back and forth between players, followed by skills training from SJ, and normally wraps up with a couple games of doubles. SJ says HTTTC is up to 50 members, with each showing progression. "The level of the players has significantly improved," the coach says. "A lot of players who came here were 'basement players', and right now they are intermediate players. We already have quite a few advanced players and expert players." SJ teaches everything, from paddle grip and stroke motion, to how to apply spins and basic rules and scoring.

HTTTC is open to the public, and appointments or registration are not required. For more information, check out their Facebook page.

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