The Victorians first served up Ping Pong as an after-dinner parlour game but would have considered it bad form to employ techniques like the Chop and Smash to overwhelm opponents.
Modern-day exponents Stanmore Table Tennis Club has no such qualms competing in two local leagues against rival teams like the Exiles and Vagabonds.
Play can be fast and furious with its more experienced practitioners employing a range of strokes from the Lob and Stop to Push-Block and Side Loop to bamboozle their competitors.
Club Chairman Barry Stacey was first introduced to the game in his 20s when his table tennis-mad boss had one installed in the office.
“I started off playing at lunchtimes and went from there joining a local club and progressing to a higher level. It is great fun and a good way to relieve stress.”
Barry hung up his bat due to family commitments but returned to it later in life after seeing a thrilling match on TV and realising how much he missed it.
The 72-year-old still plays competitively and sports a 100% record this season.
“I can’t move around the table like I used to but experience counts for a lot. I can normally anticipate where my opponent’s shot is going. It helps even things up when I face younger players.”
“A good player can quickly assess an opponent’s playing pattern and capitalise on any potential weakness in their game. I’m always telling younger players to play a variety of shots and placements to keep their rivals guessing. It is a combination of power and precision.”
Good hand-eye coordination and reflexes are essential in a game where the ball can be spun, smashed and sliced across the net at a variety of speeds and angles.
The current world record for a service is an eye-blurring 112.5kph. The club’s members range from ten to 72 years old but all share a love of a game that became an Olympic sport at the 1988 Seoul Games
Newcomers must be of a certain standard but the club do provide coaching for those interested.
Barry added: “There are a lot of attributes to being a good player but you can’t beat passion. We are a competitive group but we all enjoy playing. I think it is hard to stick at any sport if you aren’t having fun.”
So, is there any positive spin-off on the table for players?
“It has personally kept me physically and mentally active and my general alertness and reflexes are good. A health magazine rated it as the one sport you could carry on playing into old age.
“I’ve no plans to stop and enjoy giving something back to the game by encouraging all of our players.”
For more info, you can check out the club’s official website at www.stanmoretabletennis.co.uk