Table tennis spins through Chicago
At least I didn't lose in the first round.
When I heard the organizers of the Chicago International Table Tennis Festival were putting together a media table tennis tournament, I jumped at the chance to get in. I wouldn't say I'm an amazing ping-pong player, but I love tennis and pretty much anything involving a ball and some sort of racquet or paddle, so table tennis is in my wheelhouse. I'm also a little competitive and thought a ping-pong trophy would look sweet on my desk.
Alas, it was not to be. After squeaking out a come-from-behind 11-7 victory over an NBC reporter, I was humbled in the semi-final round by Luis Gomez, of the Chicago Tribune/Red Eye. Gomez—the only journalist who showed up for the tournament in actual athletic gear—trounced me with his blazing-fast serve and a few wicked out-wide shots. I was done, but there was still hope for Time Out Chicago.
TOC Designer Ian Dingman breezed through his first two rounds to meet Gomez in the final. Dingman, an intimidating presence at 6'6", got off to an early start and appeared to be headed for a victory when Gomez turned it on, ultimately taking Dingman out with a convincing 11-5 win. The trophy goes to the Tower.
Of course, there's a reason many of Chicago's finest journalists had gathered at Trump Tower in the middle of the day to play ping pong, I mean, "table tennis." Some of the best table-tennis players in the world—including five gold medalists from China and the No. 1 female player in the world—are in town for the inaugural Chicago International Table Tennis Festival—a multi-venue event designed to shine a light on the sport and celebrate the 40-year anniversary of Ping Pong Diplomacy between the U.S. and China. We got a chance to watch a few pro players in action during the media challenge (see the above video), and fans across the city were treated to a number of events and exhibitions, including a table-tennis fashion show at the Palmer House.
The festival concludes with a competiton tonight featuring world and Olympic champions and 16-year-old phenom Ariel Hsing from 6–8 pm at the Palmer House Hilton.