Tuesday, June 12, 2012


Recently discovered — my Dad [middle/upper-row] the soccer player

Back in the day...

...my Dad was a man of many talents.

Sous Chef
As a young adult, he started-off as a pot-washer, then he quickly moved-up the ranks to waiter status...on his way to becoming a Sous Chef. Cooking was his profession but his favorite "past-time" was ping-pong a.k.a. table tennis.

Around the mid-1960's, my Dad was the #1 ranked table tennis player in Laos; a small country in Southeast Asia. He was featured in various black n' white magazines and newspaper articles. At a time when ping-pong was still in its early stages as a competitive national sport, my father's game was nothing but raw power.

Although small in stature, my Dad's game was simply power & speed. Spinning did not over-take the sport until the early-70's and during my father's era...he was known as a power hitter...his signature move; the forehand smash was unmatched! 

Every time he would strike with his forehand, he stomped his feet so loud -it would echo throughout the arena...that was his signature move. His crazy Bruce Lee + women's tennis-like grunting sounds was also of epic proportions...he was a unique character in the sport....a joy to watch during competition.

While the offensive/defensive stroking game advanced to a point where spinning the ball is the main criteria/focus in today's game...back in the day, my Dad's game was to overpower his opponent with kills after kills!

My father utilized the "pen-hold grip" which grips the racket similarly to the way one holds a writing instrument. I'll never forget -when I was around 10 yrs old.; I use to go watch my Dad play every Saturday in Chinatown after I was done with Chinese school. Because he use to grip and execute his smashes with such excessive force, the ping-pong paddle that he uses had two major dents on the back of it. It sort of looked like a sculpture spending years scraping the wood (where his fingers were positioned) from from back of the paddle.

Believe or not? 

Believe it.
Unfortunately, Laos did not appear in the Olympics until 1980. By then, my dad was 35 and past his prime. There's awards, medals and trophies all over my parent's house. He continues to play in numerous annual senior tournaments in Chinatown and Queens; which has the largest table tennis community in New York.

At age 64, he is no longer at the top of his game. But his game has evolved....he spent the past decade trying to learn the "new-age" of table tennis which utilizes various spinning techniques such as loops, hooks, chops, lobs, drop-shots, topspin, etc.

Every so often my Mom gives me packets of Ramen noodles from the cases that my Dad wins for finishing 2nd & 3rd place in ping-pong tournaments. My Dad is still active...he continues to receive friendly lessons from some of Chinatown's best table tennis players and watches videotapes & DVD's of today's grand-masters to help him improve his game.

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