TALENT, Ore. – Moving from one city to another can be tough. Moving to a different country can be frightening, but local couple, who moved to Medford from St. Louis last June, knows just how to make friends: find a club that sponsors table tennis.
In China it’s called ping pong. In America, we refer to it as table tennis, but for Daniel Shao and Sherry Hu, who grew up in China but now live in the United States, ping pong or table tennis is their Tuesday nights.
“Before we moved here, the first thing we tried to find was a table tennis club in this area so we can have some place to play ping pong” Shao said.
Daniel and Sherry play with the Ashland Table Tennis Club. They meet every Tuesday night with other Southern Oregonians interested in the sport.
“It’s like a big family here” Hu said. “It’s very unique.”
Local clubs are something the couple is used to ever since moving to the US 15 years ago.
“I think here it’s very easy to find people to play table tennis because if people here play table tennis, they’re very into that” Shao said.
“Especially in big cities,” Hu said. “We lived in Austin, St. Louis, Atlanta. There are a lot of good players, even Americans.”
But the sport is taken much more seriously in China.
“When I was a kid,” Hu said, “there were semi-professional schools so people actually select kids who may have potential to become professionals. Then the government supports us for training.”
And although Sherry learned to play ping pong when she was 8, she eventually decided to focus on her studies. She attended medical school, and now she’s a physician. Daniel is an engineer, but on Tuesday nights, it’s all about a blue table and a pair of paddles.
“I think it’s an amazing game,” Hu said. “You not only use your strength, you have to use your brain to play well so I like that, and it’s not very strenuous exercise. You do get a lot of exercise, but you don’t really realize during your play. You just enjoy for fun, and afterwards you feel tired.”
“The other thing is I see 80 year-old people can play ping pong pretty, pretty well,” Shao said, “and I cannot believe that. If they play soccer or football, 80 year-olds cannot do that.
“Do you want to play until you’re 80?” Brandon Kamerman asked.
“If I can,” Shao said.
Who knows where they will end up? What the club may be? Or what they will be calling the sport? Daniel and Sherry only know they will be there with paddles in hands.