Table Tennis Orange County
Laguna Woods resident Chee Ho, 68, had some tough competition at a table tennis tournament he and five other members of Laguna Woods’ Table Tennis Club competed in on Saturday.
His competitor was Keenan Zhou, a 10-year-old.
More than 50 years separated the two in age, but their match was not just for fun and games.
“I came to play competitively, ” Ho said. “Even though I am much older, we are both the same rank.”
Both played well in the match, with volleys sending both competitors sweating while scrambling back and forth across the table.
Zhou ended up winning the match.
“He’s good; I saw him play before, ” Ho said. “I was a little tense so I don’t think I played very well today.”
Ho was among 100 people who competed at Laguna Hills High School in the third annual table tennis tournament fundraiser on Saturday. The tournament raised more than $2, 700 for the school’s science and Chinese programs.
Laguna Hills High student Sherwin Afshar, 16, created the tournament as a way to raise funds for the school’s science and Chinese programs and promote the sport in the community.
“The Chinese program and the science program really needed help with funding, ” Afshar said. “So this is all to raise funds for those programs.”
The day included tournaments in which ranked and recreational players competed for trophies and more than $1, 000 in cash prizes.
The event brought competitors from all over California. Among the top players hosted were Xiang Jing Zhang, ranked second in the nation in last year’s US National Table Tennis ranking, and Zaman Molla, the semi-finalist at the 2015 US National Championship Tournament.
Laguna Woods resident Ray Landis, 76, was one of the five members of the Laguna Woods Table Tennis Club who competed.
Landis competed in the under-1300 event, in which he lost his second match.
“I play very defensive, so I played as well as I could, ” he said. “(My opponent) had a very heavy top spin shot, so if you’re not careful at knocking it back it goes flying off the other end of the table.”
Landis’ club competes in tournaments like this across Southern California, he said.
“We get information about all the tournaments in Southern California. When there is one five minutes away from you, we’re inclined to play, ” he said. “It’s been fun so far, if you can keep your perspective. One thing about tournaments is nerves and emotions add an extra dimension that you have to control and fight for every point.”
Afshar started holding the tournament his freshman year. The idea came when he was competing in the US National Table Tennis Championship, in which he was a finalist in 2014 and placed third in 2015, he said.
“For me it was a way to merge table tennis and school, ” he said. “I just enjoy table tennis and was taking Chinese, so I did this to have a tournament for my friends and give something back to my school.”
Last year the tournament raised $2, 600 for the school’s Chinese program.
“The money was used on the materials for our big Chinese New Year event and field trips, ” said Vicky Chao, Laguna Hills High School Chinese teacher. “This school year we will have two field trips, and the money will go to the school bus and expenses.”
Half of the funds raised at this year’s tournament will go to the school’s science program.
“I am the head of the robotics club in our school, ” Afshar said. “I want to go into engineering myself, and the robotics program is not really cheap.”
“Really, the hope is to teach students the hardware and the software side of robotics, and start actually assembling those materials together and give them those opportunities, ” said Doug Havard, physics teacher at Laguna Hills High School.