A dentist, a rabbi, and a potter walk into the West Tisbury School.
It could be the beginning of a bad joke, or it could just describe a typical Tuesday or Thursday night for the Martha’s Vineyard Table Tennis Club, which draws its players from all walks of life, including the three mentioned above.
The club, which meets four times a week—playing Saturdays and Sundays at the YMCA in addition to the West Tisbury hours—was recently named an affiliate of USA Table Tennis (USA-TT). Although there have been various table tennis groups on the Island throughout the years, this is the first time one has received accreditation.
“For us it’s a big deal because it’s a national organization,” said club president Bob O’Rourke. “It means we can [now] get publicity nationwide, and we can host tournaments.”
About 50 Vineyarders currently participate in the table tennis program. Many of them are ranked by USATT; prior to the group’s receiving affiliate status, they traveled off-Island to compete in the tournaments that decide rankings.
“If they stay with it for a while, [table tennis players] get very good very fast,” Mr. O’Rourke said.
Though many people are familiar with the sport by playing a pickup game at home or in a friend’s garage, table tennis has been an Olympic sport since 1988.
“It’s a sport that can be really easy...or really intense,” said club vice president Albert Lau. “It’s part of my exercise, basically,” he said.
“It’s very aerobic,” Mr. O’Rourke said, noting that table tennis is a sport for all ages (Vineyard members range in age from 12 to 80). “It’s [also] a sport you can play when you can’t hit a jump shot.”
“It’s the best exercise I get,” he continued.
In addition to the various age groups playing table tennis on the Island, the group is composed of players from all towns, including Chappy. Before finding a permanent home at the West Tisbury School (when school is not in session, all club play takes plays at the YMCA), the group bounced around from location to location, including the Aquinnah town hall.
Being part of Martha’s Vineyard Table Tennis “just gives you a chance to play with other people,” Mr. Lau said.
“It’s a lot of fun,” said Mr. O’Rourke.
The Martha’s Vineyard Table Tennis Club plays at the West Tisbury School from 6-8:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and at the YMCA from 3-6 on Saturdays and Sundays. Walk-in dues are $2; equipment is provided. Please contact Bob O’Rourke at 508-627-7902.