Table Tennis Interest Group Encounters Roadblocks

Stratford students are able to play table tennis this school year thanks to the Khurana brothers. Junior Sachin Khurana and senior Sarin Khurana initiated the extreme table tennis interest group at the beginning of the year and even purchased five tables to get it off the ground.

“I thought it would be a great addition to our school, and I couldn’t wait to get it started. It’s obviously a really popular activity, as we got a record-breaking 104 signatures at the club fair in August,” Sachin said. Faculty advisor to the group is Mr. Bobby Stecher, upper school math teacher.

In order to play, students pay a one-time $20 fee that covers membership, the cost of balls, paddles, and a club t-shirt.

“In about two-and-a-half weeks, those who paid their dues will receive sporty, polyester t-shirts which I have designed,” sophomore Deep Patel said. Patel is vice president of the group and is in charge of finances.

Initially, tables were located in the junior/senior lounge and in Mr. Stecher’s room where students could play casual games during break, study hall, or after school. Recently, however, the upper school administration banned the use of the lounge as a playing space. According to Upper School Assistant Principal Mr. Chance Reynolds, the table in the junior/senior lounge was damaged by an unknown student, and therefore it was taken away.

“Having the table in the lounge is a privilege, not a right, and if property is being damaged and not taken care of, we think it should be taken away,” Reynolds said.

Three of the five Ping-Pong tables are currently assembled. The group is currently seeking more locations for its tables. The original idea to locate tables on the senior patio did not pan out. “Since they’re indoor tables, they can’t be out on the senior patio,” Sachin said.

“Ping-Pong tables, made from fiberboard wood, absorb water like sponges, and therefore can’t be outside,” History Department Chair Mr. Mike Kelley said.

The  group has been facing another issue besides where to place the tables. Some teachers, especially those with rooms next to rooms with a Ping-Pong table, find the noise is not conducive to the school learning environment, especially during times such as tutorial or the lunch period.

“I think the table tennis group is a great idea, but sometimes it gets hard to work and teach students during tutorial with all the noise. One time during tutorial, a student was hitting Ping-Pong balls against the wall while I was trying to teach, and I had to go over and tell him to stop. I shouldn’t have to do that,” Mr. Allen Free, upper school math teacher said.

“It gets hard when students congregate together and make a lot of noise, especially during the lunch period while I’m trying to work. And besides, students are really supposed to be in the lunch room during that time,” Free said.

“The true puzzle is to solve the issue of where the tables should be placed where they do not affect other classrooms and students,” Free added. “We can’t have tables in a classroom environment when students are trying to learn.”

Kelley, on the other hand, whose room is three rooms down the hall from the table in Mr. Stecher’s room, sees nothing wrong with it. “I have no problem with it, and the noise is usually from other people, not the Ping-Pong players,” Kelley said.

“I play every break because it’s such a good stress reliever. Usually, I like to play Thomas (Thwaite) and Bhavik (Narsinghani), but I play anyone who’s up for a game,” sophomore David Matlock said. “It would just be great if the administration would allow us more places to put the tables,” Matlock added.

“It’s a great activity to do during break or study hall, and the tables are out of the way as they fold up,” Sachin said. “Soon, we plan on organizing a tournament.”

“I come in during break, or after school sometimes, because it’s just fun,” freshman Akshay Ranabhotu said. “I’m also planning on participating in the tournament,” he added.

The extreme table tennis group is working to resolve the table placement and noise issues.