Elphin Sports Center

Launceston, Tasmania | C.1964

Photo Credit: Pippa Mott

Table tennis is played at the highest levels of global sporting competition—at the Olympics, Commonwealth Games, and Paralympics. But there is no consensus on exactly where this form of mini-tennis was first played.

The earliest patent was issued to an Englishman named David Foster in 1890, but disagreements abound on this point, as other reports suggest that officers of the British army developed their own version of the game while stationed abroad, using paddles improvised from cigar box lids, balls made of cork, and a row of books as a net.

Since then, the game has gone by many different names, the options included Gossima, Whiff Waff, Parlour Tennis, Pom-Pom, Pim-Pam, Clip-Clap, Netto, and Tennis de Salon. The two names that stuck were table tennis and Ping-Pong.

No matter the name, the footwork is more specialized than you may expect, and is one of the first techniques that any serious player must master. Proper table tennis shoes should be light, with a thin outsole, low heel cap, and good protection on both sides. Above all, the sole must offer excellent grip.

The Elphin Sports Centre, in Launceston, Tasmania, looks out for its players. It has hosted multiple championships since its opening in 1964, and while table tennis is not its primary attraction, it does have dedicated courts. To protect players and to ensure the upkeep of their courts and specialized floors, Elphin prohibits patrons from strolling in, casually smoking cigarettes or perhaps even wearing a pair of Chucks.

Full Story Pg. 328

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