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Gainesville Table Tennis Community brings competitive space to Gainesville

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If you're looking for some friendly competition in Gainesville, the Gainesville Table Tennis Community is a group of friendly table tennis enthusiasts who meet three nights a week.

The club's original members started playing in early 2015 at various locations around Gainesville, but there weren't many table tennis options in town, so the players officially formed a group in April of 2106.

There are roughly 12 to 20 people in attendance every night, and over 40 active members.

“This is kind of my second family and I love these folks," said co-founder Chuck Peek. "Personally, this has been a huge boost to my quality of life. We all look forward to coming out a few times a week and playing.”

Table tennis is an Olympic sports, and according to the Olympic website it has the most participants of any sport in the world. The sport's widespread background is shown in the cultural diversity among the club's members.

“You have all nationalities here and you have people who, it’s their culture," group member Robbie Curry said. "In their nation, or their country, they’ve played ping pong since they were kids.”

Group member and Malaysia native Ali Cheree added, “Most of the Chinese play very aggressive and very fast, and then there’s the tricky ones like the guy from Ukraine, and it’s all tricks. It’s very interesting to be playing with different people. The Americans are very consistent playing, not necessarily aggressive, but consistent. It’s very exciting. You never know who you’re playing next.”

“A lot of people will play with more spin and the ball will just float, and they’ll play really slow, whereas other cultures will play very fast and speedy," group member Sofia Marlin said about the differences she's come across while playing table tennis. "Sometimes you’ll actually be at the same level as someone, but because you play so differently you have to totally change the way you play just to balance it out.”

The group meets at Westside Recreation Center on Monday's, Tuesday's and Friday's from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

You can learn more at gainesvilletabletennis.com.

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