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May 27, 2009 > Surprise! World class table tennis in Milpitas

Surprise! World class table tennis in Milpitas

By Marty Friedman

It's oval; it has a wooden handle; and it looks like nothing at all. But in the hands of a table tennis master at the India Community Center (ICC) in Milpitas, it can be a wicked weapon.

However, keep one thing in mind. You may play ping pong in your garage, but you play table tennis outside it. Just not the kind of game taught and played at the ICC, truly world class table tennis in the quality of its training, coaches and players.

Yes, table tennis is virtually the national sport of China, but it is a major sport in India. The man who has dedicated himself to bringing table tennis to the highest level in this country: Rajul Sheth from India.

Therein lies a tale.

After playing for 15 years in his native land, he moved to the USA in 2003. He soon found no jobs, little hope and, like many others, wound up pumping gas at night.

Very likable, Sheth wound up mentioning his passion for table tennis to a frequent customer. One conversation led to another and that led to a Palo Alto tennis club, and a chance to compete against some top players.

Sheth did more than win that tournament. He was noticed by the ICC and invited to start a tennis club there, even though they had zero table tennis tables.

Counting on the interest of the large number of Asian people living in the area, Sheth began that table tennis club with nothing more than a dream, four tables, five kids and the blessing of the ICC.

Bingo! Those five kids became 45 kids in one year. And by 2006, his students had entered the Junior Olympics and walked away with 16 medals.

By 2007, Sheth was overwhelmed, working seven days a week and very happy at the countless numbers of new table tennis aficionados flocking to Milpitas from the area, the state, the nation and even from across the pond.

No coach potatoes need apply. Bring the kids, bring your spouse, bring yourself and drive right over to the ICC on Milpitas Boulevard for table tennis played at a level you simply won't believe.

Watch those 5-, 30- and 60-year-old competitors in action. The best "Survivor Show" isn't on TV, it's right here, just minutes away, seven days a week.

In fact, the top players on the girls US National Junior Team come from here; the youngest player competing in a world championship is here; and arguably the most dedicated director of a table tennis club is right here.

ICC Table Tennis Center is located at 1453 N. Milpitas Blvd in Milpitas. You can reach the club by calling 408-945-9556 or 510-299-1253, or e-mailing sports@indiacc.org or rajul@indiacc.org. For more information on ICC Table Tennis Center, visit www.indiacc.org/tabletennis.

World class table tennis is just the first story on the out-of-the-mainstream sports you'll find in our area. Stay tuned for world class martial arts, fencing, badminton, archery and much more in future issues of the Tri-City Voice.

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