The First Biannual Chewonki Maine Coast Semester School Ping Pong Tournament is underway, and it’s official: Ping Pong is taking over my life. Every moment that isn’t spent in Wilderness First Aid seminar with Eric Duffy or camping out on the point with Outdoor Classroom instructors Roach and Addie is spent in the Osprey Lodge, paddle in hand.
Surrounded by a small group of table tennis devotees, we play the best of three games to 21 with fellow students, faculty, and staff, all equally invested in taking home the gold. With Shauna boasting of a year of training in China (and a special grip to show for it), this is far from a joke.
Limited time makes for quick and intense games with strained expressions and heavy breathing. Although The Lodge is devoid of heat when we first walk in, the windows are steamed by the time the game is over and my Chewonki sweatshirt and vest are strewn on the floor next to a pile of broken balls and splintered paddles. Frequent trips to Shaws for new materials are essential and it wouldn’t be a game without either commentary from Nadine and Scott or thumping techno courtesy of Nocka Flocka.
For me, it’s the psychological component of the game that is most intriguing; I can size up my opponent’s style of play before the warm up finishes and have a pretty good idea as to who’s heading to the showers the champion by the second serve. A brand new blue net with a two inch height increase, courtesy of Fellow Adam, made for an interesting new dynamic as game play changed from rapid topspin winners to lofty lobs that sail through the rafters and barley nick the end of the table.
In the next few days, with a little luck and a lot of persistence, the winner will be decided and the tournament will come to a close. Hopefully upon return from Spring Break I’ll have a little more time on my hands and a title to follow my name: Clarke Rudick, The First Chewonki Maine Coast Semester School Biannual Ping Pong Tournament Champion.
New York City, NY
Editor’s Note: Clarke plays as well as he writes. In a best of three series in the Elite 8, Clarke beat me 2-1, with a myriad of intense rallies and trajectory-altering corner shots. I wish him good fortune in the final four and, if he’s lucky, the championship game, where he will play Bill “National Team 07-09” Hinkley. -AJ