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Table tennis players come together at Overland Park club

Table tennis, or as it is sometimes called, ping pong, is not a highly visible sport in the United States, but there is a local place to play for fans of the sport — the Overland Park Table Tennis Club.

It is located in The Athletic Club of Overland Park at 104th and Marty.

Originally, it was the Kansas City Table Tennis Club, with sessions two or times a week starting in the mid 1970s to 2008. The club changed its name and location when its lease was not renewed at the North Kansas City Community Center.

“There are 50 monthly dues-paying members and 50 daily pay-as-you-play or walk-in members,” said club member Joe Windham.

Windham was a member of the KCTTC back in the 1960s and 1970s and was nationally ranked.

“I joined the OPTTC in April,” he said. “After recently retiring from my job, I decided to start playing again. I play at the club for exercise, the competitive challenge and to be part of a unique and interesting, diverse group of people.”

The club has players from all over the world. Members include players from China, India, Russia, Poland, Puerto Rico, Nepal, Vietnam, Iran, Malaysia and Nepal. The club is an affiliate member of the United States Association of Table Tennis.

“The club formally meets and plays on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6 to 10 p.m. and Saturdays from 2 to 7 p.m.,” Windham said. Players can also call the Athletic Club in advance to arrange to play as long as the gym is available.

There are also two to four tournaments a year that attract players from Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Nebraska. The tourneys attract all different skill levels, and there are men’s, women’s and juniors divisions, where players can compete in singles and doubles for money and trophies.

The two most accomplished players in the club are Jeff Johnson and Parviz Mojaverian. Johnson won the 2009, 2012 and 2013 national titles in hardbat over-40 and over-50 in singles and doubles.

Johnson said, “The club offers a top-of-the-line workout facility and spa, which is excellent for conditioning and cross training. It is where the best players in the Kansas City metro area come to compete in table tennis.”

Mojaverian is from Iran and learned to play the game there. He won national titles in high school and college. He immigrated to the United States in the mid-1970s. Mojaverian is the over-60 national champion.

Incidentally, both men started playing the game when they were 7 years old.

“OPTTC is the best club in the area in terms of playing conditions and equipment,” Mojaverian said. “I play for the exercise and health benefits.

“The game is addictive and habit forming, but it is a healthy habit.”

People interested in playing at the OPTTC can contact The Athletic Club of Overland Park at 913-383-9060. There are two ways to pay — monthly dues or a one-day pass.

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