• This entry was posted in Table tennis on September 26, 2016

  • Table tennis is a game that's growing in popularity in the U.S., and not just as a backyard pastime. The addition of table tennis to the summer Olympic Games in 1998 has garnered much attention for the sport. In the past 16 years, several table tennis stars have emerged, both professional and amateur, on the international stage. While the Chinese national team is very strong and well-known in Olympic and World Championship play, the American scene has a few stars of its own. Meet 5 table tennis players who've had more than 15 minutes of fame.

    1. Ma Long – This Chinese player is currently ranked Number 1 by the International Table Tennis Federation. He first learned how to play table tennis at the age of 5. At 18 he became the youngest player to win a world championship, playing for China on the 2006 World Team. Now at age 26, the player has several titles to his name, including the Men's Singles China National Games Champion in 2013, World Cup Men's Singles Champion in 2012 and World Tour Grand Finals Men's Champion for 2008, '09 and '11.

    2. Danny Seemiller – This American has helped put the U.S. on the table tennis map since the 1970s. He's best known for inventing one of the most popular table tennis paddle grips in the game. The two-time U.S. Olympian has won five U.S. Men's Singles Championships, and was inducted into the USA Table Tennis (USATT) Hall of Fame in 1995. He once served as the president of the U.S. Table Tennis Association, and coached the U.S. World Team in 1989. He coached the U.S. Olympic team in 2000. Seemiller, who was born on June 13, 1954, received the Mark Matthews Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008. He now coaches up-and-coming table tennis players in Indiana.  

    3. David Zhuang – Born in September of 1963, Zhuang grew up in China and began his competitive career when he was 11 years old. He moved to New Jersey in 1990. This USATT Hall of Famer has appeared in three Olympic games; 1996, '00 and '08. He won a gold medal in the men's singles and team competitions in the 1999 Pan American Games. His repertoire also includes 5 U.S. Men's Singles Championship titles, 7 for U.S. Men's Doubles and 6 for U.S. Mixed Doubles. Zhuang is known for playing an attacking style close to the table.

    4. Gao Jun – Born in China in January of 1969, Jun picked up the game of table tennis when she was just five years old. She represented China in the 1992 Olympics, winning a silver medal in Women's Doubles. After moving to Maryland in 1994 and becoming a U.S. citizen, she played for the U.S. Olympic Teams in '00 and '04. Famous for her backhand block, this USATT Hall of Fame member excels in singles and doubles play. Jun has won 9 U.S. Women's Championships. She currently serves as head coach at the California Table Tennis club.

    5. Wally Green – Often called the International Ambassador of Table Tennis, Green is a professional player who enjoys serious competition, but frequently plays for fun in exhibitions and charity events. He is known for his flamboyant blond hair and energetic style of play. At age 35, the New York native is a former member of the U.S. Table Tennis team and a former USATT program director and editor. Green most recently played in the 2014 Table Tennis World Tours in Korea, China and Germany. He is a member of SPiN New York, a social table tennis club. In his spare time, Green is also a designer, hip-hop entertainer and dancer, among other things.