Ping-Pong players of all ages and ability levels will face off at the Brooklyn Arts Center on Friday, Sept. 5 at 6:15 for the Fourth Port City Ping-Pong Throwdown.
“It’s such a big range of players,” Brooklyn Arts Center event coordinator Heather Thomson said in an Aug. 22 phone interview. “We have elementary school kids playing against grandmas.”
Player registration is $10 and non-player admission is $5. Registration includes a raffle ticket to win items donated by Omega Sports. Food will be available to purchase from a local food truck.
Although onsite registration will be available from 4:30 to 6:30 the day of the event, Wilmington Table Tennis Club president Laurence Nadeau said he encourages people to register ahead of time to guarantee themselves a spot.
“We’ve never had more than two pre-signups at any other tournament and I think we’re already at 10 or 15,” Nadeau said in an Aug. 21 phone interview. “We’re capping this group at 100 so if someone wants to play they should go ahead and sign up in advance.”
Casual players are encouraged to enter Group B while the more competitive players may enter Group A. Cash prizes will be awarded to the top three finishers in each group. The tournament will be double-elimination, meaning that every player is guaranteed at least two games.
Nadeau said he is excited to compete in this year’s tournament and take on the elite players who are travelling from Jacksonville and Fayetteville for the event.
“Some of the players coming are very high rated players,” he said. “We hope to score some points and maybe get a game off these guys. It should be exciting.”
Another local player who will be entering Group A is Tim Connelly, a former president of the Wilmington Table Tennis Club. In an Aug. 22 phone interview, Connelly described how table tennis has grown in popularity over the years, due in large part to Nadeau’s efforts to initiate events like the Port City Ping-Pong Throwdown.
“There were no more than 6 or 8 players [in the club’s beginning],” Connelly said. “So to watch a tournament where you have 92 people show up and then you have 50 or 60 other people who are just watching, it’s amazing to me. There’s nothing else like these throwdowns in the country.”
Connelly said Nadeau’s idea of dividing players into two groups based on ability level was a great way to draw new players into the sport.
“In the past, maybe people were a little intimidated by our game.” Connelly said. “The basic feeling is that if people don’t feel like they can win, they don’t want to compete.”
Connelly said he turned over leadership of the Wilmington Table Tennis Club to Nadeau because of Nadeau’s vision for the club, which included better equipment and more tournaments to increase interest in the sport.
To turn his vision a reality, Nadeau reached out to the Brooklyn Arts Center because their facility could fit as many as eight Ping-Pong tables. Event coordinator Heather Thomson said they were excited to host the unique event.
“They don’t really have a good place to hold a tournament and we have the perfect room for it,” Thomson said in an Aug. 22 phone interview. “We like supporting them because it’s such a fun event…people can come and play and have a fun night and people can come watch too so it’s good for families, it’s good for friends, it’s just fun, and it’s something different.”
For more information about how to register, visit www.brooklynartsnc.com