(By Angie Tan)
In a time where a cough will attract hundreds of glares and a maskless face causes others to repel yards away from you, I managed to continue picking up my table tennis paddle and driving with all my might.
Despite not being able to practice with my coaches for a period of time, I was lucky to have a training partner, my sister Emily, who is around the same level as me and a supportive club, SVTTC, that allowed us to train by ourselves. With a club that is walking-distance from our house, my sister and I could walk to SVTTC and train with each other whenever we wanted.
The first practice with Emily during the pandemic was unforgettable. I no longer heard the bouncing of the balls and the squeaking of the shoes when I entered. The red carpet was also unusually clean with bright new duck tape along the edges and no plastic water bottles laying around. The paddle or water bottle or towel that people would occasionally forget to take home was gone. Most importantly, I couldn’t feel the tension in the air or smell the sweat that lingered – these small signs often reminded me of how hard others were working and pushed me to do the same.
With no one to watch us and monitor our progress, the only thing that kept us on our toes was our anticipation for the next upcoming tournament. I’ll never forget the excitement and competitiveness that is felt during tournaments; they kindle my thirst for victory. Every dripping bead of sweat signaled that an extra point will be won during deuce. Every extra rally was a step closer to victory.
During the pandemic, there are no tournaments, but what remains is the passion for the sport. Despite the many mishaps, this pandemic has made me even more sure that table tennis is already part of my identity. Nothing can stop me from playing.
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