Parker Wilkson focused intently on the tabletop, patiently awaiting the next serve from his opponent, Adeel Agha.
A rally soon followed, the ball bouncing back and forth over the net.
In the end, Adeel scored his third point in the match. Both laughed and quickly set up for the next serve.
“Being able to come play matches once a week with other people is fun,” said Parker, an elementary student from Wesley Chapel. “It also gets pretty competitive.”
Parker and his dad, James Wilkinson, joined the Temple Terrace Table Tennis Club last year. They live in Wesley Chapel, but the drive to Temple Terrace every Tuesday is something they said they look forward to each week.
“Table tennis has been something we have bonded over ever since I bought my son a table tennis table for Christmas,” James said. “My son is better than me, and he can really play.”
Grant Inman created the Temple Terrace Table Tennis Club in 2006. After buying a table tennis table, he realized he didn’t have many friends to play with. So, he decided to contact and they agreed to provide the and tables. Grant handles the organization of the club along with marketing to new members.
“There have been a couple hundred people try us out, and we now have a few dozen that attend frequently,” Grant said. “I have plenty of folks to play with now.”
Members meet every night from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. to play matches. It costs $2 for Temple Terrace recreational members and $3 for others. Anyone 10 and older can join.
The club recently started meeting on also, accommodating any new members, beginners, or those who want to learn more about the sport. According to Grant, these matches are more instructional-based, and he and some other members coach the beginners.
“It gives an opportunity to those who might not feel comfortable enough playing against some of the better players,” Grant said. “It also gives them additional experience and training.”
If a player wins a match, he or she “keeps the table,” and re-plays another best of three with another opponent. When a player wins two matches, he or she sits down and lets others play.
The club’s members are diverse, and there is wide range of skill level among them. Some play on competitive teams, but others just play casually. Either way, they all agree table tennis is a bona-fide sport.
“This sport kind of has a wimpy reputation in America,” said Murad Anita, of Temple Terrace. “People don’t realize how much it takes out of you to play table tennis at a high level. It requires skill, and it really provides a good workout.”
Parker and his dad have been playing in tournaments and involved in clubs since James bought Parker the table, but when they moved to Wesley Chapel over a year ago, they couldn’t find a club that would let kids play.
“The closest table tennis club to us told me that my son was too young to play,” James said. “But when I found the club in Temple Terrace, they said we can come out—and I’m glad we did.”