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Pleasantville Friends Make Table Tennis Dream Real

When Will Shortz, crossword puzzle editor for the New York Times, and Robert Roberts, a top 25 table tennis player in the U.S,. met in 2001, they were playing in Boys & Girls Clubs in Ardsley, Tarrytown and Hastings. Then Roberts got the idea that they should open their own table tennis center. Six weeks ago, their dream became a reality when they opened the Westchester Table Tennis Club on May 6, 2011.

Both Shortz and Roberts have been playing table tennis their entire lives.

“I played as kid, won a few trophies in High school before I stopped playing in 1986,” Shortz said. “I started playing again in 2001. It is great exercise. I love the mental challenge, the geometry, the speed, even the social nature of it. There aren’t many sports where you can talk with your opponent during the match.”

“I started kind of late,” Roberts said. “I was 13 when I started and won a junior league tournament. Once I dominated juniors, I joined the senior team in Barbados. I won my first in 1991 and went onto win the national championship seven or eight years in a row, I lose count.”

Roberts and Shortz met in 2001 when Roberts was Shortz’s coach upon returning to table tennis. The two became friends and began to play each other. Then in 2009, they began looking for area they could dedicate entirely to table tennis.

“This ended up being the perfect location because I live in Pleasantville,” Shortz said. “It’s three- and- a -half blocks from the train, the parking lot has almost a 100 spots and the zoning for this location was for an athletic facility anyway. We put in new lighting, showers, new bathrooms. Soon, we will have a lounge with sofas, TVs and a sound system to play music while people play.”

“This location is perfect because it has high ceilings,” Roberts said. “Most table tennis centers don’t have high ceilings which allow you to put more spin on the ball on your serve.”

Although they have been open for six weeks, the Westchester Table Tennis Center will have its grand opening July 16 from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m., when anyone can play free all day.

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