Xavier Magazine

Table Tennis

The next time you pick up a Ping-Pong paddle on someone’s basement table, remember these three words: spin, speed, accuracy.

That’s what it takes to win, if you’re like Nick Snider. Snider, a 2002 business graduate, advanced from the days when he used to get beaten badly by his older brother in games of basement Ping-Pong to now being one of Ohio’s top players in table tennis—the competitive version of the recreational Ping-Pong. Snider accidentally discovered a propensity for the sport in college after a chance game with campus police chief Michael Couch, whom he soundly beat. No table tennis slouch himself, Couch steered him to the Cincinnati Table Tennis Club’s weekly sessions, which are held on campus at Schmidt Fieldhouse. When Snider got creamed by a 60-year-old member, he was mad—and hooked.

Now he owns about 20 $100-plus paddles, known as blades, and goes through a pair of shoes every six months. He plays three times a week, competes in tournaments every other weekend and is ranked first in Cincinnati and fourth in Ohio. He even vied for a spot this spring on the U.S. Olympic team.

“As you get better, everyone starts playing the same, and it comes down to athletic ability and mental ability,” he says. “Strategy plus staying under control.”

Since going competitive, he’s learned that whoever controls the spin wins the point—something he wishes he’d known when he just played Ping-Pong with his brother.

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