For 13 years Benjamin Cardozo physics teacher Joshua Glasel has been the coordinator of the school’s table tennis club.
Glasel, who played table tennis recreationally for 16 years, had asked the school’s athletic directors for years about the sport — also known as ping-pong — being included in the PSAL. His inquiries were shut down year after year, and eventually he stopped asking.
Then, the PSAL decided to finally include the sport in its long list of athletic programs last year and administrators came to Glasel’s table tennis club to ask if he was interested in forming a team.
“I was like, ‘Finally,’” said Glasel, who is now coach of the boys table tennis team. “We’ve had a club for 13 years and we have had years like this one when we’ve had some good players, but there was nowhere to exhibit [their talents].”
The PSAL added ping-pong this year, bringing its variety of sports to nearly 30. This season started in March with just 12 schools, separated in two divisions of six teams for both boys and girls.
That was reduced to just four schools each for boys and girls in the recent city playoffs, and Cardozo’s teams survived to the semifinals where they met Stuyvesant on May 19 for a chance to go to the first-ever PSAL table tennis championship.
Cardozo’s boys team (8-2 PSAL) was shut out in the best of five matches series by Stuyvesant, 5-0, to end their season.
However, the girls team (9-1 PSAL) dominated with a 4-1 victory in their respective series to advance to the championship round. Sophomore Jenny Chen, the team’s best player, routed her opponent (11-0, 11-5, 11-3).
Chen, a six-year veteran of the sport, was influenced by friends to join the team after it was created, because of her experience playing in various leagues and tournaments outside of school. She was a member of Cardozo’s handball team, but quit to possibly help Cardozo win the first-ever ping-pong championship.
“Everyone kept telling me to join because I could make history,” Chen said. “If we win first place, [ping-pong] would be more known in the school. A lot of people make fun of ping-pong and they think it’s not a real sport, but if we could bring back a trophy, it’ll show it’s actually a pretty serious sport.”
The PSAL will move table tennis to the winter schedule, meaning teams won’t have to wait for spring 2015 for the next season. The league also plans to expand the number of schools in the divisions, which could mean more competition.
Many players are excited for the competition, but for some graduating students it’s a dream come true a little too late.
“With it more as a sport, it’s only going to expand,” senior Cardozo boys player Jingyih Lee said. “Next year there will be more competition and it’ll just bring out better players. If the sport had developed earlier, I would have had a chance to take my game to the next level.”
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