Origin of the Sport

The game of table tennis is believed to have been created by upper-class Victorians in England in the 1880s as a genteel after-dinner alternative to lawn tennis. The early equipment could be a line of books for the net, rounded top of a champagne cork for the ball and occasionally a cigar box lid for the racket.

The development of the celluloid ball in the early 1900s accelerated the growth of the game of table tennis that we know today. The International Table Tennis Federation was formed in 1926 with the first World Championships taking place that year in London. Table tennis made its Olympic debut at the 1988 Seoul Games.

How it works

Table tennis can be played in a singles (one person each side of the table) or doubles (two people per side of the table) format. Games are played with a ball 40mm in diameter and weighing 2.7g. Each player strikes the ball with a table tennis racket (also known as a bat or a paddle) covered with a rubber material to increase friction and therefore spin. Games are played on a 2.74m long and 1.525m wide table separated halfway between by a 15.25cm high net.

Games are started by the serve whereby a player must bounce the ball once on their side of the net and once on the opponents’ side. After two serves, it is the other player’s turn to serve twice and so it alternates until the end of a game. Following each serve either the server or the opponent will receive a point, depending on who has kept the ball in play the longest.

A point is accrued when your opponent fails to serve properly, lets the ball bounce more than once on their side of the table, does not hit the ball back on to the opponent’s side of the table, hits the ball twice in a row on purpose or hits the ball with anything other than the racket or racket hand below the wrist. Conversely, the opponent receives a point each time you make a similar mistake. The first player to 11 points wins a game. The exception is when the game is 10-10 and then the game is awarded to the first player to advance two points clear.

Format at World Masters Games 2017

The age divisions are divided into ten-year brackets for men and women; 30+ all the way up to 80+. Singles, doubles (men’s, women’s and mixed) and team competitions will take place. Each competition is split into social and competitive grades but the WMG2017 organisers reserve the right to combine social and competitive grades if not enough entries are received in a particular category. Singles and team standing and wheelchair Para-table tennis competitions will also take place. Most singles competitions will operate on a round robin format with the larger entry events being contested as a round robin with qualifiers progressing to an elimination format. Doubles competitions will be contested as a straight elimination format. The team competitions involve two players per team in a Davis Cup style format of four singles and one doubles game against the opposing team.

Expected number of competitors: 300

Kiwi Hero – Chunli Li

The Chinese born player who arrived to live in New Zealand in 1986 has become a Kiwi table tennis icon. Appearing at four Olympic Games from 1992-2004 her greatest international achievement was placing third in the 1997 Women’s World Cup. A world top 20 player at her peak, she struck double gold at the 2002 Manchester Commonwealth Games in the women’s singles and women’s doubles. Still competing today the indefatigable Li appeared for New Zealand aged 52 at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games.

Did you know?

The game of table tennis – which is hugely popular in China – has more than 300 million players worldwide.

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