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Serving them right

Sun., Feb. 21, 2010

There was little conversation Saturday inside Greyhound Park and Event Center in Post Falls, but there was still a lot of back and forth.

For the second time since November, pingpong enthusiasts competed at a table tennis tournament hosted by the event center.

About 12 players competed in double elimination for the top prize of $100, and second- and third-place prizes, including Pabst Blue Ribbon T-shirts and hats.

“Pingpong is something that everyone knows how to do, to some degree,” said Steve Warren, who just happened to see the sign for the tournament on his way to work at a Post Falls pharmaceutical manufacturer.

Warren and two co-workers, Jenny Neves and Julian Helmke, decided it sounded fun. They’ve had a bit of practice recently, since Helmke got a pingpong table from his co-workers as a housewarming gift.

The trio arrived at the event center to find they would be competing mostly with players from a fully organized club, the Spokane Table Tennis Club, whose members spar with their paddles once a week.

The rules for play at the tournament were governed by the U.S. Table Tennis Association. Not everyone knows it, but pingpong is an Olympic sport.

“Everybody has probably played it in their basement at one time or another,” said John Trevethan, president of the Spokane club.

Trevethan said he got his start “like most kids.” Then, in high school in Michigan, he came across some classmates who played competitively.

“I said, ‘Wow, that’s a different game,’ ” Trevethan said.

He’s been playing ever since. But he’s humble about his skill level.

Before his first serve against Helmke, Trevethan asked politely, “Where have you played before?”

Helmke replied, “Uh, in my shop.”

Helmke then asked that the final score not be reported in this article.

“He (Trevethan) didn’t miss anything!” Helmke said.

David Tibbett and his wife, Marilyn, came to Idaho from Spokane’s North Side to see if David could defend his title, having won the $100 top prize at the tournament sponsored by Greyhound Park in the fall.

“I’m not much into this part,” Marilyn Tibbett said of the competition. “I’m still learning.”

She said the couple bought a pingpong table after she had some health problems and needed a low-impact activity. They now play at a senior center, as well as on Sunday nights at Ichabod’s tavern on East Sprague.

“He really loves it,” Marilyn Tibbett said. “There are two loves: Pingpong and his Harley. In that order.”

Tags: pingpong

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