GREEN BAY – We’re a long way from tennis season, but some Green Bay players now have an alternative.
For the first time, the city is offering residents a table tennis league. It is held each Wednesday at Franklin Middle School.
Steve Gantner has been playing tennis and table tennis for the last 30 years. If he had to pick, he’d take a paddle over a racquet.
“I’m better at it,” said Gantner.
The only problem is Green Bay didn’t have many options for him to play.
“We would go into people’s basements, my basement, friend’s basement and things like that, that was about it,” said Gantner.
So he called the Green Bay’s recreation supervisor, asking if the city would start a table tennis league.
“He said sure, if you get enough players,” said Gantner.
Making fliers and posting on Craigslist, Gantner started recruiting players like Jason Zhang.
“I used to drive to Milwaukee every weekend just to play in leagues, before I was married of course,” said Zhang. “I played in Wausau leagues and Oshkosh clubs and drove all over the state to play because you just don’t find a lot of players at the competition level.”
Pretty soon, there was enough interest for the city to form the league.
“We were able to get some tables and get a space, we were able to make it happen, so we’re pretty excited about that,” said Jeremy Crees, the city’s recreation supervisor.
At $25 a person, the league has 18 players, for a six week season.
“Pretty good number for a first time offering a program,” said Crees. “We had ages from 14 to 73 I believe, so it’s a wide range of ages and ability levels.”
“It’s competitive, but it’s fun,” said Gantner. “People enjoy themselves with it.”
While it’s too late for newcomers to join this league, the city plans to offer more table tennis opportunities in the fall.
“I play for fun and get some exercise, burn some calories, lose some weight,” said Zhang.
And possibly to earn the crown of best table tennis player of Green Bay.
“We might, but I’m not going to say who it is yet,” said Gantner.