Many people probably don’t realize there’s a difference between ping pong and table tennis.
Yes, they are the same game, but picky player use different names.
“Ping pong” is a hobby.
“Table tennis” is a sport.
For Oak Park High School student Jonathan Qin, it’s always been about table tennis. Jonathan started playing the game when he was 10 years old. Now 15, he runs a club—aptly named Jonathan Table Tennis Academy— in Agoura Hills.
He recently organized a table tennis fundraiser to donate to firefighters in Oak Park as a thank-you for their hard work fighting the Woolsey fire.
“The fire affected so many people, and I really wanted to contribute (something), so I hosted a tournament so people could donate and have a good time,” Jonathan said. “It went great. We raised $570. About 50 people attended. It was two days. Some people paid to play and then donated even more.”
Jonathan presented the money to Fire Station 36 in Oak Park on April 28.
He started playing table tennis during a summer visit to China when he was 10.
“I had nothing to do so my parents took me to a place where they teach table tennis. The coach said I had real talent,” Jonathan said. “I trained there for two months and then came back to the U.S.”
He started offering lessons out of his family’s garage, and slowly the word spread until he had more students than he could fit in the space. Enter the academy.
In 2017 Jonathan’s family helped him secure a space near Agoura Fitness on Roadside Drive. He has about 40 students and said he never expected to be running a business, especially at just 15 years old.
“Table tennis isn’t really a huge sport in the U.S., so I didn’t think we’d have so many people,” he said. “Our membership has been steadily growing.”
The academy offers first-timers free lessons to get them interested, and charges a daily rate for anyone who just wants to make use of the facilities.
Jonathan said the business doesn’t make a profit—all the money goes toward renting the property and paying for supplies.
It’s the love of the game that keeps him motivated.
Follow Ian Bradley on Twitter @Ian_ reports.