I wiped my sweaty hands on my towel and waited at the table’s edge, knees bent slightly, my bat — “paddle” as it’s called here — at the ready. AngryPlayer* the Pakistani, executed one of those crazy serves he used to get me with the last time we played.
It landed on my side and curved in an exaggerated arc. My normal response would have been to miss it or lift it high enough for him to smash and scream ‘YES.’ Poor guy doesn’t know I’ve acquired a deadly backhand.
WHAM! I flicked my wrist and the smash was so fast he didn’t even see it. The last time we played — and everytime we play — he’s always out to win no matter the cost. Ping pong has no joy for him — he’s so obsessed with winning. He used to lift the ball towards my backhand back then, always scoring a victory, never wanting to let go of any points.
By the time we were done, I’d beat him three straight games in a row, picking all the smashes he managed to get in. Well, it was a game of best three games out of five but he insisted on playing with me, probably for revenge. Back then, as soon as he won me three times in a row, he’d dismiss me with a smile and look for someone else.
Now, the guy was hell-bent on redeeming himself. His brow was furrowed, his black eyes sparked fire as he said,’Again.’ I let him win that one. By some fluke, he discovered my weak point — most people have good forehands and poor backhands, but my backhand is almost thrice as good as my forehand. He began ensuring the ball stayed to my right, and I kept missing my forehand smashes — if I used my pen grip, I’d have missed none, but alas with a pen-grip, my backhand is very vulnerable so I stayed put.
He won that game and demanded another. Partly because I had to play with Alan [the Filipino — our best player. Lee, better not smirk!], and partly because I didn’t trust my forehand to give him a trouncing and wanted him to leave with defeat, I called off the next game leaving him in low spirits.
I talked to Gary [the chairman of our ping pong club at the YMCA] as we were packing up — gathering the nets, disassembling the tables, making small gist.
‘What’s the name of that Pakistani guy?’ I asked.
‘AngryPlayer, I think,’ he said.
‘He was so angry today,’ I smiled, not without some relish.’I beat him three games in a row.’
‘He doesn’t like to lose,’ Gary laughed. Apparently, everyone loves seeing him get beat and railing.
‘Yeah,’ I said. ‘That’s very unsportsmanlike.’
‘I know,’ he shrugged. ‘He’s always trying to beat me. I intentionally let him get close to winning, then I beat him. He gets very angry when I do that.’
Now, what do you think of this guy? Does he think the people he beats love losing or is he so egocentric as to assume him and only him deserves to win any game?
The good thing is I went well-prepared, having watched some games — especially the ones featuring Werner Schlager (had to create this ;)) and Joo Se-Hyuk going head to head. Next time I’ll be even more prepared. Call me unsportsmanlike, but I don’t intend to concede any game — let him learn to lose.
As you’ve guessed, AngryPlayer isn’t his name. I just don’t want to put it up here.