Not only does competitive table tennis help keep Dr Hassan Baleegh of Aurora Epping Dental Clinic in Willert, VIC, on his toes, it’s also a great way to de-stress.
“I played table tennis when I was in secondary school but I was more into cricket and basketball. During university and when I started working as a dentist, I simply didn’t have time for any sport. About three years ago, I was getting very stressed with my work routine and I had a feeling that something had to give, so I started playing table tennis again.
“I play in the local council competition and I actually won at the end of the first season. True, I haven’t won the championship since but that first season really got me involved in the game again. It’s really a lot of fun.
“When I’m playing table tennis is the only time when I’m not thinking about work. With technology these days, you’re always connected and I find myself sending emails on a Sunday afternoon, even when I’m with my kids. Right now, I’m working about 55 to 60 hours a week.
“Diamond Valley Council organises the competition and there are three different skill levels. I compete at level two and in the past six seasons, we’ve been in the finals three times and won the finals once.
“I started with a cheap paddle from eBay but decided to get myself something more professional. I spent $150 and it was the worst paddle I’ve ever used. I couldn’t play with it and lost way too many games. I went back onto eBay, bought a $30 paddle and it has worked like a dream. In fact, four other players asked me about it and purchased the same model. This paddle helps me spin the ball really well. We actually call our team The Spin Doctors.
“My wife and I recently had our first child. I would love it if my eight-month-old son follows in my table tennis footsteps. I’m already imagining him as the next Aussie champion!
“Table tennis is a game that doesn’t limit you. We have a person in our competition who plays in a wheelchair and he’s really good. The team that beats us in the finals a couple of times has a guy who’s in his 70s and another in his 60s. That’s the thing about table tennis; it’s very, very inclusive. And you’d be surprised what a good work-out you get from a competition game.”