Kona hosts first table tennis tournament

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Kekuaokalani Gym at Old Kona Airport State Recreation Area played host to the first ever 2015 Kona August Open table tennis tournament on Sunday. The Big Island had hosted several table tennis tourney’s before, but those were usually located in Hawi, Waimea and Hilo.

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Kekuaokalani Gym at Old Kona Airport State Recreation Area played host to the first ever 2015 Kona August Open table tennis tournament on Sunday. The Big Island had hosted several table tennis tourney’s before, but those were usually located in Hawi, Waimea and Hilo.

The one-day event was a test run for the new location and included mostly players from the Big Island, as well as one player from Maui.

“The big tournaments we have are usually two or three days and we usually get a lot of players from the other islands and even the mainland,” said tournament director Len Winkler. “In a one day tournament that is obviously more difficult because people are not going to travel for that.”

Sunday’s tourney included several divisions including a handicap event, which anyone can play, a doubles event and two sanctioned singles events, where players must be a member of the United States Table Tennis association to play.

“In this particular event we tried to keep it simple,” Winkler said. “It is very hot here so if we have another event in the Kona area well will probable do it in March or April.”

Sanctioned players are judged by a rating, which is determined by wins and loses against other rated players in a tournament. A world class rating is typically above 2,500. For a chance to win a world class event, a player would most likely need a rating of 2,700 or higher.

“Rating has nothing to do with age or man or woman,” Winkler said. “We do have aged events but not at this particular tournament. But in a three day tournament we do have events for women, for age, and for juniors. The more time we have the more we can divide it up.”

Table tennis is a hugely popular sport and continues to grow. It is the national sport of China and has been a part of the Olympics since 1988. The Big Island hosts five table tennis clubs, which includes Kona, Captain Cook, Wiamea, North Kohala and Hilo.

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“Table tennis in Hawaii is growing,” Winkler said. “

The Kona Table Tennis Club is led by founder and coach Dan Millare. Practices are held every Monday and Thursday at Kekuaokalani Gym. For information visit tabletennisandmore.com/konaclub.