First Flight High School Spanish teacher Ramon Sanchez participated in The Cold Clash in the Carolinas a USA Table Tennis Competition hosted by the Camp Lejeune Ping Pong Club, held Saturday, Jan. 28, in Jacksonville, N.C.
USA Table Tennis is a national organization for table tennis that was started in 1933 and is now headquartered in Colorado Springs. The organization currently serves about 7,900 members and about 285 clubs.
Sanchez received a gold medal for being the champion of the novice division at the tournament. Each ranking for the USA Table Tennis goes up in increments of 100. The novice division starts at 100 and goes up to 1000; the intermediate division 1100-1700; the advanced division 1800-2200; and the elite division 2300-2800. Sanchez played up to the 1800 level were he won one set.
Sanchez was accompanied by five other ping pong players from the Outer Banks to compete in the tournament.
“Myself along with five other people have been very interested in starting a ping pong club on the Outer Banks, we have been writing to other clubs on how to start a club,” Sanchez said. “The Camp Lejeune Ping Pong Club wrote back to us on suggestions of how to start a club along with a invitation to their tournament. We thought why not go, it would give us a chance to be rated on the national level,” Sanchez said.
Roughly about 50 players from all over North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia took part in the tournament. More than $1100 in cash prizes, trophies and medals were awarded to the top competitors.
“We started playing at 9 a.m. and did not finish until 3 p.m. I played people from 12 years old all the way up to 41 years old,” Sanchez said.
Sanchez, who is 67 years old, was the oldest competitor at the tournament.
The guy that I won against in the 1800 round said to me after words. “Hey grandpa, you are pretty darn good,” Sanchez said.
A native of Nicaragua, Sanchez played for the country’s table tennis team back in his 20s. Sanchez has lived in the United States for 25 years now and has not played table tennis since he came to the states. Sanchez has started a competitive ping pong club at First Flight this year as well.
“I have had about 20 kids participate in the club. They are still playing each other to see who are the top five in the club,” Sanchez said.”We will have a tournament against Manteo, Hatteras and maybe Currituck in the near future.”