Sunday, December 6, 2009

No ping pong in Doha?

I've been here a month in Doha working at CMU Qatar.

Like many unfamiliar cities with a large expat population, once you learn a few things and get to know Doha a little better, it's possible to find decent food and just about anything... except ping pong perhaps.

I've tried emailing the Qatar Table Tennis Association. I've put out feelers on the Table Tennis group on Never got a reply. There is an ITTF event in Doha every year. The Qatar Open attracts the best players in the world. Sport shops sells cheap paddles. Players? I haven't found any.

As a last resort, I went to the Table Tennis social hour scheduled for Monday nights at the Recreation Center in Education City. Predictably, the room was completely empty. Nobody showed up. They have truly excellent lighting and three tables. I'm sad.

So what did I do? No robot. And I only had two balls. I stared into the mirror and practiced my serve for an hour... Why did I make this blog entry? Well, a search engine will pick this up if someone is looking for table tennis in Doha. The Activity Room upstairs at the Recreation Center, Education City. Now you know.

Update: Something to think about...

My game declines when I'm not playing. The longer I'm without practice, the rustier I get. But to my surprise what I'd call the strongest parts of my game are not necessarily the parts that are best preserved or decline the least.

For example, most people who know me would say my forehand loop is the strongest part of my game. But after nearly two months without playing, I realize my forehand loop is off. Surprisingly, my reverse penhold backhand (a relatively new stroke for me) is still there.

I think there are two possible explanations:
  • My forehand loop is much stronger than my reverse penhold backhand. So there is less to deteriorate to begin with with the backhand stroke.
  • My forehand loop was developed through sheer practice and not from strong fundamentals. It relies on excellent timing. Without constant practice, it simply doesn't work. That is, the percentage landed is low.
    On the other hand, my reverse penhold backhand has been coached professionally from the beginning. So although it hasn't had the time to become as well-developed as the forehand, the fundamentals are better and don't require as much calibration.

Food for thought...


  1. It said you used to play ping pong in your About Me, do you not play as much anymore or something? Also, where are you a professor at if you don't mind me asking.

  2. I used to belong to a ping pong club (NJTTC) when I lived in New Jersey. There I used to play several times a week. Now, I rarely play due to lack of opportunity. I'm professor at the University of Arizona in Tucson AZ. I'm on sabbatical at the moment, that's why you see me posting from Tokyo University and Carnegie Mellon University (CMU)'s Doha campus.

  3. If I were in Doha, I'd play with you, but you would probably kick my ass.

  4. Hi, My name john ng from malaysia now work at Doha. My self n few friends can join u for the ping pong. But our skil not good us you. If u dun mind we will play with u. My contact +974 3266115.

    Best Regards

  5. Hi John!

    Unfortunately, this visit of mine to Doha is coming to an end. Wish I'd created this blog entry right at the start of my visit.

    But I'll be back and I hope we can play some. Skill level is not as important as having fun. Send me your email address to sandiway at qatar dot cmu dot edu

  6. Whoops the email is incorrect...

    it's sfong at qatar dot cmu dot edu

  7. Sir ,
    i loved to play TT and i planed visit to Doha in April.Hopefully we played together.

  8. Cool. I'll be happy to play.

    Email me at the address above. Or let me know your email address.

  9. Anyone out there willing to play? I will be in Doha April 17th-22nd

  10. Me Ready Sandy... send me mail when u arrive at doha...

  11. Hi I am Aftab If you want to play with me you can my email address is , I am not good player but now the basic of TT.
    If you are intersted please do let me know

  12. Hi i m willing to play and participate in tournaments also..... u can contact me on

  13. I'm in Doha and would like to play, if any one would like call me please 55868001.

  14. like to play too :)

  15. I want to play as well. I cant see your email address Sir. Can we arrange to meet up this week and play?

  16. Hello Mr. Sandiway, i play Table Tennis. When and where can we play?I stop playing for many years and i want to play and practice again. How can i contact you?If you have time to play please let me know also. You can reach me @ 5519 9227 - Mike

  17. hey can we play at qatar bowling center..?

  18. Hi ,
    Are u still there can we play..My id is


  19. I'm sorry. I haven't been to Doha for a few years now...

    1. I am in Doha