Smashing the Competition
Center Grove Resident Wins Table Tennis State Championship
Writer / Matt Keating
Photographer / Amy Payne
Paul Bhosle, who recently won the Table Tennis State Championship at the Table Tennis Club of Indianapolis, says hard work and perseverance led to his victory.
“I had mixed emotions when I won,” Bhosle says. “I remembered I never thought it could happen a few years back. At the same time, I was excited and calm. I was thankful to God I made it through the Final Match.”
Bhosle, a senior financial consultant with Anthem Inc., loves playing table tennis, a game that has gained a lot of popularity over the last few years.
“It is a sport that can be played regardless of the weather,” Bhosle says. “I lost 15 pounds in four weeks when I started, so it is a great exercise. It is also good for mental health. Lastly, you don’t have to be a certain size or super fit to play table tennis. It can be played by almost everyone.”
Bhosle also believes table tennis relieves stress.
“Honestly, when I’m not playing in a tournament, it really relaxes me,” Bhosle says. “It’s good exercise, and it is a great skill to learn. It kind of feeds itself. The better I get, the more I realize how much I need to improve.”
Bhosle just started playing a few years ago.
“I began this journey in Summer 2016,” he says, “My workplace had just gotten a ping pong table, and they wanted me to play too, so I joined.”
Before that, Bhosle says he was a very decent garage/basement level player.
“So, I soon looked up the Table Tennis Club of Indianapolis, which I had been to once over 13 years ago,” Bhosle says. “I went there all confident and got crushed.”
Bhosle didn’t want to go back to the club, but something in him said to return.
“Someone mentioned at that time that Tuesday nights were for beginners,” Bhosle says. “So I went on a Tuesday, and got slammed again! They had a coach there, though, who worked with me. The lowest division in that club, U1150, would easily beat most garage level players (ping pong that is). I was rated around 1080 back then – which is a very good garage level player.”
Bhosle noted that if there is a 200-point difference in players, it is almost impossible to win, unless the upper-rated player has a very bad day.
“In the Fall 2016, they asked me to join the League! I lost 15 pounds in four weeks! It was really intense, and I wanted to quit. You have to be really fit and get into shape to play real Table Tennis.”
So Bhosle started exercising more for joint support and footwork.
“Studies have also shown it is very good for your brain,” he says. “After the League was done, to my surprise, I won a trophy in doubles in first place!”
Bhosle became more motivated, and in 2017, he started winning many awards for either first place within his Division for singles and doubles, and as a team in whole.
“I also practiced in my garage and hired a coach this year,” Bhosle says. “This spring, I decided to play in the State Championship, U1550. I played for four hours total, which includes a division above me, U1650, and lost in the semi-finals. In the 1550 (my division), I played a total of four matches.”
Bhosle says it was extremely challenging.
“Table Tennis is like chess on steroids, and often you have only 1/4 of a second to respond to the spin and speed,” Bhosle says. “There is so much spin on the ball – you have to compensate for it quickly, without giving the opponent much chance to attack. It is mentally exhausting, and typically your mind is tired way before your body catches up.”
Bhosle noted that a match is best of five.
“Each game is 11 points and you have to win by two points,” Bhosle says. “I won the first two games against my opponent from Ft. Wayne. The third game I lost, as I played tentatively. And I sure didn’t want to go to the fifth game.”
Right before the fourth game, Bhosle prayed and asked God for help.
“I asked him for help mentally – meaning even though I don’t win, I want to play my best,” Bhosle says. “Something inside me clicked and I won the fourth game 11-4, even though I was extremely exhausted. By 6:30 p.m., I was dead tired and walked home with a first-place trophy.”