Dennis Elbow, Former Jock

After a dominating season atop the Mid-Midwest (MMW) Conference, the St. Louis University of Missouri ping pong team has never looked more poised to take home the trophy. Losing only one of their conference matchups, to the rival Miners of Missouri Faith and Handicrafts, the Triton ping-pongers finished up the regular season with a record of 14-3 (7-1). This has been the best regular season record for SLUM since the ping pong team’s inaugural season three years ago, and their form is better than ever.

“We’ve done some rigorous training in China and such,” said Head Coach Forrest Gump Jr. on how the team has seemingly rounded the corner. “But I’ll be honest and admit that we were pretty lucky in some of our scouting.”

Coach Gump Jr. was speaking of some of the new talent SLUM recruited over the summer. “We used to be pretty crap, to be honest,” he stated. “But like my daddy always said his mama always said, ‘Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.’ And it turns out, this year, we were blessed with some exchange students who all could put my daddy to shame.”

Pa Short, sophomore, ping pong business, is one such student, born and raised in mainland China.  Playing the sport since he was in the womb, he used his amazing skills to land himself a place at a top U.S. university, effectively hitting two birds with one stone.

“I like table tennis more than anything,” Short said. “But I also want to get a great degree from a great university. I hope to use my education to promote the sport more vigorously throughout the world – and especially to teach everyone it is called TABLE TENNIS.”

If he can spread the word of the ping pong – excuse me, table tennis – gospel half as well as he can race his opponents to 11, Short will have no trouble rallying the world to the correct terminology. He remains undefeated so far in 2018 and hopes to remain thus.

His technical ability is unprecedented in MMW conference play, but his success, no doubt, also comes from his unconventional style. Unlike most ping-pongers who use one hand for both a forehand and backhand stroke, much like traditional tennis, Short uses both of his hands for two forehands. He quickly throws the paddle between the two hands, and this technique allows him to greatly confuse his opponents. He’s fast enough to switch up serves after he tosses the ball up for some added befuddlement.

“The team has been spectacular, and we should go far in the tournament,” said Coach Gump Jr. “But Pa. Well let’s just say he reminds me of my pa. We may have our first championship this year.”