By Kenny Dejohn
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Meet the teen Ping Pong champ with an eye on the 2020 Olympics.
You might say that Estee Ackerman is an ambassador of Ping-Pong Diplomacy.
The West Hempstead teen is a standout table tennis player with an eye on the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
As she works to hone her skills — she won four gold medals and one silver medal at the U.S. Open Table Tennis Championship in Las Vegas in December — she and her dad, Glenn Ackerman, are spreading the word about their favorite game.
“This is something that’s been a dream of mine, to represent the United States,” the 16-year-old student at Yeshiva University High School for Girls said. Another goal for the Orthodox Jew is making table tennis an interscholastic sport among metropolitan area Jewish high schools.
“Thankfully, there are new ping-pong clubs which have been opening up,” Glenn Ackerman said. “Recently, they started one in the Jewish Community Center in Oceanside.”
The International Table Tennis Federation has taken strides to spread the game, holding its Third World Table Tennis Day last year.
Participation has soared, as there were 450 events in 93 countries, according to the federation’s website. This year’s World Table Tennis Day is April 6.
Topend Sports estimated that more than 300 million people worldwide play table tennis, leading PledgeSports.org to rank it as the eighth-most played sport in the world in 2017.
Interest in the sport exploded in the 1970s, when the term Ping-Pong Diplomacy was coined after table tennis matches between the United States and China helped thaw relations between the two Cold War nations.
It became an Olympic sport in 1984, dominated by Asian countries. The U.S. never has medaled in the sport at the Olympics.