A Brief Introduction to Paul's Table Tennis Academy
Paul Qi is one of Canada’s best table tennis players and he has recently opened a small boutique-style table tennis training centre in Richmond at the River Club, a multi-activity complex near No. 5 Road and Steveston Highway. When we say small, we mean small. There are only two tables arranged in this large space, a former racquetball court. But, this is not a club. It is strictly a training academy, hence the name, and it’s perfect in being what it is. Table tennis players eager to improve their game by training with a pro will be right at home within the tranquil green walls.
The academy is located in a large room –a former racquetball court– divided up to create one spacious table tennis court and a smaller secondary court. The two tables are professional quality and the sprung-wood floor is covered with an ITTF-approved table tennis flooring, great for grip and with a few millimetres of padding, it’s easy on the legs. The lighting is excellent with maximum ball contrast against the green walls. Unlike training with a pro at a busy conventional club, there are no distractions here. It’s just you and your coach.
When we dropped by for a visit, Paul placed our editor-in-chief, Beeyo on the other side of the main table for a quick hit. Beeyo’s a pretty decent player and smashed ball after ball as Paul stood about 10 feet back and casually responded to each hard forehand by effortlessly lobbing the ball back onto the centre of the table. Successful table tennis players manifest the outward appearance of having all the time in the world at every point in the game. Paul is one of these players. He was relaxed and laughing as he returned everything we could hit at him; he moved efficiently and his strokes were beautiful to watch.
Paul is originally from Xuzhou, a major city in Jiangsu Province, China. After attending East China Normal University, Paul moved to Shanghai and eventually to Vancouver in 2017 where his mad skills landed him a position as head coach of the BC Table Tennis Team. He recently gave up the position with the BCTTA to start Paul’s Table Tennis Academy to offer his clients the kind of top-level coaching once available to only elite players. Paul is currently one of Canada’s only professional table tennis players and was recently drafted into the new USA professional table tennis league.
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We started out listing and evaluating places to play ping pong in Vancouver but since the city has so few places to play, we’ve moved on to adjacent municipalities like Burnaby, New Westminster and now Coquitlam. Over the Canada Day weekend, we dropped by the lower mainland’s latest outdoor public table tennis court, Coquitlam Municipal Hall Tables. Nice! There are two aggregate stone table tennis tables by Sanderson Concrete, the go-to table when you want the installation to last 50 years, set towards the edge of a large plaza that by design, invites people to stay awhile.
We are two years into our mandate to promote and support the development of outdoor table tennis courts in Vancouver parks so it’s time to briefly report on what has NOT happened in the past 24 months. We’ve concluded that Vancouver is really not into providing safe, standardized table tennis courts in parks around the city and things are not likely to change anytime soon. While adjacent municipalities are blazing ahead with outdoor table tennis courts, Vancouver park planners don’t seem to get it at all.
When Raymond Li’s Cosports multi-sport complex opened its doors for the first time in 2022, it instantly became the best table tennis venue in the province, and for good reasons. In addition to badminton courts, Cosports boasts 10+ table tennis courts under bright lights in a large gym with IFFT-approved flooring designed specifically for table tennis. The equipment is top-notch, the courts are spacious, and there are changing rooms and showers. It’s open from 10am to 10pm every day. Sure, it’s not in Vancouver but we sure do wish it was. It’s absolutely worth a visit!
What can we say? Here is another quality table tennis court located in a Burnaby park! It seems Burnaby is treating table tennis like a real sport by building courts in parks, just like tennis but at a fraction of the cost. Surrounded by trees, the Cameron Park Tables may be the best outdoor table tennis court in Burnaby.
The lone ping pong table at 401 West Georgia seems like it would be a favourite for office workers at noon hour. This second table tennis court associated with a downtown office building is not the oasis like the Oxford Place Tables, but it is completely sheltered from rain positioned under the overhang of the office tower. Tucked in close to the building, the table is also likely shielded from some of the winds that often plague outdoor ping pong on plazas.
Meet head coach Helen Wu and the Greater Vancouver Ping Pong Society, the latest table tennis club to open up in Burnaby. We haven’t visited yet to play but Helen kindly submitted a description of the club and programs, and we like what we see.
The Quayside Park Tables are easy to miss. They’re hidden away in a small green playground next to the Fraser River. Surrounded by trees and set one a concrete slab adjacent to the children’s playground, you could ride by without noticing the beautiful steel tables. The tables are the same as those at Empire Fields and make wonderful sounds when the table top is percussed by hand on when the ball strikes the net.
The Confederation Park Table Tennis Court is our latest “discovery” of great places to play free, outdoor public ping pong in Burnaby. Adjacent to the tennis courts, this new, spacious court sports three beautiful Cornilleau table tennis tables set on an isolated asphalt pad complete with a seating area along the eastern edge. Good job once again, Burnaby Parks & Rec!
Vancouver zero, Burnaby three, if you’re keeping score. The municipality of Burnaby is in the lead when it comes to outdoor table tennis courts in city parks, and the new Willingdon Heights Park table tennis court is yet another example of a safe, standardized place to enjoy your fave sport in your local park. Way to go, Burnaby! Pay attention, Vancouver park planners!
It’s no secret: Vancouver isn’t big on ping pong in parks. To help advocate for safe public ping pong tables in parks, Ping Pong In Vancouver has been asking for your input on where you’d like to see table tennis tables in a park near you. If you live in Burnaby or New Westminster, you can head down to your local park to play table tennis on tables set on an asphalt pad surrounded by grass and shade trees. Why can’t it be the same for citizens of Vancouver? Tell us where you’d like to see a safe place to play ping pong near you!
Celebrate World Table Tennis Day with us a few days late! Due to predicted wet weather, our Meet & Greet originally scheduled for WTTD on April 23 has been postponed until Saturday, April 29. We Invite all ping pong players to drop by, say hello, meet other players, play some matches, win some prizes, watch a demo by some skilled players, learn about skills and the technical side of the sport, and exchange ideas on how to make Vancouver into Ping Pong City. Eveyone welcome!
Where other private table tennis clubs we’ve visited cater to members, the North Shore Table Tennis (NSTTC) is the most integrated into the community through affiliations, outreach programs, classes for beginner and intermediate players of all ages, classes and programs for players with Parkinson’s and other disabilities. This an organized table tennis club and operated like a well-conceived business, and the online accolades from many sources are the proof. We’ve awarded the NSTTC twin laurels: Best Organized Club, and Most Inclusive Club
Great news for local outdoor table tennis enthusiasts! Word is out that Health Minister Adrian Dix granted $45,000 last week towards the Vancouver School Board’s proposed table tennis court at Windermere Community Fitness Park. The dedicated table tennis court on VSB property is a first for Vancouver, a municipality with no dedicated table tennis courts on city land or parks.
If you are looking for the very best table tennis program Vancouver community centres have to offer, then you have found the right place. Celebrating its 30th year of operating within Killarney Community Centre, the Killarney Table Tennis Club welcomes all ping pong players from beginners to advanced. Killarney’s TT Club is unique among clubs in Vancouver by offering one-on-one coaching sessions with a nationally-certified table tennis coach for beginners to intermediate players.
It’s great to see examples outside of Vancouver of table tennis tables safely located within the leafy green confines of parks. This latest discovery is located in Moody Park in New Westminster, and this past September when the Ping Pong In Vancouver crew checked out the two tables nestled under the canopy of big trees, we found a small community of players who meet to play nearly every day.
Someone recently contacted PingPongInVancouver.com to tell us about a public outdoor table tennis table in North Vancouver near First and Lonsdale. We don’t normally include tables in municipalities other than Vancouver unless the installation is an example of what was done right (i.e. Edmonds Tables in Burnaby) or what was done wrong. An initial glance of this installation (via Google street view) showed what appeared to be an example of where NOT to put in a public ping pong table. We hopped on our bikes on a fine summer afternoon to see for ourselves what a dangerously placed table looks like…
While this table tennis table installation is in Burnaby, it’s worth mentioning because, 1) it is a table tennis installation in a park; and 2) it’s a table tennis installation added next to existing tennis courts in a recent park redevelopment. The Edmonds Park Tables are the closest local example of a municipality adding table tennis infrastructure to an existing park. We ask: we can’t this be done in Vancouver?
Since the launch of Ping Pong In Vancouver, we’ve searched for a local table tennis gear store we could promote and send readers to who want to buy brand name entry-level ping pong gear at a good price. We contacted all the big players nationally as well as a few local stores, all of whom ignored our offer for free advertising. Too good to be true, we suppose. But we found a tiny gem of a shop at Renfrew Street and First Avenue, and to make things even more auspicious, the shop’s about one mile from the best outdoor ping pong tables in town, Empire Fields.
Ping Pong In Vancouver has finally created a players directory, one of the three main goals we set out to accomplish when we launched the website. We list places to play table tennis and we advocate for ping pong infrastructure in Vancouver parks (although all of our efforts so far to connect with Vancouver Parks planners has been completely ignored). Now we connect ping pong players with partners!
The Vancouver Table Tennis Club (VTTC) bills itself as “one of the best table tennis clubs in the Greater Vancouver area”. This is true with respect to the quality of play. There are some very good players here. The VTTC has 8 tables, a wood floor, adequate lighting, the club owners are really nice, but because this club is so busy, playing sessions are limited to 20 minutes. Wait times are often lengthy. A good but very crowded club.
The GVTTC or Greater Vancouver Table Tennis Club is technically in Burnaby but since there are so few clubs in Vancouver, we felt this venue at Hastings Street and Sperling Avenue should be included. The club, founded in 2019 by Wilson Peng Zhang who is also the head coach, bills itself as “Neighbourhood Table Tennis Club” and it seems to be an accurate claim.
The Vancouver Rotary Club recently unveiled a ping pong table at Kits Beach. Situated behind the buildings along the main promenade of the beach, surrounded by trees and grass, the ping pong table itself is great. It’s got a beautifully finished aggregate concrete top yielding a superb bounce, a fine art-quality metal net, a sturdy, immovable concrete base…but there’s real danger underfoot, literally.
The Orchard Commons Tables are excellent aggregate stone tables with a surface more like 400 grit sandpaper than polished marble. Does it affect the ball? You be the judge when you visit. The ping pong tables are centred in a playing area that is… well, a pit, basically. This pit consists of a playing surface of undulating gravel that has a deepish hole at each end of both tables, a testament to the grinding duels that must have occurred here…
In the heart of downtown, the Oxford Place Tables is a peaceful ping pong oasis. Two tables are positioned on a small shady plaza just far enough away from busy Hastings Street. Pedestrian traffic is minimal, and the playing area is ample and without any significant objective hazards. Ball containment is pretty good with walls and low barriers in most directions. This is a very nice place to play!
Ping Pong In Vancouver advocates for public table tennis. Our goal is to bring safe, permanent public ping pong installations to Vancouver’s many parks. There are a lot of ping pong players out there who’d love to play their fave sport outside within the safety of a park. Our main problem so far has been trying to get the attention of city officials and bureaucrats. The people who make decisions. We have pursued the recommended routes of communication over the past 4 weeks, since the launch of this website, but so far our efforts have been unsuccessful…
Ping pong is actually a sport. The sport is table tennis. It is the second most popular sport on earth. Players begin by playing ping pong, but as skills sharpen, ping pong players grow into table tennis players, and table tennis players need room to play the sport safely.
From Google: Cocktails, craft draft beer & snacks offered in a hip, upbeat space with Ping-Pong tables & games. The Back And Forth Bar has 6 ping pong tables for recreational and serious players, board games (Cards of Humanity, Jenga, Checkers, What the Meme), a TV dedicated to Nintendo Classic, beer and wine on tap, a small selection of spirits, snacks and friendly staff who want to make you feel at home in comfortable surroundings. Play and hang out!
Ping pong players playing on any of the public ping pong installations we’ve reviewed on this website face objective hazards. Public ping pong tables are currently offered as “afterthoughts”, haphazardly placed, without much regard to a player’s safety, in busy pedestrian areas around the city. In Vancouver, there are no ping pong tables situated in safely within the grassy regions of a park as in the standard in the UK and Germany. Ping pong players deserve for no less than the safety considerations afforded our sister sport, tennis.
Besides becoming a go-to listing for places to play ping pong in Vancouver, we want to be a voice for promoting public ping pong in Vancouver. Specifically, we would like to see ping pong installations in Vancouver parks consisting of a slab of asphalt or concrete with a table in the middle, surrounded by a safety barrier of lawn, a recreational installation very common in European parks from Derbyshire to Berlin
From the film’s description: “In the middle of New York City, tucked away in the corner of Bryant Park, sit two outdoor ping pong tables where anyone is free to play. Young or old, rich or homeless, it doesn’t matter. During the day, the park provides paddles and balls, but after 7pm the regulars show up, armed with their own. Every night they come together to play each other and battle the elements, playing in the wind, rain and even snow. And out of this shared love of the game, a bond was formed between an unlikely group of people. Filmmaker Jon Bunning profiles the many lives these tables have touched, including the former gangbanger who helped put them there.”
All things considered, this is a nice spot for playing ping pong. And a nice gesture by the city to place public ping pong tables this close to the corridors of power. It gives a ping pong fanatic hope that public ping pong is within the purview of city officials who need only to look out their north windows and gaze down onto the plaza, where two tables, one great, the other so-so, become a momentary focal point for joy, exercise and friendship…
Two of the four weather-sheltered public ping pong tables in Vancouver are located under the south end of the Cambie Street Bridge. The other two are under the north end of the bridge. The Cambie Bridge South Tables, like the tables under the north end of the bridge, are the German-made Tiger Ping Pong Plaza model: a great design and a lively bounce. Situated among picnic tables in the middle of a slightly cambered pedestrian plaza, there’s enough room to play safely. Keep in mind the several objective hazards like the boulder field about 15 feet behind the east side of the table, and the roadway and bike lane just a few feet from the tables. Some may call this unsafe; we call it multi-tasking.
There are two excellent table tennis tables sheltered from the weather under the Cambie Street Bridge on the north side. Like the pair on the south side of the bridge, these tables are the Tiger Ping Pong “Plaza” model, and they are positioned on the brick plaza under the infrastructure of the bridge in an east to west orientation. One ping pong table is a bit better positioned; that is, sheltered better from the rain, but both tables are club-quality outdoor tables and on a fine day this location, with all of the recreational activity going on around, is inspirational and will bring out your best game.
This funky ping pong table is located at the Vernon-Adanac Plaza, a blocked-off section of Vernon Drive, right where the Adanac-Union bike route takes a wee jog north one block from Union Street onto Adanac Street. It’s an interesting location for a ping pong table to say the least, and it’s easy to see the hipster connotation in locating the table on a bike route…
Unlike parks in other western countries like Germany, parks in Vancouver, despite the vast unused lawns available, do not contain table tennis playing areas by default. In fact, not a single ping pong table installation exists within a Vancouver park. We are late to the game when compared to our European friends. But what potential we have given our numerous parks for ping pong installations within the safety of a public lawned area. Ping Pong In Vancouver has written this post to help define a standard for a table tennis playing area within any public park.
The three steel tables at Empire Fields, in the shadow of Vancouver’s beloved wooden roller coaster offer the ultimate outdoor table tennis – ping pong – experience in Vancouver. For the breathtaking setting alone, this is the #1 place for free outdoor ping pong. Big open sky, breathtaking mountain views, an historic setting where the tables are nestled between the one of north America’s last remaining vintage roller coasters and the track where the first sub-four minute mile was won. The Beatles played mere metres from where today, right now, you can play on melodious metal tables…
Stonehenge Tables, are three tables in the Concord Pacific play area in the expanse of asphalt north of Science World. Named for the large arranged stones embedded in the grassy knoll immediately east of the tables, Stonehenge Tables offer the best of outdoor table tennis in Vancouver. These are stone tables with a great bounce. The area behind both sides of the tables is bounded by a low continuous concrete wall serving as a long bench, providing a stopper for most balls that pass your opponent.