Since starting to train table tennis at the Google Corporate Headquarters in Mountain View, Coach Barney J. Reed has grown the employee table tennis championship to a staggering 376 players this year! With the help of the GFit team, round robin groups and single elimination rounds got the players down to the Sweet 16 for the main event on June 24, 2016. Starting with six ping pong tables, each round removed a table for better viewing until just one table remained.
To recognize the Sweet 16 players and those who were vital in getting and keeping things organized, Coach Barney reached out to USATT and got USA national team shirts for everyone with their names on them. It may sound like a small thing to do but all who received them were very excited and wore them with pride!
As players were eliminated, many enjoyed the incredible food and drinks that the event staff had provided just outside the competition area, so very few left once eliminated and the crowd grew excited to cheer the players from their departments! Two returning champions Ms. Fei Dong (2013) and Mark Wei (2015) had a super match in the semi – finals. Diving to the floor and returning from the farthest parts of the court – everyone asked who these “Pro” table tennis players were. Coach Barney announced to the crowd that these two ARE Googlers and yes do have full time jobs on campus! Unfortunately for Mark someone had to lose but he really put up a great fight, 13-11 in the 5th game!
As a break for the players after the semi-finals, Coach Barney and 2012/2016 Olympian Timothy Wang put on a one game “winner take all” table tennis exhibition that wowed the crowd with spectacular shots from both players. As having the crowd supporting him, Coach Barney managed to get a hard fought win by the narrowest 15-13 margin. But Barney still will be watching Tim play in Rio!
The finals featured Ms. Fai Dong back in contention for the championship after a break to have two children, and the awkward short pips/long pips blocking style of Mr. Zhenyang Dai – his first time playing this table tennis event as he is a rather new player in the Google family.
Ms. Dong looked strong, winning the first two games. Mr. Dai was patient, getting comfortable with all the left handed attacks from Ms. Dong and finding his way back to tie the match at two games each! In the 5th, Ms. Dong got a 5-1 lead only to see 6 straight points go to her opponent. The next 4 points were split and Ms. Dong found herself down 9-7! At this point Mr. Dai could see the goal line and rushed his service game and in trying to win too quickly lost both points to make it 9-9. With the service, you could see Ms. Dong take a deep breath and focus then serve a tricky – fast ball with no spin to Mr. Dai’s backhand. Without much room to maneuver Mr. Dai returned to ball a little too high and too much to the forehand and point #10 was Ms. Dong’s.
Seeing the ease that she won that point, Mr. Dai adjusted only to see the next serve come more to the middle but with the same result- a slightly high return that Ms. Dong quickly hit away for the game and championship!
As Ms. Fai Dong ran around the court giving everyone high fives, many new players were asking the question… When does the next season start? I want to win it next year!
Congrats to Ms. Fai Dong for winning the 3rd Annual Google Employee Table Tennis Championship!