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Michael McFarland's obsession for ping pong started If he was in Basic Faculty and would visit his dad in the office as diversion director of Legion Park at Miami.

The obsession grew every time he won a game - original in Community tournaments in South Florida and later as a middle school student competing at the annual Florida Closed ping pong Tournament in Orlando. He won back-to-back titles there in ages 10 and 11 and again at 13 and 14.

He is all grown up now, but the obsession stays. In April, McFarland opened Spin City Sports, a ping pong center off Starkey Road. He hopes that the clublike setting will inspire more visitors to enjoy the game he's loved since childhood.

"Life is busy, and ping pong has always been my escape best ping pong paddle. You get going with the ball and paddle. It's possible to get removed into the match itself," said McFarland, 34.

Spin City Sports is placed in an air-conditioned, 5,000-square-foot warehouse with eight ping pong courts in the center. It's a place where voices retreat behind the rhythmic pattering of balls hitting paddles.

It's also a location that attracts an eclectic mix of People, McFarland said. Since the club opened about 12 months ago, 40 players have become regular members. They vary in age from third-graders to senior citizens.

On a recent Wednesday, two cousins, Raymond and Chase Chau, Both 9, split their time between a ping pong court and the Wii station.

"My father learned how to play in Vietnam," stated Chase. "He started bringing us here because he wanted us to learn the fundamentals through an expert."

Nearby, Philip Irish, a former tennis pro, was Finishing up a game with his sister Janet Irish. The adult siblings visit Spin City Sports at least once a week from Tampa

" ping pong Is Simpler on the joints than additional sports," said Irish, 63. "And first and foremost, it's good for the head. It is really, really good for the head."

McFarland says his vision is to provide a location for households To get together, and to produce players that can compete in nationally sanctioned tournaments.

Spin City Sports adheres to the criteria of the USA ping pong Association, the company Sending four players to the Olympics this summer.

"Our flooring is the soft, Olympic-style flooring, and our Courts are into the specs of this USATT (15 feet by 35 ft)," McFarland said.

The business also offers training with Gary Fraiman, a Former coach for the Russian national team, that moved to the United States in 1977.

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"In places like Germany and China, they know This, however here in the U.S., individuals will need to understand more the benefits of the sport," explained Fraiman, 63. "It is very good fitness, but it also helps with things like memory. Were you aware that ping pong is being used at some places to treat Alzheimer's? This is a lifetime sport."

Harry McFarland, Michael's dad, believes his son's fire Is due in large part to his own exposure at a young age to global players who spent time in Miami.

"As a young boy, he met players from around the world, Particularly in the Caribbean states," said Harry McFarland. "My son discovered different strokes from some of the very best, and that which he discovered he held on to."

However, when he became a teen, McFarland transferred to East Lake, in which he felt a void. He recognized the prevalence of ping pong in Miami did not stretch across the nation to his new home.

"I was 15, and All a sudden I didn't have anyone to compete Against," he explained. "I got to soccer in high school, but I never let ( ping pong) go"

It was in 2002, after returning to the Tampa Bay area from Studying Santa Fe College in Gainesville, that McFarland chose to "start a grass roots effort, bringing more visitors to the game," he said.

So as he chased a livelihood in the catering and banquet Industry, he offered in the Sunrise ping pong Club based in the Long Center in Clearwater. He helped start a youth program.

He also signed up as a community liaison with the National Collegiate ping pong Association. This led to his serving at both state and national roles for the organization.

And in 2008, to help increase the Amount of clubs statewide, He set the Florida ping pong Association, which falls under the USATT.

Based on Andy Horn, the championship and evaluations Coordinator in the USATTA at Colorado, the interest in competitive ping pong has ebbed and flowed.

"However, with businesses including Michael's, the Amount of Players is guaranteed to increase," he said. "And ultimately, it will help the sport grow on a nationwide level. Players who begin regular play (Spin City Sports) will eventually learn about tournaments and positions, and that is going to direct us. So ultimately, his business is an advantage for us."

Harry McFarland said he's surprised at his son's Success. "He has always loved the sport, and he has worked hard at this. I just am very proud of seeing open."

Is ping pong the same as 'pingpong'? best ping pong table?

The game is basically the same, '' said Andy Horn, the Tournament and evaluations Registration for the United States ping pong Association, based in Colorado Springs. In the United States, the game firm Parker Brothers trademarked the Expression Ping-Pong in 1901. "But There's a distinction when it comes to Recreational and competitive gamers," he said. "The game is usually Known as pingpong by those who perform it at home in their cellar, but on a Competitive level, it is called ping pong."

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