2014 Butterfly Badger Open: Gateway to Growing Midwest Table Tennis

By Barbara Wei | Sept. 23, 2014, 12 a.m. (ET)

2014 Butterfly Badger Open: Gateway to Growing Midwest Table Tennis

2014 Badger OpenAs competition wrapped up and players started their journeys home, tournament director Linda Leaf and her team of volunteers have already identified improvements for next year’s Badger Open. Those improvements include reducing player match conflicts and increasing the number of entries. However between now and the 2015 Badger Open, the team of volunteers from the Milwaukee Table Tennis Club will focus on growing the sport in the Midwest.

The Milwaukee Table Tennis Club started 10 years ago with just 4 tables. Originally open on Friday evenings, the club attracted only 2 players on its opening day. Persistence has paid off since then, as the non-profit club now draws 30-50 players, has more than 20 Butterfly Tables and is open 3 times a week in two locations. In addition to growing the club organically, the Milwaukee Table Tennis Club is the only one which conducts sanctioned tournaments in Wisconsin, including this past weekend’s 4-star Butterfly Badger Open.

Although hosting USATT sanctioned tournaments are essential for growing table tennis in the Midwest, Linda and her team at the Milwaukee Table Tennis Club know that involving youth players is equally as important. Recently they have started the National Youth Table Tennis Association to focus on bringing table tennis to high schools in the Milwaukee area. High schools face off against each other in a team format, similar to the one used by the National Collegiate Table Tennis Association (NCTTA).

Table Tennis growth in the Midwest relies heavily on devoted and ambitious individuals who volunteer their time and energy. The team at Milwaukee Table Tennis Club has gone above and beyond to put the Badger Open and Midwest table tennis on the map.