The Sunrise Table Tennis Club (STTC) is made up of 6 different facilities to play in the Tampa Bay Area, located off the west-central coast of Florida. The club has thereabouts of 50 excellent tables to duke it out in friendly competition or tournaments.
Richard Perez is the program director for STTC. He says his ardent fervor for the sport began in Queens, NY “after my first swing. I knew it would be a permanent thing in my life.” His love for table tennis would continue with a passion for initiating new clubs as well as taking on further responsibilities, such as becoming a regional umpire, certified referee, coach, and ultimately STTC’s program director.
Since starting this latest position in Florida, Perez has been instrumental in hosting large scale tournaments, maxing out the roster with each one. According to Perez STTC might just be “the only club to have two Certified Referees in all of Florida.” This, of course adds to the professionalism of the organization.
Some other factors contributing to the successful growth of the club over the years have been stellar coaches, such as Coach Gary Fraiman, who is the personal coach to several top Para athletes such as Tara Profitt (1984 and 2012 Paralympian and multi Para Pan American medalist to list a few of her accolades) and Jenson Van Emburgh (Tokyo 2021 Paralympian and 2019 China Para Open Bronze Medalist). Coach John Reynolds rounds out the roster as well, offering a wealth of table tennis experience.
Perez also says it doesn’t hurt that the large population density of Tampa Bay as well as the inviting beaches attract more people to the club and contribute to its overall success.
As each state is different with the reopening process from the coronavirus pandemic, STTC is opening back up while acknowledging safety for members. Perez notes that the board had been keeping in touch very often online throughout the shutdown, talking about how to reopen safely and efficiently.
One of the safety protocols that STTC is hoping their members follow is to bring their own balls to avoid the spread of the disease. Also, for the time being, doubles matches will be prohibited, as the proximity of two players on one side of the table is a recipe for communicable disaster.
“But we are pleased to announce we are officially back up and running,” Perez remarked. “However we are limiting play to 10 players per gym. And only to paid club members. So no open public play allowed yet.”
Perez has some advice and encouragement for the table tennis community, as well as specifically for members of STTC:
“Hang in there folks! This too shall pass! Remember to stretch and drink plenty of water. It’s hard to start playing after taking 2 months off. Most of our players are seniors and I encourage a solid period of warming up before getting back into matches. But for our members specifically who might read this, please follow the guidelines and RSVP for your play spots at each location.”
Good luck Richard and STTC getting back into the swing of things and stay safe ponging it up!