Learning Tree Table Tennis Brings Young Team to Experience 2014 Butterfly Los Angeles Open

By Barbara Wei | Aug. 17, 2014, 12 a.m. (ET)

2014 LA Open

Learning Tree Table Tennis Brings Young Team to Experience 2014 Butterfly Los Angeles Open

2014 LA OpenThe 12 young players in matching blue shirts are hard to miss at the 2014 Butterfly Los Angeles Open. The contingent of young juniors practice, cheer and compete together with unmistakable excitement and passion for the sport. The group of smiling competitors belongs to San Diego based after school children’s program Learning Tree Table Tennis, led by legendary Swedish player Stellan Bengtsson and supported by Earl James Alto (2410). The program has been active for 2 years, with practice sessions 5-6 days a week throughout the year. The 2014 Butterfly Los Angeles Open is the team’s first major event; and the coaching team at Learning Tree hopes that the experience allows the players to gain exposure and increase their interest in the sport.

Butterfly sat down with 12 year old Jack Zhu, one of the program’s young players to talk about his experience with table tennis and his impressions of the 2014 Butterfly Los Angeles Open.

How did you get started playing table tennis?

I played in a public community class, and really enjoyed it so started playing more. I have been playing for 2 years.

What do you like about the sport?

I really like the feel of the ball, and having a team I can rely on while playing

What makes you most excited about being at the 2014 Butterfly Los Angeles Open?

I’m excited to compete in the same tournament as all of the top players. I didn’t expect champion players like Timothy Wang, and Eugene Wang to be here. This is the biggest tournament in California, and I am excited to see Chih-Yuan Chuang play later today.

Good luck to Jack, and all the players here who are getting a little closer to their table tennis dreams through competing this weekend at the 2014 Butterfly Los Angeles Open.

Continual coverage of the 2014 Butterfly Los Angeles Open and stories about the athletes will be available at butterflyonline.com, or via Butterfly North America’s twitter and facebook pages.