The UNC team won 16 games, while the Seymour team won nine.
Many of the players from the Seymour Center have played in senior Orange County competitions and even state competitions. Walter Shur, a Seymour Center player, said he has played table tennis for 75 years and appreciates the UNC students playing with them.
“It’s nice to think you can keep up with somebody who’s 70 years younger than you are,” Shur said.
Brad Hemminger, a UNC professor and faculty advisor of Club Table Tennis, organized the first annual competition.
“The intent was to get these groups together to have sort of a relationship between the University and the town, engage people and have the young folks get a chance to play with some of the older stars that still play table tennis,” he said.
Priya Kannan, a player at the Seymour Center and a member of the center’s board, said the competition brought by the UNC players can improve the seniors’ games.
“If we don’t have a variety, we’ll never change our games as much,” she said. “These younger players — fresh legs, fresh eyes, fast game — it really shows us where the game has moved and how much more we can do. It really gives us ideas.”
Steven Deepee, the founder and president of Club Table Tennis, said the UNC team can benefit from competing against the different playing styles of the Seymour players.
“These guys are really good, they’ve been playing for a while,” he said. “They might not have the agility or strength that we do, but they have certainly the mind on their side. I think it’s good for us to learn from them.”
Sophomore Bryan Van Der Riet said he enjoys learning from the seniors at the Seymour Center.
“You can get so much wisdom from these types of players,” he said. “There’s just so much information that you can gather.”
Sophomore Andrew Cheng said he hopes this becomes a tradition.
“It’ll be really cool to meet new people,” he said. “And then hopefully we’ll develop a connection with the center, and then maybe we’ll have more and more tournaments in the coming years.”
Jerry Finn, a Seymour Center player, said his passion for table tennis is difficult to explain.
“I think it’s because table tennis is a combination of chess — because it’s very strategic — and also hand-eye coordination like tennis but without killing your body,” Finn said. “And I think it’s the only place in my life I allow myself some kind of aggression — you know, killer instinct, put the ball away — that kind of thing.”
For others, the sport meant even more. Stanley Peele, a former table tennis player and Seymour Center regular who came to watch the match, said table tennis helped him maintain his health.
“It saved my life because I played very seriously and it was my main activity and I had a heart condition at age 55,” he said. “And I felt like if I didn’t play this, I would have died.”