Bringing Table Tennis to the Schools

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Growing up in England, Brian Sentance started playing table tennis when he was 5 and started entering competitions as a teenager. Now he’s bringing the sport to New York City’s public schools.

The city announced in February that it was partnering with the American Youth Table Tennis Organization, of which Mr. Sentance is the director, to bring table tennis to 27 city middle and high schools and to pay for more coaches and equipment to the 13 schools with programs already.

The organization hosted its first fund-raiser on Wednesday evening at SPiN, a table tennis club on East 23rd Street co-owned by Susan Sarandon, who also helped fund the table tennis initiative.

Why table tennis? “There’s lots of minority sports around, I suppose,” said Mr. Sentance, 46, who runs a financial analytics firm and wore a pair of black-and-green shorts to play on Wednesday. “I do think it has the ability to attract kids who might not ordinarily be interested in sports.”

One of those children may be Spencer Ha, 11, who plays table tennis once a week after school at the New York City Lab Middle School for Collaborative Studies. He’s been playing for a year and a half, but he doesn’t take it too seriously. “I just play table tennis as smacking the ball,” he said.