Rec Sports Sunday fun for all

Taking a break, Cynthia Cuza and Sophia Gorelik quickly sip water and grab a towel to wipe off sweat. After a few minutes, they’re ready to get back out on the court. The table tennis court, that is.

Cuza and Gorelik are just two of the many participants who come out every Sunday to the gym at Santa Monica College to take part in Rec Sports Sunday.

Started 40 years ago by emeritus professor Jo Kidd, Rec Sports Sunday is a gathering of students, alumni, faculty, and community members to take part in a day of sports.

While basketball is played in the morning and badminton continues throughout the day, the most popular sport, drawing the most competitors, is table tennis.

“Table tennis is the more professional name,” says Cuza. “A lot of people say they play ping pong, but if you want to be taken seriously, you call it table tennis.”

About fifteen table tennis courts are set up in the middle of the gym, and each one is occupied throughout the day.

Basketball is over at noon, and that’s when the table tennis crew comes in.

“I took a class four years ago here at SMC, and I got hooked” says Gorelik. In addition to Rec Sports Sunday, she also participates in the Gilbert Table Tennis club, held at the Jewish Community Center on Olympic Boulevard in West L.A.

At around 3 p.m., things start to get a little more serious.

“Those of us here early are just keeping in shape and having fun,” explains Cuza. “Later in the afternoon is when the more professional players arrive. They have unbelievably good games.”

While the early birds take part in friendly competition, the pro players raise the stakes. They hold a round robin tournament, and they play for money.

“Most of us taking classes are trying to get to that level and be able to play in the tournament” says Cuza.

A few of the players that show up are on the SMC Table Tennis team. Santa Monica College is one of the few junior colleges and the only one in the area that has a table tennis team, according to Cuza. “Our team plays against teams from UCLA, USC, and other universities, as well as being part of the Los Angeles Table Tennis Federation to compete against teams from all over the county.”

Even if your talent is not quite at the professional or collegiate level, Cuza believes that it’s a great way to just have a little fun. “It’s very easy, you can play with friends, you can play at home, it’s a very popular sport.”

“Even if you don’t have anyone to play with, you can get a machine and play against yourself,” added Gorelik.

Rec Sports Sunday is open to all, and is a great way to meet new people. Not to mention a great way to engage in some good old fashioned competition.