Perry started playing ping-pong just after he arrived to the U.S. at age 11 from the Fuijan Province in China. Aside from one year on the B Team at Duke, Perry didn’t play much ping-pong until arriving at PayScale. But, he doesn’t think the missed years matter.
“It’s not about practice. It’s all about confidence,” says Perry. Typically bare-footed when he plays, Perry won PayScale’s company tournament this year. His father was a school champion in ping-pong back in China. Perry thinks this heritage might be why the game comes naturally to him. “I just woke up one day and thought, ‘I know this game. I don’t have to learn it,’” he says. Mariya
Mariya is not quite so bold and believes that practice actually helps her game. She has one thing she really likes to practice, too. “For me, it’s all about smashing,” says Mariya, referring to herself as a “one-trick pony” with a mean arm. Mariya, a lefty, first picked up a paddle at age 11 in Mother Russia (St. Petersburg) and played competitively for one year. She then set her paddle down until working at Microsoft several years ago, and now at PayScale.
“One cool thing about ping-pong is that the gender differences are not as important,” says Mariya. Perry agrees. Mariya adds, “I can kick a lot of guys’ [butts].” Perry agrees with that, too. Mariya understands that ping-pong is a mental game and feeling confident is an advantage. “If you start to trail, it’s hard to come back because you start to play more carefully.” Why Is Ping-Pong Fun? Because Ping-Pong Is for Geek
Perry digs the crowd he gets to hang out with while at the tennis table. “I like playing ping-pong because the people playing with you are all geeks, computer scientists. It’s fun.” That said, there is one thing Perry is more skilled at than table tennis: coding. “I code better than I play. I wish I had started coding at age 11.”
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(photo credit: G. Eppley)