By John Bray, Secretary; Table Tennis Club
Table Tennis has been played at Impington Village College since its opening in 1939 when John Chivers, whose family gave the land for the College development, insisted as part of the agreement that the recreational facilities provided by him at the Histon Institute, by the village green, were housed within the new building.
The present Club has been competing in the local leagues for over fifty years and in the 2013-14 season fielded seven teams in the Cambridge & District League and three teams in the Ely & District League.
During the playing season (September to April) the Club reserves Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings for matches and on Thursdays hosts an open practice evening. In the summer months these evenings are used for coaching and practice in order to prepare for the next season’s activities.
The Development of the Tables Tennis Club
1880s - early 1900s
In approximate chronological order, the table tennis racket has developed as follows:
- The long handled vellum battledore, frequently called the "banjo" racket and often as long as 48cm (19 inches).
- Then came a short-handled hollow vellum battledore racket which superseded the long handled model.
- Next, a plain wooden racket which was made of different types of wood and in different thicknesses.
- A racket covered in sandpaper was then developed in an attempt to help players impart spin on the ball.
- A cork-faced racket replaced the sandpaper covered racket, and many players considered it gave improved performance.
1920s - 1950s
This era saw many changes to the technical specifications of the racket – now to become a bat - and for the first time the impact of Japanese technology was experienced by European players.
- Firstly there was a pimpled rubber bat which had a canvas backed rubber sheet with a studded surface.
- The next stage was the production of an extra wide bat which had a surface of pimpled rubber. This bat was often preferred by defensive players.
- In the early 1950s, a waffle sponge bat was introduced.
- The 1950s also saw the first Japanese bat on the European market. This was a 10mm soft sponge racket.
- The introduction of the crêpe rubber bat was next but it was unsuccessful because it gave the player little control over the ball.
1960s - onwards
This phase of development saw the bat start to evolve into the hi-tech product it is today.
- The first bat in this phase was the 1mm pimpled rubber sponge covered bat, but while this was suitable for all round play, it did impose limitations on spin.
- This was superseded by the 2mm pimple rubber bat which proved ideal for attacking play, but again limited spin.
- In terms of innovation, the next in line was a bat which was designed to counter topspin by providing a surface which would absorb heavy topspin.
- The maximum degree of spin and speed was produced by a bat which had a 1mm reverse rubber sponge surface.
- And then, for greatest control, the 1mm reverse rubber sponge bat was produced.