Augustan Peng Xin prepares for U.S. Open of table tennis

Peng Xin plays at May Park in Augusta. Xin beat the world champion in 1972 as part of China's national team and later coached at Augusta College. He has won two titles at the U.S. Open.

There’s another age group for Peng Xin to conquer.

The table tennis player and former Augusta College coach has already won the men’s over-40 and over-50 titles at the U.S. Open. But when he heads to Grand Rapids, Mich., for this year’s event June 30-July 4, Xin is going for a different championship.

“My goal is to try to win over-60,” he said. “I got 40; I got 50. I’ll try my best to win the title; I’ll try my hardest.”

Before coming to America, Xin was a member of his native China’s national team in the 1970s, and he beat the world champion in 1972.

Since then, as either a player or coach, table tennis has never been far from Xin, from his time in China to his current life in the United States. His proficiency in the sport has taken him to South America and Nigeria.

Xin arrived in theU.S. in the early 1990s. Before he took the job at Augusta Col­lege – now Augusta State University – he lived with the team for a week to make sure they would work well together.

“They had a very good team, but they don’t have a coach,” Xin said of the squad, which won the national championship from 1989 to 1992.

Xin still coaches, but mostly beginners. He plays on a club night at May Park on Friday evenings, but his play benefits the most when he makes weekend visits to Atlanta or Charlotte.

The quality of play is much higher there, which allows him to better prepare for the U.S. Open and the type of spins he’ll see.

Xin likes to play close to the net using the penhold grip. Players in Western nations generally use the shakehand
grip more, but the game is always evolving; there’s a growth of players trying to get a perfect combination of speed and spin.

But Xin knows who he is and what’s gotten him this far.

“I’m speed style,” he said with a laugh. “Make close (to the net), make fast. You have to stay close.”

More