I have driven by the iTable Tennis “club” on San Pablo Avenue many times, but never been inside. El Cerrito mom Sunny checked it out with her 10-year old son Lucas, and here's what they learned.
Lucas and I love ping pong, but don’t love it enough to have a huge table in our home. Once, we bought a net and paddles that you can theoretically attach to your dining room table, only to learn that our table was too thick for the attachment. But when we see a ping pong table, we always like to hit the ball back and forth.
I had picked up Lucas one afternoon from a party at Albany Bowl, and, spying the iTable Tennis building across the street, he said, “We should play ping pong there sometime”. We had some errands to run and then found ourselves with about 45 minutes kill before our next errand on San Pablo. So we decided it was time to give this place a try.
I was expecting to see a bunch of Forrest Gumps in-training, but the place was empty, except for one guy sitting in the back (maybe the office manager?). The place is pretty no-nonsense, they have a bunch of tables and paddles, and that’s pretty much it. $5 for adults, $3 for kids allows you to play all day. It seemed better than dumping $10 on arcade games back at the bowling alley.
We were there about 15 minutes when this older gentleman walked in with what looked like supplies. He took one look at us and came over to show us what’s what.
He showed us the proper way to hold a paddle, the rules around serving, and a few tricks to add to our meager repertoire of ping pong skills. He was very nice and recognized that Lucas is a lefty, so gave him some tips specifically for lefties.
His mini tutorial lasted for about 10 minutes, then he and another gentleman went to one of the other tables to play some serious ping pong, which was really fun to watch.
If your kids love ping pong, they would like it. In terms of being kid-friendly, the man was very generous with his time in terms of giving us some good tips. As I said, it’s no nonsense, so minimal decor, no art on the wall (kid-friendly or not), no snacks or anything like that. I guess if you’re hungry you can go next door to Casper’s Hot Dogs or across the street to Albany Pizza Company.
All in all, we spent 45 minutes there. We would have spent more time if we didn’t have somewhere to be. We will definitely go back.
iTableTennis is in Albany at 533 San Pablo Avenue, about five blocks South of El Cerrito Plaza.