Table Tops: Long Island Teen Will Crush You in Ping Pong

2012 Olympic Hopeful Wins Table Tennis Nationals

By Andrew Siff
|  Monday, Mar 1, 2010  |  Updated 6:27 AM EDT
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Long Island Teen Could Be World's Best Ping-Ponger

NBCNewYork

Michael Landers: Ping-Pong Prodigy. At SpinNYC

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Long Island Teen Could Be World's Best Ping-Ponger

He may not look strong, but don't underestimate Old Westbury's ping-pong prodigy Michael Landers.
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Some call it ping pong. Others prefer table tennis. But however you describe it, a teenager named Michael Landers will beat you, and he just might be an Olympic medalist in 2012.

The 15-year-old from Old Westbury, Long Island, recently trounced contenders twice his age at the National Championships in Las Vegas. His secret? A grueling workout regimen that includes weightlifting, endurance drills and speed exercises.

"It was 11-9 in the seventh game," recalls Landers of his championship win. "Waking up the next day might have been the greatest day of my life. I was like, 'did that really just happen?'"

This reporter grew up playing a little ping pong and beating friends. There may have been a third-place finish in a couple of tournaments. So, challenging Landers seemed like an obvious decision. The final score: Landers 11, Siff 0. And don't be misled: the match wasn't as close as the score indicates.

"Yeah, I would say I'm a little bit cocky," said the seemingly scrawny but deceptively strong Landers, who also plays bassoon, swims, and takes the LIRR three times a week to practice at the Manhattan ping-pong hotspot SpinNYC.

"But not enough to hurt my game, I don't think. Every match is a learning experience. You can always get something out of it."

Even a less-than-difficult duel against a reporter who should stick to questions and answers and perhaps, steer clear of this kind of racket.

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