Whether on a court or a table. There's something fascinating about tennis, watching that ball go back and forth..
"It involves producing various spins, various speeds and various slates."
For 35 years, Cliff Contreras has loved the table version of the game. In fact, table tennis at Fresno's Boys & Girls Club changed his life.
"As a young man I was involved in gangs and wasn't doing anything very productive. And the Boys and Girls Club gave me the opportunity to get involved in some tournaments, learn the sport."
And he was hooked, now he oversees the city's table tennis program at Holmes Playground. Allowing others to discover this fast-paced sport.
"Look at that. I'm popping it right over man. I'm not doing all that fast stuff. I'm putting it right over bro."
Trash talk is allowed here. In fact, in some cases, it even helps.
"He's better than me."
"Oh you're admitting that?"
"Yes. I will admit. He's better than me on his good days."
On the court, there's a bigger ball. Bigger swings, and big strategy.
"To play doubles you work with a partner but for the most part when we're out there it's trying to do the best we can in figuring things out. It's a problem solver."
Alberto Perez teaches tennis at sierra athletic club. After 44 years on the court, the thrill remains.
"I get to hit on the ball and at times it's very therapeutic to just rip one just for the heck of it. That has to feel good. Oh yeah. Especially when you win the point, especially when you win the point."
Or win a medal.
Tennis.. On a table or a court. An Olympic tradition for decades.
The tennis tournament gets underway July 28th and ends on August 5th. As for table tennis, that begins July 28th and runs through August 8th. You can catch all the Olympic action on NBC's Olympic website by clicking here.