Hundreds of professional and amateur table tennis players are expected to descend upon Pacific City in Huntington Beach on Saturday for the shopping center’s inaugural ping pong tournament.
Fifteen ping pong tables will be set up for the event, which is hosted by Pongstarz, an international ping pong events company.
Outside the Tommy Bahama store, participants can also play against a ping pong robot that shoots and returns balls.
“It’s kind of a place where we can teach people how to play and how to return the ball, but we can also use it as a promotional place,” said Kim Gilbert, owner of Pongstarz and a three-time U.S. Olympic Festival gold medalist. “You can come over, take a picture and we can make you look like a pro.”
There will also be equipment giveaways and meet-and-greets with professional players.
Prizes for the tournament range from $25 cash to a Cornilleau ping pong table worth $1,000.
All participants will receive a free Cornilleau ping pong paddle and Pacific City tote bag with items from various shopping center tenants.
Gilbert considers ping pong a game that anyone can play and is perfect for socializing.
"[Pongstarz] stemmed from a need once ping pong kind of caught on in America and it was used as a networking tool for businesses,” she said. “I have never once in my life met someone that has not played ping pong.”
The entry fee into the tournament, which lasts from 1 to 5p.m., is $20 per participant. Proceeds will be donated to Life Rolls On, which offers support for young people affected by spinal cord injuries.
Sign-ups are available at gopacificcity.com through Saturday morning. Registration is also available on the second level of Pacific City under the movie screen until 12:30p.m.