Daniel Grecu, second from right, teamed up with former Madison resident Chip Patton for doubles play at the Alabama Senior Olympics Table Tennis Tournament in Tuscaloosa. Photo- Alabama Table Tennis

Table Tennis- Alabama Senior Olympics

MADISON- For most recreational centers and many homes across the area which have playing tables the featured sport that is fun and offers good exercise is ping-pong. The official name of the sport is table tennis, but most weekend players continue to call the sport ping-pong.

For Daniel Grecu, table tennis is his sport and strives to play as often as he can. “I began playing as a kid growing up in Romania and now I play every chance I get and after moving to this area I was surprised so many play the sport, especially as part of the North Alabama Tennis Club,” said the 64-year old Grecu, who moved to the area five years ago as he and his wife of 28 years, Dorina, both retired from the Department of Corrections two years ago. “I have a table at home and practice when I can with Dorina who helps me practice.”

Grecu is one of several from the area who recently competed in the Alabama Senior Olympics Table Tennis Tournament held in Tuscaloosa. The former physical education teacher and wrestling coach finished third in the 65-69 age group and finished among the top five in doubles with his playing partner former Madison Resident Chip Patton who took the championship title in individual play in the 50-plus age category. Grecu lost in the semi-finals to a player who finished second in the U.S. last year. “I put up a good fight against him as I feel I played well and I’m happy,” added Grecu, who plays the sport wearing a brace on his left knee from injuries suffered during his many years in wrestling.

“I love the sport of table tennis as I get a lot of satisfaction and exercise from doing so,” said Grecu. “The needed skills to play table tennis keeps you sharp. This wouldn’t be my choice of exercise if I didn’t like it.”

A member of the North Alabama Tennis Club, Grecu and others from the club play on Thursdays at Brahan Spring Recreation Center in Huntsville. Many of them travel to Decatur on Fridays and Sundays to play and gets into action on Fridays and Saturdays at Fern Bell Park in Huntsville.

Many of these players are gearing up for the Alabama State Championships scheduled for May in Oxford. A World Table Tennis Youth Contender Tournament will be played June 26-29 at the Athletic Club of Alabama on Leeman Ferry Road in Huntsville. All these events are a prelude to the USATT’s National Championships set to be played at the Von Braun Center July 3-7. This will be the first time in the 90-year history of the event the action will be played in Alabama.

Sports has always been a big part of Grecu’s life and table tennis has been there all along, except for a 17-year period in which he stopped playing and soon saw an advertisement for a table tennis tournament in Montgomery where he was calling home. “I found some paddles that had sandpaper as a surface and entered the tourney and I did very well,” said Grecu. “I made the semi-finals and I soon began to play again.”

“I just love the exercise I receive from playing table tennis. I’m soaking wet from sweat when I finish as I play hard,” added Grecu. “I played at least eight matches at the Senior Olympics Tournament just in the individual division.”

Grecu makes time for his four children and five grandchildren and takes to the table tennis table with them every chance he gets. His children even bought a specially made robot device that serves him table tennis balls so he can practice when he’s having to practice alone.

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