A ‘Crush’ on table tennis

A new table tennis club in Greenwich offers plush play in a lounge-like atmosphere.

Table tennis has come to Greenwich, with a spacious, brand new club located in the former Greenwich Propane building on Field Point Road.

But leave behind any thoughts of a down-at-heel social club or that slightly grungy bowling alley experience of old. Crush Table Tennis feels more like a five-star hotel than a sports facility. Covid-aware check-in is done electronically at the entrance downstairs, and contactless payment is taken via touch screens. 

The club occupies more than 6,000 square-feet over two floors, with four separate playing areas between them. To the left of the entrance are three of the club’s eight tables. Head upstairs and you’ll find another five tables, leather sofas, ever-so-chic Barcelona chairs, a professional sound system and a large-screen television. There’s also a self-serve bar with ice-cold domestic and imported beers, exotic canned cocktails, red and white wine by the bottle and a small selection of premium spirits. (On the night WAG visited, Woodford Reserve bourbon was a favorite “pour.”)

Owner and Larchmont-resident Michael Tolle, whose clients in his 25-year career in consultancy have included IBM, Mastercard and The New York Times, grew up overseas and gravitated toward the sport because of what he calls the “socialization” aspect. A table tennis club, he says, is somewhere people can get together in a friendly and relaxed atmosphere. 

Before this venture, he had tried to get into telemedicine but did not pursue it in the face of regulatory obstacles. Having always loved table tennis, he had a vision for Crush that fell somewhere between Spin, the New York City club in which, Tolle says, “Hard Rock meets table tennis,” and (Times’ crossword puzzle editor) Will Shortz’s competitive but somewhat utilitarian table tennis center in Pleasantville.  

Many facilities, Tolle points out, have rubber floors, barebones decoration and a questionable level of cleanliness. By contrast, floors at Crush are porcelain tile with rugs in the seating areas; walls are decorated with Toulouse-Lautrec posters,and ambient lighting is provided by attractive wall sconces. (Perhaps the facility should have been name “Plush.”) Upstairs, by day, the space is flooded with natural light from rows of window on either side of the room. The tables themselves, meanwhile — Chinese tables downstairs and American-made Killerspin tables upstairs — are lit by top-of-the-line, eight-foot, linear LED light fixtures. Overall, the club feels far more like a lounge than a gymnasium.

The place is also spotless, with heavy emphasis on regular cleaning, which is reassuring in the age of Covid. The facility is fitted with four contactless handwashing stations with antibacterial soap, two new HVAC systems that separately treat each floor and two HVAC ionization systems for eliminating airborne mold, bacteria and allergens.

“The thing I find fascinating about table tennis,” says Tolle, “is that when you’re here, you may have come with just one person, but you meet other people and have conversations. That doesn’t happen in the movie theater or at the bowling alley. You don’t even do that in restaurants.” 

Players, he says, “cross all generations and backgrounds. They’re a nice bunch.” One of his regulars — actually a “Guinness Book of Records” record-holder for the longest-ever volley in ping pong — comes in alone three nights a week and will play with anyone looking for a game. A group of four has a monthly subscription, and comes in every day to play, always opting for a specific table. Yet another regular is an 80 year old, who had called up the club, saying he’d been a good player in high school but hadn’t picked up a table tennis paddle in years. He wondered if he should come in and give it a try. Tolle said he most definitely should.

For those who want to take their game to the next level, Crush’s professional coaches offer both group clinics and customized individual training.  

 “We designed the business and space to specifically offer an enjoyable experience for families, private parties, corporate team building exercises, fundraisers and corporate special events,” Tolle adds. The convivial space and friendly nature of the game make it an ideal venue for almost any get-together, including bar and bat mitzvahs, and there is even outdoor space with a firepit, which will come into its own in warmer weather. A great venue itself for a dedicated table tennis summer camp, Crush will be hosting the Greenwich Camp expo this month.  

It’s a great facility, too, for schools. “I had a group of juniors come in from Greenwich High School the other day,” Tolle sats. “Yes, they were loud as hell but there was no profanity; they didn’t break any equipment; and they had a great time.”

And a great — one might even say a smashing — time is exactly what Crush is all about.

For more, visit table-tennis.com.

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1 Comment

  1. says: Michele

    I want to play. Come to greater New Haven, please! Thank you for opening this place! I would welcome the opportunity to volley with the “Guinness Book of Records” regarding volleying. It is a great sport. Thank you for bringing attention back to this game!

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