Last time we featured table tennis, the conversation focused on female players dressing sexier to attract more fans. But now, a pair of 14-year-old identical twins from Brooklyn are going to save the sport the old-fashioned way: with their paddles!
Brad and Brandon Belle are not like most twin brothers (cue the violins). One is left-handed, the other right-handed. Everyone they know plays football, baseball or basketball, but they play ping-pong. And apparently, they're pretty damn good, too. The twins are ranked fourth and fifth (does it matter which is which?) in the USATT's Under-15 ranking and — get this — they have only been "competing seriously" for two years. (I used to have epic battles to 21 in my basement, but, alas, I doubt that qualifies as serious competition.)
Their ultimate goal: Play in the 2012 Olympics. It hardly compares to going to China and winning one for the good guys, but it's OK, I guess.
Twist! The twins, naturalized American citizens, are Guyanese immigrants and have only been in the United States for three years. If they do ascend the table tennis ladder, they might have to decide between representing the USA (USA! USA! USA! Just some helpful propaganda) or Guyana.
And here's where you come in. Because of money, the Belle twins can't jet around the country and play in tournaments as they please. In fact, they have never played outside of New York. Soon, they will travel to Connecticut, Baltimore and Las Vegas, but they could really use some help.
"We are seeking a sponsor to raise enough money to participate in tournaments on a wider scale, against great players from around the country," said Tahl Leibovitz, a 33-year-old professional table tennis player from Queens.
So, Amuricah, wake up. Show these kids the money. Don't you want to see their faces on double-sided paddles in 2012?