Dhruv Kerai – National Table Tennis Competitor

Amir Iravani, Staff Writer

Table tennis is generally played recreationally. In that way, high-ranking athletes do not receive recognition for their work. Sophomore Dhruv Kerai can attest to that–the most he has won is a few hundred dollars and he plays table tennis at the national level. In fact, a champion can win only $40,000 at the top tournament while at other professional events such as Wimbledon, players earn over 30 million dollars. Yet table tennis requires perfect hand-eye coordination and stamina; athletes must train hours a day to perfect their form and shots. 

Kerai trains with top Olympic-winning coaches here in the Bay Area and generally plays a few times a week.

“Right now I’ve only been playing like two times a week. Because you know, there’s a lot of schoolwork and extracurriculars but during the summer I play as much as possible,” said Kerai. 

In fact, he attended the national table tennis tournament in Las Vegas last summer. 

As with every sport, there are injuries. During one of the quarter-finals games Kerai recounts that “…there was water coming from the ceiling and then I slipped on it and injured my ankle.” Because of it, he was not able to continue playing through the tournament.

However, this was not the worst setback he has faced. In fact, Kerai began table tennis because of a medical condition, resulting in surgery, that restricted him from playing contact sports. 

He mentions, “My mom was like, just play a racquet sport. [I decided to] take it seriously. So we went to this club called Topspin where I met my coach.” 

Additionally, the Bay Area has a variety of one of the best clubs in the United States, such as ICC, Kerai’s club, and Swan which both consistently produce one of the best players in the nation. 

Yet even with the amount of commitment required to table tennis is excessive, Kerai mentions that “…prize money is very minimal. In the Bay Area, in the largest tournament the most you’ll win is $1000. In LA tournaments you could win $10,000 but that’s like once a year, and that’s not enough for people to make money [because] the IETF, which is the International Foundation doesn’t do a good job of marketing the sport.”

He is currently pushing to be top 50 under 18 years of age and wants to play in the collegiate league in the future.