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Oceanside table tennis player earns spot on U.S. national team

earl alsto table tennis.png
Posted at 6:39 PM, Jul 15, 2021

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- Most of us have played the game of ping pong, whether it be in the garage, or out on the back patio. Now as for the name ping pong, it's also referred to as table tennis. So what is the correct name of the game?

"It doesn't really matter. It's all about how you play and how you respect it," says U.S. National table tennis player Earl James Alto.

Alto, who lives in Oceanside, says he started playing table tennis when he was 10-years old.

"It just started as something goofy, and then all the old people started beating me. I just couldn't live with that, so I gave up basketball to focus on this"

He started playing the game so often, his friends even gave him a nickname.

"They would be it's the ping pong guy, and I didn't mind it. I guess I just fell in love with the sport."

Earl, who trains and plays six days a week, says he was instantly hooked by what he calls the complexity of the sport.

"I feel like you are never going to be done, and also you can bridge a lot of gaps, an old person can beat a younger person who is more fit."

Not only does he love the sport, but Earl also happens to be really good. This year he decided to try out for the United States national team and admits that during the competition he almost quit.

"One guy says hey keep playing, you have a very legitimate chance to make the team, you should keep going. So I went alright I'll keep going and before I knew it, I was like I'm in."

He is one of eight players on the U.S. National Team, and at 33-years old he also happens to be the oldest.

"I always feel like I'm the old guy on the team, but it does have its advantages."

While he was too late to qualify for the Olympic Games in Tokyo, the 2024 games in Paris have crossed his mind.

"Why not dream and chase it, that's my thing. I'm going to go for it."