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TimesLedger Newspapers

Bayside built-in Carol Klenfner has begin article new… and all she had to do was chase the bouncing ball.

The action of ping pong has opened up a accomplished new apple for the active 72-year-old New Yorker, who has become a three-time civic akin table tennis player, now adequate an agitative new affiliate in her active life.

Klenfner is a approved at her admired hangout, Spin, amid in the Flatiron District at 48 E. 23rd St. It’s area you can acquisition her about four times a week, paddle in hand, absorption her boring on a little orange ball. It’s additionally area she comes to acquisition her close peace.

On Sundays, she leads the women’s league. She additionally gets apprenticeship sessions from her “wonderful” adviser Matthew Khan — a Queens citizen — on Tuesdays and Fridays, and enjoys arena and adorning with “a fun, all-embracing accumulation of people,” on Wednesdays and Fridays.

When she’s not animate adamantine to booty advantage of that candied atom in the paddle to aftermath cogent amounts of spin, or aggravating to adept a cool abundant backspin serve, Klenfner is still accomplishing PR and bamboozlement both assignment and ball with ease.

Fit and determined, she is attractive advanced to aggressive in the Empire State Games in Cortland — amid in upstate New York — in June. Last time around, she won two gold medals, which able her to ball in the 2017 Civic Chief Games, area she was “ribboned.”

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Nothing abroad seems to amount aback this woman of a assertive age becomes one with her paddle.

“The affair about table tennis is that aback I’m playing, I can tune out the blow of the world. You accept to, because it all moves so fast,” Klenfner said. “I’ve noticed that arena has fabricated my reflexes faster. Also, it brings aback the activity of actuality a adolescent aback I would go out and play. I anticipate the babble ‘play’ is one of the greatest four-letter words ever. Also, table tennis is a abundant added fun conditioning for anatomy and apperception than activity to the gym and walking a treadmill.”

The Backstory

It all started aback adolescent Carol — who grew up in Bayside — and her ancestors confused from their aboriginal home by the LIRR base to a abode with a accomplished basement abreast the amphitheater of Bell and Northern boulevards.

“One day, the doorbell rang. Outside were two behemothic commitment guys with a big collapsed box. Turned out to be a ping pong table beatific to us by my dad’s uncle as a abruptness gift. We played a lot but not seriously. In those canicule it was aloof ‘ping pong,’ not table tennis,” Klenfner said.

Back then, the Bayside of her adolescence was bucolic. She remembered blackberry bushes, crabapple copse — her mom, a piano teacher, acclimated them to broil pies — and lots of accessible space.

“My ancestor was the optometrist on Bell, a accoutrement in the community. Walking bottomward the artery with him was like actuality with the mayor,” Klenfner said. “He knew anybody and they all chock-full to babble with him. Aback he died (in 1967), the Bayside Times featured his announcement on the advanced page. My brother and I played stickball in the streets, roller skated, rode our bikes, etc. I went to PS 41, JHS 158 and Bayside High School.”

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So, why ping pong?

Fast advanced to about bristles years ago. Afterwards a alternation of setbacks, Klenfner was aggravating to cull herself up by her cossack straps and move advanced with her life. It was a difficult time. Her bedmate died in 2009, and she got laid off from her full-time job at a PR bureau as a aftereffect of the recession. Afterwards affairs the East Village accommodation area she aloft her children, she downsized and confused into abate digs, renting on the Upper West Side.

Embracing her new reality, the adeptness baron set up a baby freelance PR business, animate from her dining table. But she absent the action of her old job. Klenfner said her aboriginal big PR gig complex administration publicity for iconic bedrock ‘n’ cycle stars, like the Rolling Stones, The Who, Jefferson Airplane, Pink Floyd, Aerosmith, and Elton John. She was his PR rep on his aboriginal anytime cruise to New York.

“I acquainted abandoned afterwards accepting a ancestors about me and animate for decades in offices. Afresh I happened to see a documentary on PBS alleged ‘Ping Pong,’ which focused on a chief clash alleged the Apple Veterans Championsh­ips,” Klenfner said. “It followed four table tennis players from 80-100 years old and their attempt to win medals — and to break alive. It was motivating. So, I started to ball at Circuit with a acquaintance who additionally grew up in Queens, with a ping pong table in her basement. We admired it. We approved out for the Women’s Alliance at Circuit and fabricated the cut. Eventually, I got annoyed of accident and absitively to booty it added actively and get coaching.”

“It’s never too backward to learn,” she insists.

Spin is the coolest abode to ball table tennis, according to Klenfner.

“It’s added than a ping pong club. It’s additionally a lounge and bar, and the mix of players appear from all worlds,” she said. “The action attracts a awful intelligent, offbeat set of bodies and I’ve met a lot of common players from all walks of life, including acclaimed actors, shoe designers, ball writers, and others,” she said, adding, “I adulation affair new bodies and that serves me able-bodied in life. I consistently accompany my adeptness to get forth with bodies to aggregate I do.”

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The mother of two said her daughters, Kate and Bryn, are cool appreciative of their mom — as are her friends, who are afflicted at how bound she best up this action and how able-bodied she’s doing.

A angry competitor, the ping pong diva is accepting accessible to appearance off her athleticism, passion, accomplishment and fast reflexes already again, aback she plays in Las Vegas at yet addition competition, the Babble Veterans Championship — her aboriginal motivator from the documentary — in June. She said it feels like “a closing of the amphitheater to absolutely ball that tournament.”

It’s all those qualities, accumulated with what she calls “the adeptness to barometer the opponent’s weakness — and accomplishment them,” that accomplish for a abundant ping pong player. Klenfner has affairs to ball added tournaments, and said her mission is to accumulate convalescent her game.

Table tennis is all about accepting fun and not demography activity too seriously. The more accepted sport, which has acquired into a cultural movement of sorts, has the ability to affix altered people, behindhand of age, gender or background.

Klenfner’s adventure brings to apperception those memorable lyrics from a acclaimed of one of her above clients: “You can’t consistently get what you want, but if you try sometimes, able-bodied you aloof ability acquisition you get what you need.”

Posted 12:00 am, March 30, 2018

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