By Sheena Barnett / NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – John Mark Webb prepared for battle on Saturday morning.
He and about 15 other athletes duked it out in a ping-pong tournament at North Mississippi Medical Center’s Wellness Center in Tupelo.
Webb, 28, had his title to defend, as he won last year’s table tennis tourney.
“You’ve got to be mentally tough. You have to prepare yourself, get plenty of sleep. Really, you’ve either got it or you don’t,” Webb said, before breaking out into laughter.
Webb may have been defending his title, but he was really there to have fun.
“I’ve been playing since I was a kid,” he said. “I come out here a few times a week (to play), just mess around.”
The competitors were all men, of all ages.
Tyson Taylor, tournament coordinator, said table tennis is the fifth-fastest growing sport in the nation.
“There’s never a time you can come down here and not see somebody playing,” he said. “Someone’s always down here. Everybody likes it, because it’s not too time-consuming, and it’s competitive.”
He said table tennis, which is an Olympic sport, helps players work on their hand-eye coordination, stamina and concentration.
“You don’t think you’ll work up a sweat, but you really do,” Webb said.
The tournament wrapped at about 2 p.m., and Webb lost his title. The winner of Saturday’s tournament was Philip Raper. Webb came in second.
First- and second-place winners won their choice of either a free hour-long massage or a $40 gift certificate to Dick’s Sporting Goods.
Contact Sheena Barnett at (662) 678-1580 or firstname.lastname@example.org.