Maryanne Pace started playing at HiTT Academy in 2018, at the age of 42. Although she had never played table tennis before, Maryanne was determined to give it her best shot. HiTT coaches welcomed her with open arms, starting with the very basics. Her dedication and willingness to improve starting yielding results. Maryanne is now enjoying playing and is a regular at training sessions. We asked her a few questions about her experience. And she had a lot to tell us.
What does table tennis mean to you?
Some say that life’s a series of unfortunate events and sufferings. Perhaps, a hard-knock life for me! In all certainty, to quote a famous song from an all-time favourite film: somewhere in my youth or childhood, I must have done something good – because back in 2017/2018 life felt guilty, so much so it gave me a balm per good fortune. Serendipity gave me Hi-Impact table tennis academy (HiTT). And what an appropriate name for my kind of situation! Impact is what my life needed and impact is what I got! In a good sort of way! Finally, a point in my favour and I won a match against fate. Since I joined the HiTT team, my life has stabilised, I am healthier, less apprehensive, and my husband’s favourite part: I am less chatty and less moody.
The HiTT coaches taught me about high performance table tennis and how to think on a more positive scale. All the chats and training extracted all the positive in me, and I started taking one good decision after the other. I can honestly state that I have found my feet, ironically enough my footwork when playing needs to improve – But who am I to spar with the irony of life?
Why did you choose table tennis?
It must have been the many articles I was reading in those days, and the photos about table tennis I was seeing on a Facebook page of a fellow author, that made me decide to ask for details about this sport. After calling all the local academies and talking to various coaches, I decided on HiTT, because Mr Genovese called back on a Sunday morning, and he welcomed and answered my questioning with meticulous patience. From that day onwards, table tennis has become an integral part of my life, I have discovered a different part of myself – I have an innate talent, although on a small scale, for indoor sports.
I hit(t) it off through a misunderstanding, an email conversation between friends, a discussion about novel writing which melted to playing sports mainly table tennis and fencing, and it turned out to be a stroke of good fortune.
What was your general impression upon joining HiTT Academy?
The first decision I took after joining HiTT was that it was going to be ‘just something I do once in a blue moon when I have nowhere else to go’, a notion which lasted for a few weeks because I became so obsessed that I wanted to add more training to my days, as many as humanly possible. Then came a pang, a gut feeling, I wanted to give more, I wanted to do more than just play table tennis. I needed to help out as much as I could because Mario and the Genoveses, in general, invested a large amount of trust in me and they deserve some of my time. In my entire life of book reading, businesses ownerships, and dealings with tourists, I have never met such an outstandingly respectful family as are the Genoveses.
I felt welcomed since the very first conversation with Mario Genovese, a rushed up chat on Messenger, in October 2018. It was a period in which I had just finished writing my debut novel and I needed to be out with the people again, and also to improve my fencing skills. I had a few good things back then, namely my fiance (nowadays my husband) and my nephews, other than those it was a series of one step forward, three backwards. Despite the wonderful, unique experience of finishing the writing of a novel, ready for print, which indicated the start of a new life in the world of literature, I still could not feel well with myself. I was proud of this achievement of course, but it was not enough to feel fulfilled and complete. One of my fencing instructors suggested I tried tennis, as it helps with focus and movement and I also needed to strengthen my wrists (those swords are heavier than one believes they are). When tried, tennis, turned out to be quite relaxing, however, I realized it was not an ideal place for me. I just could not feel at home, nor at ease.
Mario and his lovely daughters permitted to train with the kids, and although I was sure that I was going to feel out of place because I was the only adult (43) amongst six to eleven-year-olds, I was mistaken. The kids welcomed me with open arms as part of the team, and together we trained almost daily. They turned out to be good kids, obedient and respectful. It was something I could deal with. They did not mind at all that at first I was slowing down their progress, and perhaps I was hindering them – if that was the case, I will never know because they never said. I am certain that they did everything in their might to help me, and they went that extra mile to make space for me in their table tennis lives. At the end of the day, we support each other, in good and bad. I give them motivation for a positive life and in return, they make me feel one of them. I remember thinking and telling myself, if I can do this, if I can deal with these children, I can do anything. I can in time forget the past harmful experiences I dealt with and become my cheerful, enthusiastic self again. The first few months found me afraid, starting over was harder than I thought it would be, every single day, even when I was doing other things I had the strong notion I could lose it all. Despite I had already made friends with practically everyone there, I still could not settle inwardly. Day after day, Mario and the other players spoke to me, (unknowingly of what I was going through) with kind, caring words and generous tones, explaining with patience the ins and outs of table tennis, and all the physiology behind it. I learned how challenging life is within the sports realm and gradually I realised how perfectly well I fit with them.
How has table tennis impacted your life?
Currently, I feel like life is on payback in my regards… paying back for all the hard years.
In two years of HiTT, I have grown both in mind and spirit. Perhaps it is more appropriate to say, that HiTT and table tennis showed me, how to find the proper spot on the table of life. Years and years of enduring a depressing life vanished with a stroke of a paddle, a white shiny ball and most of all in the friendly and sincere smiles of those children and their families.
That is why, I am writing this piece about my life, with my heart on my hands and feeling grateful to all those who participated to make the world a liveable place once again.
About HiTT Academy
HiTT Academy offers opportunities in local and international table tennis competitions, training camps and workshops. Our dedicated coaches provide professional advice to all levels of players from beginners to advanced. Learn more about us on https://hittmalta.mt/ or find us on Facebook.