Passion for their sport |

Passion for their sport

Jim Richter plays a singles game of table tennis.
Jim Grant | The Record-Courier

Looking for good competition and an opportunity to improve your playing level? A good workout, perhaps?

Regardless of age or playing ability, the seems to be a common theme

Regardless of age or playing ability, however, the Carson Valley Table Tennis Club has one other attraction that its members share.


“This is a really good group of guys and we get along,” club president Steve Noble said with a wide grin. “Every time we get together, there are times when we’re laughing so much we’re crying.”

The club originated in Carson City, but as of this month, it has based at Pulse Fitness in Minden for three years. Players meet from 7-10 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday nights year-round, and Saturday afternoons mostly during the winter months, at Pulse Fitness in Minden to share their sport — and their passion.

The group, which numbers anywhere from 12-15, is diverse. Bohdan Kinash learned the game growing up in his native Ukraine and Les Kuzia in Poland. Jim Richter, who grew up in the Carson Valley, really didn’t take up table tennis until he was an adult.

“I played a little bit as a kid, then maybe 15 years ago, I was just looking for something to do and I found a club up in Reno,” Richter said. “That was my first real experience; I played a lot for six months maybe, then I hadn’t play for 10 years after that, and started getting back into it.

“It’s a heck of a workout. Once you get to a certain level where you actually start sweating and you’re going to be able to put the ball where you want it, then it becomes a very active sport.”

Richter was a standout athlete at Douglas High School, where he played soccer, basketball and a senior in 1985 ran to a state champion in the 3,200 meters. He has done well in table tennis, too. In November, his victory in the U1600 singles event, coupled with a victory in the top tier doubles event by Bohdan Kinash and Kyle Robidoux, helped Carson Valley come from behind to win the Nevada Table Tennis Club “Bragging Rights Trophy” from the Reno/Sparks Table Tennis Club. Richter also won the U1400 singles event earlier in the day, then came back later to combine with Steve Noble to secure a critical victory in their doubles event final.

“I don’t play a whole lot,” he said. “There are people who play every day or six days a week; I come out once or twice a week. Mostly, it’s about having fun and being around good people.”

Some club members go the extra mile to play in Minden. Kuzia drives from, Wellington to play two to three times a week.

“This is a pretty good international group,” Noble said, referring to Kinash and Kuzia.

Kinash has been involved with sports since an early age, competing in soccer, skiing, and yes, table tennis. He was good enough at table tennis to become a three-time champion for what — “it was the Soviet back then” — would be the equivalent of the state he lived in.

“I was 10 years old or something like that,” Kinash said. “I’ve been playing since 1972 when I started playing with a friend.

“I like it. It’s a very competitive game, you play most of the time for yourself, there’s nobody to blame for losing.”

The sport is more difficult than it looks.

“It’s much tougher because there is so much going on technically,” Kinash said. “You can see it if you’re experienced.”

Added Richter: “It’s deceiving. If you were to try and return a serve, you might be surprised how hard it can be to get it on the table. There’s a lot going on.”

Club members are always ready to help players improve their skills.

“We have some come in who have virtually no skills, and then in time, they improve and become pretty good players” Noble said.

That’s the objective of the club, he added.

“Really, the whole idea is to have fun, develop our skills and compete,” Noble said.