On my first day at Shichahai Sports School, the elite athletic academy in Beijing, Coach Chang introduces me to his ping-pong class. “We have a new American student,” he says, peering out from behind the prescription sunglasses he wears indoors. As all eyes turn toward me, I feel a rush of nerves. It’s like day one of kindergarten again, only this time I have chest hair. “He claims he’s been playing for more than ten years,” Chang goes on, “but from what I’ve seen, it looks more like ten days.” The class erupts into high-pitched giggles.
That’s way harsh, dude.