She doesn’t spin on Shabbos.
Ping-pong prodigy Estee Ackerman, an 11-year-old from Long Island, was disqualified from her final event at the 2012 US National Table Tennis Championships in Las Vegas last Dec. 21 when her match fell on the Jewish holy day of rest and she chose not to play.
“I advanced in my round robin and then we looked at my schedule and saw the next match would be during Friday night, which is our Sabbath, so of course I’m disappointed,” Estee told The Post.
“I practiced and trained for six months for this,” the sixth-grader from West Hempstead said. “Ping pong is important to me, but my religion of Judaism is also very important to me.”
“She had a Shabbos-over-sports moment,” said her father Glenn Ackerman, a funeral-home director. “She had to withdraw from the event as tournament officials would not reschedule it for after shabbos.”
Ackerman spends hours almost daily training with his daughter, whom he bills as one of the country’s biggest up-and-coming Jewish athletes.
“Hopefully, other Jewish athletes will also look to Estee to pursue their dreams in whatever sport they choose,” he said.
Neither Glenn nor Estee hold ill will toward USA Table Tennis, the sport’s governing body, because there were nearly 800 players to schedule over the five-day event.
“We clearly try to be inclusionary in the manner in which we run our events,” said Michael Cavanaugh, CEO of USA Table Tennis. “Estee entered eight events and played to completion in all but one of them.”
Fortunately, the last event she had to miss had little impact on her ranking.
Since she was little, Estee has practiced almost daily – except on the Sabbath, of course – while attending a local yeshiva.
Her big break came in July during a tournament in Grand Rapids, Mich., when she was discovered by professional player Biba Golic, the top celebrity endorser of the Killerspin line of ping-pong products.
“She’s the real deal, that’s for sure,” Golic told The Post. “We were looking at prospective kids and suddenly noticed this little girl. She instantly caught our eye. You could see her character immediately.”
They saw her play an adult man.
“Tactically and strategically she has a natural sense for the game,” Golic said. “When you start to play against a 30-year-old guy the natural reaction for a girl is to get scared and she was not taken by fears. She was just playing her game and beating this guy.”
At her tender age, Estee now has a sponsorship from Killerspin and is an official member of the “Killer Krew.” The company has flown her around the country for exhibition events and Golic is mulling sending her to China for a summer of intense training.
Already, Estee has her eyes on joining the US Olympic table tennis team – an event that the US has never once medaled in.
“I hope to try out for the Olympic team and one day bring back a medal for my country,” Estee said.
Source: NY Post