Freshman Tyler McMullen, 16, smacked a pingpong ball against the exterior wall of the Lodi High School library on Thursday. Around him, members of the Pingpong Club practiced against the door to the north gym, and on the rickety, slightly broken pingpong table.
It's a small, hodgepodge group. Pingpong didn't quite catch on this year.
But students say it's a stress reliever. Club secretary Emily Yamane, 16, likes it because the game is simple, but still competitive.
Nick Somera, 16, played with his youth group at Vinewood Community Church and told his friends about the game during their human geography class. Yamane got wind of it and thought it would make a fun club. The trick was finding a willing adviser.
Kristin Winterhalter transferred to Lodi High School from McNair High School this year to teach math, and offered to supervise the club.
The club started with a Facebook event. Forty people said they could make it to the first meeting. They didn't turn up.
It didn't help that the new group missed club week, and weren't able to put up posters.
But they've persevered through the year. At their final meeting Thursday, about nine people turned up. Some were there for the first time.
The game is basically a miniature version of tennis. There's a reason another name for pingpong is "table tennis."
"We don't always play regular pingpong. Sometimes we play Chinese pingpong," Yamane said. She described a game in which several players circle a single pingpong table and volley the ball back and forth toward a different player each time.
That game has an advantage because everyone can play at once. The club only had one table, though it was recently broken while in storage.
Nagisa Hirata, 17, is an exchange student from Japan. She played on a pingpong team for three years in middle school, and was hoping to play more here.
"I think we need better equipment. That will make a difference," she said. They do have club T-shirts, she added.
Equipment is a major setback for the club. Between a broken table and a ragged net, it's difficult to entice new members.
Next year the club is planning fundraisers for new equipment. Until then, they're willing to practice their backhands, forehands and slams against any open wall they can find.
"It's really fun," said Somera. "We're just making it work."