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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

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First-year shows intramural world what’s up

By Peter Sullivan

To most Grinnellians, the game room, or room 109a in the JRC, is a place for the occasional round of table tennis or billiards to relax and have fun. But when Keneil Brown ’14 walks in, he knows it is where he is the champion after winning both the intramural billiards and table tennis tournaments this year.

Keneil Brown \’14 hones his billiards skills in the game room on Wednesday – Andrew Kelley

“I have really good hand-eye coordination,” Brown said. “So any sport involving hand-eye coordination I’m pretty good.”

This is clear from the fact that he has only been playing table tennis for a year and billiards for two. During his fourth year in high school, Brown walked into the table tennis club’s evening practice and wanted to try his hand.

“They were like, ‘Oh no you can’t practice—you have to be part of the club,’” Brown said. “So I joined the club the next day.” That day he was already beating the first-years.

Both the table tennis and billiards tournaments this year were single elimination, so Brown didn’t lose a match in either. He even swept both his final matches, winning the first two games in the best-of-three billiards final, and the first three in the best-of-five table tennis final.

The week before the billiards tournament, Brown did not even practice. He finally went to the game room the night before the tournament, where he encountered someone who appeared to be able to give him a run for his money, Shiv Kapur ’11. The next day at the tournament, he found himself in his first match against Kapur.

Brown got off to an early lead, but his final ball was lodged right up against the wall, with plausible shot.

“I managed to pull out a miracle,” Brown said. The ball ricocheted around the table, finally sinking into a pocket.

“He was, like, so sad, and I was like, ‘Yes!’ because none of us saw that coming.”

There is no deep secret to Brown’s success.

“You have to visualize the path from the ball to the pocket and that’s really the only strategy,” he said.

He used to hold up the cue to measure the angles of his shots, but stopped after his fellow players laughed at him.

In table tennis, his strategy is less about geometry and more about staying in motion. “I have to move to play—I’m an active person, so my strategy is to get the momentum on my side,” Brown said.

“Besides ESPN, he’s the most talented table tennis player I’ve ever seen,” said Student Director of Intramurals Jason Ormond ’13.

Brown is only a first-year, so billiards and table tennis players at Grinnell have to worry about beating him for three more years. And according to Brown, his talents might not be only restricted to billiards and table tennis.

“I tried air hockey and it was pretty easy.”

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