It’s still too early for 14-year-old Estee Ackerman to know if she will travel with her family to watch the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Right now, they have no set plans.
But here is one certainty: though the table tennis prodigy from West Hempstead will not be representing the United States herself, she will be cheering loudly for the U.S. while she watches the ping-pong competition.
“Whether we’re in Brazil,” Ackerman said, “or watching from the computer at home.”
For the second consecutive day, Ackerman lost, 4-0, to Prachi Jha, an 18-year-old from California, at the U.S. Olympic Table Tennis Team Trials at the Greensboro Sportsplex in North Carolina on Friday.
Ackerman, the 14th seed out of 16 players, randomly drew No. 5 Jha again after losing to her, 4-1, on Thursday.
“I know I didn’t win, but it was such an amazing feeling to know I was one of 16 women in the country who worked so hard just to get here,” said Ackerman, who is a freshman at Yeshiva University High School for Girls in Holliswood, Queens.
It was especially thrilling for a die-hard fan of the sport.
“Coming into the Olympic Trials, I knew all of the competition,” Ackerman said. “I’ve seen all of these players at all the tournaments. And it’s just such a great feeling, being at my first Olympic Trials, to see them by face. Warming up, we shared practice tables. People that are better than me, much more experienced, I’m side by side with them. It was such an honor, such a cool feeling.”
Ackerman comes from a family of Orthodox Jews and said she would not compete today, the Jewish Sabbath and final day of the trials.
“I know my decision is the right one,” Ackerman said, “because in life, I will always keep Judaism as my No. 1 priority.”