The New York Cosmos have done it again, pulling off yet another memorable April Fools' Day joke.
Last year it was the stunt with world-renowned eating champion Kobayashi dressed as an employee at Buffalo Wild Wings, scarfing down a host of wings in a "spur of the moment" eating competition with one of the players. This year, the Cosmos returned to Buffalo Wild Wings to play Ping-Pong with some local students, but they again infiltrated a rare talent into the ranks.
Among the students the Cosmos slipped in was Estee Ackerman, the eighth-ranked Ping-Pong player in the country for the U-14 bracket. She eventually gets a table with assistant coach Alecko Eskandarian, the self-proclaimed king of table tennis on the team.
Estee versus Eski left the Cosmos assistant beaten, battered and bruised. But before the game, he talked plenty of trash. Then again, he didn't know he was soon set to square-off against one of the best young players in the world in Ackerman.
“I don't care how old, what gender I'm playing against. I'm going to bring my game,” Eskandarian said. “Because you never know who watches. The cream always rises to the top.”
She begins by taking her paddle against Eskandarian with her left hand and Ackerman plays the part perfectly. She keeps a huge smile on her face the whole time and flubs a handful of shots. In short, she looks like the perfect amateur, just your typical teenage girl and not a nationally ranked talent.
Eskandarian reiterates again that “the cream always rises to the top.” That phrase seems to have put Ackerman into fight mode.
Ackerman now switches to her right hand. With the Cosmos assistant up 3-0, she begins to play for real, scoring her first point off a slam that sends the ping pong ball squarely into the body of a stunned Eskandarian.
“Are you hustling me?” he asks.
She lets a 21-7 win answer that question.
It is only after the game that Eskandarian learns that he is playing one of the top ping pong players in the nation. He can only laugh.
“I'm proud of myself now.”