High atop Le Bain’s rooftop lounge, the Milk Studios team of Nathan Martin and Alec Coiro crushed a crowded field of opponents last Wednesday to claim victory in The Standard and SPiN Ping Pong tournament, further cementing their legacy as perhaps the greatest duo in any competitive sport ever played.
As the sun dipped below the horizon and a fierce wind kicked up, Martin and Coiro surged to an early 7-2 lead in the 21-point title match against a Tumblr team whose arsenal of trick shots had confounded every opponent it had faced. But Milk was no ordinary team.
Team captain Kalvin Lazarte made the controversial call to send his star players to the frozen wilds of what was formerly the Soviet Union in preparation for the match. There, the duo trained for months in a brutal daily regimen that included throwing heavy logs, chopping down trees, pulling overloaded snow sleighs and jogging great distances in snowy and treacherous conditions without food, water or directions.
Despite multiple cases of frostbite and a four-day manhunt for a missing Coiro, the training obviously paid off. Tumblr ace Brian Butler carried his team back into contention on a looping smash that cut Milk’s lead to 10-4 and brought the crowd of almost 200 to its feet. But Martin was able to draw upon the strength developed from weeks pulling sleighs to return a powerful serve and stall Tumblr’s rally, while Coiro reclaimed the momentum with a heavy backspin attack perfected through long hour of log rolling.
Throughout the tournament, few players could find an answer to Martin’s power and Coiro’s finesse, attributes the pair said were enhanced by their uniforms of black T-shirts and yellow short shorts. “I feel like I’m naked,” Martin said.
Longtime Milk rivals The Standard were visibly relieved when they stumbled to an early exit and avoided a face-off against the dynamic duo, but teams from Vimeo, SPiN, the Whitney Museum and The Smile weren’t so lucky.
Neither was team Tumblr.
Milk cruised to a 20-8 advantage even as gusts of winds reminiscent of the Russian wilderness made every point a grueling test of reflexes and willpower. It was a test that Milk won handily.
“That was awesome!” Martin shouted after Butler’s final shot sailed wide. “Now I want a fucking beer.”
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