NEW YORK (FOX5NY.COM) - Don't let her smile fool you. Estee Ackerman, of West Hempstead, Long Island, is a self-proclaimed pingpong prodigy. She has been playing for more than half her life.
"I'm very friendly, fun and I also love to joke around but when I'm on the table it's me, my opponent and the ball," Ackerman said. "In the United States, for all women, I'm ranked number 25."
What started as a favorite family hobby quickly turned into a way of life.
"I wanted to do something with them that didn't involve electronic gadgets," said Glenn Ackerman, Estee's father.
Estee, 16, trains four days a week for two to three hours a day. She said she is the only Orthodox Jewish competitor in the U.S. Table Tennis Association. She has more than 40 trophies, the most notable is the gold medal she took home in the Junior Olympics for girls under 16.
The table tennis extraordinaire managed to play and beat Rafael Nadal when she was just 11. Now at 16, she has her heart set on Tokyo 2020 and said it is doable.
Estee was one of 16 to try out for the Summer Olympics in Rio. Although she came up short, she learned from the experience.
"I see myself improving and moving much higher in the ranks and representing the U.S. where we haven't medaled in table tennis in the Olympics," Ackerman said.
She has two big tournaments later this year and will continue working on her topspin for Tokyo.