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BEST of the BEST--2018

Nominate someone today for the NCTTA Superlatives!

Deadline is May 10th

TO NOMINATE SOMEONE

-email your nomination and WHY to this email info@nctta.org by the deadline

OR

-if you want a PUBLIC Shout out post their picture on Instagram tagging @nctta with the hashtag #NCTTAbest2018 and tell us why they are deserving to be recognized!

Categories are here

Male Athlete of the Year
Female Athlete of the Year
Rookie of the Year:
Coach of the Year:
Rookie Team:
Most Improved Team:
Division Director of the Year
Regional Director of the Year

*Rookie Teams are school teams that have never participated in the NCTTA or NCTTA Championships (Subject to NCTTA historical records)

*Rookie of the year are players new to College Table Tennis (they can be any year Freshman/sophomore/junior/senior/graduate student) also subject to NCTTA historical records

*Division and Regional Directors must be current to 2017-18 competition year

This is not only taking into account National Championships, so nominate a team or player that didn't make it to the champs, but make your case for why!

Winners are awarded a gift card!

Mississippi College Table Tennis Team Captures Third Place

By Andy Kanengiser
NCTTA Media
 
(Picture of Qingwei Sun and Xiang He of Mississippi College, by Enoch Wong)
 
Mississippi College's table tennis team fought for every point, but came up short against the new champs, New York University.
 

 Led by TEAM USA Olympian Tom Feng, the New Yorkers edged their MC foes three games to two Saturday in the semi-finals at the 2018 national collegiate championships. The event at the Round Rock Sports Center in Texas attracted 276 outstanding college players from schools across the USA and Canada.
 

Putting up a good fight all weekend, the MC Choctaws took home a third-place trophy. MC team members and Coach Liang Johnson were honored at a table tennis banquet Saturday night. Hours earlier, MC standouts Ali He and Qing Wei Sun, both natives of China, came up a couple of points short in their dazzling doubles match with NYU. The games attracted a big crowd of fans watching some amazing shots.
 

Next up, NYU defeated perennial champion Texas Wesleyan University in a thrilling match decided in doubles. Playing in Round Rock, near Austin, Texas Wesleyan brought many of their fans cheering the Rams team from Fort Worth. Texas Wesleyan has captured an amazing 13 coed team championships since 2003. Texas Wesleyan's talented Lady Rams squad captured the women's team title at the Round Rock championships.
 

Prior to the NYU triumph, Mississippi College made history as the only school in the nation to knock off Texas Wesleyan. That happened in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. The MC Choctaws prevailed by two points over a potent Rams team in April 2015 to win its only college table table tennis national championship.
 

In 2016, the Mississippi College squad finished No. 2 in the nation, and came in 4th place in 2017.
 

"The competition keeps getting stronger every year at schools from New York to California and as far north as Canada,'' says Andy Kanengiser, the Mississippi College team sponsor.
 
"We hoped for a first-place finish, but getting third was quite an accomplishment,'' added Kanengiser, who's in his 11th season as the MC team sponsor.
 
Coach Johnson and his players "deserve a great deal of credit for their hard work all season,'' he said.
 
At the April 20-22 tournament in Round Rock, MC defeated such schools as Maryland, Minnesota, Brandeis University and Northeastern University of Boston. When all was said and done, MC's third-place finish was better than such schools as the University of Florida, Northwestern, and Texas.
 
Tomotaka Yoshitomi, Ali He, Qing Wei Sun, Weiheng Liu, Caleb Shipman, Captain Harry Sharma, Tong Zhang, and Jeremy Gore comprise the Blue & Gold squad in 2017-18. MC paddled it way to become the Dixie Division champion prior to the three-day tournament in Texas. MC finished No. 2 behind Texas Wesleyan in the South Regionals on the Fort Worth campus in late February.
 
The 2018 iSet national table tennis championships wrapped up Sunday with singles action that saw several MC players competing. Prior to the tournament, Tomo Yoshitomi was ranked the nation's third best men's singles player at the collegiate level.
 
The National Collegiate Table Tennis Association oversees the Olympic sport played at more than 175 colleges across the USA and Canada. The NCTTA's 2019 championships will be played next April in Greensboro, North Carolina.
 

The 2018 iSET College Table Tennis Championships is hosted by the National Collegiate Table Tennis Association and the Round Rock CVB and is one of the premier table tennis tournaments in North America featuring 6 events: Men’s and Women’s Singles and Doubles, and Men’s/Coed Teams, Women’s Teams.  The event is sponsored by iSET, Double Happiness, Gerflor, Double Fish and USA Table Tennis

Players and spectators alike will enjoy a jam-packed weekend of table tennis at the iSET College Table Tennis Championships. The event starts Friday April 20th and continues through Sunday April 22nd.

About NCTTA

The National Collegiate Table Tennis Association (NCTTA) is a non-profit organization established exclusively for promoting the sport of table tennis at the college level. As the national governing body for college table tennis in the United States and Canada, NCTTA organizes intercollegiate competition throughout North America. www.nctta.org

About USA Table Tennis

Headquartered in Colorado Springs, USATT is the national organizing body for table tennis in the United States, serving 9,000+ members and nearly 300 clubs. USATT sanctions 200+ events a year including the US Open and US Nationals. USATT is affiliated with the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF), as well as the United States Olympic Committee (USOC). www.usatt.org

NCTTA Bids Farewell to Class of 2018

by Andy Kanengiser
NCTTA Media Chair
(Picture of Tina Wang, picture by Grant Bergmann)
 
   University of Texas senior Tina Wang is wrapping up her career as a Longhorns table tennis player.
 
    For Wang, 21, finishing the season as a player at the 2018 iSet national collegiate table tennis championships, is a terrific way to wrap things up.
 
    The Dallas area resident is surrounded by UT teammates and friends at the lively tournament at the Round Rock Sports Center in late April.
 
    Her final showing as a college player for the UT Longhorns on a national stage is bittersweet. There were many nice memories playing for Texas table tennis teams the past three years. But she and other members of the NCTTA Class of 2018 have big dreams ahead.
 
     A UT business major who graduates in May, Tina will move to McLean, Virginia where she will work in project management with the Capital One bank.
 
    A native of Taiwan who moved to the USA as a young girl, Wang played the Olympic sport for 11 years. If time permits, she will compete in Virginia and the DC area. The Allen, Texas resident brings much to the table on & off the court.
 
       But on Saturday afternoon, Tina was just happy to enjoy the moment with friends as she waited in the lunch line at the classy tournament sports complex. The Round Rock Sports Center is only a 15 minute ride fromn the UT campus at Austin. So there were plenty of UT-Austin fans roaming around to cheer the Longhorns.
 
      The UCLA Bruins fan base in the Lone Star State isn't nearly as strong. A table tennis standout for UCLA since he was a freshman four years ago, David Zeng, 22, is closing out his collegiate career in table tennis as a member of the Class of 2018.
 
     An environmental science major who grew up in inner city Oakland, California, Zeng is thinking ahead. After graduating from UCLA in June, he plans to move to Mexico to learn Spanish. Getting involved in efforts to protect the planet's environment and taking part in social causes are things on his post-UCLA agenda. And he wants to travel.
 
    David grew up playing table tennis with his parents in California, then honed his skills at an Oakland recreation center, starting as a 10-year-old. Table tennis, he said, "is a big part of my life.''
 
     Zeng joined his UCLA teammates at NCTTA national championships in Eau Claire, Wisconsin in 2015 and Round Rock in 2016. Then, it was back to Eau Claire in 2017, and finally Round Rock in 2018. Quite a run for David Zeng and his UCLA teammate, senior Nathaniel Chu, 21, a computer science major from Milpitas, California. David Zeng served as the UCLA club president this year.
 
      NCTTA leaders extend their best wishes to others in the Class of 2018, including Lindenwood University senior Jake Arciniega.  The 29-year-old Traverse City, Michigan native played for the first time at the NCTTA Nationals this month.
 
       An interactive media and web design major on the Saint Charles, Missouri campus, Jake graduates from Lindenwood on May 5. Once the tournament ends Sunday, he turns his focus to a bunch of job interviews next wek. The four-year Lindenwood player should be an asset to the competive and creative world of web design.
 
        Summing up his college table tennis days on the powerhouse Lindenwood Lions team, Jake says he loved competing with "a cool and good group of guys. I learned a lot. It's been a great experience.'' Lindenwood's coed team is diverse with players from Guyana, Brazil, Nepal, China and the USA.
 
      Jarol Duerksen and his wife, Leah, who run the NCTTA practice tables at tournaments each year, say they will miss the soon-to-be college grads. The Iowa City couple hopes the players stay involved as NCTTA volunteers down the road.
 
         Graduation is coming soon for two hard-working University of Minnesota table tennis veterans. Head coach John Tranter says it's been amazing to see two graduate students compete on the talented squad and work on their doctorates.
 
        But that's what Minnesota players Gautham Gampa and Pin-Kaung Lai did. A native of Hyderabad, India, Gampa, 25, is working on a degree in pharmaceutics. A native of Taipei,Taiwan, Lai, 29, is seeking his degree in chemical engineering at the school in Minneapolis.
 
       NCTTA President Willy Leparulo is delighted to see all 276 players from schools in the USA & Canada compete at the April 20-22 championships.
 
      "But we especially want to thank the Class of 2018 as graduation day nears. Congrats and best wishes ahead to these stellar student-athletes,'' Leparulo said. "Doors will always be open to our grads to serve as NCTTA volunteers in future years.''
 

The 2018 iSET College Table Tennis Championships is hosted by the National Collegiate Table Tennis Association and the Round Rock CVB and is one of the premier table tennis tournaments in North America featuring 6 events: Men’s and Women’s Singles and Doubles, and Men’s/Coed Teams, Women’s Teams.  The event is sponsored by iSET, Double Happiness, Gerflor, Double Fish and USA Table Tennis

Players and spectators alike will enjoy a jam-packed weekend of table tennis at the iSET College Table Tennis Championships. The event starts Friday April 20th and continues through Sunday April 22nd.

About NCTTA

The National Collegiate Table Tennis Association (NCTTA) is a non-profit organization established exclusively for promoting the sport of table tennis at the college level. As the national governing body for college table tennis in the United States and Canada, NCTTA organizes intercollegiate competition throughout North America. www.nctta.org

About USA Table Tennis

Headquartered in Colorado Springs, USATT is the national organizing body for table tennis in the United States, serving 9,000+ members and nearly 300 clubs. USATT sanctions 200+ events a year including the US Open and US Nationals. USATT is affiliated with the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF), as well as the United States Olympic Committee (USOC). www.usatt.org

 

Anna Squared:

By Michael Reff

When Anna LaRocco Masi met Anna Du

Their life journeys became intertwined,

It started as a table tennis introduction anew,

And later blossomed into more interests aligned.

 

LaRocco Masi started playing in church on Sundays,

Du played recreationally since she was five,

2014 was their initial pong craze,

And with shared namesakes a friendship sparked alive.

 

 

Their GWU club is full of diversity and inclusion,

They are the co-captains and copresidents of the team,

They foster a sense of community and in doing this,

Have left a legacy for future players’ dreams.

 

The women’s team advanced from 2nd place in regionals,

Into the nationals through a 3 way tie,

It’s the Annas’ last years at GWU so it’s reasonable,

To say they were proud of making it so high.

 

So what will do after they graduate?
The Annas have their plans all set.

First Peace Corps and then there’s more,

They’ll help volunteer at NCTTA events.

The 2018 iSET College Table Tennis Championships is hosted by the National Collegiate Table Tennis Association and the Round Rock CVB and is one of the premier table tennis tournaments in North America featuring 6 events: Men’s and Women’s Singles and Doubles, and Men’s/Coed Teams, Women’s Teams.  The event is sponsored by iSET, Double Happiness, Gerflor, Double Fish and USA Table Tennis

Players and spectators alike will enjoy a jam-packed weekend of table tennis at the iSET College Table Tennis Championships. The event starts Friday April 20th and continues through Sunday April 22nd.

About NCTTA

The National Collegiate Table Tennis Association (NCTTA) is a non-profit organization established exclusively for promoting the sport of table tennis at the college level. As the national governing body for college table tennis in the United States and Canada, NCTTA organizes intercollegiate competition throughout North America. www.nctta.org

About USA Table Tennis

Headquartered in Colorado Springs, USATT is the national organizing body for table tennis in the United States, serving 9,000+ members and nearly 300 clubs. USATT sanctions 200+ events a year including the US Open and US Nationals. USATT is affiliated with the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF), as well as the United States Olympic Committee (USOC). www.usatt.org

Singles Presses On

By Michael Reff

(Picture of Ramy Noseir, Florida State by Enoch Wong)

The Men’s Singles round robin group took off in the early morning of Saturday April 21 for the 2018 iSET NCTTA Championships. Four players per group battled it out to obtain the coveted top two positions to progress through to the championship single elimination round. Although competition mostly went according to the rankings, there were some close calls and minor upsets in the fight for the second seed of the groups.

One such standoff was Juan Maldonado (ranked 50) of Wright State, and David Lee (ranked 3) of Northwestern University.  Lee is rated 2145 and is the number one player for Northwestern. Maldonado is 2063. Although Maldonado was the lower rated player, he managed to climb up the scoreboard two games to zero and 5-2 before there was a timeout called and the momentum shifted. Lee stuck to his guns and fought his way to deuce, winning the third game 12-10. With Lee serving at 4-5 on the fourth game, he produced an excellent reverse pendulum serve to Maldonado’s backhand, which earned Lee the point. At one time, Lee was up 10-5, but Maldonado maintained composure and managed to save five game points to tie it up at deuce. Ultimately Lee regained concentration and won the fourth game 12-10 as well.

In the fifth and deciding set, Lee and Maldonado exchanged points early on, but at 7-7 Lee looped to Maldonado’s backhand for a winner that initiated a surge of momentum to win him the set and the match at 11-7 three games to two. This was quite the scare for the higher rated Lee, but a well-deserved victory.

Moving on to another close competition that had a minor upset win were FSU’s Ramy Noseir (ranked 45 and rated 2124) and University of British Columbia’s Hok Kei Au (ranked 49 and rated 2073). Both had similar two-winged attacker styles, with Noseir favoring his forehand more and switching to fishing/lobbing when needed. Noseir and Au duked it out, with Noseir claiming the first game 11-9.  His serves were causing Au a lot of difficulties. In the second game, Noseir used more forehand serves instead of his trademark backhand ones, but ultimately Au won this set.  Noseir won the next game, and then the turning point occurred in the fourth game, where Au was up 9-8 and a timeout was called. At 8-10 Noseir served and Au scored a winner, yielding the game count to 2-2.

In the final set, both players fought hard, with Noseir lobbing and retrieving several great shots but ultimately losing the points to Au. The final score was 11-7 in favor of Au 3-2. This was a small but great upset for Au, and he will continue into the championship elimination bracket.

Competition is heating up as the fight for the glory continues at the 2018 iSET NCTTA Championships!

The 2018 iSET College Table Tennis Championships is hosted by the National Collegiate Table Tennis Association and the Round Rock CVB and is one of the premier table tennis tournaments in North America featuring 6 events: Men’s and Women’s Singles and Doubles, and Men’s/Coed Teams, Women’s Teams.  The event is sponsored by iSET, Double Happiness, Gerflor, Double Fish and USA Table Tennis

Players and spectators alike will enjoy a jam-packed weekend of table tennis at the iSET College Table Tennis Championships. The event starts Friday April 20th and continues through Sunday April 22nd.

About NCTTA

The National Collegiate Table Tennis Association (NCTTA) is a non-profit organization established exclusively for promoting the sport of table tennis at the college level. As the national governing body for college table tennis in the United States and Canada, NCTTA organizes intercollegiate competition throughout North America. www.nctta.org

About USA Table Tennis

Headquartered in Colorado Springs, USATT is the national organizing body for table tennis in the United States, serving 9,000+ members and nearly 300 clubs. USATT sanctions 200+ events a year including the US Open and US Nationals. USATT is affiliated with the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF), as well as the United States Olympic Committee (USOC). www.usatt.org

 

Age Is Just A Number

By Michael Reff

Marcelo Calle is a shining example of how age is just a number, especially in the table tennis world. Donned the "Ecuadorian Uncle", at 48 years young, he is the most senior member participating in the 2018 iSET NCTTA Championships in Round Rock, Texas. Mr. Calle is a doctoral candidate at the University of Florida majoring in agricultural and biological engineering, with a minor in entrepreneurship. With a smile he said simply, “It’s agribusiness.” With an NCTTA rating of 2253, he is UF’s number two seed this year. UF had a strong run in teams this Championships, tying for 9th place.

Mr. Calle is no stranger to the Olympic sport of table tennis. He is from Cuenca, Ecuador and had a paddle in hand at age 10. He played from 1979 all the way up through 1996 until he took a long hiatus from the sport, returning only 2 years ago to participate in studies and table tennis at UF. During his earlier years, he had several noteworthy experiences, including spending three months in a Japanese training dojo for table tennis in 1987, and participating in the 1989 World Table Tennis championship hosted by Dortmund, Germany. About these experiences, he noted “In South America, it’s difficult to play in Europe or Asia.” Therefore, these opportunities were never taken for granted and always cherished. Mr. Calle also stated that his family was a major source of support for him on these ventures.

So, what made him return to the amazing sport of table tennis? Well, the answer is about health. Mr. Calle said, “It’s good for exercise while studying at UF.” He believes he has a lot more energy to perform well in studies as well as table tennis and overall life in general. Also, he stated, when playing he can “Forget studies and forget family problems.”

When asked about how he thought UF fared this year, he was clearly proud and happy for himself and his teammates. A 9th place finish in the nation’s highest college table tennis tournament is not such a bad credential. The last entry into national’s for a UF team was 2014. Mr. Calle said, at UF there’s “good people training” and a “good opportunity to motivate.” He wants to lead by example, showing that it’s never too late to be a college table tennis player, balancing the work, studies, and in many cases, the family load.

Mr. Calle has some simple, but sage advice to aspiring table tennis players. “Keep playing!” he exclaimed. “Table tennis is a sport that needs discipline that mixes with a high level of study.” Mr. Calle sets a commendable example for others that have taken long breaks from the sport and then returned with a vengeance.

The 2018 iSET College Table Tennis Championships is hosted by the National Collegiate Table Tennis Association and the Round Rock CVB and is one of the premier table tennis tournaments in North America featuring 6 events: Men’s and Women’s Singles and Doubles, and Men’s/Coed Teams, Women’s Teams.  The event is sponsored by iSET, Double Happiness, Gerflor, Double Fish and USA Table Tennis

Players and spectators alike will enjoy a jam-packed weekend of table tennis at the iSET College Table Tennis Championships. The event starts Friday April 20th and continues through Sunday April 22nd.

About NCTTA

The National Collegiate Table Tennis Association (NCTTA) is a non-profit organization established exclusively for promoting the sport of table tennis at the college level. As the national governing body for college table tennis in the United States and Canada, NCTTA organizes intercollegiate competition throughout North America. www.nctta.org

About USA Table Tennis

Headquartered in Colorado Springs, USATT is the national organizing body for table tennis in the United States, serving 9,000+ members and nearly 300 clubs. USATT sanctions 200+ events a year including the US Open and US Nationals. USATT is affiliated with the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF), as well as the United States Olympic Committee (USOC). www.usatt.org

North Carolina Officials Observe Texas Tournament

by Andy Kanengiser

NCTTA Media Chair

Greensboro, North Carolina leaders want to make the 2019 NCTTA championships the best ever in their hometown.

That's why Greensboro Sports Commission President Kim Strable traveled to see the 2018 iSet collegiate table tennis tournament in action in Round Rock, Texas.

He was impressed with the spacious Rock Round Sports Center that's hosting 276 college players from across the USA and Canada. The city near Austin warmly embraced the players, fans and a spirited team of NCTTA volunteers running the games April 20-22.

As players from schools like the University of Texas, British Columbia, SUNY-Stony Brook, Brandeis, Washington, California and Florida swatted table tennis balls Friday, Strable collected ideas to bring ideas back to Greensboro.Other North Carolina officials joined him in Texas.

Located an hour away from Charlotte, Greensboro leaders are pretty adept at the hospitality business. The city is home to the thriving University of North Carolina at Greensboro and tons of attractions.

The city of 270,000 residents in Guilford County served as host of the 2016 Olympic table tennis trials for Team USA. The city hosts the Atlantic Coast Conference's women's basketball tournament each year. The city is home base for the Greensboro Grasshoppers, a minor league pro baseball team in the South Atlantic League.

North Carolina's third largest city hosts an NBA G League team (of the Charlotte Hornets) that gets pro hoops players ready for the next level.

Strable appreciates the many positive things that folks in Round Rock are doing to make nearly 300 college table tennis players feel welcome. Rock Rock bills itself as the Sports Capital of Texas and he can see why.

"Round Rock people are doing neat work,'' Strable says. It's obvious, he says, the Texans excited about the national table tennis tournament are "passionate for sports.''

The city is home to the Round Rock Express, a minor league team affiliated with MLB's Texas Rangers. Year-round, the vibrant city near Austin is constantly booking major sporting events.

Round Rock Premium Outlets and the Rock 'N River Family Aquatic Center are some of the fun places to go for visitors. The capital city of Austin, home of the University of Texas, is about a 30-minute drive from Round Rock.

Greensboro also has plenty of things to do for people traveling to the 2019 NCTTA tournament. The city in North Carolina's picturesque heartland trumpets at least 135 attractions and more than 500 restaurants.

Conveniently located off I-40 and I-85, Greensboro will host the Irish International Dance Festival next April when the table tennis championships come to town. About 6,000 or 7,000 Irish dancers will flock to the North Carolina city for their event.

Greensboro has experience hosting NCAA Division II college diving and swimming championships, among other things. The city of Dogwood trees simply goes all out for sports like Round Rockers do.

Kim Strable has been long involved in the sports world. Growing up in Ohio, the Greensboro Sports Commission president played four years of baseball at Albion College in Michigan. Kim's college baseball days ended in the early 1970s. But in 2018, he's still hitting home runs to promote major sporting events in the North Carolina city.

The 2018 iSET College Table Tennis Championships is hosted by the National Collegiate Table Tennis Association and the Round Rock CVB and is one of the premier table tennis tournaments in North America featuring 6 events: Men’s and Women’s Singles and Doubles, and Men’s/Coed Teams, Women’s Teams.  The event is sponsored by iSET, Double Happiness, Gerflor, Double Fish and USA Table Tennis

Players and spectators alike will enjoy a jam-packed weekend of table tennis at the iSET College Table Tennis Championships. The event starts Friday April 20th and continues through Sunday April 22nd.

 

About NCTTA

The National Collegiate Table Tennis Association (NCTTA) is a non-profit organization established exclusively for promoting the sport of table tennis at the college level. As the national governing body for college table tennis in the United States and Canada, NCTTA organizes intercollegiate competition throughout North America. www.nctta.org

About USA Table Tennis

Headquartered in Colorado Springs, USATT is the national organizing body for table tennis in the United States, serving 9,000+ members and nearly 300 clubs. USATT sanctions 200+ events a year including the US Open and US Nationals. USATT is affiliated with the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF), as well as the United States Olympic Committee (USOC). www.usatt.org

College Rivalry Takes Different Spin at NCTTA Championship

By Andy Kanengiser

NCTTA Media Chair

Florida State vs Florida remains one of America's biggest rivalries in college sports.

FSU Seminoles typically dislike Florida Gators. And UF folks usually don't care for Noles.

That fierce rivalry gets stepped up in Fall 2018 when the Florida Gators invade Doak Campbell Stadium for a football game on the Tallahassee campus. Fans on both sides circled the date, November 24. For the record, FSU won last year's contest 38-22 in Gainesville.

The table tennis rivalry between the two schools in the Sunshine State stays pretty fierce when games are being played. But off the court, FSU and UF players are good friends.

That was the case at the 2018 iSet national collegiate table tennis championships at the Round Rock Sports Center. FSU and UF players cheered for one another, ate meals together and enjoyed each other's company at the April 20-22 tournament near Austin, Texas.

"It's a rivalry one on one'' in table tennis games between UF and FSU, says NCTTA President Willy Leparulo.

But outside that intense game atmosphere, Leparulo, an FSU graduate, notices UF Gator players rooting for the Noles. And FSU players are encouraging the Gators to beat other table tennis teams.

That was the case in late February when players from both FSU and the University of Florida participated at the NCTTA South Regionals in Fort Worth.Post-game, several players from the two Florida schools, dined together at a Texas restaurant.

UF players like Suhaib Harraka, a native of Syria, and Ajinka Gaikwad a native of India, says some of their good buddies are FSU table tennis players.

Signed for men's singles at the Round Rock tournament, FSU's Ramy Noseir remains one of their favorite table tennis players on the Tallahassee campus. And he's a friend, too.

Harraka, who has family living in Tampa,Florida has spent four years on the UF Gators team. The 26-year-old senior won't let a perennial college rivalry stand in his way as he plays his favorite Olympic sport. "I love table tennis.''

Away from the table tennis venue, some longtime supporters of FSU (of the Atlantic Coast Conference) and Florida (of the Southeastern Conference) may continue to sharply disagree. It doesn't matter if the sport is football, basketball, baseball, tennis or soccer. The rivalry never goes away for very long.

Sharing the same passionate interest in table tennis helps break down barriers among these two Southern rivals.

Harraka also has bigger things on his mind as he prepares to apply to dental schools following his May graduation on the Gainesville campus.

Gaikwad, 26, is making plans to move to California to go to work after earning his graduate degree in computer science in a few weeks. He will pack his paddle, too.

The UF coed team put on a solid showing at the 2018 Nationals in Texas. UF entered the tournament seeded No. 11, but finished in 9th place.

FSU's Ramy Noseir had company at the tournament in Round Rock. FSU's Tyler Hayes joined him in men's singles contests.

Other colleges with big rivalries have put aside their differences lasting many decades to build friendships.

In the table tennis world, the University of Michigan table tennis team in recent years played rival Ohio State in a friendly pre-season tournament. Following the table tennis battles, players from both Big Ten schools shared a meal, enjoyed the fellowship and had fun.

The 2018 iSET College Table Tennis Championships is hosted by the National Collegiate Table Tennis Association and the Round Rock CVB and is one of the premier table tennis tournaments in North America featuring 6 events: Men’s and Women’s Singles and Doubles, and Men’s/Coed Teams, Women’s Teams.  The event is sponsored by iSET, Double Happiness, Gerflor, Double Fish and USA Table Tennis

Players and spectators alike will enjoy a jam-packed weekend of table tennis at the iSET College Table Tennis Championships. The event starts Friday April 20th and continues through Sunday April 22nd.

About NCTTA

The National Collegiate Table Tennis Association (NCTTA) is a non-profit organization established exclusively for promoting the sport of table tennis at the college level. As the national governing body for college table tennis in the United States and Canada, NCTTA organizes intercollegiate competition throughout North America. www.nctta.org

About USA Table Tennis

Headquartered in Colorado Springs, USATT is the national organizing body for table tennis in the United States, serving 9,000+ members and nearly 300 clubs. USATT sanctions 200+ events a year including the US Open and US Nationals. USATT is affiliated with the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF), as well as the United States Olympic Committee (USOC). www.usatt.org

Northwestern University Steps up Table Tennis Game

By Andy Kanengiser

Things are really looking up for the Northwestern University table tennis team.

In fact, this is the best season in Coach Ned Leuchtner's 10 years running the Wildcats squad. Back in its early days, the Northwestern table tennis team competed with the school's ballroom dancing club to find space to practice on campus.Fortunately, those struggles are over for the school in Evanston, Illinois.

These days the Wildcats team is well-known on and off campus in the Chicago area. Northwestern finished No. 2 in the NCTTA regionals recently behind powerhouse Lindenwood University of Missouri.

Prior to the 2018 iSet national collegiate table tennis championships in Round Rock, Texas April 20-22, Northwestern's coed team was ranked 19th in the nation.

In a nail biter of a doubles match at Friday's opening set of games at the Round Rock Sports Center, Northwestern fought back to edge the UCLA Bruins. Moments after escaping with a win ( 3 games to two), Coach Leuchtner was ecstatic with the performance of his talented guys.

"We were down, but then our No. 3 player Ryan Louie started killing it,'' Leuchtner said. "He hit shots hard.''

The strong performance by Louie, a 24-year-old technology and social behavior graduate student from San Diego, inspired his teammate. David Lee, 20, a Northwestern senior from Minneapolis, stepped up his game and the Wildcats emerged on top.

A bright industrial engineering major at the stellar Big Ten school, David Lee was elated. But there was little time to enjoy the April 20th triumph. There were many more matches to play in the Sports Capital of Texas.

Knocking off the 15th-ranked UCLA team was a nice accomplishment at the national championships in the Lone Star State. In tournaments earlier this season, Northwestern's coed squad defeated potent table tennis rivals like Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Excellent players helped Northwestern reach the nationals in the 2016 championships, also in Round Rock. The school finished No. 23 after its debut in the NCTTA's Big Dance of table tennis two years ago.

Leuchtner really doesn't need to do a big selling job to convince elite student-athletes to enroll at Northwestern. The school's first-class academic reputation worldwide remains off the charts. The many cultural attractions of the Chicago area and bright economy help, too. The frigid cold, ice and snow of the Windy City could be one negative factor during bitter winters for some.

Northwestern's entire coed table tennis team is solid. Other notable players include Edward Lin, a senior from Beijing, China. The 21-year-old is an economics major. Sophomore Guanhao "Peter'' Chen,21, an economics and math major, also hails from China where table tennis is king. JunLong "Jack'' Chi is a 24-year-old graduate student from China.

Besides crediting outstanding players, Leuchtner says an NCTTA pre-season coaches table tennis clinic last summer proved invaluable. It made him a better coach and helped Ned set goals.

His training as a table tennis coach didn't stop there. "You must be constantly learning and staying involved'' with the Olympic sport, he added.

Leuchtner, who works in the Chicago area for Comcast, knows a good deal about the game from the perspective of a former college player. Back in 1984, Ned battled his way to become Indiana University's table tennis champion on the Bloomington campus. Fast forward to 2018, and the veteran coach is helping Northwestern players advance their game.

The 2018 iSET College Table Tennis Championships is hosted by the National Collegiate Table Tennis Association and the Round Rock CVB and is one of the premier table tennis tournaments in North America featuring 6 events: Men’s and Women’s Singles and Doubles, and Men’s/Coed Teams, Women’s Teams.  The event is sponsored by iSET, Double Happiness, Gerflor, Double Fish and USA Table Tennis

Players and spectators alike will enjoy a jam-packed weekend of table tennis at the iSET College Table Tennis Championships. The event starts Friday April 20th and continues through Sunday April 22nd.

About NCTTA

The National Collegiate Table Tennis Association (NCTTA) is a non-profit organization established exclusively for promoting the sport of table tennis at the college level. As the national governing body for college table tennis in the United States and Canada, NCTTA organizes intercollegiate competition throughout North America. www.nctta.org

About USA Table Tennis

Headquartered in Colorado Springs, USATT is the national organizing body for table tennis in the United States, serving 9,000+ members and nearly 300 clubs. USATT sanctions 200+ events a year including the US Open and US Nationals. USATT is affiliated with the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF), as well as the United States Olympic Committee (USOC). www.usatt.org

 

    

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