Canada Represented at Greensboro Tournament
By Andy Kanengiser
NCTTA Media Chair
In Canada, fans of the NBA's Toronto Raptors and pro hockey teams clearly outnumber people who love table tennis.
But players from Ryerson University in Toronto are helping showcase their favorite Olympic sport and Canada at the 2019 NCTTA championships in Greensboro, North Carolina.
During Thursday evening practices at the Greensboro Coliseum, Ryerson Rams players Juan Liyau, 20, a native of Peru, and Mustafa Malick, 22, of Pakistan were happy to represent their school. And they're delighted to represent Canada at the NCTTA's biggest tournament of the year. The April 12-14 event is attracting about 275 players across the USA and Canada.
During the winter months when heavy snow and ice is a way of life in Canada, indoor sports like table tennis grow even more popular. No need for players to worry about sub-freezing temperatures or the chilly wind blasts.
With these guys from 40,000-student Ryerson University, table tennis remains a sport they cherish year-round.
In their division, Ryerson University defeated table tennis foes in Canada like Waterloo, Western, and the University of Toronto. But the Rams team fell to Buffalo (N.Y.) in the NCTTA's Great Lakes Regionals. Buffalo's strong coed team in the Empire State is seeded 7th at the tournament. That's one notch better than the No. 8 University of Texas Longhorns.
A freshman and applied math major at his school, Liyau says he's thrilled to compete in men's singles at the NCTTA championships. So is Mustafa Malick. A Ryerson senior, Malick is a computer science major at the school in Toronto's Garden District.
Ryerson University sits near a busy intersection near the Yonge-Dundas Square. At the championship games, these talented players will stay busy this weekend.
At an early age, Liyau stepped up up his game as a kid growing up in Peru. He began playing as a 5-year-old. Juan won a table tennis title as the South American champ in 2012 for players under age 13. Today, he's rated above 2000. Juan is seeded 49th among 80 men's singles participants in Greensboro.
For the Ryerson University duo, it's their first trip to the Nationals and both guys are enjoying every minute.
"This is a really big venue,'' Mustafa Malick said as he looked over the many tables assembled at the vast Greensboro Coliseum. The Ryerson senior who began playing as a 9th grader isn't finished with table tennis after the North Carolina tournament ends.
During the 2019-20 table tennis season, Malick will return to coach the Ryerson team and may pursue graduate school.
At the 2019 Nationals, Canada featured a couple of women giving it their best shot. They include players like Grace Zhang of the University of British Columbia. She's seeded 24th among 40 players listed for women's singles competition.
Canada is represented in other ways. Each year at NCTTA tournaments, there's time for players, fans, volunteers and others to hear Canada's National Anthem "Oh, Canada'' as well as sing the American anthem during opening ceremonies.
Over the years, schools in Canada produced awesome table tennis players at a number of schools from McGill to the University of Toronto, Ottawa, Western and Ryerson. Some players from Canada are taking final exams and couldn't make the journey to the tournament in North Carolina.
The 2019 iSET College Table Tennis Championships is hosted by the National Collegiate Table Tennis Association and Sports & Properties Inc. and Greensboro 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, SPI, Greensboro CVB, 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 12th and continues through Sunday April 14th.
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