College Table Tennis: The Pong Potpourri
(pictured here are representatives from New Zealand in College Table Tennis)
Table Tennis as a sport has always been a mélange of different people and the TMS 2017 College Table Tennis Championships stands out with a big D on differences and diversity.
This year’s host is Visit Eau Claire, and the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire campus where the championships took place in 2015 will get a firsthand look at the assortment of participants from this wonderful event. The University has its share of international students, but the College Table Tennis Championships will be adding their own to the mix very shortly.
A total of 264 student athletes and coaches will come to Eau Claire, Wisconsin between April 7th and 9th and battle for top honors in 6 different events. Among them are represented 33 countries from a record 56 colleges and universities in the USA and Canada; it’s truly an international event.
The country with the most athletes are: China, USA, India and Canada. We in addition have representatives from countries as far as: Sri Lanka! Sri Lanka is located in Southeast Asia and also features 3 athletes in the competition: Denethi Wijegunawardana (The Ohio State University), Dilshan Sooriyaarachchi (Texas Tech University) and Sachiko Jayaratne (Texas Wesleyan University)
Denethi excited at the prospect of meeting her countrymen/women, “I have never met any Sri Lankan players at tournaments.” Denethi is very active in the USA Table Tennis community playing in several tournaments. Denethi adds, “I have never met any Sri Lankan players. I am sure that it will be a wonderful meeting and thanks for NCTTA giving this chance for me.”
Dilshan, student from Texas Tech and fellow Sri Lankan, says, “It's definitely nice to see another player from the same country as you are. It gives you a chance to catch up with each other talk about Table Tennis. Differences in coaching, playing styles and organizational set up.....etc; And it's always good to see a familiar face.”
College Table Tennis Championships is about the highest level of competition but it can’t be understated that it is also a veritable table tennis reunion for so many! There might even be an all Sri Lanka group picture at some point!
Since we are talking about island nations with College table tennis athletes, why not talk about New Zealand where 3 athletes hail from. Michael Zhang, and Roger Rao from Duke and Matt Hetherington from Pillar College.
Hetherington who just started at Pillar College this year, says, “It feels good to feel a part of home here with me in the USA and brings back a lot of fond memories for me.”
It should be stated that the College Table Tennis Championships are almost like a big table tennis reunion of sorts. The Table Tennis community is small enough so having a large event like this helps out in this area.
Hetherington goes on to say, “I'm very excited for nationals, I've already met many new faces through the divisional and regional tournaments and I'm hoping to meet many more next month and also experience the vibe of the big showdown that has been building. Being part of the media drive for that working with USATT has made me even more excited for what is to come.”
We at NCTTA can’t wait either to see everyone in action from the Kiwi’s (New Zealand) to Sri Lanka and everywhere else representing their college, club and country!
The 2017 TMS College Table Tennis Championships is hosted by the National Collegiate Table Tennis Association and the Eau Claire 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 TMS International, Gerflor, Double Fish
Players and spectators alike will enjoy a jam-packed weekend of table tennis at the TMS College Table Tennis Championships. The event starts Friday April 7th and continues through Sunday April 9th.
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