Round Rock Texas Lands 2018 NCTTA Championships
By Andy Kanengiser
NCTTA Media Chairman
Call it a case of “Back to the Future.’’ North America’s finest collegiate table tennis players will return to Round Rock, Texas for the 2018 championship games.
NCTTA leaders selected the Round Rock Texas Sports Center over several other competitive bidders around the nation to host next year’s huge tournament.
It was really hard to turn down Round Rock that bills itself as the Sports Capital of Texas, NCTTA leaders say. The city is home base for the Round Rock Express, the AAA affiliate of MLB’s Texas Rangers. Round Rock Donuts (are they yellow or orange?) has been an institution for food lovers in the city since 1926.
But more importantly, leaders of the vibrant city near Austin went the extra mile to welcome the TMS national collegiate table tennis championships in 2016.
Opened in January 2014, the amazing $14.9 million sports facility does a terrific job hosting basketball, volleyball, wresting, fencing, table tennis and much more.
It features 82,800 square feet of space indoors, boasts seating for 1,400 spectators and a total capacity for more than 3,000 guests. The venue has 500 parking spaces, attractive locker rooms, space for concessions stands, nice lighting and other amenities too many to mention.
NCTTA President Willy Leparulo raves about how the Lone Star State city rolled out the red carpet for the 2016 tournament. The three-day event drew about 300 collegiate players from schools across the USA and Canada. Coaches, fans and volunteers showed up, too.
“We are excited to be going back to Texas,’’ Leparulo said. “The NCTTA in its short history has hosted championships in Texas four other years. So, it’s great to come back to a familiar place.’’
The tournament will be a relatively short drive for perennial collegiate table tennis national champion Texas Wesleyan University of Fort Worth.
The Round Rock bid was considered along with a half-dozen others from states like Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and California.
“We are so blessed as an organization to have so many wonderful cities interested in college table tennis,’’ Leparulo added.
NCTTA leaders considered a long list of factors, including the availability of hotels, transportation, the quality of the venue, costs, banquet facilities, flooring, lighting, and volunteer staffing.
Home to more than 109,000 Texans, Round Rock is known as a haven for shoppers with its Round Rock Premium Outlets. Its Rock’ N River Water Park is first-class. The music scene in nearby Austin is alive and well for visitors.
Nancy Yawn, director of Round Rock’s Convention and Visitors Bureau, is delighted to receive the news from the NCTTA’s leadership team.
“We look forward to having all the event participants, spectators and volunteers come and play, support and work the tournament here in the heart of Texas,’’ Yawn said. “We hope you enjoy everything about your trip to Round Rock in March 2018.’’
The Texas city is loaded with plenty of restaurants to cater to just about everybody’s taste buds.
The impressive sports facility has room for six high school basketball courts, 12 volleyball courts, and obviously plenty of room for the college table tennis tournament. It’s worth it to visit the popular venue at 2400 Chisholm Trail. The site remains a short walk to hotels for players, coaches and volunteers.
In the weeks ahead, college table tennis players will try to punch their tickets to the 2017 NCTTA championships April 7-9. The site at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire is the same place the tournament was held in 2015.
In recent years, the national championships were booked in Rockford, Illinois in 2013 and Monroeville near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 2014.