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.
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