Early Round Upset for UCSD Table Tennis

By Michael Reff

On Friday morning April 10 at the Greensboro Coliseum Complex, two California teams duked it out to force a deciding double’s match ending in a thrilling upset victory for 17th seed UCSD over 5th ranked Berkeley. UCSD Sophomore Anthony Chu, a 2466 rated player majoring in Math and Computer Science, along with teammate Jay Ong, an Australian international freshman Economics major, took down the Berkeley Bears in nail-biting fashion: 12-10 in the fifth game of tiebreaking doubles.

In this final fifth game, the score was extremely close but then Berkeley started to gain lead at 8-6. A pivotal timeout was called by UCSD, followed by an excellent win on serve to close the margin by one point at 7-8. Next UCSD tied it up at 8-8, whereas the next point went to them yet again, after a Berkeley backhand shot went long. This time the tables were turned, and Berkeley called the timeout, being down 8-9. They proceeded to win the next point followed by a lucky break on the net to acquire match point at 10-9. Then in a clutch play, after a series of counter loops, UCSD won the next point to make it to deuce at 10-10. At 11-10 UCSD was up and finished it in a spectacular display of reaction speed with them instantly blocking a hard drive from Berkeley. UCSD teammates cheered in loudnproud fashion and the upset was complete.

When asked how he felt about beating a much higher rated team, Jay Ong replied, that it “means a lot to come out here and perform our best.” He said that both teams played great and there was a lot of luck.

Jay’s doubles teammate Anthony Chu added that it was exciting to win. He also shed light on the double’s pairing, saying that initially he had been practicing with another teammate for doubles, but this was a last-minute switch to the roster. It may appear like it was a risk to do such a thing, but the dynamic duo of Ong and Chu pulled it off. Congrats to the UCSD King Tritons for an exciting victory in the first team match of the preliminary rounds of the NCTTA college table tennis championships.  We shall see how the competition proceeds for them.

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.

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

 

Newcomers Shine at Table Tennis Championships

By Andy Kanengiser

NCTTA Media Chair

Khaliunaa Baassankhuu brings one of the longest names to the 2019 NCTTA championships. But the 19-year-old native of Mongolia also brings much talent as a table tennis player to this weekend's collegiate tournament in North Carolina.A University of Akron sociology major, Khaliunna finds time to excel on the Ohio school's table tennis team.

Making her first trip to Nationals, Khaliunna is the only resident of Mongolia enrolled at Akron. Her country of three million people and lots of rugged mountains sits between Russia and China. Mongolia isn't flat like Ohio. Her country lacks the heavy population of more than 300 million people in the USA.

"There are really different cultures,'' she says of life in America compared to her home in the capital city of Ulaanbaatar (with one million people). "But I love it so far.''

The Akron student has two years of table tennis experience, but keeps getting better.

She's seeded 38th among 40 women signed up for singles competition at the April 12-14 tournament in Greensboro.

It's a wonderful experience at Nationals so far, Khaliunna Baasankhuu said as practices wrapped up at the Greensboro Coliseum Thursday night.

On a full academic scholarship to the University of Akron, she's getting a solid education in the USA. The Zips player wants to use her sociology degree to return to Mongolia as a youth worker. (featured above)

While playing matches at the Greensboro Coliseum, Khaliunna will hear cheers of encouragement from her Akron Zips teammates.

Sharing the 7-hour drive from the Akron campus are players Mark Hendricks, 21, a mechanical engineering major from Toledo, and Noah Nerlich, 19, a biology major from Medina, Ohio. Both are signed up for men's singles at the NCTTA's huge tournament.

With a ten player roster, the Akron Zips compete in an NCTTA division with schools like Michigan State, Case Western and West Virginia. On their Akron campus, table tennis is a growing sport.

While the three Akron players are new to the Nationals, that's the case as well for many student-athletes at several other schools. The list of newcomers includes players from Santa Monica College in California, James Madison University in Virginia and Wright State University in Ohio.

Santa Monica's coed team is seeded 14th and Wright State ranks 14th as the lively games in Greensboro began Friday.

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.

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

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.

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 CHAMPS--LIVE STREAMED!

Check it out the best tournament in North America (yes we are biased) but seriously! Join us for the live stream at 10am eastern time!

Table 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UHrSCpRWSdQ

Table 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GBlJvnKJYKg

Table 3: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mtUWThZkjEE

Table 4: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lJJTBVzfusA

 

Join us!

Hype for Coveted National Coed Title is Now

(Adar Alguetti and Yijun "Tom" Feng above in the doubles that won it for NYU in 2018)

By Michael Reff

NCTTA Media Committee

The time for predicting the winner of the coed teams’ event, the highlight of the NCTTA champs April 12-14 in Greensboro, NC, is upon us. With each year, there is fiercer competition from an ever-expanding group of schools. In the past, Texas Wesleyan (TWU) has garnered an amazing 13 national coed teams’ titles, but now there are new contenders on the horizon. The top six schools coming into the champs this year are Mississippi College, TWU, NYU, Berkeley, UC Davis, and UC Irvine. NYU won last year’s acclaimed title, and Mississippi has played several times in the finals, winning once in 2015.

There are several possible upset schools such as Duke, USC, and UT Austin. Pillar college is also one such school because they have two players rated around 2700 and 2400, and two players that are below 1000. Due to the beauty of team play, any school with two highly rated players and two lower rated players could try and win at least two teams’ singles’ matches, ultimately a deciding doubles match. If these schools play their cards right and practice for singles as well as doubles play, there could be a new national titleholder!

Joseph Wells, NCTTA Vice President adds, “Every year outlasts the other in terms of competitiveness and this year is no different. We expect to see an incredible competition unfold at the Championships.”  

So, here’s to rooting for your favorite team, in loudnproud fashion, and let’s hope for a nail-biting tiebreaking deciding match to leave it all on the table!

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.

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

Women’s College Table Tennis Stands Strong

(Pengpeng Wang from Florida State University featured above)

Women’s college table tennis was born in 2005 with the first ever NCTTA Women’s College Table Tennis Championships. In 2005 the winner was Virginia Tech beating Texas Wesleyan that year. Since 2005, Texas Wesleyan has won the women’s team championship 8 times, (including winners of the last 3) and are favored once again as the top seed.

UC Berkeley women’s team is always on their toes however. Recently led by Lily Zhang and now by returner extraordinaire (chopper) Angela Guan, the Bears look to challenge the Texas Wesleyan women’s team for the title.  Duke and UCLA also round out the top 4 with outside chances.

Something else amazing is happening in the women’s team play in that more women’s only teams are making the venture out to the NCTTA Championships. Out of 16 women’s teams, 5 are without their men’s teams at the Championships. Five may not seem like a big number, but in Women’s college table tennis, it is the start of a new trend, with Arizona State, University of Pennsylvania, Florida State University, George Washington and UMass Amherst making the trek to North Carolina. #leadership 

Florida State University club president and number one women’s team player, Pengpeng Wang explains, “One thing that makes this sport exciting is that women can compete with men. As a club leader, I’m glad to see any of our teams go to Nationals.. Even if without men’s team going with us, our girls will still take their role to represent themselves and FSU table tennis.”

Pengpeng Wang is graduating this year with her PHD in Statistics. She also completed the NCTTA Coaching Certificate last July and served as FSU Table Tennis’ first ever woman club president and is attending her first NCTTA College Table Tennis Championships!

We hope the wave of strong women’s college table tennis continues!

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.

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

Table Tennis Stars Battle for Men’s Singles Crown in Greensboro

By Andy Kanengiser

NCTTA Media Chair

Kunal Chodri remains one of the outstanding table tennis players from the University of California-Davis. The 19-year-old sophomore will battle stellar competitors from schools like Pillar College, NYU, Texas Wesleyan University and Mississippi College as they bid to take home the men’s singles trophy.

A managerial economics major at Cal-Davis, Chodri is part of an impressive field of players who will showcase their talents at the 2019 NCTTA national championships.

Shots hitting the edge of tables or barely creeping over the nets could decide the outcome of the games in Greensboro, North Carolina. Set for April 12-14, the tournament is drawing about 275 of the best collegiate players in the USA and Canada.

Kunal brings a good touch and ball control with paddle in hand. “Much of his talent is due to years of hard work and experience as a junior cadet team member,’’ said UC Davis table tennis coach Danny Yip. The Fremont, California resident qualified for the 2017 U.S. men’s team when he defeated Kanak Jha in the finals on the second day of qualification.

Fans at the 2018 NCTTA championships in Round Rock, Texas may recall Kunal Chodri defeated standouts like Kai Zhang of SUNY-Binghampton, Jinxin Wang of Texas Wesleyan and Adar Alguetti of NYU during coed team competition.

Zhang will miss the games in Greensboro (as he is taking a year off) but aces from other schools will pack their paddles for the NCTTA’s biggest tournament of the season.

More recently, Kunal performed well during the 2019 PanAm trials despite being a full-time student at UC Davis. “That’s no easy feat,’’ Coach Yip said. “I can’t wait to see this gentle giant compete at the NCTTA collegiate championships in Greensboro.’’

Kunal Chodri is the best player at a California school that’s a relative newcomer in collegiate table tennis. UC Davis first visited Nationals in 2006 when its coed team played. A couple of UC Davis singles players participated in the 2015 national championships in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. The UC Davis women’s team placed 7th at the 2017 nationals. The coed team landed in 7th place at the 2018 championships.

“Our table tennis club is constantly developing and expanding in recent years,’’ Coach Yip explained. “You will likely see us more in future years.’’

Gazing at the top ten of men’s singles competitors, NCTTA President Willy Leparulo sees a strong field.

“With representatives from Pillar College, NYU, Texas Wesleyan, and Mississippi College, there are some pretty familiar schools with standout players competing,’’ Leparulo said. “One of the relative newcomers to watch is UC Davis. We look forward to some spirited games in Greensboro, North Carolina.’’

Adar Alguetti is a sharp table tennis player, but also a bright student at New York University. Majoring in accounting and finance, the Tenafly, New Jersey resident is on track to graduate in the summer of 2021.

But first and foremost is turning in solid performances in singles and scoring triumphs with his NYU teammates. NYU captured the 2018 coed national title by beating perennial champ Texas Wesleyan Rams in the finals in Round Rock.

“I would say our team is stronger than last year in the sense we have more depth and can alter our roster depending on the team we play,’’ Alguetti said. “Greensboro brings back a lot of memories since it is the same venue where the (2016) Team USA Olympic Trials were held.’’

One of the dynamic members of the NYU squad returning is Yijun “Tom’’ Feng, a Team USA star at the 2016 Olympics. He’s a smart student at the prestigious university in the Big City. The 22-year-old is majoring in sports law with a minor in economics. Tom’s career plan is working for an international sports association. But now, his focus is the NCTTA championships.

Feng, who transferred to NYU after a freshman season at the University of Georgia, is ranked as the tournament’s second seed in men’s singles. He trails No. 1 seed Kaden Xu of Pillar College in New Jersey.

Others expected to join the fight for the men’s singles title are Texas Wesleyan Rams standouts like Jishan Liang and Jinxin Wang. They impressed table fans in March with their spectacular play at the NCTTA’s South Regionals on their home turf in Fort Worth.

Mississippi College players like Tomotaka “Tomo” Yoshitomi, Xiang “Ali’’ He and Qingwei Sun will also compete with paddles blazing in their quest for the 2019 men’s singles collegiate title.

For more information on the NCTTA championships and live streaming of the Greensboro games, go to nctta.org

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.

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

Fewer But Passionate Representation from Canadian Schools

Cherry Zheng

(Pic by Tae Kim of Cherry Zheng)

By Michael Reff

NCTTA Media Committee

In the past our ponging northern neighbors have frequented the nationals with a plethora of powerhouse teams. This year, there will be a sparse showing from our Canadian brethren, but they will be soundly represented in the Men’s and Women’s single’s event. Juan Liyau from Ryerson University for the men and on the women’s side in the form of two passionate players.

One such player, Cherry Zheng, graciously told this writer about her history with our favorite Olympic sport. Cherry is a third-year computer science student at the University of British Columbia (UBC). Initially she commenced her table tennis career at 8 years of age, doing it more because her father was already in love with the sport. However, as time progressed, she went from playing for the sake of her parents to partaking in pong for herself as well as the social aspect. “The table tennis community is amazing and the people play a huge part in why I love table tennis,” she says.

Cherry provides insight as to why most of her teammates won’t be making it to nationals: final exams.  UBC is one of the top universities in Canada and the world for that matter, so there is no wonder that studies considerably occupy college table tennis athletes’ time. When asked what the greatest challenge will be going into nationals in the singles event only, Cherry states, it “is the change in mindset, since it’s certainly different playing without a team and having your teammates around you at all times. I’ll miss my teammates that couldn’t come, but I’m truly happy to be able to attend the championships and represent my school!” She will be joined by one other teammate, Grace, for whom she is very grateful to have her company.

Also, in regard to preparing for the champs and the daunting long-distance trip ahead of her, she embraces it with enthusiasm. “I’m trying to squeeze in practice whenever possible! Nationals is an event that I’ve been looking forward to for a long time (probably since last nationals), and now that it’s approaching, I’m super stoked!! The trip is quite a lengthy one, with there not being any direct flight options, but I love travelling so I’m sure it’ll be a great experience!

What’s more, Canada and the USA will have equal representation in the opening ceremony, with an exciting fact. NCTTA President Willy Leparulo states, “we will have a live singer from UNC Greensboro singing [the] Canadian [anthem].” Thank you, Cherry, for making the trek to the states to represent Canada and UBC!

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.

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

 

Fewer But Passionate Representation from Canadian Schools

(Pic by Tae Kim of Cherry Zheng)

By Michael Reff

NCTTA Media Committee

In the past our ponging northern neighbors have frequented the nationals with a plethora of powerhouse teams. This year, there will be a sparse showing from our Canadian brethren, but they will be soundly represented in the Men’s and Women’s single’s event. Juan Liyau from Ryerson University for the men and on the women’s side in the form of two passionate players.

One such player, Cherry Zheng, graciously told this writer about her history with our favorite Olympic sport. Cherry is a third-year computer science student at the University of British Columbia (UBC). Initially she commenced her table tennis career at 8 years of age, doing it more because her father was already in love with the sport. However, as time progressed, she went from playing for the sake of her parents to partaking in pong for herself as well as the social aspect. “The table tennis community is amazing and the people play a huge part in why I love table tennis,” she says.

Cherry provides insight as to why most of her teammates won’t be making it to nationals: final exams.  UBC is one of the top universities in Canada and the world for that matter, so there is no wonder that studies considerably occupy college table tennis athletes’ time. When asked what the greatest challenge will be going into nationals in the singles event only, Cherry states, it “is the change in mindset, since it’s certainly different playing without a team and having your teammates around you at all times. I’ll miss my teammates that couldn’t come, but I’m truly happy to be able to attend the championships and represent my school!” She will be joined by one other teammate, Grace, for whom she is very grateful to have her company.

Also, in regard to preparing for the champs and the daunting long-distance trip ahead of her, she embraces it with enthusiasm. “I’m trying to squeeze in practice whenever possible! Nationals is an event that I’ve been looking forward to for a long time (probably since last nationals), and now that it’s approaching, I’m super stoked!! The trip is quite a lengthy one, with there not being any direct flight options, but I love travelling so I’m sure it’ll be a great experience!

What’s more, Canada and the USA will have equal representation in the opening ceremony, with an exciting fact. NCTTA President Willy Leparulo states, “we will have a live singer from UNC Greensboro singing [the] Canadian [anthem].” Thank you, Cherry, for making the trek to the states to represent Canada and UBC!

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.

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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