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.
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