Move Over Men—College Table Tennis Women Are In Top Gear

(Pictured above is one of the top women of this competition, Rongge Zhang of Western University)

The 2016 TMS College Table Tennis Championships in Texas this March 25-27th will feature an NCTTA record 16 women’s teams! We have a full house this year and unlike years past there isn’t a clear cut winner!

In the past, the women’s team championship could be predicted to see Texas Wesleyan or Princeton or Lindenwood win the title.  Lindenwood didn’t field a women’s team, Princeton University didn’t field a team either, so one would think Texas Wesleyan is the hands down winner? Well never discount the Texas Wesleyan Rams, but there are others on the periphery that will certainly make this an interesting Women’s team event!

Western University of Canada is ranked #2 and has a team of 2000 plus women registered. The Western women’s team are ready to battle and could probably defeat most men’s/coed teams as well. Western University women’s team has an excellent chance of turning some heads and potentially even winning the Championship title! Western University’s coach, Eunice Chan, states, “This year, the Women's team placed first in both the Divisional and Regional tournament, beating out tough competitors, such as University of Toronto.”

Western is leaning on veteran Rongge Zhang and newcomer (to NCTTA), Changjing (Spencer) Zhu. Chan comments, “This is our strongest women's team thus far and these two ladies have proven themselves in both the Divisional and Regional tournaments that they are a force to be reckon with, both placing top two in singles events.”

Another school to watch out for is the University of Wisconsin-Madison probably provides the biggest surprise in the women’s team event because in the past they were not considered strong contenders, but this year they have former Lindenwood star, Maria Castillo added into the mix making them a formidable contender. Castillo, a former Colombian international, says, “"This is the best women's team UW-Madison has ever had, and we believe this is our year! We will fight hard to bring the title home." Add Pamela Song wielding her pips power and newcomer Yixin Zhang and you have an interesting mix that could win the whole event!

These are just a few of the schools in the running, but from 1 to 16 in the women’s team event, there is no place to hide. If you are playing the TMS NCTTA Bracket Challenge a good dark horse might be the Columbia Women’s team led by former Indian international and ITTF media intern, Neha Aggarwal.  Aggarwal comments about the overall women’s game in the US, “The USA has always been strong in Women Table Tennis at the international level. I am glad that even at the collegiate level the competition is high. I have always been a promoter of women in sport and I am glad to see more girls taking part in College TT.”

As the title suggests so appropriately “move over men”; the Women’s College Table Tennis event is bound to impress!

The 2016 TMS 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 TMS International, Gerflor, Double Fish, and Joola.

Players and spectators alike will enjoy a jam-packed weekend of table tennis at the TMS College Table Tennis Championships. The event starts Friday March 25th and continues through Sunday March 27th at the Round Rock Sports Center

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 Gains Strength in Iowa

By Andy Kanengiser

NCTTA Media Chairman

 

"Build it and they will come.'' That's the famous line from the hit movie "Field of Dreams'' years ago starring Kevin Costner. The award-winning film told the story of a mythical baseball team of big-league stars from decades ago. The stars with bats & gloves suddenly emerged from the Iowa cornfields.

The same classic movie line can be applied in connection with the birth of collegiate table tennis at the University of Iowa. Senior citizens Jarol & Leah Duerksen opened their Iowa City home to people to play table tennis in recent years. The longtime NCTTA volunteers also strongly encouraged the creation of a table tennis team at the University of Iowa in their hometown. And now the Iowa' women's table tennis team is playing in the NCTTA's Big Dance in Round Rock, Texas March 25-27!

Hats off once again to the Duerksens, who were honored by NCTTA leaders for their faithful service to collegiate table tennis at a banquet at last year's championships in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Each year, the couple travels to NCTTA national championships to oversee the practice tables for college players.

The Duerksens went a few steps further in 2015 because their passion for table tennis sparked the creation of the Iowa team last fall. The Iowa men and women regularly practice at the Duerksen's house and have lots of fun along the way. The beloved Iowa couple comes to their tournaments to cheer the Hawkeyes.

"They were very influential in getting the Iowa team put together,'' says Meng-Yu Wang, one of the leaders of the women's team on the Iowa City campus. Other Iowa table tennis  players are: Haiying "Haddy'' Zhang, Dan Yang and Jingjing Li. All of the talented Iowa women are from China.

On the men's side, Arnold Kompaniyets, a native of the Ukraine, serves as the Iowa  team captain.The Iowa women are seeded 9th in the 2016 nationals in Round Rock. Arnold will accompany the Iowa women on the journey to the city near Austin in late March.

The Iowa Hawkeyes are thrilled to be making their first championship appearance in their first year of play.

So is student-athlete Jikang Qu of Iowa State University in Ames. A penhold-style  table tennis player from China, the Iowa State graduate student seeks a master's in electrical engineering. Qu will compete in men's singles at the tournament in the Lone Star State. He loves to attack after each serve and enjoys looping with his forehand.

While the rest of the Iowa State team didn't make it to 2016 Nationals, Jikang Qu will play his heart out. "I will try my best to show how good we are in singles.''

 

The 2016 TMS 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 TMS International, Gerflor, Double Fish, and Joola.

Players and spectators alike will enjoy a jam-packed weekend of table tennis at the TMS College Table Tennis Championships. The event starts Friday March 25th and continues through Sunday March 27th at the Round Rock Sports Center

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

Texas Longhorns Grab Hometown Spotlight at Table Tennis Championships

By Andy Kanengiser

NCTTA Media Chairman

Texas Longhorns players usually come sporting cowboy hats, western boots, spurs, rodeo gear and much more at annual NCTTA banquets.

If there was a bull around, the Texans might ride it, too, at the college table tennis championships. At the 51,000-student university known for famous grads like movie actor Matthew McConaughey and former First Lady Laura Bush, these UT-Austin table tennis stars are a talented bunch.

Enjoying home court advantage with the 2016 NCTTA championships staged in nearby Round Rock, the 11-member Texas team is also a diverse group.

Coach Judy Chen (a Texas grad) and players Franny Fang, Tina Wang, and Tim Wang are all from Taiwan. Felix Chan comes from Hong Kong. Pulak Goswani and Sanjana Gupta hail from India. Sophomore Grayden Cook, 19, is a native of San Antonio, home of the 5-time NBA champion San Antonio Spurs. A Texas pre-med student, Cook hits the books, too.

Being able to take the ten to fifteen-mile drive from the Austin campus to Round Rock is something the Texas team will relish. No need to book flights, tote lots of luggage of get lost. The 2016 TMS College Table Tennis Championship will be in the Lone Star State March 25-27.

 “We’re all very excited to host such a huge event in our own backyard, so to speak,’’ says UT-Austin Club President Chris Lee. “Everyone here is passionate about table tennis. It is a great plus to have it so close to us and bring some needed publicity to the sport in our community.’’

Texas features seven players on the coed team and four student-athletes on the women’s squad. The Longhorns team doesn’t have far to go to practice. The players practice at the Austin Table Tennis Club where they’ve received valuable lessons from coach Yang Yu, a former Mississippi College table tennis star.

The Texas team won’t just bring their paddles. The squad will also serve as volunteers, with their assignments to include setting up and taking down tables at the three-day event. Some of the players will also serve as umpires and scorekeepers.

Look for the Texas Longhorns and their fans to make lots of noise in Round Rock. They have something to cheer about. A year, ago the Texas squad was ranked 9th going into the tournament in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. A year ago, Judy Chen, 23, played for the Texas team with its white and burnt orange colors as a pharmacy graduate student. In late March, Judy will step up and lend her expertise as the Longhorns coach.

 At a Texas basketball powerhouse led by men’s coach Shaka Smart, the table tennis team on the Austin campus is smart, too. With paddles in hand, the men and women from zip code 52059 should represent the University of Texas very well.

 

The 2016 TMS 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 TMS International, Gerflor, Double Fish, and Joola.

Players and spectators alike will enjoy a jam-packed weekend of table tennis at the TMS College Table Tennis Championships. The event starts Friday March 25th and continues through Sunday March 27th at the Round Rock Sports Center

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 is Bigger in Texas. But...Why? Part I

By Brent Hearn

“Everything is bigger in Texas.”

That’s how the saying goes, anyway, and for good reason. Besides its sheer geographic size—it runs nearly a third of the length of the nation—it’s a place of big oil, big hats, and big personalities. And if the number of Texas schools playing in this year’s NCTTA Championships is any indicator, it’s a place for big table tennis talent, as well.

This year, there are six teams representing Texas in the tournament: The University of Texas at  Dallas, The University of Texas at Austin, Texas A&M University, Texas Tech University, University of North Texas, and—last, but definitely not least—perennial powerhouse Texas Wesleyan University.

There are definitely worse times for a spectacular turnout than when your state is hosting the National Championships. The increase in participation from Texas schools bodes well for the future of table tennis in the state. No matter what sport in question, there’s just something about an in-state rivalry. Table tennis is no exception. Rivalries within a defined geographic location (even when said geographic location is the size of...well, Texas) mean more intense competition. And more intense competition produces better players, which in turn provides better competition, and...well, you get the idea. With the bar constantly being raised, developing players are forced to sharpen their games to keep up, and before you know it, you have a hotbed of talent on your hands.

This begs the question: What’s causing the increased presence of Texas teams on the national stage?

It’s a question that can’t be asked without addressing the elephant in the room—the 11-time

Coed National Champion elephant, to be precise. Until Mississippi College went from superbly talented also-ran to major spoiler in last year’s tournament, Texas Wesleyan owned the event for over a decade. If you can’t say “peat” after the number of consecutive titles without it sounding ridiculous, then it’s safe to say you’re talking about a team that’s likely to alter the competitive landscape a bit.

So is Texas Wesleyan’s dominance of the sport for so long at all responsible for the increased presence of schools from the Lone Star State in the Championships? And if so, to what degree? Stay tuned for Part II to find out what the Texans think.

The 2016 TMS 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 TMS International, Gerflor, Double Fish, and Joola.

Players and spectators alike will enjoy a jam-packed weekend of table tennis at the TMS College Table Tennis Championships. The event starts Friday March 25th and continues through Sunday March 27th at the Round Rock Sports Center

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

 

Family Affair

Pictured above Connie Chen (Cornell) and Judy Chen (Coach of UT Austin) and the Skolnick brothers (Lindenwood)

By Willy Leparulo

NCTTA Media Committee

We have had in the past, brothers and sisters and even the most famous brother and sister combination in Adam Hugh (Princeton) and Judy Hugh (Rutgers). This year however what is interesting is that we have 6 pairs of siblings (that we know of) at the 2016 TMS College Table Tennis Championships!

Gabriel and Micaiah Skolnick are both players for the strong Lindenwood Table Tennis scholarship program. The brothers also seem to share the same profession, resident directors in University Housing and of course they share competitive drive in Table Tennis.  Micaiah says about their competitive spirit, “When we play against each other we fight to the death!”

As it should be! The duo is teamed up in the Men’s Doubles competition as the number 12 seed out of 32 and are quite a potent couple despite having been self taught have both reached high levels in the sport!

Another brother/brother combo is out of New York with Columbia’s Kung brothers, Justin and Nathan. They both play on the same team, but oddly enough they have never had the chance to play doubles, but are providing the adequate “punch” that the Columbia team will need in this tough Collegiate Competition.

We have a sister/sister combination with Judy Chen, ex UT Austin graduate and now head coach and Connie Chen current Cornell University player. UT Austin’s head coach says, “It’s kind of a mini family reunion as I only see her during winter and summer break.” Judy is now on the other side of the table as coach for the UT Austin team. Question is will Judy coach against her sister? Come to the tournament and see!

This year we have a couple brother/sister combinations as well. Patrick Wu (Coach)at NYU and sister Alison Wu (player) from Columbia will see each other. Also from the Northeast is Anne and Charles Deng are representing themselves and their respective schools (Harvard and Brown) at the College Table Tennis Championships. According to Anne, “It’ll be a complete family reunion” Deng family is from Houston just two hours away and they will be coming to watch!

Also Nathaniel Chu and Isabel Chu from UCLA are at the tournament. Isabel Chu if you recall was the winner of the NCTTA Newgy Scholarship earlier this year.  Isabel says about College Table Tennis, “Growing up, there were many Saturdays spent watching the Divisionals and Regional Competitions at my local clubs. The Atmosphere of a collegiate tournament is different from others with so much team spirit in every game, point. I knew then that competing in college was something I really wanted to do.”  Chu will experience #loudnproud first hand!

Family love and pong love two bonds that can’t be broken and will be showcased at the 2016 TMS College Table Tennis Championships in Round Rock, Texas March 25-27th.

The 2016 TMS 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 TMS International, Gerflor, Double Fish, and Joola.

Players and spectators alike will enjoy a jam-packed weekend of table tennis at the TMS College Table Tennis Championships. The event starts Friday March 25th and continues through Sunday March 27th at the Round Rock Sports Center

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

College Table Tennis--Home of Unique Personalities

(Pictured to the left is Pamela Song and to the right is Josue Layuno)

Every sport has its own kind of "personality" and College Table Tennis is no different on that regard. Every year 250 or so College Table Tennis athletes come together. We at NCTTA  like to highlight some of the folks that provide a bit more spunk to the game then your typical forehand or backhand. People that you will be able to pick out of a crowd and know that is someone who loves what they do!

First, let’s meet Josue Layuno hailing from the beautiful island of Puerto Rico. Josue is a freshmen at University of Connecticut and has a superstitious knack of wearing “super hero socks” and has been nicknamed “Superman" by many in the Northeast. 

Josue traveled to a US team tournament when he was younger and they needed an inexpensive uniform and the idea of wearing super hero socks came into play.  Josue says, “From that tournament on, I always use my super hero socks on important tournaments for extra luck. Call it superstitious or whatever, but I enjoy using these lucky socks.”

He enjoys being “the guy behind the superhero socks” and certainly once you see or hear him play, you will see or hear very clearly why he fits in perfectly with the #loudnproud NCTTA twitter hashtag!

We are lucky to have Josue join us this year and look forward to him being a popular mainstay in College Table Tennis.

Another person we are lucky to have is veteran Pamela Song who is fairly open about her “wacky” pips game. Song, the former penhold smooth player, said probably with a wry smile, “haha thank you! I take “wacky” as a compliment!” Truth be told she makes pips play look so effortless! Song, a proud Vegan Athlete,  talks about her play style over the years, “I grew more mature as a person, so did my games. I look at wins and losses from a different perspective now, and I would say I am so much more patient than ever!”

Song started her playing days when she was 10 years old in Beijing China and interestingly enough was into soccer a bit more but because of all the bruises her mom encouraged her more to do a less physical sport. Song wasn’t much of the traditional Barbie doll kind of girl growing up but the idea of Table Tennis was something that grew on her. Song says, “I learned really fast and beat everyone in my school within one year, and I got a lot of attention from people! I got interviews from CCTV, and I got chosen to play table tennis with the mayor of Beijing and the former president of China, Hu Jintao.”

One look at this 5 foot 6 Wisconsin woman athlete and you think “I can take her, no big deal.” But what actually does happen might make you cry, but don’t worry she is too kind to make you look too bad! Pamela is studying Biochemistry with honors in research and loves science and helping people.

Watch for Pamela and Josue in the upcoming championships!

The 2016 TMS 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 TMS International, Gerflor, Double Fish, and Joola.

Players and spectators alike will enjoy a jam-packed weekend of table tennis at the TMS College Table Tennis Championships. The event starts Friday March 25th and continues through Sunday March 27th at the Round Rock Sports Center

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

College Table Tennis in Canada Prospers

(Pictured above is a recent Great Lakes Regional Touranment in Canada)

Canadian schools have had a long storied history in the NCTTA (since the 1990’s). The first school from Canada to join NCTTA was Queens University. Schools from Canada also share a similar to history to that of their American brothers and sisters in the battle to make our sport more respected in the eyes of their respective Colleges and Universities.

Fast forward to 2016 and one can call it a veritable Canadian invasion of sorts with two NCTTA divisions and 8 to 10 schools in any given season.  The Canadians are known in College Table Tennis to be excellent athletes and competitors and this year is no different as the event features four Canadian schools this year: McMaster, McGill, University of Toronto and Western University (Ontario). Each with a shot at putting Canada on the proverbial College Table Tennis map.

Western University of Canada is ranked #2 and could probably compete with most men’s/coed teams as well. Western University’s coach, Eunice Chan, states, “This year, the Women's team placed first in both the Divisional and Regional tournament, beating out tough competitors, such as University of Toronto.”

Speaking about the University of Toronto, this year’s team features present/past Canadian national team players. University of Toronto coach, Howard Ma tells us, “I believe we have a team that’s one of a kind and perhaps the best one we’ve ever had in school history.” Despite their strength they are aware of how strong their US counterparts are. Ma says, “As someone who has participated in this tournament on multiple occasions, the level of play in NCTTA has been ascending on an incredible pace.”

McMaster University Table Tennis has also shared in the success as Henry Chau, Team Captain, states, “McMaster Table Tennis club has really grown in numbers over the years.” McMaster’s club is run by Cedric Mosdell who plays on their B team and they strive to not only be recognized more by their school but become a Varsity sport.

This seems to be a common theme not only for the US schools but with the Canadian schools as well. Canada as a country invests in Amateur sports via the government so we can only hope that Table Tennis is next in line with that kind of support at the country’s Colleges and Universities.  

Chau says, “Almost every dollar that my team pays for NCTTA are out of our own pockets.”  McMaster, Western, Toronto and McGill have had to engage in outside help from local businesses, alumni and sponsorships. Western and Toronto raised money through gofundme.com and did incredibly and should be commended and we in NCTTA hope Canadian Recreational Administrators take notice.

One important aspect despite any challenges with funding or recognition is the mutual respect they have for one another. Coach Ma puts it into perspective, “No matter which school or country you are from, we are all brought together by the love of the sport. The sport allows a setting for everyone to come together regardless of culture, ethnicity, race, gender, etc. in order to accomplish a common goal.”

Best of luck to our brothers and sisters across the border in Canada at this year’s College Table Tennis Championships!

The 2016 TMS 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 TMS International, Gerflor, Double Fish, and Joola.

Players and spectators alike will enjoy a jam-packed weekend of table tennis at the TMS College Table Tennis Championships. The event starts Friday March 25th and continues through Sunday March 27th at the Round Rock Sports Center

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

New Colleges Debuting at NCTTA Championships

Pictured above are Liberty University's qualifiers to Men's singles, Josiah Boda and Messanh Ameduite

By Andy Kanengiser and Willy Leparulo

Out of 258 total Collegiate Athletes there are always “new kids on the block” to welcome into the College Table Tennis family. From big state schools to smaller colleges we have it all and with paddles in hand, players from schools like the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York to Ohlone College in California will compete in the NCTTA’s 2016 Championship games for the first time. The March 25-27 tournament in the Lone Star State also marks the debut of several teams from the Midwest, including Nebraska, Iowa and Iowa State.

On its Lincoln Campus, the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers boasts a new star table tennis player who traveled thousands of miles away from his native Kyrgyzstan. While his name is tough to pronounce, his table tennis credentials are solid. Bektemir Ysmailov is a former national team player for his country and played in the World Team Table Tennis Championships in 2009, 2011 and 2013! Kyrgyzstan or the Kyrgyz Republic is a landblocked country in Central Asia.

Ysmailov has a fun fact in that he graduated high school at 16 years old and this past fall he started his PHD program in Finance at the old age of 20! Ysmailov has the smarts on and off the table and is a welcome new addition to represent himself and his school in the Championships.

Another school making its first championship appearance is Iowa State State where Men’s Singles player Jikang Qu is a student. Qu will be the only Iowa State player to compete in the tournament.. He won't be "that" alone b/c neighbor school University of Iowa is also attending the NCTTA Championships as their women's team qualified for the tournament and their Men's team captain Arnold Kompaniyets is also in Men’s Singles.

FIT's women's table tennis climbed to the top after struggling for several years in Big Apple tournaments. Mandy Liu (the number three seed in women's singles) leads the squad. Before all is said and done, the FIT women will do much more than make a fashion statement in Texas. Ohlone College surprised people in California tournaments during the fall and spring, but this NCTTA West Coast newcomer is for real. Ying Wang is the team leader. 

Liberty University table tennis is alive and well after being away from the game for nearly a decade. Players like Jospiah Boda and Messanh Ameduite are two of the Liberty men pumped to be playing for the team coached by physics professor Stephen Kilpatrick.

Liberty's women's team recently placed first in the Virginia division tournament. "The momentum is still building,'' Kilpatrick said as Liberty prepares for the NCTTA's Big Dance at Round Rock, "The talent and dedication is there.''

NCTTA leaders are delighted to welcome all the newcomers to the national championships and will write about their stories once the games begin in late March.

 

The 2016 TMS 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 TMS International, Gerflor, Double Fish, and Joola.

Players and spectators alike will enjoy a jam-packed weekend of table tennis at the TMS College Table Tennis Championships. The event starts Friday March 25th and continues through Sunday March 27th at the Round Rock Sports Center

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

Volunteers Play Crucial Role at NCTTA Championships

By Andy Kanengiser

NCTTA Media Chairman

Volunteers play a crucial role at NCTTA tournaments all season long. And that’s going to be true at the 2016 national championships in Round Rock, Texas.

“We love our volunteers,’’ says NCTTA President Willy Leparulo. “There would be no tournaments without their help. We are thrilled to see so many outstanding volunteers join the cause with us in the Lone Star State.’’

At the March 25-27 tournament near Austin, Leparulo estimates there will be a solid team of 60 volunteers coming from the Austin Table Tennis Club along with people connected with the University of Texas table tennis team.  Toss in 40 more leaders from NCTTA circles, and that’s a grand total of 100 volunteers to ensure that things run smoothly in Round Rock.

Volunteers come from Texas and from far away points. They travel from California and hail from New England down south to Florida. As they do every year, the delightful Iowa City couple of Jarol & Leah Duerksen will serve the NCTTA championships by staffing the practice table area for the visiting college players.

Volunteers do everything from operating video cameras to showcase the 250-plus players on live streaming to working behind the scenes at registration tables. They serve as game umpires, write stories, set up tables, sell programs, promote Round Rock & Austin area attractions and much more. Volunteers also want to make sure there are plenty of smiles on the faces of players and fans at the Round Rock Sports facility in late March. Some volunteers serve as subs to give colleagues a breather during the three-day event.

 “We are super excited about the 2016 TMS College Table Tennis Championships coming to our backyard,’’ says Marguerite Cheung, operations manager for the Austin Table Tennis Club.

The Austin Table Tennis Club in the capital city is stepping up to supply well-trained umpires. At least ten men and women have passed the umpire exam and will be available for umpiring duties. The list includes Glen Liu, Clayton Pavlicek, Dean Ginther, Nirajan Sivaraman, Stanley Tang, Phil Lahman, Kym Stasinowsky, Johnny Gamez, Rick Mueller and Marguerite Cheung. These are some of the many unsung heroes of the NCTTA’s biggest and best tournament of the year. The list continues to grow. University of Texas Austin which is a team in the event even has three of its club members organizing their troops to add more to the volunteer crew. Pulack Goswami, Sanjana Gupta and Chris Lee are leading that charge.

Countless volunteer hours go into planning, organizing and running the championships from one year to the next. That was the case a year ago for the games in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 2014, Rockford, Illinois in 2013 and Plano, Texas in 2012. NCTTA leaders will look over bids submitted by an April 1 deadline to decide the site of the 2017 championships.

But first thing’s first. Growing up in Taiwan, and going off to graduate school in Calgary, Canada to study French Literature, Cheung is thrilled to see the 2016 championship games come so near to her hometown in Texas. She’s served as operations manager with the Austin Table Tennis Club since 2013. An ITTF certified coach, she’s passionate about the Olympic sport of table tennis. In the real world, Marguerite Cheung works as a teacher and Chinese language interpreter for the county courts and hospitals.

Cheung applauds fellow table tennis volunteers like her good friend Conrad Song of the Austin Table Tennis Club. “He’s our most dedicated volunteer in the club,’’ she says of the USTT certified regional umpire. “He’s the best and the kindest person you would ever meet.’’

The sea of volunteers coming from Texas and around the nation should make for a wonderful tournament, Leparulo says. In agreement is Round Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau Director Nancy Yawn, who’s helping make the visitors feel at home during their stay. “We can’t wait to show the competitors from around the country our friendly Texas hospitality,’’ Yawn said.

While in Round Rock, visitors are encouraged to see the many attractions the city offers – from the Chisholm Trail to the Bass Pro Shops and dine at its diverse supply of restaurants, including barbecue, Italian and Chinese dishes. Round Rock sits 15 miles north of the state Capitol at Austin. Let the games begin!

The 2016 TMS 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 TMS International, Gerflor, Double Fish, and Joola.

Players and spectators alike will enjoy a jam-packed weekend of table tennis at the TMS College Table Tennis Championships. The event starts Friday March 25th and continues through Sunday March 27th at the Round Rock Sports Center

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

Mississippi College Seeks to Repeat as National Champs

by Andy Kanengiser

NCTTA Media Chairman

China's Qing Wei Sun remains the newest addition to a powerful Mississippi College table tennis team that seeks a repeat as North America's champions.

Led by Coach & Captain Cheng Li, the MC Choctaws narrowly edged 11-time national champ Texas Wesleyan to win their first table tennis title last April in Wisconsin.

Whether MC can do it again will be decided at the 2016 TMS National College Table Tennis Championships in Round Rock, Texas. The event March 25-27 in the city near Austin will attract 250 of the best collegiate players across the USA and Canada.

It's was a remarkable triumph that stunned the collegiate table tennis world that Sunday evening at the venue at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire as others watched the lively Olympic sport via live streaming.

A business administration major from China, Cheng Li is all business when asked about his team's chances of pulling off another big MC coed team victory in the Lone Star State. He's excited to welcome Qing Wei Sun to the roster. He believes the 18-year-old MC freshman from China gives MC another key weapon. "With Qing Wei Sun's help we will have more options than last year. He will be a great choice for doubles.''

Cheng Li and Tong Zhang proved awesome as doubles partners. They finished No. 1 in the nation in that department in 2015. Add Yi Chi Zhang and Sun are the MC group will be pretty tough in late March in Texas. Recently, MC finished in 2nd place in the South Regionals with Texas Wesleyan finishing on top on its Forth Worth campus.

Coached by Jasna Rather, the TWU Rams added two strong players this season. Cheng Li says "We must figure out a way to compete with them.''

What's next for Cheng Li? His MC playing days will be over at the conclusion of the three-day tournament in the Lone Star State. But perhaps he can stick around as a coach. MC leaders like Vice President for Academic Affairs Ron Howard made an offer for Cheng Li to work on his MBA and stay as coach for two more years. He is seriously considering it. "I would love to continue to work at MC.''

No matter what happens, MC President Lee Royce is proud of his team. Their victory as the No. 1 collegiate table tennis team in North America, he said, was "an amazing accomplishments and one that we have not seen at MC in many years. Against great odds and with modest support, they achieved success at the national level.''

MC finished No. 2 behind champ Texas Wesleyan for three years before making it to No. 1. Mississippi College began playing in NCTTA tournaments in 2007-2008. MC finished its first season ranked 14th in the nation, but made steady improvements to rise to 5th place. Added Dr. Royce: "We remain proud of all their accomplishments and they will always be No. 1 in our hearts.''

The 2016 TMS 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 TMS International, Gerflor, Double Fish, and Joola.

Players and spectators alike will enjoy a jam-packed weekend of table tennis at the TMS College Table Tennis Championships. The event starts Friday March 25th and continues through Sunday March 27th at the Round Rock Sports Center

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

Pages