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Pandemic Nostalgia has Hetherington Excited for NCTTA 2021

By Michael Reff

Matt Hetherington has been a table tennis mainstay in the United States for several years in the coaching and media fields. Originally hailing from New Zealand, Hetherington started playing when he was 8 years old, and reached a pinnacle of achievement by representing his country in the World Champs on three occasions. For quite some time Hetherington was USATT's Media and Communications director, but he recently moved on from the position on March 1st of this year. He says he was "supposed to be moving on to another opportunity in table tennis," but the pandemic unfortunately put a damper on that prospect.

Still, Hetherington has been keeping himself very productive while in quarantine and in almost complete isolation for close to 3 months. "The first couple of weeks all I could really do was work out every day and I did my best to start going nuts on my social media," he noted. This included bringing up old blog posts on his website and creating new coaching videoss by successfully challenging himself to produce 30 tutorials in 30 days.

All in all he created 44 coaching tutorial videos ranging many topics from serve and receive to short pimple play and chopping.

The pandemic isolation period has left him feeling nostalgic about many areas of table tennis, his NCTTA experiences being among them.

Before becoming involved with NCTTA as a commentator, Hetherington was already briefly a student-athlete in 2017 for Pillar College alongside the likes of Olympians Tim Wang and Lily Yip. He reached the Nationals that school year and placed 5th in the team event, reaching the quarterfinals in the doubles with Wang and the last 32 in the singles. His lasting memories with the experience fueled his ambition to commit to helping the national event each year. Although Hetherington discontinued his studies, he longed to return. "I feel like college table tennis is quite a significant part of the culture of the sport in this country," he stated, "having experienced it first hand, it was something I really wanted to continue to be a part of."

He commentated in the 2018 and 2019 Nationals and was committed to return in 2020 before the eventual cancellation.

Hetherington plans to reprise his role as commentator for NCTTA during the 2021 Champs held in Round Rock, Texas. He says that a positive aspect of commentating with the volunteer organization is that you get to work with many diverse people. Also, he observes that many of the NCTTA commentators have volunteered with NCTTA for a long time. "In the beginning I felt like it was a really good opportunity to try and improve the relationship between USATT and NCTTA," Hetherington said. "I felt that there was a lot of value in building the partnership there and I genuinely see that College Table Tennis has all the elements that this sport needs to grow in the USA - the team atmosphere, the promotion of table tennis in schools and the continuation of table tennis competition during college study."

Yes, being in the thick of things while observing and participating in the ubiquitous #loudnproud cheering by schools is quite the invigorating experience for volunteers and players alike.

Hetherington holds NCTTA in high esteem, considering it to possess an excellent "blueprint structure to look at when thinking about regionalization or a professional league" for table tennis in the USA. He says NCTTA's qualification system and geographical progression from divisionals to regionals and then nationals along with the team aspect of college table tennis is what make it a worthy ponging paradigm to emulate in the long run.

And regarding other NCTTA volunteers who work tirelessly to promote college table tennis, Hetherington said, "At the end of the day you need people who are passionate enough who will put in that amount of work and are satisfied purely with having pulled off the end result, as a volunteer organization I can see that the NCTTA has the right people involved."

As coaching for Hetherington soon returns to the Lily Yip TTC with pandemic restrictions being lifted, we wish him the safest and most productive return to the sport we all love. Tune in April 2021 at Round Rock, Texas to hear and watch Matt Hetherington commentate along with the rest of our stellar volunteer staff!

2020 Superlative Winners

Despite the season closing earlier than planned, we still wanted to commend some of the many outstanding members of our community!
We've received and read through many great nominations - thank you for all the great call outs - but alas, here are the winners for this year's superlatives:

- Male Athlete of the Year – Haolun Cheng, Univ of Minnesota
- Female Athlete of the Year – Angela Guan, UC Berkeley
- Rookie of the Year – Robert He (UC Santa Barbara)
- Coach of the Year – Andrew Tan, UMASS Amherst
- Rookie Team – Embry Riddle (Northern FL division)
- Division Director of the Year – Nancy Zhou, Lower New England DD
- Regional Director of the Year – Rishabh Srivastava, Midwest RD

2020 Elections Results

Results of the Board of Directors elections:

  • Willy Leparulo has been reelected as President
  • Jay Lu has been reelected as League Director Representative
  • Tae Kim will be the new Vice President Internal, with more votes than Rishabh Srivastava
  • Stephanie Shih will be the new Human Resources Coordinator, with more votes than Brandon Lawrence

The new 4-year term for each of them will begin July 1.
Thanks to all who ran and all who voted!

Best of the Best--NCTTA 2020

Nominate someone today for the NCTTA Superlatives!
Deadline is May 30th.

TO NOMINATE SOMEONE
-Email your nomination and WHY to info@nctta.org by the deadline.

Categories are here
Male Athlete of the Year
Female Athlete of the Year
Rookie of the Year
Coach of the Year
Rookie Team
Division Director of the Year
Regional Director of the Year

*Rookie Teams are school teams that have never participated in the NCTTA (Subject to NCTTA historical records)

*Rookie of the year are players new to College Table Tennis (they can be any year Freshman/sophomore/junior/senior/graduate student) also subject to NCTTA historical records

*Division and Regional Directors must be current to 2019-20 competition year

Winners are awarded a gift card!

2020 NCTTA Board of Directors Election

To NCTTA school club presidents, members, alumni, coaches, and supporters:

The time has come for elections for certain positions on the NCTTA Board of Directors. For those of you interested in further involvement with NCTTA, here is your opportunity to play a crucial role in the direction of the organization, as well as that of college table tennis in the US and beyond.

These are the positions that are open for election. They are 4-YEAR positions.

-President
-Vice President-Internal
-Human Resources
-*League Representative Director (voted in by Division Directors)

Please remember to read the NCTTA bylaws for qualifications to run and the description for each position:

http://www.nctta.org/doc/NCTTA_Bylaws.pdf

Candidates must submit a Statement of Intent to elections@nctta.org to be approved to run for the NCTTA Board of Directors, Deadline is May 31st

On or around June 6th, the statements will be posted and approved candidates will be announced.

At that time, voting will begin, and will take place until June 12th. Voting will be done by presidents (or representatives) of each NCTTA member school; each school will have 1 vote for each position.

Training for newly-elected Board members will occur immediately after election is complete and terms will officially begin on July 1.

Please any direct any questions to elections@nctta.org.

To those who decide to run, NCTTA wishes you the best of luck

ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT

Each month we take a moment to look at one of our NCTTA ALUMS. Check out what recent grad Michael Wang (Northeastern University) is up to!

Contact info@nctta.org to be a part of this next ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT FEATURE!

Name: Michael Wang
College: Northeastern University
Major: Computer Science
Year Graduated: December 2018

About Myself and my work
I graduated from Northeastern University last December with my Bachelor's in computer science, and I'm currently working as a security researcher at MIT. I've lived in Massachusetts my whole life and started playing table tennis when I was ten years old. For a few years in high school my only strategy was to hit everything as hard as I could, which in hindsight was not very smart.

What do I enjoy most about my profession?
I like the intellectual challenge of it a lot, and cyber security is a field I care about. I like research in particular because the idea of tackling unsolved problems is very appealing to me.

What else am I up to?
I'm applying to graduate programs right now, so hopefully that goes well... I'm also taking a class alongside my daytime job which keeps me super busy. Outside of career stuff, I'm taking music lessons, which is my main hobby right now. It's a very interesting contrast from working with computers - computers are so literal, but music is super abstract so it's a great challenge and very soothing for the soul. I haven't had much time for table tennis unfortunately, but hopefully within the next year or two I'll have some time for it. After being a competitive table tennis player for so long, it's hard to think of it as just a hobby. If I were to get back into it I would want to dedicate a lot of time to improve.

Words for future athletes?
Don't give up! I almost gave up table tennis for a year in high school because of a few bad tournaments. I really regret it now - I would be much better if I had stuck with it and kept training properly. Technique/strategy wise, don't underestimate the importance of footwork and short game. Practice your serve a lot. Don't get into the habit of prematurely backing away from the table.

Favorite NCTTA memory?
Probably when we won the Northeast regional team tournament in 2018. There was definitely a huge luck factor - one of NYU's top players wasn't available and we definitely would have lost if they were. However, I still played a great match which is why it's one of my favorite memories. Another awesome thing about NCTTA is meeting people from different schools. My other favorite memories generally include hanging out in the hotel rooms with people from other schools at nationals.

Round Rock Selected for 2021 NCTTA Championships

By Andy Kanengiser
NCTTA Media Chair

Round Rock, Texas is billed as the "Sports Capital of Texas,'' and in the eyes of the NCTTA leadership team that's 100 percent true.

NCTTA officials in April announced they've selected the Round Rock Sports Center to host the 2021 college table tennis championships. The three-day tournament will bring 275 of the best college table tennis players in North America to the spacious 21st Century venue in the Lone Star State.

The COVID-19 outbreak in Spring 2020 caused the cancellation of the 2020 tournament in Round Rock in April. It was one of many events shut down worldwide due to the deadly coronavirus pandemic.

"We put the highest value on the health of our players, coaches, volunteers and fans. And while that was a big disappointment, their safety always comes first,'' says NCTTA President Willy Leparulo.

"But we love coming to Round Rock. This is a wonderful relationship dating back to 2016,'' Leparulo said. "So we are thrilled to announce we will return in 2021.''

Nancy Yawn, director of the Round Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau, joins city officials delighted to see the 2021 collegiate table tennis championships back in her Texas hometown.

Based at 231 East Main Street, CVB officials always roll out the red carpet for all-star table tennis paddlers, coaches, fans, volunteers and family members. This will be the third time that Round Rock will host the NCTTA's biggest tournament of the year.

Located next-door to the capital city of Austin, Round Rock eats and breathes sports year-round. The Round Rock Express, a Triple A minor league baseball team is here. So is the 11,000-seat Kelly Reeves Athletic Complex, a first-class venue for football games. Round Rock hosts plenty of youth tournaments.

Having table tennis tournaments in the Lone Star State makes for a relatively short drive for the perennial national champions, Texas Wesleyan University. Led by Coach Jasna Rather, the superb Texas Wesleyan Rams players on the Fort Worth campus hail from countries across the globe, as well as the USA. Teams like the University of Texas Longhorns have an even shorter drive from the Austin campus.

Mississippi College won the 2020 South Regionals coed team championship in Fort Worth February 29-March 1 before the season was soon halted due to the rapid spread of COVID-19. Based in Clinton in Central Mississippi, MC defeated Texas Wesleyan at the Regionals. The two teams are likely to tangle once again at the 2021 championships in Round Rock.

"We know the Round Rock Sports Center is a fabulous venue. And we felt it was the right thing to do to give our Round Rock friends another shot in 2021,'' Leparulo said. "We are so glad it worked out. We are also eager to begin the 2020-21 season this Fall without worrying about this terrible virus.''

2020 iSET College Table Tennis Championships--CANCELLED

Hello all,

It brings me no pleasure to announce this, but there will be no College Table Tennis Championships this year in 2020. 

Here is the official message we are sending out:

"Due to the recent COVID-19 outbreak, the National Collegiate Table Tennis Association (NCTTA) is cancelling the 2020 iSet College Table Tennis Championships. The safety of our athletes, volunteers, and sponsors is our highest priority, and this decision was made to ensure everyone's safety. Please contact info@nctta.org with any questions."

Big thanks to our sponsors who have supported our decisions: ISET, Doublefish, Double Happiness, Yapa Beauty

NCTTA is a volunteer run organization with no paid staff, 7 board members, 6 Regional Directors and a plethora of Committee members, chairs, division directors that support, manage and make our organization work year after year. 

It is upsetting to not crown our National Champions, but this is a pandemic and I want everyone to know that we tossed and turned with this decision for the past couple of weeks. Ultimately we believe we have made the right decision. We hope to still have your support moving forward. 

Thanks for your understanding, 

Willy Leparulo

Board of Directors

 

Minnesota Dominates at the Midwest Regional Championships

The University of Minnesota (UMN) is cool, calm and collected and anyone who’s a follower of Midwest Table Tennis knows about the University of Minnesota. UMN dominated the Minnesota division and continued that domination at the Midwest Regionals hosted at the University of Iowa. UMN was seeded #1 and did not lose a match beating opponents 3-1 and 4-0 in a comfortable win. 

 

Interesting to note Indiana University did not feature their top 2 players (two 2600’s) and still finished in 4th in the region, showing how deep Indiana University is.

 

Look for Jack Wang of Washington University St. Louis to continue his winning ways at the National Championships in his rookie season a sensational 19-1 record!

 

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