College Table Tennis Titans Play 2015 Championship Games in Wisconsin
By Andy Kanengiser
NCTTA Media Chair
Can anybody stop the mighty Texas Wesleyan University Rams from winning an incredible 12th straight national table tennis championship?
That’s the big question for 232 table tennis players and coaches from 46 colleges across North America. They’re coming to Eau Claire, Wisconsin to decide the issue at the 2015 TMS National College Table Tennis Championships. Plenty of fans are also flocking to the marathon of games lasting from April 10-12.
Coached by Jasna Rather, Texas Wesleyan remains loaded once again with plenty of star players on its coed team on the Fort Worth campus. Their roster of standouts includes Emil Santos of the Dominican Republic, Jason Plog, a freshman from Germany, Zhedi Bai of China, and Razvan Cretu of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. There are no weak spots on the TWU roster.
When it comes to table tennis skills, “Texas Wesleyan performs like the Kentucky Wildcats of the college basketball world, or the New York Yankees of Major League Baseball,’’ says Willy Leparulo, president of the National Collegiate Table Tennis Association.
After recently finishing No. 1 in the NCTTA’s South regional tournament on its home turf, Texas Wesleyan remains the team to beat in April, he said.
The NCTTA oversees more than 165 college table tennis teams across the USA and Canada.
Punching their tickets to the national championships for the first time are two Canadian schools, McGill University and McMaster University. Other newcomers include Colorado State, the University of Rochester, and California State Northridge, all competing in singles.
Unlike teams traveling a long distance like the University of Central Florida in Orlando or the University of Texas-Dallas, it will be a short drive across town for University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire players.
Returning to the national championships for their 8th straight season, Mississippi College players will pack their paddles and hope to give Texas Wesleyan a battle.
For the past three years, Mississippi College’s coed team put up a good fight, but finished No. 2 in the nation. Team coach and captain Cheng Li, 22, who ended the 2014 season ranked No. 1 in men’s singles collegiate circles, leads the MC Choctaws once again. Also making the journey from the Baptist-affiliated university in Clinton, Mississippi are solid teammates like Yi Chi Zhang, and Tong Zhang. All three players hail from China where table tennis is the national sport.
“Whether they’re traveling from Western Ontario, the West Coast, down South or from New England, our players are eager to compete at our best tournament of the year,’’ Leparulo says. “We are delighted to put our games on a national stage in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.’’
People can try another option if they cannot make the trip to the Dairy State. “We are happy to be able to utilize live streaming for all to see,’’ the longtime NCTTA leader said. “We hope a big audience will tune in to take part in the 2015 Championships even if they can’t be with us in Wisconsin.’’
The 2015 TMS College Table Tennis Championships is hosted by the National Collegiate Table Tennis Association and the Visit Eau Claire 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, Double Fish, Joola and PepPod.
Players and spectators alike will enjoy a jam-packed weekend of table tennis at the TMS College Table Tennis Championships. The event starts Friday April 10th and continues through Sunday April 12th at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire campus.
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