Collegiate Table Tennis Stars Flock to Wisconsin
By Andy Kanengiser
NCTTA Media Chairman
Many of the luminaries of the collegiate table tennis world are bringing their paddles to square off in the 2015 national championships in Wisconsin.
The list of stars coming to play in Eau Claire April 10-12 reads like a “Who’s Who’’ of the table tennis circuit in North America and beyond.
Princeton University standouts like Ariel Hsing and Erica Wu are extraordinary players who were members of the U.S. women’s Olympic table tennis team in 2012. California-Berkeley’s Lily Zhang is on the U.S. Olympic squad, too. All three outstanding women will be playing at this spring’s big tournament in Wisconsin.
On the men’s side, there’s no shortage of superb table tennis players coming to the Cheese State to compete. Peter Li of the University of California-Berkeley is traveling to the 2015 TMS Collegiate Table Tennis Championships, and Peter is the 2011 U.S. National Champion in men’s singles. Cheng Li of Mississippi College won the title as 2014 National Collegiate Champion for men’s singles. He pulled off the triumph at the 2014 national championships in Monroeville, near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
A 22-year-old native from China and MC business student, Li returns to the 2015 TMS championships in Eau Claire to try to win back-to-back men’s singles titles. Li will draw stiff opposition from 2013 National Collegiate men’s singles champ, Emil Santos of Texas Wesleyan University, and other contenders. Santos is a native of the Dominican Republic.
Texas Wesleyan will seek its incredible 12th straight coed team national title led by coach Jasna Rather. The Fort Worth, Texas school features tremendous student-athletes from China, Germany and other parts of the globe.
The list of powerhouses in the collegiate ranks in 2015 goes on and on.
“The NCTTA keeps on getting more and more competitive and this year is no exception,’’ says Willy Leparulo, the NCTTA president for more than a decade. This year’s tournament, he said, is shaping up to be “the who’s who in college table tennis and table tennis in general.’’
Joe Wells, the NCTTA vice president serves as a commentator during live streaming of the nationals each year. He echoes those sentiments. “I won’t be alone in anticipation of great matches at this year’s championships,’’ Joe says.
New York University, among others, is also loaded with star power. The NYU stars include Tahl Leibovitz, a four-time U.S. Paralympic team member. Tahl won a Bronze medal at the 2004 Paralympic Games. Long Island, New York native Michael Landers, the 2009 U.S. National Champion for men’s singles, also will bring his “A’’ game to Wisconsin.
On the West Coast, University of Southern California standout Grant Li is a USA Men’s Table Tennis Team member who will play his heart out in Wisconsin. So will Klement Yeung of McMaster University in Canada. He was a member of the Canada Boys Team at the 2014 World Junior Championship.
Going to see these talented men and women in action for three days in Wisconsin is well worth the price of admission for table tennis fans. Those who can’t go should watch the live streaming on nctta.org and there are no bad seats in the house.
Says Dan Wang, the NCTTA webmaster: “I think it’s pretty cool that all of the members of the most recent U.S. women’s Olympic team will be competing.’’
The action will be hot as USA college teams from Coast to Coast and up north in Canada battle for six table tennis championship titles.
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