NCTTA Star Power in Class of 2016

By Andy Kanengiser
NCTTA Media Chairman
Table tennis luminaries like Emil Santos of Texas Wesleyan and Cheng Li of Mississippi College lead the parade of stars closing out stellar careers in NCTTA tournaments.
A powerful Texas Wesleyan leader from the Dominican Republic, Santos, 25, impressed fans at the 2016 TMS College Table Tennis Championships.
During a break at Friday's games in Round Rock,Texas Wesleyan coach Jasna Rather saluted the business major's accomplishments.
"Emil is a role model to all the others. He's a hard worker, very responsible and a good student,'' Rather said at the Round Rock Sports Center. "It's good to have people like him on the team.''
Rather coached a number of extraordinary student-athletes, including Mark Hazinski on terrific Rams squads. And Santos, she said, "is in elite company. He was one of our top guys over the years.''
What's next for the TWU senior? "He will try to work for one year and get some experience.'' But, Emil is open to opportunities, the coach added.
Santos remains one of the key pieces in the extraordinary Texas Wesleyan success story. The Fort Worth-based school won 11 consecutive coed team championships before being edged by Mississippi College in April 2015. Santos earned headlines as the NCTTA's men's singles champion in 2013.

Mississippi College's Cheng Li, 23, succeeded Santos as the NCTTA's men's singles champion in 2014. He's serving his second season as the MC Choctaws coach and captain. The native of China is considering an offer from university leaders to stay as table tennis coach, while pursuing his MBA the next two years on the Clinton campus. Li and teammate Tong Zhang shined as the national men's collegiate doubles champs last season.

While Li guided MC to its first table tennis championship in 2015, the smart business administration major worked hard to bring another national triumph to the 5,100-student university. It could boil down to another Texas Wesleyan-Mississippi College showdown when the Round Rock tournament ends Sunday.
Other top-notch players will wrap up their NCTTA careers this weekend. They include Henry Chau, 22, a senior at McMaster University in Canada. Seeking a bachelor's degree in economics, Chau played four years at the school in Hamilton, Ontario. Thanks to players like him, McMaster punched its ticket to the 2015 Nationals in Wisconsin for the first time and finished the year ranked 8th. This year, its coed squad entered the Round Rock tournament as 11th best.
Closing out his collegiate career, he said, "is a sad feeling. But it's been a great experience.'' A Toronto resident, Henry grew up playing hockey and volleyball until a knee injury prompted the teen to switch to table tennis. His plans ahead? To work a year, then earn a master's degree. Chau hopes to serve NCTTA as a volunteer.
The University of Minnesota table tennis team will soon bid farewell to two standout players: Kris Sabas, 31, and Ben Kubesh, 21. Both are on track to graduate in May. Look for Sabas to return next season as the Minnesota coach. A philosophy major, Sabas is considering a sales internship or the possibility of law school. No matter what, he will continue to be passionate about table tennis.
It's something in the Sabas DNA. His parents, Joseph and Cynthia Sabas, are table tennis players in the Senior Olympics. His 7-year-old daughter, Abigail, plays the game. too. With a ranking of 2200, the Minneapolis resident is making his third appearance at the NCTTA championships.
 A former Minnesota high school doubles star, Kubesh will graduate in May with a bachelor's degree in marketing/finance. The Austin, Minnesota resident expects to work for a consulting firm. 
As Minnesota club president, Ben recruited solid players with help from social media. He's proud that Minnesota's coed team finished last season among the top dozen teams in North America. He's relished his four years with the Maroon & Gold.
"It's been a great time,'' Kubesh said. "The Minnesota club is awesome. It's more like a family.''
As graduation day draws near, the NCTTA family encourages the Class of 2016 to give back as table tennis volunteers.

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


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.

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).