Schools in Canada Enjoy 2015 Table Tennis Championships
By Andy Kanengiser
NCTTA Media Chairman
Players from Canadian schools encountered stiff table tennis competition soon after crossing the border into America.
For the team from McGill University in Montreal, the first test Friday at the 2015 college table tennis championships in Wisconsin was facing mighty Mississippi College. MC ranked No. 2 in the nation for three consecutive seasons.
"Playing MC, we knew it was a tough match and we lost 3-1,'' said McGill freshman Isaac Chan. "But it encouraged us to work harder.''
After battling Mississippi College stars like Cheng Li, Yi Chi Zhang and Tong Zhang, all natives of China, McGill took on Penn State and fared better Saturday.
Making its first visit to the TMS national championships in Eau Claire, Wisconsin proved quite a learning experience for the players at 39,000-student McGill University.
"At the Nationals, the levels are really high. The Regionals are a step up, but the Nationals are several levels up,'' says Chan, an 18-year-old electrical engineering student.
Just getting to the tournament wasn't easy. Weather issues and delayed or cancelled flights led to the McGill team arriving at their Eau Claire hotel at 2 a.m. and playing table tennis a few hours later. Many other teams here shared weather woes and travel nightmares.
"It's hard to predict the weather,'' Chan said.
It's also hard to predict how the best table tennis teams in Canada and the USA would do against one another for three straight days. But most observers gave the edge to Texas Wesleyan that is seeking its 12th consecutive coed team championship.
Chan was matched with other stellar players in singles from other schools. The list included Lindenwood University standout Felipe Morita, a 26-year-old graduate student from Brazil.
Listed in surveys as the 21st best university in the world, for its noted research programs, McGill is quickly building a reputation for a dynamic table tennis team. Ling Kun Yang, William Liu and Xiaokang Deng round out the talented squad.
Once the national championships are over, and final exams are all finished, Isaac plans to work on developing his table tennis game. He's returning to Hong Kong over the summer.
Thousands of miles from Montreal, the McGill student will practice with his former table tennis coach and should be better next season. Most of his teammates will be back, too.
The experience at the Nationals was a good one for Western Ontario coach Sam Howes. The Western Ontario women's team was seeded 4th prior to the tournament, and is expected to finish 4th or better on Sunday. "We are in a good spot.''
But the end of the tournament will bring change for the former Western Ontario player. Sam is leaving the school to pursue his doctorate in music theory at McGill. Eunice Chan, the assistant coach will succeed Howes as the Mustangs head coach next season.
Getting to the Nationals wasn't a snap for the Western Ontario team. They drove 11 hours to Rockford, Illinois, spent the night and motored the rest of the way to Eau Claire.
The April 10-12 tournament in Wisconsin welcomed other potent squads from Canada, including McMaster University. The school brings standouts like Klement Yeung and Dun Li from the country's national team. For McMaster, it marked the team's debut at the national championships.
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