Newcomers Shine at Table Tennis Championships

By Andy Kanengiser

NCTTA Media Chair

Khaliunaa Baassankhuu brings one of the longest names to the 2019 NCTTA championships. But the 19-year-old native of Mongolia also brings much talent as a table tennis player to this weekend's collegiate tournament in North Carolina.A University of Akron sociology major, Khaliunna finds time to excel on the Ohio school's table tennis team.

Making her first trip to Nationals, Khaliunna is the only resident of Mongolia enrolled at Akron. Her country of three million people and lots of rugged mountains sits between Russia and China. Mongolia isn't flat like Ohio. Her country lacks the heavy population of more than 300 million people in the USA.

"There are really different cultures,'' she says of life in America compared to her home in the capital city of Ulaanbaatar (with one million people). "But I love it so far.''

The Akron student has two years of table tennis experience, but keeps getting better.

She's seeded 38th among 40 women signed up for singles competition at the April 12-14 tournament in Greensboro.

It's a wonderful experience at Nationals so far, Khaliunna Baasankhuu said as practices wrapped up at the Greensboro Coliseum Thursday night.

On a full academic scholarship to the University of Akron, she's getting a solid education in the USA. The Zips player wants to use her sociology degree to return to Mongolia as a youth worker. (featured above)

While playing matches at the Greensboro Coliseum, Khaliunna will hear cheers of encouragement from her Akron Zips teammates.

Sharing the 7-hour drive from the Akron campus are players Mark Hendricks, 21, a mechanical engineering major from Toledo, and Noah Nerlich, 19, a biology major from Medina, Ohio. Both are signed up for men's singles at the NCTTA's huge tournament.

With a ten player roster, the Akron Zips compete in an NCTTA division with schools like Michigan State, Case Western and West Virginia. On their Akron campus, table tennis is a growing sport.

While the three Akron players are new to the Nationals, that's the case as well for many student-athletes at several other schools. The list of newcomers includes players from Santa Monica College in California, James Madison University in Virginia and Wright State University in Ohio.

Santa Monica's coed team is seeded 14th and Wright State ranks 14th as the lively games in Greensboro began Friday.

The 2019 iSET College Table Tennis Championships is hosted by the National Collegiate Table Tennis Association and Sports & Properties Inc. and Greensboro 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 iSET, Double Happiness, SPI, Greensboro CVB, Double Fish and USA Table Tennis

Players and spectators alike will enjoy a jam-packed weekend of table tennis at the iSET College Table Tennis Championships. The event starts Friday April 12th and continues through Sunday April 14th.

About NCTTA

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

Canada Represented at Greensboro Tournament

By Andy Kanengiser

NCTTA Media Chair

In Canada, fans of the NBA's Toronto Raptors and pro hockey teams clearly outnumber people who love table tennis.

But players from Ryerson University in Toronto are helping showcase their favorite Olympic sport and Canada at the 2019 NCTTA championships in Greensboro, North Carolina.

During Thursday evening practices at the Greensboro Coliseum, Ryerson Rams players Juan Liyau, 20, a native of Peru, and Mustafa Malick, 22, of Pakistan were happy to represent their school. And they're delighted to represent Canada at the NCTTA's biggest tournament of the year. The April 12-14 event is attracting about 275 players across the USA and Canada.

During the winter months when heavy snow and ice is a way of life in Canada, indoor sports like table tennis grow even more popular. No need for players to worry about sub-freezing temperatures or the chilly wind blasts.

With these guys from 40,000-student Ryerson University, table tennis remains a sport they cherish year-round.

In their division, Ryerson University defeated table tennis foes in Canada like Waterloo, Western, and the University of Toronto. But the Rams team fell to Buffalo (N.Y.) in the NCTTA's Great Lakes Regionals. Buffalo's strong coed team in the Empire State is seeded 7th at the tournament. That's one notch better than the No. 8 University of Texas Longhorns.

A freshman and applied math major at his school, Liyau says he's thrilled to compete in men's singles at the NCTTA championships. So is Mustafa Malick. A Ryerson senior, Malick is a computer science major at the school in Toronto's Garden District.

Ryerson University sits near a busy intersection near the Yonge-Dundas Square. At the championship games, these talented players will stay busy this weekend.

At an early age, Liyau stepped up up his game as a kid growing up in Peru. He began playing as a 5-year-old. Juan won a table tennis title as the South American champ in 2012 for players under age 13. Today, he's rated above 2000. Juan is seeded 49th among 80 men's singles participants in Greensboro.

For the Ryerson University duo, it's their first trip to the Nationals and both guys are enjoying every minute.

 "This is a really big venue,'' Mustafa Malick said as he looked over the many tables assembled at the vast Greensboro Coliseum. The Ryerson senior who began playing as a 9th grader isn't finished with table tennis after the North Carolina tournament ends.

During the 2019-20 table tennis season, Malick will return to coach the Ryerson team and may pursue graduate school.

At the 2019 Nationals, Canada featured a couple of women giving it their best shot. They include players like Grace Zhang of the University of British Columbia. She's seeded 24th among 40 players listed for women's singles competition.

Canada is represented in other ways. Each year at NCTTA tournaments, there's time for players, fans, volunteers and others to hear Canada's National Anthem "Oh, Canada'' as well as sing the American anthem during opening ceremonies.

Over the years, schools in Canada produced awesome table tennis players at a number of schools from McGill to the University of Toronto, Ottawa, Western and Ryerson. Some players from Canada are taking final exams and couldn't make the journey to the tournament in North Carolina.

The 2019 iSET College Table Tennis Championships is hosted by the National Collegiate Table Tennis Association and Sports & Properties Inc. and Greensboro 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 iSET, Double Happiness, SPI, Greensboro CVB, Double Fish and USA Table Tennis

Players and spectators alike will enjoy a jam-packed weekend of table tennis at the iSET College Table Tennis Championships. The event starts Friday April 12th and continues through Sunday April 14th.

About NCTTA

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

NCTTA CHAMPS--LIVE STREAMED!

Check it out the best tournament in North America (yes we are biased) but seriously! Join us for the live stream at 10am eastern time!

Table 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UHrSCpRWSdQ

Table 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GBlJvnKJYKg

Table 3: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mtUWThZkjEE

Table 4: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lJJTBVzfusA

 

Join us!

Hype for Coveted National Coed Title is Now

(Adar Alguetti and Yijun "Tom" Feng above in the doubles that won it for NYU in 2018)

By Michael Reff

NCTTA Media Committee

The time for predicting the winner of the coed teams’ event, the highlight of the NCTTA champs April 12-14 in Greensboro, NC, is upon us. With each year, there is fiercer competition from an ever-expanding group of schools. In the past, Texas Wesleyan (TWU) has garnered an amazing 13 national coed teams’ titles, but now there are new contenders on the horizon. The top six schools coming into the champs this year are Mississippi College, TWU, NYU, Berkeley, UC Davis, and UC Irvine. NYU won last year’s acclaimed title, and Mississippi has played several times in the finals, winning once in 2015.

There are several possible upset schools such as Duke, USC, and UT Austin. Pillar college is also one such school because they have two players rated around 2700 and 2400, and two players that are below 1000. Due to the beauty of team play, any school with two highly rated players and two lower rated players could try and win at least two teams’ singles’ matches, ultimately a deciding doubles match. If these schools play their cards right and practice for singles as well as doubles play, there could be a new national titleholder!

Joseph Wells, NCTTA Vice President adds, “Every year outlasts the other in terms of competitiveness and this year is no different. We expect to see an incredible competition unfold at the Championships.”  

So, here’s to rooting for your favorite team, in loudnproud fashion, and let’s hope for a nail-biting tiebreaking deciding match to leave it all on the table!

The 2019 iSET College Table Tennis Championships is hosted by the National Collegiate Table Tennis Association and Sports & Properties Inc. and Greensboro 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 iSET, Double Happiness, SPI, Greensboro CVB, Double Fish and USA Table Tennis

Players and spectators alike will enjoy a jam-packed weekend of table tennis at the iSET College Table Tennis Championships. The event starts Friday April 12th and continues through Sunday April 14th.

About NCTTA

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

Women’s College Table Tennis Stands Strong

(Pengpeng Wang from Florida State University featured above)

Women’s college table tennis was born in 2005 with the first ever NCTTA Women’s College Table Tennis Championships. In 2005 the winner was Virginia Tech beating Texas Wesleyan that year. Since 2005, Texas Wesleyan has won the women’s team championship 8 times, (including winners of the last 3) and are favored once again as the top seed.

UC Berkeley women’s team is always on their toes however. Recently led by Lily Zhang and now by returner extraordinaire (chopper) Angela Guan, the Bears look to challenge the Texas Wesleyan women’s team for the title.  Duke and UCLA also round out the top 4 with outside chances.

Something else amazing is happening in the women’s team play in that more women’s only teams are making the venture out to the NCTTA Championships. Out of 16 women’s teams, 5 are without their men’s teams at the Championships. Five may not seem like a big number, but in Women’s college table tennis, it is the start of a new trend, with Arizona State, University of Pennsylvania, Florida State University, George Washington and UMass Amherst making the trek to North Carolina. #leadership 

Florida State University club president and number one women’s team player, Pengpeng Wang explains, “One thing that makes this sport exciting is that women can compete with men. As a club leader, I’m glad to see any of our teams go to Nationals.. Even if without men’s team going with us, our girls will still take their role to represent themselves and FSU table tennis.”

Pengpeng Wang is graduating this year with her PHD in Statistics. She also completed the NCTTA Coaching Certificate last July and served as FSU Table Tennis’ first ever woman club president and is attending her first NCTTA College Table Tennis Championships!

We hope the wave of strong women’s college table tennis continues!

The 2019 iSET College Table Tennis Championships is hosted by the National Collegiate Table Tennis Association and Sports & Properties Inc. and Greensboro 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 iSET, Double Happiness, SPI, Greensboro CVB, Double Fish and USA Table Tennis

Players and spectators alike will enjoy a jam-packed weekend of table tennis at the iSET College Table Tennis Championships. The event starts Friday April 12th and continues through Sunday April 14th.

About NCTTA

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

Table Tennis Stars Battle for Men’s Singles Crown in Greensboro

By Andy Kanengiser

NCTTA Media Chair

Kunal Chodri remains one of the outstanding table tennis players from the University of California-Davis. The 19-year-old sophomore will battle stellar competitors from schools like Pillar College, NYU, Texas Wesleyan University and Mississippi College as they bid to take home the men’s singles trophy.

A managerial economics major at Cal-Davis, Chodri is part of an impressive field of players who will showcase their talents at the 2019 NCTTA national championships.

Shots hitting the edge of tables or barely creeping over the nets could decide the outcome of the games in Greensboro, North Carolina. Set for April 12-14, the tournament is drawing about 275 of the best collegiate players in the USA and Canada.

Kunal brings a good touch and ball control with paddle in hand. “Much of his talent is due to years of hard work and experience as a junior cadet team member,’’ said UC Davis table tennis coach Danny Yip. The Fremont, California resident qualified for the 2017 U.S. men’s team when he defeated Kanak Jha in the finals on the second day of qualification.

Fans at the 2018 NCTTA championships in Round Rock, Texas may recall Kunal Chodri defeated standouts like Kai Zhang of SUNY-Binghampton, Jinxin Wang of Texas Wesleyan and Adar Alguetti of NYU during coed team competition.

Zhang will miss the games in Greensboro (as he is taking a year off) but aces from other schools will pack their paddles for the NCTTA’s biggest tournament of the season.

More recently, Kunal performed well during the 2019 PanAm trials despite being a full-time student at UC Davis. “That’s no easy feat,’’ Coach Yip said. “I can’t wait to see this gentle giant compete at the NCTTA collegiate championships in Greensboro.’’

Kunal Chodri is the best player at a California school that’s a relative newcomer in collegiate table tennis. UC Davis first visited Nationals in 2006 when its coed team played. A couple of UC Davis singles players participated in the 2015 national championships in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. The UC Davis women’s team placed 7th at the 2017 nationals. The coed team landed in 7th place at the 2018 championships.

“Our table tennis club is constantly developing and expanding in recent years,’’ Coach Yip explained. “You will likely see us more in future years.’’

Gazing at the top ten of men’s singles competitors, NCTTA President Willy Leparulo sees a strong field.

“With representatives from Pillar College, NYU, Texas Wesleyan, and Mississippi College, there are some pretty familiar schools with standout players competing,’’ Leparulo said. “One of the relative newcomers to watch is UC Davis. We look forward to some spirited games in Greensboro, North Carolina.’’

Adar Alguetti is a sharp table tennis player, but also a bright student at New York University. Majoring in accounting and finance, the Tenafly, New Jersey resident is on track to graduate in the summer of 2021.

But first and foremost is turning in solid performances in singles and scoring triumphs with his NYU teammates. NYU captured the 2018 coed national title by beating perennial champ Texas Wesleyan Rams in the finals in Round Rock.

“I would say our team is stronger than last year in the sense we have more depth and can alter our roster depending on the team we play,’’ Alguetti said. “Greensboro brings back a lot of memories since it is the same venue where the (2016) Team USA Olympic Trials were held.’’

One of the dynamic members of the NYU squad returning is Yijun “Tom’’ Feng, a Team USA star at the 2016 Olympics. He’s a smart student at the prestigious university in the Big City. The 22-year-old is majoring in sports law with a minor in economics. Tom’s career plan is working for an international sports association. But now, his focus is the NCTTA championships.

Feng, who transferred to NYU after a freshman season at the University of Georgia, is ranked as the tournament’s second seed in men’s singles. He trails No. 1 seed Kaden Xu of Pillar College in New Jersey.

Others expected to join the fight for the men’s singles title are Texas Wesleyan Rams standouts like Jishan Liang and Jinxin Wang. They impressed table fans in March with their spectacular play at the NCTTA’s South Regionals on their home turf in Fort Worth.

Mississippi College players like Tomotaka “Tomo” Yoshitomi, Xiang “Ali’’ He and Qingwei Sun will also compete with paddles blazing in their quest for the 2019 men’s singles collegiate title.

For more information on the NCTTA championships and live streaming of the Greensboro games, go to nctta.org

The 2019 iSET College Table Tennis Championships is hosted by the National Collegiate Table Tennis Association and Sports & Properties Inc. and Greensboro 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 iSET, Double Happiness, SPI, Greensboro CVB, Double Fish and USA Table Tennis

Players and spectators alike will enjoy a jam-packed weekend of table tennis at the iSET College Table Tennis Championships. The event starts Friday April 12th and continues through Sunday April 14th.

About NCTTA

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

Fewer But Passionate Representation from Canadian Schools

Cherry Zheng

(Pic by Tae Kim of Cherry Zheng)

By Michael Reff

NCTTA Media Committee

In the past our ponging northern neighbors have frequented the nationals with a plethora of powerhouse teams. This year, there will be a sparse showing from our Canadian brethren, but they will be soundly represented in the Men’s and Women’s single’s event. Juan Liyau from Ryerson University for the men and on the women’s side in the form of two passionate players.

One such player, Cherry Zheng, graciously told this writer about her history with our favorite Olympic sport. Cherry is a third-year computer science student at the University of British Columbia (UBC). Initially she commenced her table tennis career at 8 years of age, doing it more because her father was already in love with the sport. However, as time progressed, she went from playing for the sake of her parents to partaking in pong for herself as well as the social aspect. “The table tennis community is amazing and the people play a huge part in why I love table tennis,” she says.

Cherry provides insight as to why most of her teammates won’t be making it to nationals: final exams.  UBC is one of the top universities in Canada and the world for that matter, so there is no wonder that studies considerably occupy college table tennis athletes’ time. When asked what the greatest challenge will be going into nationals in the singles event only, Cherry states, it “is the change in mindset, since it’s certainly different playing without a team and having your teammates around you at all times. I’ll miss my teammates that couldn’t come, but I’m truly happy to be able to attend the championships and represent my school!” She will be joined by one other teammate, Grace, for whom she is very grateful to have her company.

Also, in regard to preparing for the champs and the daunting long-distance trip ahead of her, she embraces it with enthusiasm. “I’m trying to squeeze in practice whenever possible! Nationals is an event that I’ve been looking forward to for a long time (probably since last nationals), and now that it’s approaching, I’m super stoked!! The trip is quite a lengthy one, with there not being any direct flight options, but I love travelling so I’m sure it’ll be a great experience!

What’s more, Canada and the USA will have equal representation in the opening ceremony, with an exciting fact. NCTTA President Willy Leparulo states, “we will have a live singer from UNC Greensboro singing [the] Canadian [anthem].” Thank you, Cherry, for making the trek to the states to represent Canada and UBC!

The 2019 iSET College Table Tennis Championships is hosted by the National Collegiate Table Tennis Association and Sports & Properties Inc. and Greensboro 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 iSET, Double Happiness, SPI, Greensboro CVB, Double Fish and USA Table Tennis

Players and spectators alike will enjoy a jam-packed weekend of table tennis at the iSET College Table Tennis Championships. The event starts Friday April 12th and continues through Sunday April 14th.

About NCTTA

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

 

Fewer But Passionate Representation from Canadian Schools

(Pic by Tae Kim of Cherry Zheng)

By Michael Reff

NCTTA Media Committee

In the past our ponging northern neighbors have frequented the nationals with a plethora of powerhouse teams. This year, there will be a sparse showing from our Canadian brethren, but they will be soundly represented in the Men’s and Women’s single’s event. Juan Liyau from Ryerson University for the men and on the women’s side in the form of two passionate players.

One such player, Cherry Zheng, graciously told this writer about her history with our favorite Olympic sport. Cherry is a third-year computer science student at the University of British Columbia (UBC). Initially she commenced her table tennis career at 8 years of age, doing it more because her father was already in love with the sport. However, as time progressed, she went from playing for the sake of her parents to partaking in pong for herself as well as the social aspect. “The table tennis community is amazing and the people play a huge part in why I love table tennis,” she says.

Cherry provides insight as to why most of her teammates won’t be making it to nationals: final exams.  UBC is one of the top universities in Canada and the world for that matter, so there is no wonder that studies considerably occupy college table tennis athletes’ time. When asked what the greatest challenge will be going into nationals in the singles event only, Cherry states, it “is the change in mindset, since it’s certainly different playing without a team and having your teammates around you at all times. I’ll miss my teammates that couldn’t come, but I’m truly happy to be able to attend the championships and represent my school!” She will be joined by one other teammate, Grace, for whom she is very grateful to have her company.

Also, in regard to preparing for the champs and the daunting long-distance trip ahead of her, she embraces it with enthusiasm. “I’m trying to squeeze in practice whenever possible! Nationals is an event that I’ve been looking forward to for a long time (probably since last nationals), and now that it’s approaching, I’m super stoked!! The trip is quite a lengthy one, with there not being any direct flight options, but I love travelling so I’m sure it’ll be a great experience!

What’s more, Canada and the USA will have equal representation in the opening ceremony, with an exciting fact. NCTTA President Willy Leparulo states, “we will have a live singer from UNC Greensboro singing [the] Canadian [anthem].” Thank you, Cherry, for making the trek to the states to represent Canada and UBC!

The 2019 iSET College Table Tennis Championships is hosted by the National Collegiate Table Tennis Association and Sports & Properties Inc. and Greensboro 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 iSET, Double Happiness, SPI, Greensboro CVB, Double Fish and USA Table Tennis

Players and spectators alike will enjoy a jam-packed weekend of table tennis at the iSET College Table Tennis Championships. The event starts Friday April 12th and continues through Sunday April 14th.

About NCTTA

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

 

Behind Every Great College TT Team is….

(Danny Yip, coach of UC Davis, featured above)

A great, hard working college table tennis coach.

Coaches in college table tennis are many times overlooked and under-appreciated, but not at the 2019 iSET College Table Tennis Championships. Having a coach in your corner is many times making the trip, the matches, the travel, and the experience all that much more enjoyable. Coaches in college table tennis aren’t only in charge of footwork and forehands, but also organizing the sometimes large administrative quagmire within coordinating a team or group of players at the College Table Tennis Championships.

There are many coaches at the 2019 Championships, 35 to be exact and while we can’t speak to all of them, we have chosen four to highlight today.

Meet “Johnson” Zhicheng Liang, coach of Mississippi College. “Johnson,” as he is called, was a player for Mississippi College from 2009 to 2013 and a part of that famed team (from 2015) that beat Texas Wesleyan for the first time in a decade. Johnson has a very interesting approach “Prepare for the worst and hope for the best”. Johnson, with help from staff sponsor Andy Kanengiser, keeps the Mississippi College team in check and ready to go. They are currently seeded #2 in the Championships and have a very high chance of reclaiming the title for the small school in Mississippi that yes DOES provide scholarships!

Introducing a new player/coach to the Championships, we have Eric Naranjo of the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA). UTSA originated from the NCTTA South Texas division, but when the division folded UTSA joined the Texas division which included powerhouses like Texas Wesleyan and UT Austin. UTSA wasn’t intimidated as they posted incredible results and part of that has to do with Coach Naranjo’s training regiment! “the players have been practicing at least 2 hours a day 5 days a week. They are also working out with weights and adding in some more cardio into their daily routine.

Coach Naranjo has worked hard on and off the court, he is still a student at UTSA and plans to hang up his coach’s hat after this season to join the team. Naranjo states, “this is the first year we have ever attended nationals and are super pumped to be able to show what a year of hard work as amounted to.” UTSA is very much a dark horse, tune in to see if they upset anyone!

Another new coach is Andrew Tan from UMass Amherst. Andrew was certified as an NCTTA College TT coach last summer in Connecticut, and NCTTA is happy to see him and his women’s team progress to the ultimate stage of college table tennis. Tan never got to play in college as a student at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, but now he is living out his playing days through the hard work of his team, “We did physical warm-ups together (never before in prior years), we had multi-ball practice (also first time ever), agility ladder drills (also another first time ever).  And we used a template FSU (thanks Willy!) for table tennis drills. We discussed tactics and strategies in our practices"

The Umass Amherst team is like a big family with several assistant coaches (Alec Slepchuck, Ariel Burman) and of course their club president Felicia Wang motivating those to attend practice.  Tan acknowledges that their chances may not be so good, but, as Tan shares, the UMass Amherst team is getting more bang for their buck through the recent division and regional experiences, “ It was a great experience and a wonderful unexpected gift for all the hard work that was put in.”

Good luck to Coach Tan and the ladies of UMass Amherst!

Last but certainly not least is Coach Danny Yip from a very popular UC Davis team. Coach Danny is what some in NCTTA circles call a college table tennis lifer. Yip has attended NCTTA college table tennis coaching training, been to Nationals 3 times, coached his beloved UC Davis team and even played for them in 2009-2012. Coach Danny has brought an interesting dynamic to the team, “My assistance is to provide video feedback to see how they could move forward with their future games.”

The UC Davis team, according to Coach Danny, has a very strong team this year and is looking to improve on their 7th place finish at last year’s nationals. Cracking the top 5 is a very real goal and with help from Coach Danny’s assistance (Multiball, conditioning, etc.) the sky's the limit!

College table tennis coaches give their time (much of it without pay) and their knowledge, heart, etc. willingly. One may think, “What are they getting out of it?” They get just as much as the team does. Coach Yip says, “UC Davis Table Tennis Club had always provided a second home for me and I am always willing to give back and train our young Aggie bloods!

Coach Tan of UMass Amherst sums it up, “little did I know that I would end up enjoying the sport, getting NCTTA certified in the summer of 2018 and coaching UMass Amherst.  God had a sense of humor and I am thankful.

Thank you to all NCTTA coaches, for your work is not overlooked and you are not underappreciated at our event!

The 2019 iSET College Table Tennis Championships is hosted by the National Collegiate Table Tennis Association and Sports & Properties Inc. and Greensboro 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 iSET, Double Happiness, SPI, Greensboro CVB, Double Fish and USA Table Tennis

Players and spectators alike will enjoy a jam-packed weekend of table tennis at the iSET College Table Tennis Championships. The event starts Friday April 12th and continues through Sunday April 14th. 

About NCTTA

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

Outstanding Women Compete for Collegiate Table Tennis Singles Trophy

(Pictured above Wenting Zha, picture by Grant Bergmann)

By Andy Kanengiser

Standout table tennis players from Texas Wesleyan University dominate the action at the national collegiate championships from one year to the next.

One sharp Texas Wesleyan student-athlete with her eye set on capturing the women’s singles title is Wenting Zha.

Texas Wesleyan coach Jasna Rather is a big believer in the strengths that Wenting brings to the table when she plays her favorite sport.

No doubt, Wenting ranks as “one of the best female athletes this year,’’ Rather says of the talented Rams player. “Despite her level of play and achievements, she is very humble. She has a very fast and precise game that is not easy for an opponent to stop her.’’

Wenting Zha impresses table tennis fans as a smart player who takes a serious approach to developing her game. She’s got plenty of smarts in college classrooms, too. Wenting will soon finish work on her MBA. That business degree will open up career doors for her, Coach Rather said.

Last April, Texas Wesleyan’s Yue Wu became the 8th Lady Ram to win the women’s singles title at the 2018 iSet College Table Tennis National Championships. The games were played in Round Rock, Texas near Austin. Jennifer Yue Wu became the first Texas Wesleyan University women’s player to win that title since Sara Hazinski in 2011.

Now, observers predict Wenting Zha stands a very good chance of capturing the women’s singles title at the 2019 championships.  The NCTTA’s biggest tournament of the year runs from April 12-14 in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Wenting showcased her excellent skills at the NCTTA South Regionals at the Sid Richardson Center at Texas Wesleyan University March 9-10. A year ago at the national championships in the Lone Star State, Wenting performed well. But Zha fell to top-seeded Lily Zhang of California-Berkeley (and Team USA fame) in women’s singles.

In the doubles final in 2018, it was an all-Texas Wesleyan shootout. Yue Wu and Wenting Zha combined to defeat Lady Rams teammates Ana Aleksandric and Edina Haracic to take home the trophy to Fort Worth.

Wenting also brings plenty of coaching experience. Wenting is among the U.S. Junior and Cadet National Team coaches. “She has a good number of years under her belt in club coaching,’’ Rather said.

Outstanding female players at other schools across the USA and Canada will put up a stiff fight for the women’s singles crown at the North Carolina tournament.

The University of California-Berkeley team has some top-notch women players. They include Angela Guan, who lost to Yue Wu in women’s singles at the 2018 nationals.

Guan, 20, a resident of San Jose, California, is a bright Cal-Berkeley data science major. The vice president of the Cal Table Tennis Club, she’s familiar with the 2019 championships venue in Greensboro. Known as a chopper, Angela competed at the 2016 USA Olympic Trials at the very same site. Returning to Greensboro, N.C. in April, Guan said, “brings back memories of my whole Olympic dream and journey, especially the Finals on the very last day which was on NBC Sports Live.’’

Guan looks forward to paddling with the California Bears team and reuniting with the NCTTA family on a national stage again.

In her 9th year of playing table tennis, Angela brings other sports skills. She did gymnastics for six years before table tennis.

Other prominent female players from the West Coast who will bring their strong table tennis skills to North Carolina will be Qiao Jiao of Ohlone College in California. Ying Wang of the University of California-Berkeley will be back to Nationals again. Ying Wang was an awesome player at Ohlone before joining Cal’s table tennis squad.

The 2019 iSET College Table Tennis Championships is hosted by the National Collegiate Table Tennis Association and Sports & Properties Inc. and Greensboro 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 iSET, Double Happiness, SPI, Greensboro CVB, Double Fish and USA Table Tennis

Players and spectators alike will enjoy a jam-packed weekend of table tennis at the iSET College Table Tennis Championships. The event starts Friday April 12th and continues through Sunday April 14th. Tickets on sale at ticket master

About NCTTA

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

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