By Andy Kanengiser
NCTTA Media Chairman
Texas Longhorns players usually come sporting cowboy hats, western boots, spurs, rodeo gear and much more at annual NCTTA banquets.
If there was a bull around, the Texans might ride it, too, at the college table tennis championships. At the 51,000-student university known for famous grads like movie actor Matthew McConaughey and former First Lady Laura Bush, these UT-Austin table tennis stars are a talented bunch.
Enjoying home court advantage with the 2016 NCTTA championships staged in nearby Round Rock, the 11-member Texas team is also a diverse group.
Coach Judy Chen (a Texas grad) and players Franny Fang, Tina Wang, and Tim Wang are all from Taiwan. Felix Chan comes from Hong Kong. Pulak Goswani and Sanjana Gupta hail from India. Sophomore Grayden Cook, 19, is a native of San Antonio, home of the 5-time NBA champion San Antonio Spurs. A Texas pre-med student, Cook hits the books, too.
Being able to take the ten to fifteen-mile drive from the Austin campus to Round Rock is something the Texas team will relish. No need to book flights, tote lots of luggage of get lost. The 2016 TMS College Table Tennis Championship will be in the Lone Star State March 25-27.
“We’re all very excited to host such a huge event in our own backyard, so to speak,’’ says UT-Austin Club President Chris Lee. “Everyone here is passionate about table tennis. It is a great plus to have it so close to us and bring some needed publicity to the sport in our community.’’
Texas features seven players on the coed team and four student-athletes on the women’s squad. The Longhorns team doesn’t have far to go to practice. The players practice at the Austin Table Tennis Club where they’ve received valuable lessons from coach Yang Yu, a former Mississippi College table tennis star.
The Texas team won’t just bring their paddles. The squad will also serve as volunteers, with their assignments to include setting up and taking down tables at the three-day event. Some of the players will also serve as umpires and scorekeepers.
Look for the Texas Longhorns and their fans to make lots of noise in Round Rock. They have something to cheer about. A year, ago the Texas squad was ranked 9th going into the tournament in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. A year ago, Judy Chen, 23, played for the Texas team with its white and burnt orange colors as a pharmacy graduate student. In late March, Judy will step up and lend her expertise as the Longhorns coach.
At a Texas basketball powerhouse led by men’s coach Shaka Smart, the table tennis team on the Austin campus is smart, too. With paddles in hand, the men and women from zip code 52059 should represent the University of Texas very well.
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. 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