Anastasiia Rybka Excels As Table Tennis Coach at Texas Wesleyan University

By Andy Kanengiser

NCTTA Media Chairman

First, Anastasiia Rybka showed off her amazing skills as a dynamic table tennis player at Texas Wesleyan University.

Coaches and teammates marveled at her abilities at tournaments on the Fort Worth campus and elsewhere. Game after game, her loops and smashes from both sides were impressive as the newcomer from the Ukraine immediately added strength to the perennial national champs.

During the 2016-17 NCTTA season, Rybka is proving to be a powerful addition to the mighty Texas Wesleyan squad as a coach. The season wraps up at the NCTTA’s 2017 championship games in Eau Claire, Wisconsin April 7-9.

A standout during her years as a Texas Wesleyan player, Jasna Rather heads the university’s table tennis program. She pours on the praise about Anastasiia’s smooth transition from player to coed team coach. Her presence at practices or during NCTTA tournaments has given the entire Rams team, both men and women, a boost. But really, her coaching career spans back to her days in the Ukraine. In 2013, she coached international athletes with hearing disabilities. In 2015, she was coaching USA para-athletes training for the Paraolympics in Rio in 2016.

“From the very beginning, Texas Wesleyan had plans to recruit Anastasiia as an athlete and coach,’’ Rather said. “We knew that her desire was to expand her knowledge in teaching styles so she can implement them in every day training and other educational assignments that she does. Anastasiia has been very valuable to the program as an athlete and as the coach.’’

Coming to Texas Wesleyan thousands of miles away from the Eastern European nation of Ukraine, Rybka also hit the books to pursue her master of education degree at Texas Wesleyan. She previously studied at the National University of Physical Education & Sport of the Ukraine.

With paddle in hand, the talented lefty easily made the switch from fabulous player to stellar coach in the Lone Star State. “She brought a fresh style into the program, which helped our growth,’’ Rather added.

That’s saying something because the Texas Wesleyan Rams squad captured a phenomenal twelve national team championships in table tennis, among many honors. Banners are hanging all over the Sid Richardson Center on the Fort Worth campus reflecting that success with many of the triumphs coming under Rather. The university is a virtual United Nations of table tennis with players from China, Brazil, Germany, the USA and many other countries.

Making the leap from player to coach seemed to be the right move for Rybka.

“Working with athletes who went to the Deaflympics changed by views on coaching,’’ Anastasiia said. “I realized what impact a coach has on athletes’ lives and their performances. From then, my goal was to become the best coach I can be and to use all possible opportunities to get great coaching training and needed experience.’’

Besides taking table tennis coaching classes and education courses, she’s been working with some pretty stellar coaches at Texas Wesleyan.

The group includes Jasna Rather, who’s in her 9th year as leader of the Texas Wesleyan University table tennis team. Then there’s Doru Gheorghe, head coach for the Rams women’s team beginning in May 2016. He is a former longtime head coach of the USA women’s national table tennis team. Another coaching heavyweight at Texas Wesleyan is Keith Evans. A native of Jamaica and former Jamaica Table Tennis Association national coach, Evans is a 20-year coaching veteran.

These role model coaches are quite an asset to have around for Anastasiia Rybka. Their teaching skills meshed well with Rybka’s qualities of hard work, patience and knowledge of the lively Olympic sport. It’s putting the table tennis standout on a path, she said, to “allow me to become one of the top coaches.’’

TopSpin Table Tennis club to Host NCTTA 2017 West Regionals

This weekend at the TopSpin Table Tennis club in San Jose, California hosts the NCTTA 2017 West Regional Championships. Schools will come to Northern California from all over the state, Oregon, Washington, the Rocky Mt States and even Canada via British Columbia! Don’t miss out on all of the fun and the event is being live streamed here:

College Table Tennis National Championship qualification is on the line with the top three men’s/coed teams qualify; top 2 women teams along with the top 8 men singles and top 4 women’s singles. The TMS 2017 National Collegiate Table Tennis Championships is NCTTA’s premier event and is the Super Bowl and World Cup of Collegiate Table Tennis rolled into one!

The West Region encompassing a number of US States and a Canadian Province contains some very strong contenders in all categories. Ryan Hsu, NCTTA West Regional Director says about the strongest schools, “Two very strong contenders from Northern California (Ohlone and UC Berkeley) have a bunch of very high level players.  Southern California schools are a little weaker than before, with USC (Ping Pong Posse) having lost its very strong players, but I believe UCLA may still be able to cause some upsets.”

Hsu continues, “We have 2 teams from the Northwest division this time, University of British Columbia and also University of Washington.  I don't think a non-Californian school has ever come close to winning at regionals, but I hope expect these schools to put a good fight.”

University of British Columbia could be considered the underdogs of the tournament and look to shake things up in terms of the “typical” standings within the region.  

Look for the incredible Men’s/Coed and Women’s Team table tennis rivalry between Ohlone College and Berkeley. Both schools feature very strong student athletes in each event.  They play in the same division during the regular season and traded beating each other by small margins in each of the tournaments. Regionals may be that special tie breaker.

Men’s and Women’s singles feature incredible athletes including Teddy Tran former USA Junior team member and a favorite to win the Men’s singles and Lily Zhang, 2016 US Olympic team player and also a favorite to lead her team in Women’s teams but also a favorite in Women’s Singles.

NCTTA West Regionals kicks off Saturday morning pacific time. Here is the schedule:

Pictured here is Ohlone College with special photo bomb from friendly rival UC Berkeley

Westchester Table Tennis club to Host NCTTA 2017 Northeast Regionals

This weekend at the Westchester Table Tennis club, is the NCTTA 2017 Northeast Regionals. These regionals will be a who’s who of Table Tennis stars from Colleges and Universities from New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Connecticut and Massachusetts.  Don’t miss out on all of the fun and the event is being live streamed here:

College Table Tennis National Championship qualification is on the line with the top three men’s/coed teams qualify; top 2 women teams along with the top 8 men singles and top 4 women’s singles. The TMS 2017 National Collegiate Table Tennis Championships is NCTTA’s premier event and is the Super Bowl and World Cup of Collegiate Table Tennis rolled into one!

The Northeast Region will be played at “one of the premier table tennis clubs in New York states” says Northeast Regional Director, Ariel Chen. Westchester is certainly one of those kinds of facilities and will feature matches this weekend in Men’s/Coed, Women’s teams and Men’s and Women’s Singles.

The contenders from this region in the Men’s/Coed Team are Baruch College, SUNY Stonybrook and Brown University. Rahul Acharya, NCTTA’s NYC Downtown Division Director says, “Baruch is very strong with two 2500 players.”

Watch out for underdogs, New York Institute of Technology. NYIT is also brand new to NCTTA and could go far in this tournament.

Women’s Team table tennis, watch for NYU women’s team to take the competition as they have several 2000 level players.

Mandy Guannan Liu from Fashion Institute of Technology looks to repeat her play from last year and beat the competition, but she will have some competition from Northeastern’s Haiyan Wen.

Men’s singles will be equally fierce featuring a plethora of top level players from the Northeast. Baruch College’s Max Qinmin Wang leads the pack followed by newcomers NYIT’s Cheng Sheng.

NCTTA Northeast Regionals kicks off Saturday at 11am with women’s teams, followed by Coed teams and singles on Sunday morning.

Mandy Liu pictured here from Metro Sports Magazine

University of Iowa To Host NCTTA 2017 Midwest Regionals

This weekend at the University of Iowa, is the NCTTA 2017 Midwest Regionals. 12 schools and more than 60 College Table Tennis Student Athletes from Midwest states like (Missouri, Illinois, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Minnesota, etc.) will pour into the University of Iowa campus to battle for the chance at school glory.  It will be live streamed too:

College Table Tennis National Championship qualification is on the line with the top three men’s/coed teams qualify; top 2 women teams along with the top 8 men singles and top 4 women’s singles. The TMS 2017 National Collegiate Table Tennis Championships is NCTTA’s premier event and is the Super Bowl and World Cup of Collegiate Table Tennis rolled into one!

The Midwest Region features scholarship school and last year’s winner, Lindenwood University. Lindenwood remains a perennial powerhouse in the Midwest, but don’t count out some of the other schools who are looking to make some noise in this tournament! University of Minnesota is always strong and comes in as winners of the Minnesota division with some new players and new passion. Coach Kris Sabas, former Minnesota player expects “the U”,  as it is sometimes called, to surprise many!

University of Wisconsin-Madison is another favorite, led by Colombian International and former Lindenwood player, Maria Castillo! UW are winners of the Upper Midwest division by narrowly defeating Northwestern University.

Turning to men’s singles and women’s singles, we see a competitive draw on both sides with top men’s singles seed from University of Minnesota, Pu Li looking to bring home the title. On the women’s side, new faces combined with veterans make for a very interesting draw. Look for University of Illinois’ new woman player Yuikiu Wat to make a splash as the top seed of the tournament in this her first Collegiate Table Tennis season!

NCTTA Midwest Regionals starts on Saturday with Team play and finishes on Sunday with Singles. Click here for more information:

Pictured here is the University of Minnesota team at least year's Regionals with coach Kris Sabas (on left)

Triangle Table Tennis hosts NCTTA Mid-Atlantic Regionals

This weekend at the Triangle Table Tennis Center  in Morrisville, North Carolina the NCTTA 2017 Mid Atlantic Regionals will take place.  The NCTTA Mid-Atlantic Region includes schools and college table tennis athletes from the geographic area including the Carolinas, DC, Virginia, Pennsylvania. Around 50 student athletes will be participating in this event for titles in men’s and women’s singles and men’s/coed and women’s Team titles. Top winners getting to qualify to the coveted NCTTA Championships! It will be live streamed too:

College Table Tennis National Championship qualification is on the line with the top three men’s/coed teams qualify; top 2 women teams along with the top 8 men singles and top 4 women’s singles. The TMS 2017 National Collegiate Table Tennis Championships is NCTTA’s premier event.

The Mid-Atlantic Region features a new school in the mix, Pillar College (from the Pennsylvania Division) from New Jersey though qualified as a wildcard team by dominated the competition in the spring semester. They brought in some new blood, including Lily Yip as a coach/player and US Olympian Tim Wang and New Zealand standout, Matt Heathington.  One may ask why is a New Jersey school playing in the Pennsylvania division?  Vice President of NCTTA, Joe Wells states about the wildcard team, “We didn’t have enough schools to create a New Jersey division so we moved all of our New Jersey schools to nearby Pennsylvania and it worked out well this year.”

Pillar College players may be the rookies of the tournament, but veteran schools like Duke will be quick to add that they want a chance to shine in the light as well. Duke is coming in with one of the strongest lineups featuring its own New Zealand international in Roger Rao like Pillar College’s Matt Heathington. The Blue Devils also have a homegrown talent in Charlie Berman hailing from the North Carolina area and are ready to rumble!

Men’s and Women’s singles should be interesting. Lily Yip the player coach from Pillar College looks to have the title on paper as does Kaden Xu in Men’s singles. You can never predict sport though. Check out the Regionals on our live stream or for more information go here.

Pictured here are athletes from Temple University and University of Pennsylvania which will also be in attendance!

Beyond Borders: USA and Canada Meet at Regionals

This weekend in Akron, Ohio at the University of Akron, the NCTTA will host the 2017 Great Lakes Regional Championships. The NCTTA Great Lakes region is an interesting region in that it includes a vast geographical boundary including both the United States and Canada. NCTTA has had a long storied history with its Canadian brothers and sisters from its earliest participation in NCTTA in the 1990’s.

The Canadian schools don’t have their own College Table Tennis Association so we (NCTTA) invite them to take part in our association (NCTTA). The union has been working for over twenty years. The addition of the Great Lakes Regional brought in some interesting logistics as it brings once every other year Americans into Canada and Canadians into the United States. This year it is the USA’s turn to host this competitive event.

Great Lakes Regional Director, Keith Lam says, “The host city for Great Lakes have been on a rotation between Toronto and Akron - to balance out the travel between USA/CAN players. This year it will be at Akron.”

This weekend will feature 12 men’s/coed teams and almost a full capacity women’s teams (which is a record) and a plethora of eager men and women student athletes for the singles events. These American and Canadian student athletes will be partaking for titles in men’s/women’s singles and men’s/coed and women’s teams.

College Table Tennis National Championship qualification is on the line for every event. Watch for Lester Lee, from the University of Michigan as a favorite to lead his team but also for the men’s singles event. Lam tells us about the men’s/coed team competition, “I am expecting good matches between old rivalries McGill, Toronto, Michigan. Binghamton and Ottawa are new to Regional this year (they did not participate last year) and both boost competitive rosters that should prove to be a challenge for the big three. “  

One school, however, that hasn’t been talked about too much is Cornell University and they come in with the highest team rating and with a secret weapon to tote. Tune in to see how they and others do as we love to see great competitors rise to the occasion!

Check out the live stream at:

Pictured here: Trophies from a past Great Lakes Regional Championships (Good that Table Tennis is an indoor sport!)

2017 NCTTA Commentator Challenge Winners Announced

After last year's successful run of the NCTTA Commentator Challenge, we decided to host it again and add to our developing pool of NCTTA commentators.

Several talented enthusiasts took up the challenge this year as well and after a close race, our winner of the 2017 Commentator Challenge is Haris Krijestorac!

The runner-ups are: Ronald Yu and Matt Shen.

Thank you to everyone that participated.

Texas Wesleyan to host NCTTA 2017 South Regionals

This weekend at Texas Wesleyan, the New York Yankees of college table tennis, will play host to the NCTTA South Regional Championships. Twelve of the best schools in the South (Alabama, Mississippi, Texas, Florida and Georgia) will descend upon the Texas Wesleyan University Fort Worth campus to battle for the chance at school glory.  It will be live streamed too:

School glory isn’t the only outcome sought by these men and women paddlers; National Championship qualification is on the line with the Top three men’s/coed teams qualify; Top 2 women teams along with the top 8 men singles and top 4 women’s singles. The TMS 2017 National Collegiate Table Tennis Championships is NCTTA’s premier event and is the Super Bowl and World Cup of Collegiate Table Tennis rolled into one! The NCTTA South Regionals is paramount to continuing in the College Table Tennis post season.

The South Region features Texas Wesleyan winner of the championships 12 out of the last 13 years. They have a total of 60 championships since 2002. IN the past years, however schools have caught up and one such school is a small liberal studies school in Clinton, Mississippi, called Mississippi College. Mississippi College is the only school to date to have ever beaten the College Table Tennis Giants. Coach and former Mississippi College player, Cheng Li states, “We will try our best.” Mississippi College is a 5,130 student school in Clinton, Mississippi and is America’s 2nd oldest Baptist College, 191 years old!

In 2015, Mississippi College was at their best beating Texas Wesleyan setting up an internal regional rivalry for years to come and this year is no different.  Look for Texas Wesleyan and Mississippi College to always be favorites, but there are a couple of dark horses looking to heat things up: University of Houston from the South Texas division for one and the University of Florida from the Northern Florida division could create a stir!

Men’s singles and women’s singles are going to feature some of the best College Table Tennis players. Texas Wesleyan alone features twelve singles players in the competition! Last year’s South Regional Champion and National Championship singles winner Yi Chi Zhang (Men’s Singles) is back looking to defend. Click here to see who is looking to make Zhang’s run for the Regional Title a bit more difficult! 

NCTTA South Regional kicks off at 2:00pm Central Time on Saturday and Sunday at 9:00am Central Time.

Pictured here is Team Captain and leader from UT Austin, Felix Chan who will be in action at Texas Wesleyan with his UT Austin team!

NCTTA POST SEASON--Regional Championships coming soon!

NCTTA Post Season Kicks Off With Regional Championships

The College Table Tennis regular season starts October 1st and ends February 12th but the “2nd season” as some like to call it will soon start as early as February 25th and as late as March 5th! This is the NCTTA College Table Tennis post season that culminates Regional Championships followed by the epic National Championships.

Regional Championships feature the best of Division Men’s and Women’s singles and the best of Coed and Women’s teams. The fierce battle begins with who gets to go (direct division winners and wildcards) and then of course on the table play.

Regional Championships are a keystone to getting to the National Championships. Remember these Regionals will be live streamed and some will even have commentary!

Here are the listings of NCTTA Regional tournaments.

South Regional (Feb. 25/26)
Midwest Regional (Feb. 25/26)
Mid Atlantic Regional (Feb. 25th)
Great Lakes Regional: (Feb. 25/26)
West Regional (March 4/5th)
Northeast Regional (March 4/5th)

Round Rock Texas Lands 2018 NCTTA Championships

By Andy Kanengiser
NCTTA Media Chairman

Call it a case of “Back to the Future.’’ North America’s finest collegiate table tennis players will return to Round Rock, Texas for the 2018 championship games.

NCTTA leaders selected the Round Rock Texas Sports Center over several other competitive bidders around the nation to host next year’s huge tournament.

It was really hard to turn down Round Rock that bills itself as the Sports Capital of Texas, NCTTA leaders say.  The city is home base for the Round Rock Express, the AAA affiliate of MLB’s Texas Rangers. Round Rock Donuts (are they yellow or orange?) has been an institution for food lovers in the city since 1926.

But more importantly, leaders of the vibrant city near Austin went the extra mile to welcome the TMS national collegiate table tennis championships in 2016.

Opened in January 2014, the amazing $14.9 million sports facility does a terrific job hosting basketball, volleyball, wresting, fencing, table tennis and much more.

It features 82,800 square feet of space indoors, boasts seating for 1,400 spectators and a total capacity for more than 3,000 guests. The venue has 500 parking spaces, attractive locker rooms, space for concessions stands, nice lighting and other amenities too many to mention.

NCTTA President Willy Leparulo raves about how the Lone Star State city rolled out the red carpet for the 2016 tournament. The three-day event drew about 300 collegiate players from schools across the USA and Canada. Coaches, fans and volunteers showed up, too.

“We are excited to be going back to Texas,’’ Leparulo said. “The NCTTA in its short history has hosted championships in Texas four other years. So, it’s great to come back to a familiar place.’’

The tournament will be a relatively short drive for perennial collegiate table tennis national champion Texas Wesleyan University of Fort Worth.

The Round Rock bid was considered along with a half-dozen others from states like Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and California.

“We are so blessed as an organization to have so many wonderful cities interested in college table tennis,’’ Leparulo added.

NCTTA leaders considered a long list of factors, including the availability of hotels, transportation, the quality of the venue, costs, banquet facilities, flooring, lighting, and volunteer staffing.

Home to more than 109,000 Texans, Round Rock is known as a haven for shoppers with its Round Rock Premium Outlets. Its Rock’ N River Water Park is first-class. The music scene in nearby Austin is alive and well for visitors.

Nancy Yawn, director of Round Rock’s Convention and Visitors Bureau, is delighted to receive the news from the NCTTA’s leadership team.

“We look forward to having all the event participants, spectators and volunteers come and play, support and work the tournament here in the heart of Texas,’’ Yawn said. “We hope you enjoy everything about your trip to Round Rock in March 2018.’’

The Texas city is loaded with plenty of restaurants to cater to just about everybody’s taste buds.
The impressive sports facility has room for six high school basketball courts, 12 volleyball courts, and obviously plenty of room for the college table tennis tournament. It’s worth it to visit the popular venue at 2400 Chisholm Trail. The site remains a short walk to hotels for players, coaches and volunteers.

In the weeks ahead, college table tennis players will try to punch their tickets to the 2017 NCTTA championships April 7-9. The site at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire is the same place the tournament was held in 2015.

In recent years, the national championships were booked in Rockford, Illinois in 2013 and Monroeville  near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 2014.