By Andy Kanengiser
NCTTA Media Chairman
More than 250 of the best collegiate table tennis players in North America will return to Eau Claire, Wisconsin for the 2017 national championships.
In early June, leaders of the National Collegiate Table Tennis Association selected Eau Claire to host the three-day tournament. The site will again be the University of Wisconsin at Eau Claire.
Eau Claire competed for the bid against a proposal offered to bring the games to Biloxi, Mississippi along the Gulf Coast.
“We were happy with the way that Eau Claire leaders embraced us at the 2015 TMS College Table Tennis Championships,’’ NCTTA President Willy Leparulo. “We look forward to being back in Wisconsin in the Spring of 2017.’’
Located about 90 minutes from Minneapolis, Minnesota, the Wisconsin university partnered with the Wisconsin-Eau Claire table tennis club to help bring volunteers to the event, Leparulo noted. “Volunteers are critical to our success at regional and national tournaments each year. We will look to the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire team and neighboring schools like University of Minnesota for such help."
Ben Morgan, sports sales manager for Visit Eau Claire, is delighted to see his hometown selected. The decision brings another major sporting event to the northern Wisconsin city, and with it comes a nice economic boost, he noted. The table tennis tournament, Morgan said, pumps in an estimated $80,000 in visitor spending.
“We had great feedback from several local businesses and hotels during the 2015 championships, and we expect the same – if not more – positive feedback in 2017,’’ Morgan added.
The event organizers in Wisconsin tracked over 300 hotel rooms used by participants at the games in April 2015. That includes college table tennis players, coaches, fans, family members, and scores of volunteers. “This is a great boost for the hotels during the non-peak season,’’ Morgan said.
Visit Eau Claire officials worked well once again with the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire to craft an outstanding proposal to submit to the NCTTA, Morgan noted.
The NCTTA’s biggest tournament of the year has moved around the country in recent years. The 2016 national championships were held in Round Rock, Texas near Austin in late March. The 2014 championships landed in Monroeville, Pennsylvania near Pittsburgh. In 2013, the tournament was held in Rockford, Illinois. Plano, Texas hosted the games in April 2012.
The 2017 tournament in Wisconsin is expected to be in April. More details are expected to be announced on the NCTTA website (nctta.org) at a later date.
Photo credit: Nachuan(Sherry) Li; Washington University