(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.
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