By Brent Hearn
“Everything is bigger in Texas.”
That’s how the saying goes, anyway, and for good reason. Besides its sheer geographic size—it runs nearly a third of the length of the nation—it’s a place of big oil, big hats, and big personalities. And if the number of Texas schools playing in this year’s NCTTA Championships is any indicator, it’s a place for big table tennis talent, as well.
This year, there are six teams representing Texas in the tournament: The University of Texas at Dallas, The University of Texas at Austin, Texas A&M University, Texas Tech University, University of North Texas, and—last, but definitely not least—perennial powerhouse Texas Wesleyan University.
There are definitely worse times for a spectacular turnout than when your state is hosting the National Championships. The increase in participation from Texas schools bodes well for the future of table tennis in the state. No matter what sport in question, there’s just something about an in-state rivalry. Table tennis is no exception. Rivalries within a defined geographic location (even when said geographic location is the size of...well, Texas) mean more intense competition. And more intense competition produces better players, which in turn provides better competition, and...well, you get the idea. With the bar constantly being raised, developing players are forced to sharpen their games to keep up, and before you know it, you have a hotbed of talent on your hands.
This begs the question: What’s causing the increased presence of Texas teams on the national stage?
It’s a question that can’t be asked without addressing the elephant in the room—the 11-time
Coed National Champion elephant, to be precise. Until Mississippi College went from superbly talented also-ran to major spoiler in last year’s tournament, Texas Wesleyan owned the event for over a decade. If you can’t say “peat” after the number of consecutive titles without it sounding ridiculous, then it’s safe to say you’re talking about a team that’s likely to alter the competitive landscape a bit.
So is Texas Wesleyan’s dominance of the sport for so long at all responsible for the increased presence of schools from the Lone Star State in the Championships? And if so, to what degree? Stay tuned for Part II to find out what the Texans think.
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