(picture by Bill Zhang)
By Willy Leparulo
NCTTA Championship Committee
NCTTA was built on a College Table Tennis team approach with a four singles and one double type of format. Doubles is an interesting event in that it is not actively practices in any of the Division or Regional competitions in NCTTA yet it is a Championship event. Even more it is only played when the match is tied 2 to 2 which brings these doubles duos just all the more pride when they can do it within the event.
In Women’s Doubles, the top pair are Texas Wesleyan’s Wang Chen and Jennifer Yue Wu. Chen and Wu are incredible as singles players in their own right with multiple success both domestically and internationally. Chen and Wu have not played a competitive match this season, but have a good shot. Coach Rather says, “Wesleyan doubles are strong but that does not guarantee titles. Athletes representing different national teams are taking part of this competition and everyone is aiming for titles.” Prachi Jha and Lily Zhang of UC Berkeley have a similar backstory to the top seeds too as they have many individual accolades but also haven’t played a competitive match this season in doubles. A dark horse in the event could come in the form of the Princeton duo which have former US International, Erica Wu and Canadian star, Shirley Fu. The lefty righty combo is always a danger in doubles.
Men’s Doubles is equally competitive with 3 out of the top 4 doubles teams having played together in previous years. Doubles is about teamwork and chemistry and nothing against our #1 seed (Tong Zhang and new freshman sensation Tomotaka Yoshitomi) but they may be in for a surprise. The intangibles may trump the numbers in the end of the day.
Jishan Liang and Zhe Feng (#2 seeds) were the winning doubles duo in the Team event that gave Texas Wesleyan the win in 2016 and are a mere 66 points behind the top pair. You can’t bet against the mix of Liang’s left handed side winding shots and Zhe Feng’s penhold prowess. Another lefty righty combo is Yichi Zhang (men’s singles champion from 2016) and Lefty Qingwei Sun. Coach Cheng Li describes Yichi Zhang as a “game changer” with his explosive backhand rips. Last pair but certainly not least are Bruno Ventura Dos Anjos and Shuai Wang (pictured above). Bruno is one of the most exciting and exciteable players to watch. Bruno and Shuai have been partners for a number of years and can expect to make things very interesting.
Coach Rather states, “We will have to wait for April 7th to see which men's and women's doubles will take championships home. .”
The College Table Tennis game has grown in leaps and bounds and anything can happen in sports and so please tune in on April 7th to see this great event take place!