By Andy Kanengiser
NCTTA Media Chairman
"Build it and they will come.'' That's the famous line from the hit movie "Field of Dreams'' years ago starring Kevin Costner. The award-winning film told the story of a mythical baseball team of big-league stars from decades ago. The stars with bats & gloves suddenly emerged from the Iowa cornfields.
The same classic movie line can be applied in connection with the birth of collegiate table tennis at the University of Iowa. Senior citizens Jarol & Leah Duerksen opened their Iowa City home to people to play table tennis in recent years. The longtime NCTTA volunteers also strongly encouraged the creation of a table tennis team at the University of Iowa in their hometown. And now the Iowa' women's table tennis team is playing in the NCTTA's Big Dance in Round Rock, Texas March 25-27!
Hats off once again to the Duerksens, who were honored by NCTTA leaders for their faithful service to collegiate table tennis at a banquet at last year's championships in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Each year, the couple travels to NCTTA national championships to oversee the practice tables for college players.
The Duerksens went a few steps further in 2015 because their passion for table tennis sparked the creation of the Iowa team last fall. The Iowa men and women regularly practice at the Duerksen's house and have lots of fun along the way. The beloved Iowa couple comes to their tournaments to cheer the Hawkeyes.
"They were very influential in getting the Iowa team put together,'' says Meng-Yu Wang, one of the leaders of the women's team on the Iowa City campus. Other Iowa table tennis players are: Haiying "Haddy'' Zhang, Dan Yang and Jingjing Li. All of the talented Iowa women are from China.
On the men's side, Arnold Kompaniyets, a native of the Ukraine, serves as the Iowa team captain.The Iowa women are seeded 9th in the 2016 nationals in Round Rock. Arnold will accompany the Iowa women on the journey to the city near Austin in late March.
The Iowa Hawkeyes are thrilled to be making their first championship appearance in their first year of play.
So is student-athlete Jikang Qu of Iowa State University in Ames. A penhold-style table tennis player from China, the Iowa State graduate student seeks a master's in electrical engineering. Qu will compete in men's singles at the tournament in the Lone Star State. He loves to attack after each serve and enjoys looping with his forehand.
While the rest of the Iowa State team didn't make it to 2016 Nationals, Jikang Qu will play his heart out. "I will try my best to show how good we are in singles.''
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