Ivy Leaguers Paddle Way to Championship Games

By Andy Kanengiser
NCTTA Media Chair
 
Plenty of players from Ivy League packed their paddles for the 2017 championship games in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.
 
The Princeton Tigers, the Penn Quakers, the Big Red of Cornell, Brown players from Rhode Island, a Yalie, and others are in the house at the McPhee Center.
 
 And, of course, between games April 7-9, they are focused on their computers to keep up with rigorous academic studies.
 
For Princeton Tigers, practices happen twice a week at Dillon Gym on the historic campus in New Jersey. When they're not slamming hollow white balls, the seven men and women on the Ivy League team are hitting the books.
 
Princeton player Sam Bernstein, 20, of Los Angeles is a computer science major making his first trip to the NCTTA nationals in the Chippewa Valley.
 
Sam is joined by smart teammates like senior Shirley Fu, 21, of Vancouver, British Columbia wearing orange and black uniforms. The table tennis ace from Canada is studying operations research and financial engineering. That sounds and is pretty challenging.
 
Danny Gitelman, 25, of Brooklyn, New York, is enrolled in Princeton's graduate school. He's studying math at the school founded in 1746. He's not planning to make a career out of table tennis. "We all brought our computers.''
 
Ivy League rivalries are pretty intense in sports like football and basketball. Harvard-Yale clashes every year are historic on athletic fields. Table tennis, not so much.
 
It's a "different culture'' with table tennis, with school rivalries in the Northeast not nearly as intense, Bernstein says.
 
So the cheering noise levels from table tennis fans seldom gets higher when Princeton is battling Penn, Cornell, or Brown.
 
A civil engineering major at Cornell, senior Nick Coyle is just happy to be paddling with the nation's best at the college championships. Being away from the Ithaca, New York campus is a little less stressful for the Cornell players this weekend. They are on Spring Break at the moment.
 
"This has been a very fun experience,'' says Coyle, 22, a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania resident who's now job hunting.
 
It's been a cool experience to watch and compete against table tennis stars from Texas Wesleyan, Mississippi College, Lindenwood, Ohlone, Duke, California, Michigan and other schools for the Ivy Leaguers.
 
Coyle, who graduates from Cornell in May, wants to eventually attend graduate school. He's still got one year left of NCTTA eligibility and could return to the championships down the road. He played at the NCTTA championships in Eau Claire two years ago and at Monroeville, Pennsylvania in 2014.
 
How did things go for the Cornell player.Nick fought hard but lost 11-9 in the fifth game of his match with UCLA standout David Zeng, An environmental science major at UCLA, Zeng, 20, is an environmental science major from Oakland, California.
 
The University of Pennsylvania brought a 5-member contingent from its Philadelphia campus. A grad student in public administration, Penn player Liwang Huang, 23, grabbed a yogurt for breakfast at the Clarion hotel lobby before catching the shuttle bus to the tournament venue Saturday morning. The native of China is making her first trip to the national championships. "We've been training very hard.''
 
Founded back in 1764 in Providence, Rhode Island, Brown sent a large delegation to the tourney, including a stellar women's team. They are led by senior Nancy Zhou, a chemical biology major from Dublin, California. Three Brown freshmen round out the squad. They are:  Zixi Zhu, a cognitive science major from Beijing, China, Renny Ma, a neuroscience major from Lenexa, Kansas and Ellen Jiang of Hinsdale, Illinois. A 19-year-old, Ellen is studying computer science.
 
With major sports teams in other conferences from the Big Ten to the PAC 12, the Big 12 and ACC, schools like Northwestern, Michigan, Duke, Minnesota, Wisconsin, California-Berkeley, Texas and UCLA are well-represented here. All of the table tennis teams brought outstanding student-athletes. About 260 players and coaches are putting in long hours at the NCTTA tournament ending Sunday. Wisconsin-Eau Claire serves as the host school.
 

The 2017 TMS College Table Tennis Championships is hosted by the National Collegiate Table Tennis Association and the Eau Claire 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

Players and spectators alike will enjoy a jam-packed weekend of table tennis at the TMS College Table Tennis Championships. The event starts Friday April 7th and continues through Sunday April 9th. 

About NCTTA

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

 

NCTTA Adds Service Umpires to Championships

By Andy Kanengiser
NCTTA Media Chair
 
Complaints about questionable table tennis serves never seem to go away at tournaments. Even with a couple of umpires around, complaints from players, coaches and fans persist.
 
But the NCTTA is taking new steps to address the issue. And it started Friday at the 2017 TMS national collegiate table tennis championships.
 
Call it the use of two extra sets of eyes and ears as the three-day tournament played out at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire campus. The extra officials are called services judges.
 
Umpires who volunteer at the tournament may be called upon to act as the two extra judges to monitor player serves.  Their chief task is to ensure that players serve balls legally throughout featured contests.
 
For many years, umpires stayed seated in a position that's not good for deciding whether a player's serve is legal or not. Table tennis matches utilize two umpires. But no doubt, they can't see everything as players slam hollow white balls back and forth.
 
So why not add a couple of service judges to the mix? What can it hurt when championship matches are at stake?
 
NCTTA President Willy Leparulo applauds the use of new service judges to oversee key games throughout the tournament. Two additional officials will be stationed at the ends of the court. Their job is to notify the umpire if they detect a faulty or illegal serve.
 
The NCTTA experiment at the April 7-9 tournament in Wisconsin will get thoroughly checked out. And if the test case is successful, service judges would be added to the USATT National Championships later this year. And then it would be forwarded to the ITTF for potential approval at international tournaments.
 
Towards the end of the first day of busy competition at the McPhee Center on the Wisconsin-Eau Claire campus, Leparulo said the extra judges detected a few illegal serves.
 
With 250 college players coming from schools across the USA & Canada, it would be impossible to use service judges at every single match at the Wisconsin tournament.
 
Arcot Naresh, the NCTTA's Upper Midwest Division director, serves as a volunteer umpire at the games in the Cheese State.

Umpires "are looking at so many things, and don't get to see it all,'' says Naresh, a Chicago resident who often plays in tournaments around the Windy City. "This is a step in the right direction. It's another set of eyes.''

Mark Wei, an umpire at the NCTTA's biggest tournament of the year, agrees. "This is a great idea,'' says Wei, who doubles as the NCTTA's Northern California Division director.
 
Wei has been involved at table tennis tournaments with disputes arising over serves. And sometimes the umpires on hand are unsure what's the right call.
 
NCTTA competition manager Kagin Lee says the change is something he's wanted for many years. He believes there will be a few tweaks made along the way.
 
But Lee remains hopeful the additional service judges will "result in clearer and more consistent enforcement of the rules, which should lead to fairer competition.''
 
By comparsion, major NCAA Division I college basketball tournaments use referees on the court and instant TV replays to help refs make the best calls. The list of sports constantly making rules changes, from football to baseball, goes on.
 
In table tennis, service must start with the ball resting freely on the open palm of the server's free stationary hand. And it goes from there. But too often service balls are hidden or other rules violations occur. And when umpires cannot see illegal serves, it can change a game's final outcome.
 

The 2017 TMS College Table Tennis Championships is hosted by the National Collegiate Table Tennis Association and the Eau Claire 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

Players and spectators alike will enjoy a jam-packed weekend of table tennis at the TMS College Table Tennis Championships. The event starts Friday April 7th and continues through Sunday April 9th. 

About NCTTA

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

Ohlone Remains Strong in Year Two

By Andy Kanengiser

NCTTA Media Chair
 
California's Ohlone College stunned the USA's table tennis community with its strong third-place finish at the 2016 national championships.
 
Year two for the 8,000-student community college in the Silicon Valley shows the team from the West Coast is no fluke.
 
Yong Gao, the Ohlone computer science instructor and team's coach, has fans buzzing again at the 2017 national championships in Wisconsin. Their green colors stand out at the games in Eau Claire. So does their play.
 
Supporters of other schools are taking notice as Ohlone plays on. One of his stars, Ying Wang, 22, an economics major from Jilin, China, could transfer to a school like California-Berkeley or Stanford next season. She's that good.
 
Yi Wu, 20, another awesome player from Beijing, could return to join her family's business in China when she's finished playing in the USA. "I miss my home,'' the freshman says.
While Ohlone's top female duo lost its match Friday to Texas Wesleyan University standouts, it's always tough to beat the perennial national champs from Fort Worth.
 
No matter what happens in Eau Claire, Ohlone should see several new faces join the team next season. Recruiting really never stops for Coach Gao at the two-year school in Fremont.
 
The school near San Jose surprised fans at the 2016 NCTTA championships in Round Rock, Texas. The nice showing generated a good bit of positive press for the institution founded in 1965. So much so that school administrators may allow the squad to exit their practice space at the college cafeteria next year.
 
"School administrators know how good we are. We hope to move into the gym next year,'' the coach said during a break Friday at the NCTTA tournament.
 
As the 2017 season draws to a close in the Cheese State, Yong Gao is impressed with the quality of opponents his school is facing from across the USA and Canada. "The skill level is much better than last year. We face a lot of challenges.''
 
The season goes on a bit longer for Ohlone's ten players after the 2017 NCTTA championships end April 9. Ohlone will host a tournament on the Fremont campus April 29. It's a chance for California fans to see some amazing table tennis matches.
 

The 2017 TMS College Table Tennis Championships is hosted by the National Collegiate Table Tennis Association and the Eau Claire 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

Players and spectators alike will enjoy a jam-packed weekend of table tennis at the TMS College Table Tennis Championships. The event starts Friday April 7th and continues through Sunday April 9th. 

About NCTTA

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

Top seeds in Men’s and Women’s Doubles Finish Strong

Texas Wesleyan University showed its diversity in winning both the Men’s and Women’s Doubles Championships today in Eau Claire. Texas Wesleyan is known for its Table Tennis prowess in teams, but don’t count them out in Doubles! Today's Men's and Women's Doubles event shows just why.

Traditionally, doubles isn’t a much practiced event in that one can’t qualify for them through division or regional play, but that doesn’t stop Texas Wesleyan.

Yue Wu and Wang Chen hadn’t played competitive doubles in college action prior to these championships, but their experience in other competitions certainly shows through as an advantage.  They defeated Shirley Fu and Erica Wu from Princeton who are a formidable lefty righty combo. One game was fairly interesting featured 5 net balls in a row from Princeton! Texas Wesleyan persevered in that game still at 11-6! NCTTA Vice President  Joseph Wells stated, “It was pretty unfortunate to see so many nets but it is part of the game and Texas Wesleyan didn’t let it distract them from their goal.” The Rams took the women’s doubles title. 

In Men’s Doubles, Jishan Liang and Feng Zhe continued  to show their dominance by defeating the Mississippi College duo of Yichi Zhang and Qingwei Sun easily. Zhe has international experience in doubles and is always a force to be reckoned with. Both teams featured a righty lefty combination but in the end it was Texas Wesleyan's duo that came out on top.

Texas Wesleyan University shows how versatile they are in competing and completing the doubles competition. We look forward to seeing the rest of the competition.

The 2017 TMS College Table Tennis Championships is hosted by the National Collegiate Table Tennis Association and the Eau Claire 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

Players and spectators alike will enjoy a jam-packed weekend of table tennis at the TMS College Table Tennis Championships. The event starts Friday April 7th and continues through Sunday April 9th. 

About NCTTA

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

 

Liberty Table Tennis Arrives

By Andy Kanengiser
NCTTA Media Chair
 
Stephen Kilpatrick watched with interest Friday as table tennis stars from Pillar College in New Jersey battled the University of Michigan Wolverines in doubles.
 
The Liberty University table tennis coach, Kilpatrick is working hard to build his program's brand in Virginia. It's Liberty's second year back at the NCTTA national championships in only their third season.
 
Just being at the games in Eau Claire, Wisconsin took some doing for Liberty. Due to storms pounding the Mid-Atlantic, there was a 15-hour delay getting on the airplane in Charlotte for the Liberty contingent. The plane didn't take off for Minneapolis until 12:15 a,m, and the Liberty players and coach finally arrived at 5 a.m. in Eau Claire with the NCTTA tournament to start four hours later Friday morning. There was practically no time to sleep.
 
Adrenaline and lots of coffee helped Kilpatrick get through it. The former Gordon College basketball player is a Liberty physics professor. He loves table tennis so that helped, too.
 
"The table tennis future is bright at Liberty. We will definitely be back next year and continue to get visibility,'' Kilpatrick says.
 
With 100,000 students, including many nationwide taking classes on-line, Liberty University is no longer a small private school that Rev. Jerry Falwell founded in 1971. It's a big institution going big-time in athletics. Now an independent, Liberty opens its 2017 football season against Baylor this fall. Liberty played Virginia Tech last season.
 
While it doesn't have a huge budget like football, table tennis is stepping things up on the Liberty campus. "We are trying to build our program and go to the NCTTA Regionals every year,'' Kilpatrick says.
 
The tall Liberty coach comes from a table tennis family. His dad was a junior state champion in table tennis in Massachusetts. The dad got the son interested in the Olympic sport.In year three, Liberty competes against teams like William & Mary and Virginia Tech at NCTTA tournaments. Its Liberty roster consists of  three coed teams and a women's squad. Interest in athletics is definitely growing at the private institution, home to 30 club sports.
 
A few cups of coffee later on April 7 Kilpatrick remains in his element at the NCTTA's biggest tournament of the year. The action at the McPhee Center on the Wisconsin-Eau Claire campus ends Sunday.
 

The 2017 TMS College Table Tennis Championships is hosted by the National Collegiate Table Tennis Association and the Eau Claire 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

Players and spectators alike will enjoy a jam-packed weekend of table tennis at the TMS College Table Tennis Championships. The event starts Friday April 7th and continues through Sunday April 9th. 

About NCTTA

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

Iowa Team Salutes Founders

By Andy Kanengiser

NCTTA Media Chair
 
Iowa table tennis players owe a debt of gratitude to longtime NCTTA volunteers Jarol and Leah Duerksen. (seen above)
 
After all, the Iowa City couple opened their home to table tennis games for years. They did their best to push for the creation of an Iowa Hawkeyes team. It took plenty of twists and turns, but their persistence paid off.
 
The Iowa Hawkeyes team is alive and well and playing at their 2nd NCTTA National championships. At the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, the Duerksens are overseeing the tournament practice tables. It's a labor of love for the longtime volunteers.
 
As the games opened on the school's McPhee Center, Iowa players commended the senior citizens for turning their table tennis dream into reality.
 
"The Duerksens always volunteer and push the NCTTA,'' said team coach Meng-Yu Wang, 27, of Kansas City, Missouri. "They really support our team.''
 
Their commitment is huge and Iowa table tennis is on the upswing. Iowa hosted the NCTTA Regionals in the Spring. That was a big deal for a team now in its 2nd year.
 
There are nine Iowa players at the national championships in the Chippewa Valley of north Wisconsin. Almost the entire team will return next season.
 
Hawkeyes table tennis is here to stay. After a couple of years of practices in a small area on the fifth floor of a recreation building, the team finally got space in a large gym on the Iowa City campus. Dues for players have gone up from $10 for the whole year to $25 per semester. Revenue is key to the squad's growth. The team recently purchased a dozen NCTTA tables.Players frequently go to practices before hitting the books.
 
Dylan Garland, 19, of Ankeny, Iowa, loves the steady advances of his team in a state located in the Corn Belt.After his singles battle with a strong Michigan player, Dylan clearly takes table tennis seriously. But Garland also knows there is life after table tennis. He's studying actuarial science at Iowa and hopes to be prepared for the insurance business.
 
Born in Taiwan, Coach Wang, 27, takes the game seriously, too. He drives nearly five hours from Kansas City to help the Iowa team. The Iowa State graduate believes the future of table tennis shines bright at Iowa.
 

The 2017 TMS College Table Tennis Championships is hosted by the National Collegiate Table Tennis Association and the Eau Claire 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

Players and spectators alike will enjoy a jam-packed weekend of table tennis at the TMS College Table Tennis Championships. The event starts Friday April 7th and continues through Sunday April 9th. 

About NCTTA

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

Travel Issues Impact Table Tennis Tournament

By Andy Kanengiser
NCTTA Media Chair
 
Storms, cancelled flights and weary travelers seem to be par for the course when the NCTTA's biggest tournament of the year rolls around.
 
It's the case once again in Eau Claire, Wisconsin at the NCTTA championships April 7-9. Some college players drove all the way from Toronto, while others from New York were on the road for many hours, too. But for players from nearby schools like Minnesota and Wisconsin, the trip to the Chippewa Valley was a breeze.
 
Yale sophomore Angus Fong, 20, of Hong Kong was pretty smart about his journey to Eau Claire in north Wisconsin. "I left enough buffer time,'' said the cognitive science major. Flying from New York to Chicago went well until one of his Chicago flights got cancelled. But he still made it to Eau Claire, and that's the main thing. It was a 12-hour journey. At the tournament, Angus gives it his best shot at men's singles competition. Fong also brought his computer to keep up with his studies at the Ivy League school in New Haven, Connecticut.
 
Nearby, in the hotel lobby at the Clarion hotel, the University of Maryland coach reported no major issues getting here as he downed a cup of coffee.
 
As far as the distance, University of  California- San Diego player Andrew Shehata, 23, said his 7-hour trip went fairly smoothly. A five hour flight to Minneapolis and a two-hour drive to Eau Claire was his route. "It was all perfect.''
 
Two years ago at the same University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire venue, the UC-San Diego team finished in 14th place. This year his school hopes to do even better.
 
The championships will wrap up Andrew's NCTTA career (he's played 4 years). The Orange County, California senior  returns to school next fall to on his college degree.
 
Eau Claire bound, the University of British Columbia-Vancouver arrived with a women's team and its coed squad. It was a 3-hour flight from Canada to Minneapolis and a ninety minute drive to Eau Claire. "Everything went well. So far, so good,'' said Chandra Madhosingh,an NCTTA volunteer umpire and the team's coaching director. Five women and two men from UBC joined the astrophysics professor as they hopped about the NCTTA shuttle bus. It was going to the tournament venue, the McPhee Center. The games began Friday morning.
 
Northeastern University player Michael Wang, 20, of Boston, voiced no complaints about his trip.
 
"Travel was smooth as planned,'' said Wang, a computer science major. He and other members of the Northeastern Huskies team flew from Boston to Minneapolis and drove the rest of the way in a rental vehicle to Eau Claire. Their seven-hour trip was all good. The weather in Wisconsin was chilly and windy. But that's what the students experience in New England this time of year in early April.
 
For Michael Wang, it's his first time playing at the NCTTA nationals, and he seemed rested after catching a quick breakfast at the hotel.
 
Players from other colleges seemed a bit sleep-deprived as they headed to the competition in Wisconsin Friday morning with energy snacks, orange juice, coffee, and water.
 
One of the SUNY at Stony Brook Seawolves players, Sho Miyazaki, 21, of Queens, New York, will appear at his first and final NCTTA nationals. Sho graduates with a degree in biology in May. "I'm very excited. It's like the Senior Ball for me,'' Sho said with a smile. Post-graduation plans? He starts working, but promises to keep playing his favorite Olympic sport in metro New York at places like the Westchester Table Tennis Center. "I love the sport.''
 

The 2017 TMS College Table Tennis Championships is hosted by the National Collegiate Table Tennis Association and the Eau Claire 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

Players and spectators alike will enjoy a jam-packed weekend of table tennis at the TMS College Table Tennis Championships. The event starts Friday April 7th and continues through Sunday April 9th. 

About NCTTA

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

Table Tennis Titans Face More Battles in Wisconsin

By Andy Kanengiser

NCTTA Media Chair

Table tennis stars from Texas Wesleyan University and Mississippi College collided for five years in a row at the NCTTA championship games.

Fans wonder if the script will repeat itself at the 2017 tournament in Eau Claire, Wisconsin April 7-9. Time will tell as 260 stellar college players and coaches across the USA and Canada pack their paddles for three days of lively games.

Some observers predict a sixth straight Finals showdown between Texas Wesleyan and MC in the TMS tournament. MC’s lone national triumph for its coed team happened at the same Eau Claire venue in 2015. A narrow 12-10 win by MC in doubles decided the intense match as audiences watched via live streaming on their computers.

The MC Choctaws victory two years ago was historic in collegiate table tennis circles. MC knocked off a strong Texas Wesleyan bunch that arrived at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire with a phenomenal 11 consecutive national coed team titles. But the Texas Wesleyan Rams players responded and secured its 12th national coed team championship in March 2016 in Round Rock in the Lone Star State.

When the 2017 TMS championships arrive, Jasna Rather, head of the Texas Wesleyan table tennis program, and fellow coaches will have their squad ready. Same is true for Cheng Li, coach of the powerful MC team and the squad’s former all-star captain.

Texas Wesleyan Rams standouts like Jishan Liang, Zhe Feng, Bruno Dos Anjos Ventura, Chen Wang and Jennifer Wu, to name a few, will pack their paddles for the Dairy State. They expect to rack up wins in Wisconsin no matter who they face.

Mississippi College stars like Tomo Yoshitomi of Japan, plus, Qing Wei Sun and Yichi Zhang, all of China, also journey to Eau Claire with high hopes. An MC senior studying computer science, Yichi Zhang, 22, is the reigning 2016 men’s singles champ. A 19-year-old accounting major, Jeremy Gore of Walnut Ridge, Arkansas rounds out the five-man Blue & Gold squad from Clinton, Mississippi.

Other schools will give chase, including California’s Ohlone College, the two-year school gaining third-place in their debut at the 2016 championships near Austin, Texas. Lindenwood University of Missouri remains one of the toughest veteran teams coming to the nationals every spring. Snow, strong winds, rain or sunshine, the weather doesn’t seem to matter to the Lindenwood Lions. But bad weather can make travel difficult for a number of teams, from one year to the next.

A few things are certain. Organizers expect about 900 Double Fish balls will be used during the NCTTA’s biggest tournament of the year. It really starts Thursday with team registration at the hotel and evening practices before the games begin for real Friday April 7. It’s always a treat for fans of the Olympic sport.

The team with the shortest distance to travel? That would be the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, the host school. Not too far away is the University of Minnesota, that’s a ninety minute drive from Minneapolis. Players from universities in San Diego, California and Vancouver in British Columbia, Canada and Gainesville, Florida should have the longest journey by air.

Spectators checking out the table tennis teams with the loudest fan base might want to wear ear plugs at times. Brown University table tennis fans bring a reputation for being loud and proud. The same is true with Texas Wesleyan University. No doubt, Texas Wesleyan Rams will arrive in Wisconsin with a large contingent of players, coaches and fans who love the perennial national champs with terrific players from all around the globe.

The 2017 TMS College Table Tennis Championships is hosted by the National Collegiate Table Tennis Association and the Eau Claire 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

Players and spectators alike will enjoy a jam-packed weekend of table tennis at the TMS College Table Tennis Championships. The event starts Friday April 7th and continues through Sunday April 9th. 

About NCTTA

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

Men’s and Women’s Doubles Packs a Punch

(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!

2017 Nationals to feature new Mixed Mixed Doubles event!

Start networking as soon as you arrive at our 2017 Nationals in Eau Claire this year because we're featuring our latest event: The Mixed Mixed Doubles! 
 

Rules:

  • Pairs must consist of 1 Male and 1 Female player
  • Both players must represent different schools
  • Both players must have qualified through Nationals either through the teams or the respective singles events
  • Direct invitees will have priority pairing when multiple requests are made for a single player 
    • Still conflicting requests will be determined through a proprietary algorithm by Kagin Lee

Format:

  • Seeded Round Robin groups of 4
  • 1 pair advances to Single Elimination

Registration

  Deadline: 4/6/2017
  URL: http://nctta.org/champs/2017/registration/mixedmixeddoubles/
 

April Fool's everyone!

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