By Andy Kanengiser
NCTTA Media Chairman
The Weather Channel's Jim Cantore should have interviewed NCTTA players about their challenges on the road to Round Rock, Texas.
Heavy snow caused most flights to be cancelled at the Denver airport. Unable to fly, table tennis players from some college teams out West ended up driving 14 hours to make it to the 2016 championships in the Lone Star State.
These men and women would be excellent candidates for the NCTTA's road warriors of the year!
Snow was just one big issue for players at some USA schools as the championships approached March 25-27. Players for colleges in Canada like the University of Toronto say there was plenty of snow, and ice as they caught flights. Planes had to be de-iced and that took time and led to more delays for passengers.
As he finished breakfast at the Holiday Inn near the Round Rock Sports Center, Toronto player Alierza Tabatabaei mentioned there were delays for the team at customs. The Toronto team got split up, but still managed to make it. In-between games, the 34-year-old native of Iran will keep up with his studies. He's a doctoral student in mechanical engineering.
Players from other schools like Nancy Zhou of Brown University say they noticed that airport security was stepped up due to the terrorist attacks in Brussels. Bombs in the Belgian city killed at least 31 people and injured 300 others earlier this week. There were long lines at Boston's Logan Airport for travelers.
"The morning was super hectic,'' Zhou said. "I was running to the gate.''
Still, the college players somehow made it to the Dallas airport. Zhou got to the hotel at 6 p.m. last night, just in time for practice at the beautiful sports facility minutes away from the hotel. Other players were bleary-eyed as they drank cups of coffee. One Columbia University player noted she arrived in Round Rock at 2 a.m. with the tournament to start 9 a.m. Friday.
Players from institutions like McMaster University in Canada used message posts on Facebook Thursday night to catch rides to Round Rock for the tournament. Whatever it takes, talented NCTTA players showed up with their paddles in hand to play. Travel, though, was a breeze for the hometown team, the University of Texas. UT Austin is about a dozen miles from Round Rock.
Last year's table tennis tournament at Eau Claire, Wisconsin saw weather and travel challenges, too. There were tornadoes and sheets of rain in Missouri and other Midwestern states as college players traveled to the April 2015 national championships.
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