Anders Thunstrom Builds Collegiate Table Tennis
By Andy Kanengiser
Anders Thunstrom dreams of the day when collegiate table tennis becomes a major player in North America’s sports world.
The managing director of TMS International, the marketing arm of the International Table Tennis Federation, Anders hopes that day comes sooner rather than later.
It’s a challenging assignment. Table tennis remains king in China, but that’s not the case across the USA. Anders will be all eyes and ears the moment he arrives at the 2015 TMS National College Table Tennis Championships. The table tennis games will attract North America’s 300 best collegians to compete in Eau Claire, Wisconsin April 10-12.
The former coach of Sweden’s national table tennis team, Thunstrom traveled thousands of miles to see the games up-close when he visited the 2014 TMS championship games in Monroeville, Pennsylvania.
The 2014 games near Pittsburgh featured live streaming by National Collegiate Table Tennis Association commentators and that will be the case for the 2015 matches in Eau Claire, a Midwest city 90 miles from St. Paul, Minnesota. “The Wall Street Journal’’ also covered the three-day tournament in Pennsylvania with a front-page story featuring the rivalry between perennial table tennis champion Texas Wesleyan and No. 2 challenger Mississippi College.
But Anders wants much more media exposure for collegiate table tennis in future years across the USA and Canada.
“We are working all the time for more visibility for table tennis in North America,’’ he says. “Step-by-step, it would ideally be a more important sport towards commercial entities as well, including TV networks.’’
TMS International is one of the national tournament’s major sponsors. Others on the team include JOOLA, the sports energy drink PepPod and Double Fish table tennis balls.
“We hope that JOOLA and Double Fish will give it (the tournament) a boost in terms of sharp looking equipment,’’ Anders says. Also providing a helping hand, Gerflor, will provide sports flooring for two show courts.
By signing up PepPod, the Colorado-based sports drink, NCTTA leaders have the 2015 championship games “on the right track,’’ he said.
In cities across Europe, there are no collegiate table tennis teams, Anders noted. There are simply club leagues in countries like France, Germany, Belgium, and Spain, to name a few.
So in that regard, colleges across the USA and Canada have more going on than Europe when it comes to table tennis. The National Collegiate Table Tennis Association oversees the Olympic sport at more than 150 schools in North America.
As the action occurs in Wisconsin, Anders Thunstrom will visit with NCTTA officials, coaches, sponsors and players as he explores ways to improve to make the 2015-16 collegiate table tennis season even better.
The 2015 TMS College Table Tennis Championships is hosted by the National Collegiate Table Tennis Association and the Visit Eau Claire 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, Double Fish, Joola and PepPod.
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 10th and continues through Sunday April 12th at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire campus.
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