Mississippi College Seeks to Repeat as National Champs
by Andy Kanengiser
NCTTA Media Chairman
China's Qing Wei Sun remains the newest addition to a powerful Mississippi College table tennis team that seeks a repeat as North America's champions.
Led by Coach & Captain Cheng Li, the MC Choctaws narrowly edged 11-time national champ Texas Wesleyan to win their first table tennis title last April in Wisconsin.
Whether MC can do it again will be decided at the 2016 TMS National College Table Tennis Championships in Round Rock, Texas. The event March 25-27 in the city near Austin will attract 250 of the best collegiate players across the USA and Canada.
It's was a remarkable triumph that stunned the collegiate table tennis world that Sunday evening at the venue at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire as others watched the lively Olympic sport via live streaming.
A business administration major from China, Cheng Li is all business when asked about his team's chances of pulling off another big MC coed team victory in the Lone Star State. He's excited to welcome Qing Wei Sun to the roster. He believes the 18-year-old MC freshman from China gives MC another key weapon. "With Qing Wei Sun's help we will have more options than last year. He will be a great choice for doubles.''
Cheng Li and Tong Zhang proved awesome as doubles partners. They finished No. 1 in the nation in that department in 2015. Add Yi Chi Zhang and Sun are the MC group will be pretty tough in late March in Texas. Recently, MC finished in 2nd place in the South Regionals with Texas Wesleyan finishing on top on its Forth Worth campus.
Coached by Jasna Rather, the TWU Rams added two strong players this season. Cheng Li says "We must figure out a way to compete with them.''
What's next for Cheng Li? His MC playing days will be over at the conclusion of the three-day tournament in the Lone Star State. But perhaps he can stick around as a coach. MC leaders like Vice President for Academic Affairs Ron Howard made an offer for Cheng Li to work on his MBA and stay as coach for two more years. He is seriously considering it. "I would love to continue to work at MC.''
No matter what happens, MC President Lee Royce is proud of his team. Their victory as the No. 1 collegiate table tennis team in North America, he said, was "an amazing accomplishments and one that we have not seen at MC in many years. Against great odds and with modest support, they achieved success at the national level.''
MC finished No. 2 behind champ Texas Wesleyan for three years before making it to No. 1. Mississippi College began playing in NCTTA tournaments in 2007-2008. MC finished its first season ranked 14th in the nation, but made steady improvements to rise to 5th place. Added Dr. Royce: "We remain proud of all their accomplishments and they will always be No. 1 in our hearts.''
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