By Andy Kanengiser
NCTTA Media Chairman
Dilshan Sooriyaarachchi boasts the longest last name of any player at the 2016 national collegiate table tennis championships.
NCTTA leaders tallied an incredible 15 letters in his last name. It’s good enough to rank Dilshan No. 1 in that unusual category among the tournament’s 250-plus players. The table tennis standout notes his last name letter count is really just an average length in his native Sri Lanka.
When it comes to playing table tennis, Dilshan ranks way above average. The 27-year-old Texas Tech graduate student brings a long list of accomplishments to the March 25-27 table tennis tournament in Round Rock, Texas.
For one thing, Dilshan is a pretty smart guy. He’s seeking a doctorate in physics at Texas Tech, and that’s not easy. He considers the Olympic sport of table tennis to be a nice escape from his studies on the Lubbock campus. “It’s a great way to relax and definitely a productive way to spend an evening.’’
Dilshan imported his deep passion about table tennis to the USA when beginning his graduate studies at Texas Tech in Fall 2015. Sooriyaarachchi served as architect of the Texas Tech team, and successfully introduced the sport to the 27,000-student research institution.
“Table tennis has been an integral part of my life and I believe my performance on the court reflects on my own personality and vice versa,’’ Dilshan said. “It has taught me many life lessons and given me so many opportunities - a chance to travel the world, build character and form friendships.’’
At Texas Tech, table tennis is eclipsed by other sports. Red Raider fans stay on fire for the Texas Tech men’s basketball team that punched its ticket to the NCAA’s Big Dance with a 19-12 record. It landed the Red Raiders squad an opening March Madness game with Butler on the road in Raleigh, North Carolina.
While crowds are huge for Red Raiders basketball or football games during the fall, Dilshan quietly practices table tennis on the Lubbock campus. “I love the sport and do not see myself parting with it ever.’’
The physics doctoral student brings solid credentials. Dilshan played more than 15 years of competitive table tennis and was briefly part of the Sri Lanka national team. He captained the squad at the 26th World University Games in Shenzhen, China in 2011. He also took part in the 25th World University Games in Belgrade, Serbia in 2009. He “retired’’ from play around 2011-2012 to focus on his studies. But now he’s back at it with paddle in hand in Texas.
Thanks to his help, Texas Tech’s coed table tennis team recently played its heart out at the NCTTA South Regionals at Texas Wesleyan in Fort Worth. Dilshan qualified to play in men’s singles at the 2016 TMS college table tennis championships as March draws to a close.
Growing up in the Indian Ocean nation of Sri Lanka with its Buddhist ruins, rainforests, and the fabulous Pettah Market in Colombo, Dilsan Sooriyaarachchi is experiencing a different world in the Lone Star State. But the common theme revolves around table tennis. He won’t be the only Texas Tech student-athlete at the games near Austin. His Texas Tech teammate, Zach McNutt of Harlington, Texas, will volunteer as a referee at the lively three-day tournament.
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