Women's Teams Bring Star Power to National Championships in Wisconsin

By Andy Kanengiser

NCTTA Media Chair

Marvelous loops, awesome spins and tenacious defense are all part of the package for several college women's table tennis teams this season.

Their amazing skills will be showcased at the 2017 TMS collegiate table tennis championships in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.

Schools like Texas Wesleyan University, Princeton, UCLA, California-Berkeley, Ohlone College and Texas are all bringing elite teams to the games April 7-9.

The NCTTA's biggest tournament of the year is attracting several dynamic women who packed their paddles for Team USA at the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

Practicing on the West Coast in recent weeks, Cal's women's team travels to Wisconsin stronger than ever. Players include Lily Zhang who took a year's break to train for Team USA. A 20-year-old psychology major from Palo Alto, California, Lily hopes to represent the USA on the world table tennis circuit.

Cal women include Prachi Jha, a freshman from Milpitas, California. The 19-year-old took a year out of high school to compete professionally overseas. Rounding out the stellar team: Erica Minh-Chan Tran and Ellen Hwang, who each played the sport at a high level for a decade.

The smart Cal women pound the books when they're not slamming table tennis balls. Tran, 21, is a molecular cell biology major from Saratoga, California. Ellen, 22, is an economics major from Thousand Oaks, California.

"All of us are good friends and bonded together through our team,'' says Erica. "We practice together and also help coach beginners in our club. We hope that our teamwork and camaraderie will help us reach the finals for the women's teams competition this year.''

Other bright spots along the West Coast include the UCLA women's table tennis team (pictured here). The squad consists of: Haloin Fang of San Francisco, Jinging Nie of Wuhan, China, Gretchen Tan of Malaysia and Isabel Chu of Milpitas, California. The Lady Bruins always bring their "A game'' to tournaments. The UCLA students are pumped about coming to Nationals.

"We can't wait to see our friends from other universities,'' says Chu, 19, who seeks to become a physical therapist.

Ohlone College is another potent California team making the road trip to the Dairy State tournament. It will be the first time for the Ohlone women's team. "We have been practicing a lot to prepare for the Nationals,'' says standout player Ying Wang. She's the team captain, founder and president of the school's table tennis club.

Ohlone is a two-year community college that saw its coed team impress fans at the 2016 nationals in Round Rock, Texas. In its initial season, Ohlone players turned in amazing performances against veteran teams in 2016.

A 23-year-old from China's Jilin Province, Ying Wang wants to pursue the sports business as her career choice. She's considering a transfer to schools like UC Berkeley next season. The business economics major will be an asset wherever she goes.

The always-powerful Texas Wesleyan University women's table tennis team remains a paradise of star coaches and players. The list of notables on the Fort Worth campus includes Jasna Rather, who oversees the table tennis program. She's joined by an experienced staff of coaches, including Anastasiia Rybka,  Doru Gheorghe ( head coach for the women's team), and Keith Evans.

Whether it is the superb Lady Rams table tennis squad, including two Team USA members or wonderful players at other campuses, Rather and Gheorghe say fans will see incredible performances by women in Wisconsin. Jennifer Wu is one of the Texas Wesleyan stars who shined as a Team USA member during the Olympics in Rio in 2016.

Some of the women coming to Wisconsin will focus only on NCTTA singles competition. They include Texas A&M graduate student Susana Leon Caceres. For the native of Columbia, it marks her second trip to the Nationals. Susana loves doing research and her studies at Mary Kay O'Conner Process Safety Engineering Center at Texas A&M. But the Texas A&M Aggie is passionate about table tennis, too. "The experience during the NCTTA's 2016 Nationals was excellent.''

Excellent is one word that nicely sums up the athletic skills of the women playing table tennis at the 2017 college championships.

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

Volunteers Serve to Drive Success of College Table Tennis Championships

By Andy Kanengiser

NCTTA Media Chairman

Scores of volunteers remain valuable assets at collegiate table tennis championships each year.

They handle a variety of important tasks – from scorekeeping to setting up tables. Men and women with a common passion for table tennis work the registration tables and handle video cameras for live streaming. They serve as referees, help with the media, assist with transportation, and take on other tasks behind the scenes.

Nearly 80 NCTTA volunteers from across the USA and Canada pitched in at the 2015 games in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. And about the same number of people will assist at the 2017 TMS collegiate table tennis championships. Many of the same crews will show up at the same venue, the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire campus, and quickly go to work.

“Countless volunteer hours go into planning, organizing, and running the national championships,’’ says NCTTA President Willy Leparulo. “We are always indebted to our volunteers and thank them for generously contributing their time. Without them, there would be no event.’’

Willy’s wife, Shelly Huang Leparulo, ranks among the best in the business as a table tennis volunteer. As waves of student-athletes line up at the registration table, Shelly greets each one with a smile. Many of the 300 college players are weary and hungry after a long day of travel. But Shelly makes them feel welcome upon arrival and works with other volunteers to hand out information packets.

As an NCTTA volunteer, Shelly stays busy at the registration desk and keeps going around the venue until the tournament shuts down. “Her efficiency is off the charts,’’ Willy says.

Thanks to her leadership, Willy doesn’t worry about the registration desk or anything else Shelly takes on.

Volunteers rack up long hours at the NCTTA’s biggest tournament. There are some rewards – from the nice NCTTA polo shirts to seats at Saturday evening’s awards banquet tables. It’s an opportunity to see the games up close and renew friendships.

People like Cyrus Aga, 26, of Montreal, Canada, will be new to the NCTTA team of volunteers in 2017.

A 2013 Western University graduate, a former collegiate table tennis player, and ex-coach, Aga is familiar with the NCTTA landscape.

He’s taking time off from his job at PSP Investments (the Public Sector Pension Investment Board) to help as needed. “I am thrilled to be volunteering at the 2017 Nationals.’’

His tasks will include scorekeeping, assisting with the setup of tables and whatever else comes his way.

At his job, Cyrus focuses on global infrastructure investing at PSP Investments, a $120 billion Canadian pension fund based in Montreal. As a volunteer, he’s worth his weight in gold. At the tournament, he hopes to visit with Kelly Li, who represents Western University in women’s singles and reconnect with coach/volunteer Eunice Chan. (Cyrus is pictured here back in his playing days!)

Volunteering at NCTTA championships is a joy for Ed Toomey. “The NCTTA Championships is one of the best run table tennis events in the country,’’ says the Boston area resident.

After a career in human resource management with a high tech company, Toomy retired seven years ago at age 62. But the New Englander continued to volunteer with U.S. Sailing, the USATT and NCTTA. “Racing sailboats on Boston Harbor and the Mystic Lake near Boston has been a pastime for most of my life.’’

Twenty years ago, Ed got hooked on table tennis by playing during lunch-time at work. He joined the Boston Table Tennis Center, took lessons, and stepped up his game. Over the past seven years, Ed assumed various NCTTA assignments, including running divisional tournaments. Toomey is a National Umpire in table tennis and hopes to get certified as an international umpire next year. His Boston accent is thick, and his passion for the sport remains heavy, too.

Scorekeeper, umpire or the man needed to set up tables, Ralph “Radar’’ Presley of Georgia is a 15-year NCTTA volunteer. He’s served as a former Georgia Division director and coach.  Radar devotes much of his time to the ownership of a pro ABA basketball team, the Southwest Warriors, in metro Atlanta.

Presley began playing table tennis as a 12-year-old. Why does he keep coming back to volunteer at NCTTA championships? “Table tennis has been in my blood for over 50 years.’’

Other sports besides table tennis and hoops are on his radar. Ralph Presley remains an avid bowler.

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

The Not So Lone Rangers—College Table Tennis

By Michael Reff

NCTTA Media Relations Committee

Imagine getting psyched for the pinnacle of college table tennis:  the 2017 NCTTA champs in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. You’ve made it! You’ve qualified to represent your school, the #loudnproud team spirit and eagerly displaying school name and colors on shirts. The only catch is you are one of a handful of qualifiers known as the “lone rangers,” those that have made it into the single’s event but their teams have not qualified. How do you deal the pressure of playing for your school all on your own?

Being a lone ranger may appear to be a solitary test in mental and physical fortitude, not being able to rely directly on coaching or cheering from teammates. However, one common theme amongst these courageous warriors is that they are never really leaving the team behind. They will carry their spirit with them while battling it out spin for spin, loop for loop. One such lone ranger, Josh Schuback of Tufts University, expressed these sentiments about the upcoming NCTTA champs, “I expect to play a lot of good players, meet new people and just enjoy the experience. And of course proudly represent Tufts University.” Although he is representing Tufts solo this year, Josh had this to say about his team experience leading up to the national’s, “My team unfortunately did not qualify for regionals this year, but we’re bringing all of our talent back next year. We have some experienced internationals players and a few young players who are still learning the game, so we hope to do well in the future.” One can truly feel the loudnproud team spirit emanating from the Tufts freshman, and we wish all the best for his lone ranger experience in Eau Claire, as well as future team experiences in following years!

Another lone ranger, Nathan Hsu of the University of Maryland, has been in the sport since he was 9 years old. When asked how his team did this year, Nathan said, “Personally, I value a team victory over my own personal achievement, and I was hoping to experience the feeling of competing as a team. Maybe next year…” And if this exemplary selfless team spirit wasn’t enough, he had this to say about what he hopes to observe and experience at Eau Claire in April, “I really enjoy the feeling of playing on a team, and I look forward to seeing what sort of team spirit other schools bring to this competition even in the singles division.” With this team-oriented attitude even as a lone ranger, Nathan is channeling his whole school as he prepares for intense table tennis competition.

Finally, lone ranger Ramy Noseir, an Egyptian international student from Florida State University had this to say about looking forward to participating in the champs come April, “I think either I win or lose, it will be a great experience! And it will be great meeting all of North America’s top college table tennis players!

So, as you can see the lone rangers of the 2017 NCTTA champs are truly not alone at heart. They have enough team spirit to fill up the entire stadium!

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

Saluting NCTTA Class of 2017

by Andy Kanengiser

NCTTA Media Chairman

Win or lose, Maria Daniela Castillo racked up many memorable moments as a University of Wisconsin-Madison table tennis player.

The 21-year-old native of Bucaramanga, Colombia hopes to shine at the NCTTA's national championships in early April.

No matter how things go, Maria Castillo and other members of the Class of 2017 will fight for every point at the games in Eau Claire, Wisconsin April 7-9.

"I absolutely love playing table tennis. I enjoy the sport and how challenging it is. But I also love meeting people from all around the world, different cultures and different cultures,'' Castillo says.

Her collegiate experience with the Olympic sport stretched from a few years at Lindenwood University in Missouri (starting in Fall 2013) before transferring to Wisconsin-Madison in Spring 2016.

 From performances with a diverse Lindenwood table tennis team with players from around the planet to solid showings on the Wisconsin women's team, it was all good.

"My top highlight from my NCTTA career is without a doubt the 2016 Nationals where we (Wisconsin-Madison)  got second in women's teams,'' she said. Maria Castillo joined forces with stellar Wisconsin teammates like Pamela Song, Joanna Zhang and Chen Sun.

Playing women's doubles with Pamela Song was truly the icing in the cake. The duo from Wisconsin- Madison finished 2nd to the mighty Texas Wesleyan University women's doubles team. Joanna Zhang achieved a third place finish  in women's singles at the 2016 tournament in Round Rock, Texas.

The four Wisconsin women, Maria said, "played really well in our matches, we fully supported each other at all times, and that was reflected in our results. I will never forget this tournament!.''

She's not all about playing table tennis with passion. 

Maria is a smart student who's double majoring in environmental sciences and environmental studies. After graduation, she plans to become a researcher in the environmental sciences and air quality field. She will tackle that for a year or two and apply to graduate school. So it's possible Castillo could be back in uniform at NCTTA tournaments in the future. That's because the Wisconsin senior studied abroad and didn't play in collegiate tournaments for one season to leave her with a year's eligibility.

Her table tennis career has literally taken Maria around the globe. She began playing at age 9, and by age 15 got 2nd place in a cadet women's singles Latin American tournament in Buenos Aires. She participated in singles and doubles at the World Table Tennis Championships in Rotterdam in 2011and Paris in 2013. Along her table tennis journey, Maria established many lasting friendships.

The 2017 TMS nationals in Eau Claire will be the final NCTTA tournament for Mississippi College senior Yichi Zhang. The bright computer science major and native of China remains the 2016 NCTTA men's singles champion. To make that happen, he defeated several table tennis stars, including teammates Cheng Li (who is also the MC coach) and Qing Wei Sun at the national championships near Austin, Texas.

Returning to Eau Claire one more time is extra special for Yichi Zhang. It's the same place in 2015 where Mississippi College upset longtime national champ Texas Wesleyan. The Rams stormed back to beat MC and win its phenomenal 12th national coed team championship in 2016. MC's team captured first place at the NCTTA's 2017 Regionals in Fort Worth, with Texas Wesleyan taking second. Expect MC and Texas Wesleyan to be slugging it out once again in Eau Claire.

Cornell University isn't seen as a big threat to national heavyweights like Texas Wesleyan, Mississippi College and Lindenwood. Still the Ivy League school will showcase one of its stars from the Ithaca, New York campus at the championships in Wisconsin.

He's 21-year-old Cornell senior Gideon Teitel of New York City. He's not just a guy slamming a hollow white ball and returning shots for glory. Gordon is interested in a career related to economics and finance. He's actively hunting jobs.

"Whatever I do next year, I will have to study for the GRE and LSAT,'' Gideon says. Whether it is grad school law school or a business career, Teitel will pack his paddle and play table tennis. There are plenty of great clubs for him to hone his skills in the New York City area. "I will continue playing table tennis and have my sights set on (a rating of) 2400.''

The 2017 NCTTA championships in Eau Claire will welcome a parade of other outstanding seniors. They include: Jeremy Lai, 21, a Duke neuroscience major from Hong Kong and Princeton standout Shirley Fu, 21, of British Columbia, Canada. California-Berkeley's Ellen Hwang, 22, of Thousand Oaks, California is one more on the list of table tennis standouts in the Class of 2017.

(Pictured here is Maria Castillo and doubles partner Pamela Song from last year's championship event)

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

New Schools Brighten the College Table Tennis Landscape

By Willy Leparulo

NCTTA Championship Committee

Each year brings new hopes for new titles and for some schools a new experience. There are several schools coming to the 2017 TMS College Table Tennis Championships for the first time this year. These college table tennis rookies are just as hungry as our seasoned veterans and shouldn’t be taken lightly just because this is their first trip to the grand stage.

New York Institute of Technology, primarily situated in New York City but with campuses in China, Canada and Dubai, has created a club this year and qualified for the Championships. Team captain and leader Dawei Luo was excited to hear about the invitation to the Championships, “Half of our team is graduating this semester, so this is great to see. We started the club in September and believed we can make it to nationals.”

Players and teams should not discount NYIT because they have experience internationally, Luo says, “Two of us were trained by coaches and we are national second-level athletes (in China).”  NYIT is seeded #18 out of 24 and could surprise many!

Another little known school in College Table Tennis, but famous in academic circles is the College of William and Mary. The College of William and Mary table tennis club was established around 2011 and relatively new but in that period of time had never qualified for any kind of post season play as a team. This year however would be different, Ruhao “Tony” Tang is the coach of William and Mary and says “It is very exciting for us to make the nationals tournament for the first time. We seriously thought we weren’t going to make it this year.” 

They are a very active club in social media featuring Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and their own website! Kudos to them. They are pictured here in this article.

Surprises come in different ways it seems for William and Mary. Tang says “two of our players were recovering from injury and were replaced by our newcomers.” Their team consists of a diverse collection of students: two from China, one from France and an American. This falls in line a bit with the College Table Tennis status quo.

Tang tells us of the NCTTA experience, “It’s really different than playing for yourself, because when you have a whole team behind you and cheering for you, I feel more excited and more pumped for the matches, which makes the memories ever more lasting.”

NCTTA covers USA and Canada and it wouldn’t be a College Table Tennis Championships without a Canadian University represented! This year it is a school that has never attended the championships, University of British Columbia out of beautiful Vancouver!

Team Captain of UBC, Michelle Liu states, “All the athletes on our team are from Vancouver and played together on our provincial team.” For those that don’t know the terminology, provincial teams in Canada are quite competitive and attracting Olympic talent many times.

Liu says their goal was to make it to the Championships, “We put in a lot of effort and planning, held the largest tryouts ever and we implemented biweekly training sessions.”

The training sessions and new attitude have done something since UBC women’s team is seeded #5 and the Men’s/Coed team (featuring 3 of the women’s team players) is seeded #19. Watch out College Table Tennis, both teams are poised for their first collegiate table tennis championships!

They may be the “new kids on the block” but one shouldn’t be taking them lightly. They are ready to compete as we say in NCTTA #loudnproud

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

2017 Table Tennis Championships Boost Eau Claire

By Andy Kanengiser

NCTTA Media Chair

       Bringing about 300 of the best collegiate table tennis players in the USA and Canada to Eau Claire provides an economic boost to the city of 66,000 residents in Wisconsin.

       It's not like landing a huge automobile plant or attracting a pro sports franchise, but hosting the 2017 TMS collegiate table tennis championships helps Eau Claire.

       Ben Morgan, sports sales manager with Visit Eau Claire, breaks it down in terms of dollars and cents for the April 7-9 tournament. The bulk of the players, coaches, fans, and volunteers arrive April 6. They will stay in the city's hotels, eat at area restaurants, and visit the city's downtown, buy gas and go shopping before heading home.

        Measuring the tournament's economic impact, it adds up to $83,700 based on approximately 310 room nights from the early April tournament, Morgan says.

        The 2015 TMS national collegiate championships was also held at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire campus. So that event gave the city a nice shot in the arm from table tennis. It would be pretty similar to the dollars generated for the 2017 games,

        There are plenty of things to do for visitors away from the table tennis games. Families might want to sample the Action City/Chaos Waterpark, Morgan suggests. It includes arcade style games and an indoor water park along with a recently added trampoline park.

       Located along the Chippewa River, the city of Eau Claire sits 90 miles from Minneapolis-St. Paul. Its big selling point, of course, is the 11,000-student University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire campus. The school school competes in NCAA Division III in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. The Blugolds have captured 140 conference championships over the years.

         The west-central Wisconsin city's growing list of restaurants and night spots featuring live music are popular attractions year-round.

         Landing a national collegiate table tennis championship for the second time can't hurt as Eau Claire leaders seek to court other major sporting events and conventions.

        NCTTA President Willy Leparulo is impressed with the city's friendly leaders and cooperation of key people like Ben Morgan. The people in Eau Claire, he said "have been great. We enjoy working with them once again.''

      Morgan commends the work by the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire team, particularly club president Alex Tollison, for his efforts to recruit tournament volunteers.

      Leparulo notes that volunteers are crucial to the success of the NCTTA tournament in Wisconsin.

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

 

College TT March Madness- Check it out!

NCTTA has jumped on the March Madness band wagon and created yet again its own bracket challenge. The 2017 TMS College Table Tennis Championships has its own version of intrigue, anxiousness of who the victors will be and could be. Historically March and April are reserved for College Basketball, but we are excited to have our annual NCTTA Bracket Challenge. 

Predict the results of the 2017 TMS College Table Tennis Championships and win fabulous prizes! Contests are open to residents of the US and Canada! Play the 2017 NCTTA Bracket Challenge, it is completely free! 

Fans, spectators and players alike should take a look at the NCTTA Bracket Challenge as a good way to stay involved with the upcoming championships and a way to win some money and great prizes! 

TMS is offering up a 500 dollar 1st place prize; 2nd place 300 and 3rd place 100. Doublefish is offering its winners a Gross and ½ gross of tournament quality balls!

Keep up with NCTTA's live streaming this year on both facebook and youtube to see who is going to "bust your bracket" or keep it going. Go out on a limb, pick a lower seed and let the good times roll! 

Winners will be determined on or around 8:00pm Sunday April 9th and the challenge is open right now, but do your research and pick wisely!

http://nctta.org/champs/2017/bracketchallenge.html

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

Minnesota Brings Diverse Table Tennis Team to Nationals

by Andy Kanengiser

NCTTA Media Chair

 

The Land of Ten Thousand Lakes, Minnesota is also proud of its rich table tennis landscape.

 

When the 2017 national championships roll around in early April, the University of Minnesota will again bring a pretty diverse team to the games in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.

 

Two years ago, the Minnesota Gophers sent a nice mix of players from around the globe to the NCTTA competition on the same Wisconsin-Eau Claire campus. There were Minnesota players from Michigan, Minnesota, China, India, and Nepal.

In 2015, Minnesota table tennis player Kris Sabas remained focused on stepping up his game as a 30-year-old philosophy major on the Twin Cities campus. He began playing the sport as a nine-year-old.

 

These days, the Minnesota graduate is wrapping up his first season as the team's coach. The Minneapolis resident can't wait to see his Maroon and Gold team perform on the biggest collegiate table tennis stage in North America April 7-9.

 

"We have quite a diverse team,'' Sabas, 32, says. Players from around the planet blend well with homegrown talent from Minnesota and other nearby states.

Top male and female players on the Minnesota squad are Li Pu, a graduate student from China, and Yuliya Ryabova, a freshman from Kazakhstan.

 

"We pride ourselves on the depth and family-like environment of the club,'' Sabas says. "Even if we don't win the nationals, we certainly hope to have the most fun.''

There's nothing wrong with a little fun for the visiting Minnesotans.

 

 In 2015, the team consisted of splendid American players like Ben Kubesh of Austin, Minnesota, who excelled on the high school level in his native state. John Tranter, then a 40-year-old electrical engineering graduate student from Rolla, Michigan, was the team's elder statesman. Kubesh graduated, but Tranter remains actively involved with the team today.

 

While the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire team will play on its home court as the host school, Minnesota-Twin Cities sits only 90 minutes away. Enrolling nearly 49,000 students, Minnesota is a Big Ten School with a big heart for table tennis.

 

Minnesota is starting to become a table tennis hotbed with high school championships and competitive leagues. "Table tennis in Minnesota is growing and we are finally reverting back to having a team league'' that begins this spring, Sabas said. "We look forward to the competitive community we can create in Minnesota.''

 

Kris loves coaching the Minnesota team. But Kris also cherishes his full-time job at Nonin Medical. Year-round, he works hard in the business development group at the Minneapolis-based company. His career takes up quite a bit of his time.

But Sabas remains deeply committed to seeing the Minnesota team make some noise at the NCTTA championships in the Dairy State. He promises to return to coach the Gophers table tennis squad next season. "My plan is and will always be to be involved as long as they will allow me.''

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

Wisconsin Eau Claire Enjoys Role as Host School

By Andy Kanengiser

NCTTA Media Chairman

     The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire family enjoys serving as the host school at the biggest collegiate table tennis tournament in North America.

     It's the same role that institution supporters relished two years ago as the school in northern Wisconsin hosted the championship games. The April 2015 event attracted about 300 of the best collegiate table tennis players in the USA and Canada.

     Students on the host team don't have far to travel in early April. They're packing their paddles and will give it their best shot. But really, they don't expect to pull off huge upsets against Texas Wesleyan University, Mississippi College, Lindenwood, McGill, and other mighty schools playing this fast-paced Olympic sport.

      Alex Tollison, 22, of Tomahawk, Wisconsin, is serving his 4th year as the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire president. He helped organize the national tournament in 2015, and will be in the thick of things as the 2017 version unfolds April 7-9.

     He's got more on his plate than table tennis. Alex looks forward to going to graduate school next summer at the Northwestern Chiropractic College in Bloomington, Minnesota. Yes, there is life after table tennis. But Alex, who's in his final semester, just wants to savor the moment as the championship games begin soon.

   Fans of the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Bluegolds sports teams are also pumped as the table tennis action comes to their hometown. "We get a small taste of big competition when we play our divisional games against the University of Minnesota and Iowa. Both teams do well in Nationals and we have our hands full when we play them,'' Alex says.

       The competition in early April gets that much tougher for UW-Eau Claire against schools like perennial champ Texas Wesleyan of Fort Worth. "All that we look to do is play our game and try to have fun,'' Tollison says.

       Wisconsin-Eau Claire players include Connor Iaquinta, a criminal justice major from Franklin, Wisconsin. He's the team's top paddler. Others include No. 2 Lukas Carlson, a liberal arts illustration major from White Bear Lake, Minnesota and Jared Stone, an English major from Madison, Wisconsin, is considered the third best on the college squad.

        With a heavy focus on liberal arts and a strong School of Business, the U of Wisconsin at Eau Claire enrolls 11,000 students. Located 90 minutes from Minneapolis, the school showcases its beautiful campus. A scenic Wisconsin park ( Putnam Park) is located in the middle of campus. There are plenty of nearby restaurants in downtown Eau Claire to please people of all tastes and ages. Students are also pretty smart at Wisconsin-Eau Claire. Recently, some of them built an inexpensive and effective solar-powered water heater.

       The Wisconsin-Eau Claire students will be shine in other ways as hardworking volunteers to make the 2017 TMS college table tennis championships a success. Players will help with scorekeeping along with the grunt work: the setup and teardown of the venue on their campus.

       "We are extremely excited,'' Alex Tollison says. "We can't wait to hold this event again!.''

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

Anastasiia Rybka Excels As Table Tennis Coach at Texas Wesleyan University

By Andy Kanengiser

NCTTA Media Chairman

First, Anastasiia Rybka showed off her amazing skills as a dynamic table tennis player at Texas Wesleyan University.

Coaches and teammates marveled at her abilities at tournaments on the Fort Worth campus and elsewhere. Game after game, her loops and smashes from both sides were impressive as the newcomer from the Ukraine immediately added strength to the perennial national champs.

During the 2016-17 NCTTA season, Rybka is proving to be a powerful addition to the mighty Texas Wesleyan squad as a coach. The season wraps up at the NCTTA’s 2017 championship games in Eau Claire, Wisconsin April 7-9.

A standout during her years as a Texas Wesleyan player, Jasna Rather heads the university’s table tennis program. She pours on the praise about Anastasiia’s smooth transition from player to coed team coach. Her presence at practices or during NCTTA tournaments has given the entire Rams team, both men and women, a boost. But really, her coaching career spans back to her days in the Ukraine. In 2013, she coached international athletes with hearing disabilities. In 2015, she was coaching USA para-athletes training for the Paraolympics in Rio in 2016.

“From the very beginning, Texas Wesleyan had plans to recruit Anastasiia as an athlete and coach,’’ Rather said. “We knew that her desire was to expand her knowledge in teaching styles so she can implement them in every day training and other educational assignments that she does. Anastasiia has been very valuable to the program as an athlete and as the coach.’’

Coming to Texas Wesleyan thousands of miles away from the Eastern European nation of Ukraine, Rybka also hit the books to pursue her master of education degree at Texas Wesleyan. She previously studied at the National University of Physical Education & Sport of the Ukraine.

With paddle in hand, the talented lefty easily made the switch from fabulous player to stellar coach in the Lone Star State. “She brought a fresh style into the program, which helped our growth,’’ Rather added.

That’s saying something because the Texas Wesleyan Rams squad captured a phenomenal twelve national team championships in table tennis, among many honors. Banners are hanging all over the Sid Richardson Center on the Fort Worth campus reflecting that success with many of the triumphs coming under Rather. The university is a virtual United Nations of table tennis with players from China, Brazil, Germany, the USA and many other countries.

Making the leap from player to coach seemed to be the right move for Rybka.

“Working with athletes who went to the Deaflympics changed by views on coaching,’’ Anastasiia said. “I realized what impact a coach has on athletes’ lives and their performances. From then, my goal was to become the best coach I can be and to use all possible opportunities to get great coaching training and needed experience.’’

Besides taking table tennis coaching classes and education courses, she’s been working with some pretty stellar coaches at Texas Wesleyan.

The group includes Jasna Rather, who’s in her 9th year as leader of the Texas Wesleyan University table tennis team. Then there’s Doru Gheorghe, head coach for the Rams women’s team beginning in May 2016. He is a former longtime head coach of the USA women’s national table tennis team. Another coaching heavyweight at Texas Wesleyan is Keith Evans. A native of Jamaica and former Jamaica Table Tennis Association national coach, Evans is a 20-year coaching veteran.

These role model coaches are quite an asset to have around for Anastasiia Rybka. Their teaching skills meshed well with Rybka’s qualities of hard work, patience and knowledge of the lively Olympic sport. It’s putting the table tennis standout on a path, she said, to “allow me to become one of the top coaches.’’

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