(Pic by Tae Kim of Cherry Zheng)
By Michael Reff
NCTTA Media Committee
In the past our ponging northern neighbors have frequented the nationals with a plethora of powerhouse teams. This year, there will be a sparse showing from our Canadian brethren, but they will be soundly represented in the Men’s and Women’s single’s event. Juan Liyau from Ryerson University for the men and on the women’s side in the form of two passionate players.
One such player, Cherry Zheng, graciously told this writer about her history with our favorite Olympic sport. Cherry is a third-year computer science student at the University of British Columbia (UBC). Initially she commenced her table tennis career at 8 years of age, doing it more because her father was already in love with the sport. However, as time progressed, she went from playing for the sake of her parents to partaking in pong for herself as well as the social aspect. “The table tennis community is amazing and the people play a huge part in why I love table tennis,” she says.
Cherry provides insight as to why most of her teammates won’t be making it to nationals: final exams. UBC is one of the top universities in Canada and the world for that matter, so there is no wonder that studies considerably occupy college table tennis athletes’ time. When asked what the greatest challenge will be going into nationals in the singles event only, Cherry states, it “is the change in mindset, since it’s certainly different playing without a team and having your teammates around you at all times. I’ll miss my teammates that couldn’t come, but I’m truly happy to be able to attend the championships and represent my school!” She will be joined by one other teammate, Grace, for whom she is very grateful to have her company.
Also, in regard to preparing for the champs and the daunting long-distance trip ahead of her, she embraces it with enthusiasm. “I’m trying to squeeze in practice whenever possible! Nationals is an event that I’ve been looking forward to for a long time (probably since last nationals), and now that it’s approaching, I’m super stoked!! The trip is quite a lengthy one, with there not being any direct flight options, but I love travelling so I’m sure it’ll be a great experience!
What’s more, Canada and the USA will have equal representation in the opening ceremony, with an exciting fact. NCTTA President Willy Leparulo states, “we will have a live singer from UNC Greensboro singing [the] Canadian [anthem].” Thank you, Cherry, for making the trek to the states to represent Canada and UBC!
The 2019 iSET College Table Tennis Championships is hosted by the National Collegiate Table Tennis Association and Sports & Properties Inc. and Greensboro 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 iSET, Double Happiness, SPI, Greensboro CVB, Double Fish and USA Table Tennis
Players and spectators alike will enjoy a jam-packed weekend of table tennis at the iSET College Table Tennis Championships. The event starts Friday April 12th and continues through Sunday April 14th.
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