By Michael Reff
The Texas Wesleyan men’s double’s team of Shuai Wang and Jason Plog, both solid 2400 rated players, had two consecutive wins against tricky teams, before succumbing to the NYU powerhouse of Tom Feng and Adar Alguetti. Texas Wesleyan had three teams entered into this event, Shuai and Jason being seeded 10 and the dynamic duos of Jishan Liang/Jinxin Wang and Zhe Feng/Bruno Ventura Dos Anjos are seeded 1 and 2 respectively. Wang and Plog are conventional shake hand two winged attackers and they had an initial fright with their opening round against the Santa Monica underdogs of Ayush Kapoor (rating 2424) and Tiziano Aiello (2060).
Santa Monica had an ace under their sleeve: Ayush’s style is long pips on the backhand side of his paddle, but he uses it in an attacking manner. This makes him able to nullify or reverse the spin of any ball hit his way. Initially Wang and Plog won the first game, but then things got messy in the second game. They became very uncomfortable with the eccentric style of a high level long pips attacker. They lost the second game 8-11, but then they received valuable advice from their coach. In the third and fourth games, Texas Wesleyan switched up the strategy and served long dead balls to Ayush, rendering his already flat attacking style on the backhand useless. He continuously let fly ball after ball past the table and Texas Wesleyan ultimately secured a 3-1 win. “Texas Wesleyan stopped messing around and took it to town. Texas Wesleyan just went right through them,” observed NCTTA President Willy Leparulo.
The Wang and Plog duo had a more comfortable time with the styles of Nathan Hsu and Rui Xu (seeded number 8) of the University of Maryland in the round of 16. All players were right handed and employed the shake hand grip, attacking on both sides of the paddle. However, as Mr. Leparulo noted, “Nathan Hsu is backhand oriented; his backhand is humongous.” The first game was a close one, Texas Wesleyan taking the lead early on at 6-2, 7-3, 8-4, and 9-5, but then Maryland started making a comeback with smarter serves. Texas Wesleyan though pulled it out for an 11-9 win. The second game was even closer, with points being traded off left and right by both sides. At 6-4 Maryland did a backhand serve that ended with a lucky netball winner for them. At 8-6, karma was served with a Maryland service error. Texas Wesleyan closed the second game with another 11-9 win. In the third game, Maryland and Texas Wesleyan battled it out back and forth all the way to 7-7, but ultimately Texas Wesleyan squeezed out the last four points, safely securing a 3-0 upset win to the quarterfinals.
Finally though, Wang and Plog had met there match in NYU double’s team of Feng and Alguetti, a 2016 Olympian and Men’s national team member respectively. The duo, although both right handed, featured a penhold player, Tom Feng, who has a strong reverse penhold backhand. This type of grip and style allows for the wide looping range of the forehand side, and a strong backhand side that used to be nonexistent for penhold players of the past. The NYU team swept the match 3-0 and ended a great run for the strong Texas Wesleyan team.
The 2018 iSET 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 iSET, Double Happiness, Gerflor, 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 20th and continues through Sunday April 22nd.
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