Mississippi College

MC Hosts Dixie Division Table Tennis Tournament October 25

October 10, 2008

Mississippi College's table tennis team will defend its Dixie Division crown in a five-state tournament that brings some of the best ping pong players in the South to the Clinton campus Oct. 25.

Ranked No. 14 in the nation, MC's team faces stiff competition from such schools as Mississippi State University, the University of Southern Mississippi, the University of New Orleans, West Florida, Rhodes College, and the University of Alabama in matches at the Baptist Healthplex. Part of Homecoming weekend events at MC, the action should run from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m.

It will be the first time Mississippi College ever hosted a National Collegiate Table Tennis Association tournament. MC knocked off such schools as Iowa State University and California State-East Bay to finish in 14th place in the NCTTA National Championships in May in Minnesota. Texas Wesleyan won the tournament with Princeton finishing as the runner-up. MC beat out such schools as Stanford, Georgia Tech, Maryland, Emory and Columbia in the final rankings of the 33 teams invited to Rochester, Minn.

Led by Captain Ken Qiu, MC's top players are from China, with a number of American players practicing hard in recent weeks and expected to join the squad at the tournament, said Andy Kanengiser, the team's sponsor and university news coordinator.

"We look forward to showing off our talented team plus an array of top collegians from around the region," Kanengiser said. "We are playing in a great facility (the Baptist Healthplex) and hope our fans cheer on the Choctaws as part of MC's Homecoming weekend festivities."

There is no admission charge for spectators.

Other NCTTA tournaments are going on around the nation this fall. In the Ohio Division Oct. 18, teams like Akron, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Central Michigan and the University of Kentucky will bring their paddles and square off at the nets. In early October, teams like Auburn, Emory, Georgia State, Georgia Tech, the University of Georgia and Clark Atlanta competed in the Georgia division.

There are more than 120 schools that come under the NCTTA that promotes college table tennis in the United States and Canada. The organization works closely with the USA Table Tennis Association. Table Tennis has been an Olympic sport since 1988 with the team from China taking home the gold on their turf over the summer.

"Hopefully what we do can help promote one of the best Olympic sports, table tennis, in the Jackson, Mississippi area," Qiu said recently in a story appearing on the NCTTA web site. Qiu is a graduate student in business, staff member with MC's international programs office and president of MC's International Students Association. There are about 330 international students from 26 nations on the Clinton campus.

"We are excited and ready to play," Qiu said of the fall tournament at MC. "We will do our best."

Other players on the team at the Baptist-affiliated school include business student Jenny Wu, communication major Jessica Zhou, and Ryan Hou, who is working on a master's degree in business administration. The school's four top players from China, who starred at the National tournament in Minnesota, have played the game a combined 55 years.

In a letter sent to the MC administration to congratulate the school on its 14th-place national ranking, NCTTA President Willy Leparulo said MC "brought a much needed passion and spirit which infused other athletes and teams as well to perform their best."

MC also plans to host another Dixie Division tournament at the Baptist Healthplex Feb. 21. The Dixie Division winner advances to the NCTTA National Champions in Rochester, Minn. in the spring of 2009.

For more details on the tournament, contact MC team sponsor Andy Kanengiser at 601-918-4443 or kanengis@mc.edu or the Baptist Healthplex at 601-925-7900.

PHOTO: Led by captain Huan "Ken" Qiu (far right) and his MC teammates Jie "Jessica" Zhou, Haijing "Jenny" Wu and Jian "Ryan" Hou, the MC team finished in 14th place in the National Collegiate Table Tennis Association championships. The team is pictured with Dr. Lee Royce (center), president of Mississippi College.

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