MC Salutes Nationally Ranked MC Table Tennis Team
May 8, 2008Trophies, congratulations from President Lee Royce and other honors were part of Thursday's campus salute to Mississippi College's new nationally ranked table tennis team.
"It was so remarkable and so impressive as you defeated one team after another," Royce told the four talented MC players from China.
Led by captain Huan "Ken" Qiu 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. In Rochester, Minn. MC knocked off such teams as Iowa State University and California State- East Bay, and finished ahead of bigger schools such as Stanford, Maryland, Columbia, James Madison and Georgia Tech among the 24 colleges in the tournament. MC came in first place in the Dixie Division in Hattiesburg to advance to last month's national tournament.
"Mississippi College brought a much needed passion and spirit which infused other athletes and teams as well to perform their best," NCTTA President Willy Leparulo wrote in a letter this week to the MC administration. "Kudos to their team captain Ken Qiu for uniting all of the players to even have a chance to compete for this title and all the accolades that comes with it."
In 2008--2009, Qiu and team sponsor Andy Kanengiser say they would like MC to host a regional ping-pong tournament. MC's team now practices at the Baptist Healthplex and First Baptist Church Activities Center in Clinton.
In light of the team's success, MC international programs director Jim Brackenridge said he anticipates at least two more outstanding table tennis players from China will be enrolling at MC next year.
After the players were greeted by Royce and Brackenridge at Nelson Hall, Qiu isn't letting down after MC's team finished strong in its first national tournament. "This summer, I will be going to several tournaments in Pensacola and Atlanta," he said. "If not, you can't improve."
Hou plans to be involved this summer in leading a Christian church camp in China where table tennis will be played daily. Wu will polish her games in the months ahead in Minnesota, New York and other places in the United States. Zhou will be spending the summer in China with her parents and staying on top of her game. Wu is studying computer at MC, while her teammates are in graduate studies in business.
Their success in table tennis and in the classroom also brought the players leadership scholarships of $1,000 each, Brackenridge said. In addition to his studies and table tennis, Qiu is president of MC's International Students Association and serves on the staff at the International Center. MC is home to 330 international students and the number may climb to 400 on the Clinton campus next fall, Brackenridge said. The MC students come from 26 nations, including 250 students from China. The 4,600-student6 Christian university operates an office in China to help with recruiting.
MC table tennis isn't just for Chinese students. Next year, "we want to help create more interest among the American students," Qiu said.