MC Table Tennis Team Advances to National Tournament
February 22, 2008Mississippi College's Table Tennis Team will soon pack their paddles and advance to national championship competition in Minnesota after winning the Dixie Division tournament in Hattiesburg.
MC's four student players from China are booked for games in Rochester, Minn. April 11-13 after recently beating out such schools as the University of Southern Mississippi, Mississippi State University, the University of West Florida, and the University of New Orleans on the USM campus.
"I used strategy for us to win," said Huan "Ken" Qiu, the MC International Student Association president and the Christian university's ping-pong team captain. "There was one game that was very close," he said, referring to one of Saturday's contests that narrowly went in MC's favor by a 17-15 tally.
"MC's team showed a lot of strength with its speed, and well-balanced display of offensive and defensive skills at the table,"' said Andy Kanengiser, the university news coordinator and sponsor of the new table tennis club. "We are hoping for a strong showing for MC at the national tournament."
MC leaders were delighted about the regional tournament victory by the graduate students. The win comes as the Baptist-affiliated school takes steps this year to create an official table tennis club on the Clinton campus. "Our international students strengthen every dimension of the MC experience, from academics, social life, and athletic competition," said Ron Howard, vice president for academic affairs.
"The table tennis team is a case in point. These students strive for excellence in all that they do," added Howard, who's writing a book on China. "We are so very proud of them!"
Besides frequently slamming hollow white balls at the Baptist Healthplex on the Clinton campus, Qiu, 25, is also hitting the books as he works on a master's in business administration with a finance concentration. He's played the Olympic sport since he was seven-year-old growing up in China. His father is a former table tennis coach in his native China and still plays the game with passion.
Ken Qiu is also working on the staff as an administrative assistant at the MC International Center. Colleagues at the center raved about the recent MC victory over bigger institutions in the four-state region. "I am so proud that international students have represented MC as a winning school," said Carrie Lassetter, the center's programs coordinator. "This is just one of the many ways that our international students have helped MC expand its borders."
At the contests at USM's student center, Qiu didn't do it alone. He received strong assistance in singles and doubles matches from MC teammates Jian Hou, Haijing Wu and Jie Zhou. Wu is studying computer science; the other three table tennis players are MC business students.
In April, the MC team will fly to Rochester, Minn., better known as the home of the famed Mayo Clinic, for the National Collegiate Table Tennis Association's championship. Member schools active this season include Auburn, Baylor, Boston University, Clemson. Emory, Duke, Florida State, Penn State, Georgia Tech, Iowa State, Marshall, Oregon, Stanford and the University of Texas.
Popular with players around the globe, table tennis is gearing up for the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. The U.S. Olympic & National Team Trials were held at Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pa. last month.
Table tennis will stay in the limelight on the MC campus. Some members of MC's team plan to showcase their ping-pong skills along with other talented MC students on the evening of March 7 at the university's International Festival in Swor Auditorium.
Mississippi College is home to 330 international students this year, including about 230 students from China. The university maintains an office in China. In 2002, there were only nine international students at MC.
PHOTO: Jie Zhou, Ken Qiu, Haijing Wu, and Jian Hou