MC Table Tennis Team Travels to 2013 National Championships
April 5, 2013
Packing their paddles for the Land of Lincoln, Mississippi College’s No. 2-ranked table tennis team will soon hit the road for the 2013 national championships.
Attracting about 300 of the best collegiate players from 50 schools in North America, the games are set for April 12-14 in Rockford, Illinois. MC’s squad will arrive for practices Thursday and then put their amazing spins, slams and serves on display in the three-day marathon of games.
MC ranks one notch below perennial champion Texas Wesleyan University in the men’s/coed team pre-tournament rankings. Lindenwood University of Missouri is third, the University of Southern California sits in 4th place, while San Jose State is No. 5.
Led by U.S. Olympic team star Peter Li, the University of California-Berkeley is ranked sixth. The University of Ottawa, Rutgers, Princeton and the University of Western Ontario round out the top ten teams.
Mississippi College players will give it their best shot to win the national championships in the men’s/coed team division after finishing 2nd at the games last April in Plano, Texas, says team sponsor Andy Kanengiser, the university news coordinator.
Immediately after appearing at the International Festival at Swor Auditorium Friday night, the MC players will travel to Missouri for a key weekend tournament at Lindenwood University.
“The games in the Show Me State are an important tune-up for the national championships in a few days,’’ said Kanengiser, Mississippi’s Senior Olympics table tennis champion. “Our players are determined to do everything they can to stay on top of their game as they seek their first national title in Rockford.’’
Competition levels were high for the 2012 championships in Texas, but it looks even steeper at this year’s tournament at Rockford, some 60 miles from Chicago.
“This year’s tournament is like a who’s who of Olympic level talent,’’ said Joe Wells, vice president of the National Collegiate Table Tennis Association. Truly, the standard of play will be very high in Rockford, he said.
The NCTTA is the non-profit group that governs the Olympic sport for about 160 college table tennis teams in the USA and Canada.
Coached by Ken Qiu, the Mississippi College team includes players Cheng Li, Zhiqiao “Joe’’ Xie, Yang Yu,and Zchicheng Liang. All are natives of China where table tennis is king. MC is wrapping up its sixth season playing table tennis.
A newcomer to MC in the fall, Li is ranked No. 2 in the singles division that includes 75 talented players from the USA and Canada. The top spot is held by U.S. Olympic Tennis Team member Michael Landers of New York University. Xie is ranked 12th, and Liang is No. 23.
Qiu, who served as MC’s captain for four years during his playing days starting in 2007, says the competition in Illinois will be keen, but the Choctaws will come ready to play.
Photo: Zchicheng " Johnson'' Liang, Coach Ken Qiu, Cheng Li and Joe Xie during a practice at Alumni Gym.