Mississippi College

MC Table Tennis Team Wins Four Trophies at Florida Tournament

October 12, 2009

Mississippi College's Table Tennis Team captured four trophies, including first place at a Pensacola tournament to benefit the American Heart Association.

MC newcomer Bill Cai, a native of China, received a first place trophy for his victory in the championship division title match. On Saturday, Cai knocked off Florida State University's top-ranked player, Olmo Zavala, in three straight games.

Another new student at MC this fall, Zhicheng Liang received a trophy for 4th place in the championship division. Known as "Johnson" to his friends and teammates on the Clinton campus, the native of China won the Mississippi Open Tournament in Hattiesburg last month.

MC Table Tennis Team Captain Ken Qiu received a trophy for finishing No. 1 in the Florida tournament's "open heart" division, while Ou Lan got first in the EKG division. Both are natives of China.

"I was so impressed by our players' performance, especially Bill," Qiu said. "He has a really good forehand loop and consistency." The first-place trophy is well-deserved for Bill's hard work in practices at Alumni Gym, he added.

MC players Maria Montano, Jessica Zhou and Jenny Wu also competed along with MC table tennis team sponsor Andy Kanengiser, the university news coordinator. Kanengiser defeated four rivals, but the 58-year-old New Jersey native lost five others, including matches to Montano and Zhou.

Sponsored by the Pensacola Table Tennis Club, the tournament attracted teams from MC, FSU, the University of West Florida and Mississippi State University. The event raised funds and promoted awareness for the American Heart Association.

With paddles and white hollow balls everywhere on the gym floor in historic Pensacola, the tournament drew veteran players in U.S. Table Tennis Association ranks. Coming from area clubs were medical and business professionals, a pastor and others from the education world.

There were 41 players in the advanced giant round robin division and 23 others in the novice division. The event raised close to $900 for the American Heart Association and attracted players with the highest rankings average in the history of the Florida tournament, said director L.A. Johnston, a longtime player with the Pensacola club.

"The Pensacola tournament was a great way for our team to see some action and improve before our Dixie Division Tournament in Clinton," Kanengiser said. "Our players again turned in extraordinary performances."

Johnston, the Pensacola club president who also played in the tournament, heaped praise on the members of the visiting MC Table Tennis Team. "You have a very strong group and the sky is the limit for your crew,'' he said.

Johnston offered his thanks to the strong showing and excellent turnout of all of the college teams competing at the tourney just miles from the Florida Panhandle's beautiful beaches.

There's no rest for the Choctaws. MSU, West Florida, the University of Alabama, Alabama-Huntsville and Southern Miss will be taking on MC, the Dixie champs, in the Oct. 31 tournament at the Baptist Healthplex. The event comes during Homecoming for the Baptist-affiliated school.

The table tennis tournament is from 9 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. on that Saturday and is free and open to the public. One new team recently signing up for the National Collegiate Table Tennis Association action at MC is New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.

Photo: Bill Cai, Captain Ken Qui, Zhicheng "Johnson" Liang, Ou Lan

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