Mississippi College Table Tennis Gains 5th Place at 2011 Nationals
April 19, 2011
Playing against a stronger field at the national championships, Mississippi College’s table tennis team battled to a fifth-place finish.
Knocking off bigger schools like Ohio State, Maryland and Wichita State, MC’s team made another strong showing at the April 15-17 event in Rochester, Minnesota, home of the famed Mayo Clinic. MC’s team also defeated other top-notch competitors like the University of Toronto, Western Ontario and the State University of New York at Binghampton.
A year ago, MC’s team finished in fifth place in the coed division at the National Collegiate Table Tennis Association’s championships near Milwaukee. About 250 of the best collegiate players in the United States and Canada participate in the tournament each year.
“This year’s competition was much higher,” said longtime MC captain Ken Qiu. “All the players have improved.”
Qiu did a great deal of the research on opposing college teams before the tournament. The MC School of Business graduate student said “that really helped,” MC’s squad prepare for the marathon of table tennis games in the Land of Ten Thousand Lakes.
It marked MC’s fourth consecutive trip to the national tournament after winning the fall and spring Dixie Division tournaments at the Baptist Healthplex in Clinton.
“We tried our best,” said Micah Yu, 26, the MC table tennis standout who plans to continue working on his MBA on the Clinton campus this summer and keep playing his favorite sport. “It was a good experience. If we can get another good player, we can get into the first three (in 2012).”
Yu said he would like to see the MC players participate in more tournaments during the upcoming year to improve their game. “Practice is not enough.”
MC’s team practices several times a week at the university’s Alumni Gym.
Also returning to the campus Monday, Zhicheng “Johnson” Liang said he expects the team will get better next year. “We can be No. 3. It is so close.”
Others making the trip to Minnesota included Bill Cai, who matches up closely with Micah Yu as the university’s top two players.
Concluding Sunday, the three-day Rochester tournament also marked the national tournament debuts of MC junior BenVanHorn of Clinton, and the university’s only female player, Zijun Yang, a recent transfer from China. VanHorn is the lone American on the MC team. VanHorn’s teammates are all natives of China where ping pong is the national sport.
Jim Brackenridge, director of the MC Office of Global Education, congratulated Qiu and other players upon their return to Clinton. He’s hoping MC will attract more players from China. Across the United States and Canada, collegiate table tennis competition “has grown greatly,” he said.
He said he’s hoping Mississippi College will attract three more female players next fall to create a women’s team next fall.
As expected, perennial powerhouse Texas Wesleyan finished No. 1 at the Minnesota tournament in the coed division with Lindenwood University of Missouri landing at No. 2. Both schools are the only two institutions in the U.S. and Canada that offer full scholarships to talented table tennis players.