Mississippi College Table Tennis Team Keeps Dixie Division Title Feb. 20
February 22, 2010Mississippi College's table tennis team will soon make its third consecutive trip to the national championships in Wisconsin after successfully defending its Dixie Division title.
MC put on another strong showing in Saturday's tournament at the Baptist Healthplex. Up next for the Dixie Division champs will be the National Collegiate Table Tennis Association championships near Milwaukee April 9-11. More than 250 outstanding players from 40 colleges are expected for the annual event.
After snow and icy roads postponed the Feb 13 Dixie Division tourney on the Clinton campus, MC players brought their "A" game to Saturday's ping pong festivities.
At the tournament run by longtime Dixie Division Director Herb Bennett of Hattiesburg, the University of Alabama-Huntsville finished second, with Mississippi State University taking third. The University of West Florida finished 4th and the University of Alabama came in 5th.
Entering the tournament, Mississippi College's team was rated 4th best in the nation, according to the NCTTA's mid-season rankings in January. MC is one notch ahead of No. 5 Virginia Tech, with Florida State in 6th-place and Columbia University of New York listed 7th. Perennial table tennis powerhouse Texas Wesleyan of Fort Worth is No. 1, Princeton 2, and Lindenwood University of Missouri holding the third spot.
Led by Captain Ken Qiu, and new players from China, including Bill Cai, Johnson Liang, Renping Ge and Lishun Lu, MC figures to be one of the toughest competitors at the national championships, says Andy Kanengiser, the MC table tennis team sponsor. "But to stay in that elite company, we expect the team will step up its practices at Alumni Gym to get ready for Wisconsin," added the university news coordinator.
There are about 150 colleges in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico that play table tennis under the leadership of the 10-year-old NCTTA. Regional tournaments nationwide were wrapping up in late February.
From morning through afternoon, Mississippi College enjoyed the home court advantage and having scores of fans on hand. Among those cheering on the Choctaws were International Programs Director Jim Brackenridge and his wife, Diana, Vice President for Academic Affairs Ron Howard, business professor Lloyd Roberts and Rhoda Royce, wife of President Lee Royce.
Thousands of TV viewers in Central Mississippi also got a glimpse of the MC Choctaws in action.
WLBT-TV 3 sports shot video at the tournament and interviewed business administration graduate student Ken Qiu, a native of China, for a segment running Saturday night.
An international programs office staffer, Qiu has served as the faithful architect for the team now in its third season. The past two years, the MC team performed well at the NCTTA Nationals in Rochester, Minnesota, but this year's talented squad looks even stronger.