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Mississippi College

Table Tennis Star Yang Yu Powers Mississippi College Team

December 3, 2012

Table tennis is a breathtaking Olympic sport that combines power, speed, ball control and mind games.

It’s the national sport in China and led that Asian nation to capture the bulk of the gold medals in table tennis Olympic competition since the sport was added in 1988.

Coming from China where he received his undergraduate degree and turned a small sports business into a success story, Yang Yu has been a leader for the Mississippi College table tennis team the past two and a half years.

In Plano, Texas, “Micah’’ Yu turned in one of the best performances of his career at the 2012 National Collegiate Table Tennis Association championships. Ranked No. 12 in singles heading into the championships in the Lone Star State, the Mississippi College graduate student upset some super players. One of the collegians on the losing end of a close match included a rival who edged Yang  a year earlier at the nationals in Minnesota.

Led by strong performances from Yang Yu, and teammates like Yuliang “Bill’’ Cai, Zhicheng “Johnson’’ Liang, and Zhiqiao Xie, all natives of China, Mississippi College’s elite squad finished the April tournament as the No. 2 team in North America. Perennial champ Texas Wesleyan ended up No. 1 for the tenth year in a row.

 Mississippi College began its sixth year of table tennis this fall as the Dixie Division champion with solid victories over teams like the University of Alabama, Tulane, Alabama-Huntsville, West Florida, Alabama-Birmingham and Mississippi State. As usual, President Lee Royce and his wife, Rhoda, led the cheering section for the Choctaws at the Baptist Healthplex.

Another longtime supporter, Vice President for Academic Affairs Ron Howard marvels at Micah Yu’s skills on and off the court.

“We are so very proud of Micah,’’ Howard said. “He is a man of many talents – a fine student, world-class table tennis player and one who operated his own business.’’

The tall native of China brings his “A’’ game to Alumni Gym practices, to tournaments and classrooms at Self Hall, home of the School of Business. The MBA student’s achievements are “ a tribute not only to his skills and initiative, but to the opportunities Mississippi College offers to both international and American students,’’ Howard says. America’s second oldest Baptist college, MC is home to 239 international students from two dozen nations.

 Yu has fond memories of table tennis heroics and life in the Magnolia State. In Guandong, China, he never dreamed he would be living in a place where grits and catfish are popular dishes and SEC football always makes headlines.

“It’s been a good experience,’’ says the 27-year-old native of China. “I will remember the friends, the people here, and the Nationals. The people here are very friendly and always willing to help.’’

One of the friends he attracted to Mississippi College was teammate “Johnson’’ Liang, who worked for him as a coach and assistant with his recreation business. Of course, table tennis was a cornerstone of  the company that encouraged people to stay fit through athletics, and regular workouts.

Micah sold his business before coming to Mississippi, but learned valuable lessons as an owner to stay on top of things. No matter where he goes next, Yu plans to keep playing and promoting this Olympic sport to young and old alike.

Led by coach Ken Qiu, Mississippi College’s table tennis team maintains a pipeline to China. His father, a professor in China and table tennis instructor, helps recruit superb players and excellent students seeking to advance their education in the USA.

Next stop for Mississippi College’s potent squad is the University of Alabama February 9 to defend their Dixie Division title on the Tuscaloosa campus.

Photo: MC table tennis player with President Royce and his wife