Mississippi College Table Tennis Players Advance to South Regionals
Mississippi College table tennis players paddled their way Saturday to earn a spot at the South Regionals in Fort Worth.
The MC Choctaws defeated Mississippi State’s team to win the National Collegiate Table Tennis Association’s Dixie divisional tournament. In their 11th season, the Choctaws next compete at Texas Wesleyan University at the regionals February 24-25.
The nationally ranked Choctaws had little trouble with the visiting MSU Bulldogs at Alumni Gym. A third squad, the University of Alabama, was unable to make the February 10 trip to the Clinton campus.
MC standouts such as assistant coach Tomotaka “Tomo” Yoshitomi of Japan and newcomer Xiang “Ali” He of China performed at a very high level to qualify for men’s singles competition.
In Fort Worth, MC will once again battle perennial national champion Texas Wesleyan. The TWU Rams have captured 13 national coed table tennis team titles. The Texas team’s lone setback was a narrow loss to Mississippi College at the 2015 national championships in Eau Clare, Wisconsin.
The 2018 South Regionals will attract MC plus teams from states like Texas, Florida and Georgia. Teams like the University of Texas, Florida State, Auburn, UT-Dallas, and the University of Florida should be among them.
Other members of the Mississippi College squad coached by Zhicheng “Johnson” Liang include Tong Zhang, Qing Wei Sun, Weiheng Liu, Captain Harry Sharma, Jeremy Gore and Caleb Shipman.
Fans of the Blue & Gold on hand included Vice President for Academic Affairs Ron Howard along with Jeremy’s parents, Ken and Becky Gore of Dallas. Mississippi State fans also showed up to cheer Bulldogs players including MSU seniors Jordan Nichols of Pearl, and Amelia Andersson of Ridgeland.
Encountering Texas Wesleyan on their home court will be challenging for Mississippi College and other visitors. The Texas Wesleyan Rams team is loaded with stars like Jinix Wang, Jishan Liang, Yue Wu, all of China, Bruno Ventura Dos Anjos of Brazil, and Jason Plog of Germany under longtime coach Jasna Rather. TWU lists 39 players on its 2017-18 roster.
The collegiate regionals will be held at the Sid Richardson Center at TWU. The 2018 National Collegiate Table Tennis Association championships will be in Round Rock, Texas April 20-22. MC has qualified every season for the nationals since its first year in 2008. There are more than 150 schools across the USA and Canada fielding table tennis teams.