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Rankin County Table Tennis Tournament Features Mississippi College Connections

Brandon Civic Center Hosting first Rankin County Table Tennis tournament March 22.

Table tennis players of all ages and skill levels are invited to a March 22 tournament in Brandon.

Besides attracting players from Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Tennessee and other Southern states, the inaugural Rankin County Table Tennis Tournament promises to be fun. Expect lots of wicked spins and ferocious slams on display when the games begin at 8:30 a.m. that Saturday morning.

Sponsored by the City of Brandon, the event at the Brandon Civic Center features a number of Mississippi College connections.

Mississippi College assistant football coach Jay Bright will bring his paddle to play in a celebrity match. He’s scheduled to face Mississippi Braves General Manager Steve DeSalvo, who’s in his 10th season with the Atlanta Braves minor league team in Pearl.

The MC Choctaws quarterbacks coach and former standout signal caller at the University of the Cumberlands, Bright was a record setter at the NAIA school in Kentucky. He played three seasons with the Patriots under John Bland, now the new head football coach for the MC Choctaws. MC will rejoin NCAA Division II and compete in the Gulf South Conference this fall.

Players from Mississippi College’s powerful table tennis team, the No. 2 ranked collegiate squad in North America the past two seasons, are helping promote the tournament.

Among other table tennis battles on March 22, Pearl Mayor Brad Rogers plans to square off with Brandon Mayor Butch Lee, and Pearl Pirates head football coach John Perry tackles Brandon Bulldogs head football coach Brad Peterson.

Brandon events coordinator Lori Farrar is teaming with the Brandon Mayor’s Youth Council, local businesses like the Club at Crossgates, and other fans of the Olympic sport to make the tournament a success. More than $500 in prize money will go to the winners in various divisions.

“The Brandon Civic Center is a fantastic facility for the tournament and we appreciate the hard work by Lori and others to get this off the ground,” said Andy Kanengiser, the Mississippi College table tennis sponsor.

The Mississippi Senior Olympics table tennis champ and Pearl resident, Kanengiser will play a 2 p.m. exhibition with assistant MC table tennis coach Zhicheng “Johnson” Liang. A native of China and MC graduate student, Liang was among the stars on the team for four years.

MC team members hope the first Rankin County tournament will spark interest to launch a new table tennis club in Brandon open to all players in the region.

Comprised of  incredible players from China along with one American, the MC team is signed up for a tournament in Akron, Ohio on March 22, so will miss the Brandon competition. The Mississippi College team travels to the National Collegiate Table Tennis Association championship games in Monroeville, Pa. near Pittsburgh in early April. It marks the 7th consecutive year that MC’s team advanced to the national championships.

For more information, go to or call 601.825.5021. It costs $10 to sign up by the March 14 deadline. It costs $15 after that date. Registration begins at 8 a.m. that Saturday.