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Table Tennis Team at Mississippi College Hosts Dixie Division Tournament

Mississippi College table tennis team at practice: Caleb Shipman, Harry Sharma, Masseo Kohatsu, Jeremy Gore,
Mississippi College table tennis team at practice: Caleb Shipman, Harry Sharma, Masseo Kohatsu, Jeremy Gore, "Tomo'' Yoshitomi and Qingwei Sun.

Rated No. 3 in the USA last season, Mississippi College’s table tennis team will host its first major tournament on the Clinton campus on October 27.

The Dixie Division tournament date coincides with MC’s 2018 Homecoming attracting thousands of graduates. Paddles start hitting spinning white balls at Alumni Gym at 9 a.m. that Saturday. The event is free and open to the public.

The University of Alabama, Mississippi State University and the University of South Alabama are among the teams traveling to battle the Choctaws. The MC team features one notable newcomer.

This Fall, MC’s six-man squad was bolstered by the addition of Massao Kohatsu of Brazil. A standout player at Lindenwood University in Missouri last season, the business administration major transferred to Mississippi College in late August.

Kohatsu recently showcased his skills by edging Texas Wesleyan University star Jishan Liang at the Atlanta Fall Open. A native of China, Liang was the 2017 National Collegiate Table Tennis Association men’s singles champion. At the September 8 tournament in Norcross, Georgia, Liang entered as the top seed. Massao won the thrilling match three games to two.

“That’s quite an achievement by Masseo,” said Andy Kanengiser, the MC table tennis sponsor. “We are fortunate to have him on the team. He’s an awesome player, excellent student and nice guy. We look forward to big things from Kohatsu all year. Masseo joins a stellar bunch of teammates.”

At the Atlanta Open, another Mississippi College standout, Qingwei Sun, a native of China, secured a spot in the semi-finals. Masseo and Qingwei each received trophies. Business administration major Tomotaka Yoshitomi of Japan landed in the quarter-finals.

MC sophomore Harry Sharma, a native of Nepal who now lives in Japan, also played. Coach Johnson Liang joined the squad in the Peach State. A former MC table tennis player and graduate, Coach Liang is an accountant based in Michigan. Sharma serves as team captain.

Rounding out the Blue & Gold team: MC junior Jeremy Gore, an accounting major from Dallas, Texas, and sophomore Caleb Shipman. A graphic design major, Caleb is the son of missionaries.

Fans cheering the Choctaws Oct. 27 will see the University of South Alabama return to Dixie Division action for the first time in more than a decade.

“We have a diverse mix of new and experienced players from here (Alabama) and around the world,” said South Alabama club president Arthur Vongsakhamhouy. His family comes from Laos, but considers Mobile, Alabama to be his home.

Players on the South Alabama Jaguars team in Mobile come from the USA, China, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Nepal, Peru and the Ukraine.

More than 150 colleges across the USA and Canada field table tennis teams. MC hosts a second divisional tournament in February. Following South regionals in Texas, 2019 NCTTA championships are booked for Greensboro, North Carolina next April. MC competed at nationals 11 straight seasons. President Blake Thompson was impressed with the team at an Alumni Gym practice in October.