UNC Table Tennis Club
One of the jewels of the University of North Carolina’s sports club program is a diamond in the rough. The UNC Chapel Hill’s table tennis club is full of elite, top-tier student athletes. The club is run by five highly dedicated officers: Jasper Ou, Elvin Liu, Joseph Ma, Winfield Warren, and Andrew Nguyen. Together, they organize try outs twice a year, four weekly practices, scrimmages, and participate in tournaments from the local to national level.
The club is a part of the Carolina Division of the National Collegiate Table Tennis Association (NCTTA). They compete in the NCTTA divisional and regional tournaments as well as in tournaments outside of the NCTTA, usually held by Triangle Table Tennis Club in Morrisville, North Carolina. In addition to tournaments, just this year the club has participated in two scrimmages: one with North Carolina State University and the University of South Carolina. These scrimmages helped to expand interest in the sport, foster relationships between neighboring clubs and inspire healthy competition. Plans are already going into motion to host two more scrimmages this semester: with Duke University and the University of Georgia.
Among the top players in the club is President Jasper Ou from Orlando, Florida who has been playing since the age of 5 and has a rating of 2156. Treasurer Joseph Ma from Cary, North Carolina has been playing since the fourth grade and is rated in the upper 1000s. Vice President Elvin Liu hails from Concord, North Carolina and has been playing for almost two years. The table tennis rating system is similar to chess, with a higher rating generally being more reflective of a greater skill level. In each match, there is an “exchange” in rating points, where the winner goes up and the loser goes down. A rating of 2000 is a recognizably high level of playing skill, while the best in a country are around 2700. A beginner is usually in the 200-1000 range.
But the officers aren’t the only players with talent. At the age of 31, post-doctorate student Darius Teo also finds time to play when he is not working on cheminformatics. He’s been playing competitively since the age of 10 back in Singapore, which was actually later than most of his peers. He started playing because his dad and older cousin played at a local club, and he would oftentimes tag along. According to Darius, he joined the UNC Table Tennis Club because he still loves to play and it’s an easy way for him to make friends. Freshman David Nguyen confirms this, saying “My favorite thing about the table tennis club is the mutual respect everyone has for each other. Even though everyone is at different levels of skill, we’re always trying to help each other.”
Despite varying backgrounds, ages, and experience, one thing brings these group of students together: their love for the sport of table tennis. For these students, in these uncertain and trying times the club serves as a reprieve from the stress that many of us find ourselves surrounded by. If you’re interested in finding out more about the club and following their progress, their website and Instagram handle are attached below!
Written by: Andrew Nguyen
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