Fierce Table Tennis and Team Spirit Culminates at Round Rock this Weekend

By Matt Hetherington | April 17, 2018, 6:31 p.m. (ET)

The National Collegiate Table Tennis season has been building towards this weekend and all eyes fall upon Round Rock Texas for the 2018 iSet College National Table Tennis Championships. Players and teams from across the country have battled it out to advance through divisional and regional qualification stages to reach the penultimate round and a chance at becoming national champion.

With a star studded lineup it promises to be one of the most exciting editions to date. The College National Championships combines intense table tennis action with a warm and rowdy competitive team spirit, as teams unify to fight for the top spot. On 13 of the last 14 occasions it has been Texas Wesleyan University who have been crowned co-ed team champions, will anybody be able to stop them in 2018? 

The co-ed team this year features last year's men's singles champion and runner-up - Jishan Liang and Bruno Ventura Dos Anjos, along with the new addition of 2015 US Open Champion Wang Jinxin and the veteran experience of former Chinese national team member Feng Zhe. They sit in the first seed positions for co-ed and Women's team events - hosting two US Olympians in Wu Yue and Wang Chen on their women's side.

Mississippi, the only college to disrupt their winning run, claiming the title in 2015, sit in the 2nd seed position with a host of strong players led by 2709 rated Tomotaka Yoshitomi with support from 3 other players above 2500 in the wings as part of an 8 strong team. 

Last year the reigning champs were challenged by UC Berkeley. The California school was driven forward by two-time Olympian Lily Zhang and will this time be joined by former NCTTA Champ Wang Ying and defender Angela Guan, a 2017 World Championship team member. 

As is clear just from mentioning a small handful of teams, there are national team players, Olympians and high level contenders from many schools around the country. The team competition will be fierce, the singles and doubles will be absolutely thrilling. 

The Men's singles seedings are headed by Kaden Xu from Pillar College with Wang Jinxin in 2nd and Yoshitomi of Mississippi in 3rd. Yijun Feng, 2016 US Olympian from NYU comes in at 4th, while two-time Olympian and Xu's Pillar teammate, Timothy Wang, sits at 12th. Perhaps what indicates the real excitement is last year's champ Jishan Liang sitting at 7th seed, with Bruno Ventura at 8th. This indicates the depth of potential competition in the Men's Singles event. 

Kunal Chodri and Adar Alguetti both make their debut appearance, Chodri was the runner up at the 2015 US National Championships, Alguetti won the US National Men's Trial last year in North Carolina. How far can they go in the draw?

Check out last year's Men's Singles Final below (between this year's 7th and 8th seeds no less!)

The Women's Singles event is also a tough field with last year's champion and runner-up occupying the top 2 seeding positons in Lily Zhang and Wu Yue respectively. Wenting Zha makes her College Table Tennis debut for Texas Wesleyan and is the 3rd seed, as does Angela Guan in the 4th seed spot. 2012 London Olympian Erica Wu will try to put Princeton's name in the spotlight again, she was the winner of her regional and will be looking to capitalize on her Olympic experience in Round Rock to make the vital rounds. 

The weekend promises to be a spectacle as Round Rock hosts one of the most intense competitions in the country. Be sure to keep an eye on the official NCTTA Championships Page for draws and results, as well as on the NCTTA YouTube Channel and NCTTA Facebook for LIVESTREAM action from the event.