SoCal Schools United in Table Tennis Competition

By SoCal Schools Tournament | March 30, 2019, 2:17 a.m. (ET)

The first annual SoCal Schools Tournament came to a close last Sunday, March 24, 2019. Hosted at the Los Angeles Table Tennis Association in El Monte, California, the tournament featured about 40 students from 4 different schools in Southern California:Gabrielino High School (San Gabriel), Walnut High School (Walnut), Mark Keppel High School (Alhambra), and San Gabriel Academy (San Gabriel, grades 6-8). LATTA joined with its own players ranging from grades 6 to 8. Throughout the 10 hour tournament, the students fought close team and single matches. During the exciting tournament, students from different schools energetically cheered on their schools. All players fought hard to get themselves or their teams into the next round. By the end of the day, students from all schools could be seen talking with each other and making new friends. LATTA won in the Team competition and the Singles competition, with 8th grader Kimberly May taking 1st place in singles and LATTA 1 (Kimberly May, Jason Tran, Treyton Garcia) taking 1st place in the Team event. Mark Keppel High School’s Clement Chan (senior) won 2nd place in Singles, while an energetic San Gabriel Academy team (Isaac Flores, Mitchell Wei, Matthew Wong, and Sebastian Liquori) placed 2nd in Team event.

Alan Xian and Bryan Manalang organized the event after seeing an absence of table tennis organization among schools in Southern California. Alan, a sophomore and table tennis club board member at Mark Keppel High School, drew on his experience competing in sanctioned tournaments, such as the US Nationals, to organize and run the tournament. A seven year table tennis player from California Table Tennis in Rosemead, he is thankful for the training he has received at his club and has actively promoted table tennis through hosting table tennis programs at the local Boys and Girls Club. Bryson, a senior at Walnut school, spent time promoting the sport as the founder of the table tennis club at his school and as a volunteer for NCTTA. Working together, the unusual duo began organizing the tournament in November of 2018. Throughout the following 5 months, they overcame challenges, such as lacking a venue and funding for trophies. Luckily, owner of the Los Angeles Table Tennis Association Tawny Banh quickly recognized their passions, supporting them with access to the wonderful LATTA club for the tournament, as well as useful organization tips. Additionally, Star Trophies in Monterey Park sponsored the tournament, providing access to their wide array of trophies.

Both Alan and Bryson agree that the hardest aspect in organizing this tournament was the communication needed to share this event with different schools, many of which do not have a table tennis club. “I hope that this tournament spreads through word of mouth and social media so that we can have more players from all ages competing next year,” said Alan. “I hope to share my passion for table tennis with those around me, and that more schools will acknowledge table tennis as a sport, possibly even adding it to the PE curriculum. I hope that our efforts will lead to more students being interested in the sport and receiving a quality and affordable table tennis education. ”

Overall, the first annual SoCal Schools Tournament was a wonderful way to promote table tennis among younger players and showcase the efforts of local table tennis programs. It was not only a fun experience for the kids and their parents, but also a wonderful way to showcase table tennis among our nearby cities and schools. Our mission is to build up a league among our surrounding schools, and we hope to utilize this new teamwork to eventually realize our goal. The organizing committee hopes that this tournament continues as a tradition in the LA community, and are exceptionally proud of those who participated in this first of many new exciting events to come. Special thanks to Sean Lehnhoff from San Gabriel Academy and Brandon Wong from Gabrielino for leading their teams.

For more information on a possible LA League, feel free to contact Alan Xian at (626) 375-6322 or Bryson Manalang at (626) 375-5110.

- Photo Gallery from Event