USATT CEO Virginia Sung Reflects on First 6 Months in Office

By USATT | Nov. 18, 2019, 12:20 p.m. (ET)


To the USA Table Tennis community:

Now that I have reached the six months mark of my tenure at USA Table Tennis, I would like to take a moment to share with you the progress our team has made. First, I want to thank all of you for the support, encouragement, and candid advice. I also want to thank the staff and support team for working tirelessly to navigate the challenges and come out with greater strength and determination.

Vincent Van Gogh once said, “The greatest work of art is to love someone.” In our case, the greatest work of art is to love the sport. Six months ago, it was a pure love of table tennis that directed my service to USATT. Now after six months working with groups of amazing people, and traveling around the country to visit our clubs and meet with members, I feel blessed. I find myself with even more passion, purpose, and hope.

Media -

Our media presence has continued to grow and to focus on producing a larger ratio of original content. We have decided to drastically reduce the quantity of links to outside content, focusing instead on activities within the USA and involving USA athletes. We have also focused more on clubs, members, college table tennis, and para players.

We are performing exceptionally well with web traffic, and in the past six months, we have experienced the following social media platform gains:
- Facebook: +2000 followers
(Pingpong Diplomacy Event: George Braithwaite vs. Xu Xin: 2.9 million video views, China/USA Joint Training Camp: Lily Training with Chinese National Team athlete: 3.8 million video views)
- YouTube: +1700 subscribers, + 1 Million views
- Instagram: + 1500 followers, moving just shy of 10,000 approx
- Twitter: +500 followers

Team USA -

Our athletes continue to shine and thrive. While they are delivering outstanding performances, we continue to build support teams. We are also fostering international relations with China and other table tennis associations in order to strengthen our High-Performance program.

We continue to focus on the safety and well-being of the athletes, and push for objective and transparent selection procedures and policies. We want to build a new pathway for our athletes to the road to Tokyo and beyond, and provide them with the resources and tools to set them up for success.

Highlights of Team USA Results:

- Amy Wang, World #1 Ranked Junior Girl
- Kanak Jha, World #22 Ranked Mens
- Pan Am Games, Men's Team Gold Medal
- Pan Am Championships, Four Gold Medals (Lily Zhang)
- North American Olympic Team Trials: USA vs. CANADA, (Men – 3-0, Women – 3-0)
- World Singles Cup (Women) - Lily Zhang (4th place),  Best US Finish in History, Nominated for 2019 ITTF Breakthrough Star and Star Point Awards
- World Team Cup, USOPC Operation Gold Team Award (Men’s Team (Jha, Feng, Zhang) – 5th position, Women’s Team (Zhang, Wu, Wang) – 5th position

Para Team USA -

Our para community continues to stay strong. They are an amazing group of people, who bring so much value to the sport and community. I am privileged to work with them.

The Para Team USA keeps inspiring us with their multi-faceted achievements. We need to do as much for them as they have for us. Highlights in Para Team USA Results:

- Para Pan Am Games: Gold in Men’s Singles Class 9 (Tahl Leibovitz), Silver in Men’s Singles Class 3 (Jenson Van Emburgh), Silver in Men’s Singles Class 6 (Ian Philip Seidenfeld), Silver in Men’s Singles Class 5 (Ahad Bakhshaei Sarand)
- Jenson Van Emburgh #9 World Ranked Class 3, #1 Youth Class 3
- Tahl Leibovitz #10 World Ranked Class 10
- Ian Seidenfeld #14 World Ranked Class 6

Membership Services -

We have entered into a groundbreaking deal with Omnipong to become the Official Tournament Software for USATT sanctioned events. Since the Omnipong software is now free to all-tournament directors hosting a USATT sanctioned event, we anticipate an increase in the number of sanctioned events and a corresponding decrease in the level of stress for our tournament directors, who can now utilize Omnipong’s tournament management functions to efficiently process tournament results.

In addition to providing software to benefit tournament directors, we have investigated options to upgrade the data management software used to manage USATT’s affairs and provide services to the whole membership. We are close to determining the most efficient and productive means to implement this upgrade process and better serve our members.

Another significant membership services development over the last six months has been the strengthening of USATT’s relationship with both the National Collegiate Table Tennis Association and the American Youth Table Tennis Association. USATT offers up to 10 free membership per college, allowing these NCTTA members to become active participants in the USATT system, simultaneously growing the base of the organization’s membership.

We have also entered into a partnership with the AYTTO, a youth development program that is now in over 100 schools in NYC, to build a grassroots development program spanning the entire country.

Our operations team has been deeply immersed in executing many challenging events this year; U.S. Nationals in July, the China/USA Joint Training Camp in August, and Ping Pong Diplomacy at the Nixon Library. The team is now undertaking detailed preparations for the 2019 US Open.

We are excited to have returned to a “full-field” of 750 participants after the organization sustained a considerable participation drop-off at last December’s U.S. Open in Orlando. USATT thanks Visit Fort Worth. With our limited staff at HQ, Visit Fort Worth has become an extension of our team, providing significant resources and support. We have also secured a title sponsorship and new table and flooring sponsors. As the most prestigious event in the U.S., we want to make sure to give our members an enhanced tournament experience and to give them one more reason to be part of USATT.

Operations -

Last and most importantly for USATT at this period, we are working in cooperation with the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee, the U.S. Center for SafeSport, and auditor to bring USATT into compliance with modern financial, management, and athlete safety standards. I am pleased to report that the U.S. Center for SafeSport found us completely in compliance with athlete safety standards.

In addition, our accounting system has been simplified and reorganized. USATT’s financial situation has turned around during this six-month period. We have raised over $600,000 in sponsorships and private donations, doubling our working capital. In addition, we continue to cut administrative costs and to invest more in our athletes. We are also working with a professional accounting firm to put our financial house in order.

Finally, we are receiving terrific cooperation and guidance from the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee in revising improving USATT’s management system. We expect to score high marks in the 2020 Finance and Management Audit. I have to give special thanks to my excellent staff, our General Counsel and our Board of Directors for all their hard work in making these achievements possible.

Even with all of these accomplishments, a lot more still needs to be done and further improvements need to be made. We are still far away from the podium, far away from being excellent as an organization, and far away from providing our athletes with all necessary resources to sustain excellence. But I am confident we will get there with our collective wisdom and effort. As an old African proverb says, “If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” Together, we will build an organization that we will all be proud of; we will go far and strong.

Thank you for being part of this great journey with USATT!

Virginia Sung
CEO
USA Table Tennis

- Download the 6 Month Report Document here