Tallahassee Table Tennis Club Hosts First USATT Sanctioned Tournament
By Michael Reff
A relatively new table tennis club on the scene is already making waves with its first USATT sanctioned tournament held on October 5. According to cofounder and coach Willy Leparulo, the Tallahassee Table Tennis (or TTT) club located in Florida’s capital had its inception around late December 2018 to January 2019 with the primary purpose of serving table tennis athletes from all different walks of life.
Both he and fellow cofounder and coach Logan Zimmerman are no strangers to participating in and running tournaments. Leparulo is the president of as well as wearer of multiple other hats in the National Collegiate Table Tennis Association (NCTTA), and he and Zimmerman are also coaching for Florida State University’s (FSU) table tennis team.
Leparulo estimates he’s facilitated around 500 unsanctioned tournaments, as well as “2 USATT tournaments at FSU in 2003”, however, he says the regulations for the events are different since he last ran the tournaments, so he had to relearn the ropes.
Although Florida is home to several USATT member clubs (e.g. Lakeland TTC, Broward TTC, etc.) that host sanctioned tournaments, according to Zimmerman, before the TTT was created, “the competitive players locally for years have had to travel 3+ hours to play in sanctioned tournaments. One of the main points to starting a club was to have a venue to host sanctioned events so players locally can participate in the competitive table tennis scene…”
The tournament was a resounding success with 40 players participating in the events. Former FSU coach and top player Olmo Zavala (2269) clinched first place over short pips chopper Spencer Ip (2058) in an entertaining final’s match.
Many college table tennis athletes showed their support for the burgeoning club and its inaugural sanctioned tournament due to the new deal between USATT and NCTTA offering 10 free yearlong USATT memberships to registered NCTTA schools.
“this is a great new initiative between USATT and NCTTA. Thanks to Virginia Sung for spearheading this effort. We have 2 Universities in this event: Florida State University and University of Florida and each of them bringing in players that under normal circumstances would never enter a USA Table Tennis event.”
According to Zimmerman, plans for TTT’s future growth are brimming with possibilities. He says that both he, Leparulo, and the rest of their team will continue drawing on their background in NCTTA, using connections from that association to develop further infrastructure for TTT tournaments. They hope to expand participation and run a variety of tournaments, with Zimmerman suggesting, “maybe even a teams event in the future??”
Congratulations TTT on running a successful event and best of luck on managing future top notch USATT sanctioned tournaments!