As we enter a new year, there will be a proud men’s and women’s table tennis team that will represent the USA during the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan. The first challenge of earning the full team slots was secured last year when Team USA decisively defeated Team Canada in Rockford, IL.
All that’s left is a battle to determine who will play on the three person teams, two per singles events, and a third solely for the team events. And what better place to host such an exciting Olympic Trials than Santa Monica College in sunny Southern California!
SMC is no stranger to the ponging spotlight. The college has promoted our favorite Olympic sport for forty years. Current SMC table tennis team coach and alum Kamran Khairzad noted it’s “Very important that SMC College is the only college that inducted to the California TT Hall of fame.” “Yes, an institution not a person,” he emphasized.
He cites SMC Kinesiology Department Chair Elaine Roque and retired professor Jo Kidd as the driving forces responsible for the unique setup that SMC. According to an SMC article, Kidd is the “founder of SMC’s free community recreation program, and the person who established table tennis at SMC as an internationally recognized athletic activity.”
Roque has also been pivotal in supporting the SMC table tennis team through their numerous successes in college table tennis at NCTTA tournaments. Although SMC is a smaller college than most, they made it to the round of 16 in the 2019 NCTTA champs at Greensboro, NC.
When asked how she felt about SMC hosting the Olympic Trials, Roque enthusiastically replied,
“Everyone at SMC is very excited to know that we will be hosting this event. Table tennis is very popular and has a long, wonderful history at SMC. It is a great chance for us to see many talented players and to be in some way, a part of the 2020 Olympic Games.”
Linda Hsing is a USATT official who has frequented many tournaments around the USA to umpire; some of the most well-regarded comments about an excellent table tennis venue, she observed, have been about the SMC program. Hsing remarked,“players always tell me how much they like SMC facility, I believe it is the best in S. California. The location is great, near major airport LAX, good weather, sightseeing, and more; everyone loves it.” These benefits will make SMC an exciting place for the Olympic Trials, being held 2/27-3/1.
Also, let’s not forget that the Pan Am Games Trials were held in SMC just last year.
When asked if more great events would be hosted soon now that all these major trials are occurring at SMC, Roque was optimistic. “We would love to host events at SMC. It is a great place to play table tennis and a good opportunity for our local players, students and team members to compete at a convenient, wonderful site.”
With support like this from SMC faculty, USATT officials, students, and the community, it’s no wonder that this amazing college is hosting the Olympic Trials for Tokyo 2020!