Table Tennis Club Dominates at Georgia Games
From July 20–21, the Georgia Tech Table Tennis Association (GTTTA) competed at the Georgia Games Championship, an annual tournament that hosts competitions in approximately 50 different amateur sports. Though it was only the team’s first appearance, they won medals in all of the major titles, finishing first in the men’s singles, women’s singles, and women’s doubles divisions and second in the men’s doubles and the team event, the Georgia Cup.
Most of the tournaments in which GTTTA competes are part of the National Collegiate Table Tennis Association, or NCTTA. The Georgia Games, however, is not, and so it attracts players of all ages and skill levels. George Jeno, GTTTA president, sees the Georgia Games as an excellent step on the club’s path to competing in tournaments outside of the NCTTA.
“Demonstrating our strength is one of the most effective ways to advertise our team to an audience much greater than what collegiate competition allows for,” said Jeno, a computer science major. The team did just that, taking down several formidable opponents on their way to medaling. In the singles events, they defeated leading players from EC Sports and the Atlanta International Table Tennis Academy, the two major table tennis clubs in Georgia. The team event was no different. In the quarterfinals, they beat a notably strong Home Depot Club 3:0; in the semifinals, they upset the higher-ranked Fayetteville Table Tennis Club 3:1.
Some team members even medaled in more than one event. Winnie Yeung, an analytics graduate student, placed first in both the women’s singles and women’s doubles events; in the latter, she partnered with Amber Liu, daughter of Georgia Tech professor Xiaoli Ma. Kaipeng Xu, a graduate student in quantitative and computational finance, placed first in the men’s singles and second in the men’s doubles. He and Yeung brought home their third medals for their participation as two of the four Tech team members in the Georgia Cup.
Xu started playing table tennis when he was eight years old but stopped when he was 13. Upon his arrival at Georgia Tech last spring, he saw a GTTTA training session in the Campus Recreation Center and was immediately impressed by the group’s professionalism. He decided to give table tennis another try and competed with GTTTA throughout the semester before making his way to the Georgia Games.
Jeno says that in the upcoming academic year, GTTTA plans to compete in as many tournaments as possible. While the team simulates match play once a week during practice, there is only so far that simulation can go.
“The variety and depth of the competition, the added pressures of official tournament play, and the development of team spirit as a support system — through cheering and coaching during a match — are all aspects only present in official competitions,” he explained.
GTTTA typically practices two to three times a week, and prospective members are allowed two free practices before having to decide whether they want to become dues-paying members. More information about the club can be found on its official website.