Is it table tennis or Ping-Pong? NYU captain Kenneth Lim doesn’t really care, and his team is too good for it to matter. This year, the NYU table tennis team swept all of the regional titles.
The NYU table tennis team, founded in 2006, competes in the Downtown NYC Division and the Northeast Region of the National Collegiate Table Tennis Association. The table tennis season starts in early September and ends in May with two divisional tournaments, one in fall and one in spring. If the team does well, they qualify for the regional championship and perhaps even the national championship.
Table tennis has become an established club team at NYU with weekly practices held at King Pong in SoHo. The head coach for NYU is Vivian Hiroka Ooka, a former national junior champion in China and a former Japanese National Team member.
CAS junior Lim joined the team as a freshman in 2010 and became a captain the next year.
“There’s not a big athletics culture at our school, but we’re hoping to change that by doing well,” Lim said.
The NYU table tennis team is split up into a men’s A and B team, as well as a women’s team. The women’s team and the men’s A team compete in the NCTTA. Both squads hold tryouts at the beginning of each semester and, like all sports, experience is a plus, but those without a background in table tennis do not need to worry.
“I’d love to take in everyone who’s interested in table tennis,” Lim said.
He added that the team is always looking for “people who love and enjoy table tennis, desire to improve and are committed to the team.”
NYU competes regularly against schools such as Princeton University, Harvard University and cross-town rival Columbia University. Kenneth pegs Columbia as NYU’s main rival.
“I’m happy to say we’re on a 2-0 streak … winning the past two Downtown Divisional titles,” Lim said.
NYU men and women’s teams won the Downtown NYC Division, with Stern senior Sandra Go named the women’s champion and Stern freshman Michael Landers the men’s champion. NYU also won both the men’s and women’s championships at the 2013 NCTTA Northeast Regional Championships on Feb. 23, held at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Landers was the 2013 NCTAA men’s singles regional champion.
Both NYU teams qualified for the NCTTA National Championships, held in Rockford, Ill. from April 11 to 14. The NYU women’s team finished third with a victory over Cornell University 3-2. NYU’s co-ed team finished 19 of 24 teams. Texas Wesleyan University swept both the men and women’s championship.
Go and Landers both made it to the quarterfinals at nationals for women’s singles and men’s singles, respectively. Landers was the 2009 National Table Tennis Champion and recently made a bid for the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team.
NYU table tennis is yet another sparkling example of NYU students excelling in their respective fields while building lifelong connections with their peers. The best illustration of this sentiment came when Lim discussed his pre-game rituals.
“I make it a point to always do a group huddle before the tournament starts,” he said. “We have a great team with a great team spirit, and I want to make sure both my players and our opponents remember that.”
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, April 23 print edition. Sebastien Van Heyningen is a staff writer. Email him at [email protected]