Table tennis to become official OC club sport
If all goes according to plan, Oberlin College will boast a chartered table tennis club as early as this coming fall. Senior Paul Park and junior Steven Slaff are proud co-presidents and co-founders of the newly formed Oberlin College Table Tennis Club (OCTTC).
The charter has been pending for about two months now, but Park is willing to wait as long as it takes. Right now the group is an ad- hoc student organization, but “we’re pretty sure we’ll get chartered,” said Park. “We hope to become an official club sport.”
If OCTTC achieves its ultimate goal of becoming an official club sport, Park hopes the team will be able to compete regionally on the intercollegiate level, with Case Western Reserve University being the primary competitor.
Head Coach Pipo Nguyen-Duy is a photography professor in the art department and a former member of the Vietnamese national table tennis team. OCTTC currently meets on Thursdays and Sundays from 4:30-6:30 p.m. and 3:30-5:30 p.m. in the racket ball courts in Philips Gymnasium, respectively. “[Ngyuen-Duy] comes to all of the Thursday practices,” said Park. The team also practices in Wilder Bowl every Friday at 4:30.
Team advisor Sydney Rosenfeld is an avid table tennis player and retired Oberlin College German professor. “He was going to play in the tournament, but then he hurt his back or something,” said Park.
The OCTTC currently consists of 15 members and is in the midst of an extensive table tennis tournament, organized by Betsy Bruce, the recreational sports director at Philips Gymnasium. “Betsy runs the tournament, but [OCTTC] sponsored and promoted it and got more people to sign up for it,” said Park.
There were originally 32 entries in the tournament and the competition is now down to the quarterfinals. Participants in the quarter-finals include Park, first-year Christopher Pray, sophomores Aaron Parker and David Hong, junior Scott Pritchard and seniors Nicholas Ogren and Mark Knee.
“I think it’s great they got so many people to sign up for the tournament,” said Knee. “It’s a lost art,, and it needs to be revived. I think the whole extreme table tennis stuff on TV is great for helping with that, and there are even some women playing. I think that adds flair to the game.”
Of the 64 players signed up for the current Oberlin table tennis tournament, Park estimated that there were only about three or four women. But Knee noted that, “Considering the bigger picture, that’s really not that bad of a ratio.”
Knee’s college table tennis career began several years ago when he lived in South and would play for fun on the dorm’s tables. “We had some epic battles,” he said.
Epic table tennis battles are not just a thing of the past, as Oberlin will soon witness in the final rounds of the tournament. As the tournament progresses, Knee and Park will both be vying for the title.
“I’ve been playing for about 15 years, so I guess I’m pretty good,” said Knee, who is also captain of the men’s varsity tennis team.
“I won the tournament last year, and I beat Steve Slaff last year,
so...” said Park, finishing his statement with a suggestive grin. Only
time will tell who will be the winner of this year’s table tennis