Mississippi team headed to national championships

Published 4:15 pm Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Move over Virginia, you may have just won the 2019 NCAA National Championship game, but a Mississippi sports team is headed for a national championship of its own this week.

That’s right. Mississippi College’s table tennis team travels to Greensboro, North Carolina, for the 2019 national championships. The Choctaws are ranked No. 2 in North America.

Approximately 275 talented student-athletes from colleges in the USA and Canada will play the games at the Greensboro Coliseum April 12-14. The sports and entertainment facility hosted the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials for table tennis.

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The National Collegiate Table Tennis Association championships have drawn Mississippi College’s team for twelve consecutive seasons. Fans who cannot attend the games in North Carolina can follow key matches on live streaming by watching the action on their computers.

The website nctta.org contains more information about the three-day tournament.

At the moment, only New York University, the 2018 national coed team champ, enters the Greensboro games with a higher rating than MC.

In March, MC became the NCTTA’s South Regional champ by edging host Texas Wesleyan University on its Fort Worth campus. Nationwide, the Texas Wesleyan Rams coed team ranks third.

At last year’s national championships, Texas Wesleyan won four of the six titles at stake. Texas Wesleyan has captured 69 national championships in table tennis since the program’s inception on the Fort Worth campus in 2002.

Mississippi College’s coed team finished third at the 2018 national championships in Round Rock, Texas. MC’s squad won its only national championship in Eau Claire, Wisconsin by defeating Texas Wesleyan in the finals in April 2015.

MC’s roster includes Captain Harry Sharma of Japan and three standouts from China: Tomotaka “Tomo” Yoshitomi, Xiang “Ali” He and Qingwei Sun. Newcomer Vladslav “Vlad” Totkalo enrolled on the Clinton campus in January to become MC’s first player from the Ukraine. Caleb Shipman of North Carolina and Jeremy Gore of Dallas, Texas round out the Blue & Gold.

Zhicheng “Johnson” Liang, a former Choctaws standout and Michigan-based accountant, is wrapping up his second season as the Mississippi College coach. He will guide the MC squad in North Carolina.

“It’s been another impressive season for MC’s mighty table tennis team,” says Andy Kanengiser, the squad’s sponsor. “We will give it our best shot in Greensboro. The talent level among college players from around the world seems to get stronger each year at Nationals.”

Since the university’s table tennis program began a dozen years ago, MC alumnus Dr. Louis Lau, a retired Texas businessman, has provided generous support.

“This year is no different,” Kanengiser says of the 1965 graduate and Hong Kong native. “We always appreciate his efforts.”