Table Tennis 101: The low down on what's going to go down at nationals
As the Texas Wesleyan University table tennis team heads off to Eau Claire, Wis., to defend its NCTTA National Championship for a remarkable 12th time, take a look at a breakdown of how the tournament works and where fans can find live coverage and results.
Six separate championships will be decided in six separate competitions at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire's McPhee Center over the course of three days: Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Men's and women's doubles titles will be decided on Friday. Men's and women's singles will be decided on Saturday, and the women's team and coed team titles will close the competition on Sunday.
Ramsports.net will provide complete coverage of the competition. The NCTTA will be streaming video throughout on the official tournament website. Results will also be posted on the tournament website, and fans can follow @RamSports as well as @collegett on Twitter for nuggets from the competition as they happen.
Men's and Women's Doubles
The doubles competition features a single-elimination bracket. All matches are best 3 out of 5 games.
The men's bracket includes 30 teams, and three squads from Texas Wesleyan. The Mississippi College duo of Cheng Li and Tong Zhang is the top seed followed by the Rams' Zhe Feng and Bruno Ventura and then the combo of Zhedi Bai and Emil Santos.
Men's and Women's Singles
Men's and women's singles will begin on Friday with pool play. Matches are best 3 of 5 until the semifinals and finals which will be best 4 out of 7.
The top athletes from the preliminary groups will advance to the championship single elimination bracket on Saturday with all others moving to the consolation bracket.
Ariel Hsing (Princeton) is the top seed of 39 players on the women's side. Anastasia Rybka is the top Ram in the draw at No. 5. On the men's side, Texas Wesleyan's Zhe Feng is the No. 1 seed amongst 74 athletes.
The Team Competition
Then there is the coveted team competition. Three rounds of pool play will place teams in a progressive knockout bracket.
This is single-elimination competition with consolation matches played to decide final placement. Each team match features four singles and one doubles match. These individual matches are played best 3 of 5 and the first team to win three matches moves on.
The Lady Rams are seeded third out of 14 teams behind Princeton and California. The coed competition features 24 teams with the Rams seeded No. 1, closely followed by rival Mississippi College.
A Little History
The College Table Tennis National Championships have been played since 1993. Texas Wesleyan has competed since 2002. The Rams were not eligible to compete in the team completion until 2004 because there were not enough teams in the South Region. So Texas Wesleyan won seven titles before they ever played in the team competition.
They have won each of the last 11 coed team titles, a competition in which they have never been defeated, and five of the last eight women's team titles. Their 55 total championships also include nine in men's singles, seven in women's singles, eight in men's doubles and seven in women's doubles.
Last year, the Rams took the coed team and men's doubles (Zhedi Bai, Razvan Cretu) titles. The team competition came down to an epic 3-2 match with Mississippi College and a thrilling doubles win from Yahao Zhang and Emil Santos.
Mississippi has been the runner up in each of the last two seasons. The Choctaws have defeated the Rams in team competition at the regional level (2014).