By Joyce Cheung
Seven Great Neck students competed at the 20th North American Teams table tennis tournament at the Gaylord National Resort Convention Center in Washington, DC, during Thanksgiving weekend from Nov. 24 to 26.
The convention hall was filled with 150 tennis tables supplied by Joola for the world’s largest annual table tennis team event. Every year since 1998, this venue has hosted 200 teams with nearly 1,000 players from five continents.
This year, the exhibition games featured the German professional table tennis league, the second-largest league in the world. The U.S. national team, as well as top players from China and Egypt, also competed.
World-renowned Coach FeiMing Tong, the current coach of the Great Neck Table Tennis Recreational Program, was honored and hired to coach the U.S. national team at this event.
On Friday, all teams played against higher- and lower-rated teams to confirm proper division placement. Saturday and Sunday consisted of seven team matches, with each lasting an average of two hours.
Teams consisted of three to five players, but only three could play per tie in team matches. Individual matches within a tie were played best three of five, and each team match was played best five of nine matches.
On Saturday, the games began promptly at 9 a.m. and did not conclude until 10 p.m.
The seven Great Neck students played on three different teams. Ryan Chen from North Middle School, Victor Chen of North High School, Kayden Li from E.M. Baker and Kenneth Li of North High played together representing Long Island Table Tennis Club (LITTC) Team 8. They played in Division 13, with ratings ranging from 700 to 1,400, and came in third out of eight teams in their group.
Timothy Lee and Kevin Li, both from North High, teamed up with two other players, Thomas Hu and Wilson Cheah, forming LITTC Team 7. They played in Division 11, with ratings from 1,400 to 1,800, and came in fifth out of eight teams in their group.
Kelly Liang, also from North High, played in Division 4, for ratings 2,000+. Her team, which consisted of four other high-level adult players, came in fifth.
The students tested their skills, improved their game, learned to coach and support one another and had an amazing time. Their opponents ranged from 7 to 70 years old.
They met teams from Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Canada, Barbados and Colombia. While exhausted mentally and physically, the kids returned to Great Neck inspired to practice more and share their experiences with friends.