Great Neck Table Tennis Goes To Washington

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By Joyce Cheung

Kevin Li competes in a convention hall filled with 963 table tennis players.

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.

Kevin Li, a North High senior

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.

Kenny Li, a North High 10th grader

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.

E.M. Baker fourth grader Kayden Li

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.

From left: Kayden Li, Kevin Li, Kenny Li, Victor Chen, Timothy Lee and Ryan Chen

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.

From left (back row): Timothy Lee, Kayden Li and Ryan Chen; (front row): Kevin Li, Kenny Li and Victor Chen

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.

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Since 1908, the Great Neck Record has served the communities of Great Neck, Great Neck Estates, Great Neck Plaza, Kensington, Kings Point, Lake Success, Russell Gardens, Saddle Rock, Thomaston and the unincorporated areas as a source for local news and community events.

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