Table Tennis tournament highlights variety of players at UI


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It may be the best-hidden intramural sport on campus. Table-tennis enthusiasts played in the hard-to-find Ping-Pong room on the fifth floor of the Field House on Sunday.

A dark journey up numerous staircases leads to a hallway, likely dating back to the 1920s. But upon stumbling into the room, featuring five high-quality Butterfly-brand tables, the festival of one of the world’s more popular sports begins.

The double-elimination tournament featured both singles and doubles, and used Olympic-style games played to 11, with an alternation in serve every two points. The first to win four games is the victor.

Most of the players in the tournament appeared to have a good amount of experience, especially in the tough doubles division. Doubles had 16 registered teams and used international rules, in which players on teams had to alternate their shots, meaning a fast-paced game that required a good team understanding.

“It can wear you out,” said second-year graduate student Aaron Marzullo, also an instructor in one of the table-tennis classes in the physical education department. “Especially if you’re playing a good game.”

His partner in the doubles tournament, Reece Blanco, agreed that it can really take a lot of skill.

“You have to be athletic,” he said, because it requires quickness and reflexes to play at a high level.

The winners of the doubles tournament, brothers Matt and Brian Fleshner, are both athletes who have appeared in many other intramural sporting events. Brian Fleshner, a fourth-year dental student, achieved early in the year for having the longest throw in the punt, pass, and kick competition. Both noted they really enjoy table tennis, and they train for the event.

“We play a lot this time of year,” Matt Fleshner said. “We start a couple weeks before the tournament to make sure we’re ready.”

He was also notable for being one of the most geared-up competitors on the day. Not only did he sport his own paddle and black grip tape, he also had Joola table-tennis shoes — fitted with extra grip on the bottoms — which he claims were a joke gift from his mother.

Maoguo Yin was on one of the teams defeated in the doubles tournament by the brothers. Yin, a visiting scholar from China, is a member of the club Ping-Pong team and stood out for his penholder grip and approach.

“The paddle is different [in America],” said Yin, who is using his research time to study comparative law at the UI. He also noted that he enjoyed playing against the American style of grip and paddle.

Also at the event was intramural mainstays Favre’s Favorites. The flag football and dodge-ball champions decided to send two people to the tournament to represent them — Derek “White Chocolate” Johnson and Jordan Burrows.

While both players are very athletic, they admitted this was not their strongest sport. Yet, being intramural veterans, they offered up ideas on increasing attendance to the event, which had only 16 doubles teams, 23 singles players, and no females in either competition.

“If they had pizza, there would definitely be a lot more people,” Burrows joked.

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