Table Tennis Shines In First-Ever Tournament

Ariel Lewis, Sports Editor

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For a few hours this past Sunday, Oct. 9, the West Gym in Philips Physical Education Center was transformed into a very different sort of athletic venue.

As interested students and faculty looked on, the Oberlin College Table Tennis Club hosted the first home tournament in the team’s history. With a great turnout from fans, as well as strong performances by Oberlin’s own, the table is set for OCTTC to have a breakout year.

Although the team was founded officially in 2005, inactivity and low turnout kept OCTTC at a standstill until the spring of 2010, when Liam Sharninghausen, OC ’11, and current College senior and club president Adam Darer made it their mission to revitalize the program. Now, just three semesters later, the team is establishing itself as a viable competitor among the other popular club sports at Oberlin. Interest from underclassmen has been particularly strong, which bodes well for the future of the program after Darer and others graduate.

“We have 18 members on this year’s team,” he said. “Two seniors, one junior, four sophomores and eleven first-years. Our membership this year is the largest it has been since I have been associated with the club. I think our strength in numbers is an asset. Our players are all at different levels in the game and are able to form camaraderie and learn from each other. We have several talented first-years in our club who will be a strong asset this year and for years to come.”

The OCTTC is a member of the National Collegiate Table Tennis Association (NCTTA) and plays in the Ohio division against schools such as Akron University, Ohio State University, Ashland University, Baldwin-Wallace College and the College of Wooster. The tournament last weekend involved several of these rival schools, and the action was intense.

In collegiate table tennis, matches are determined by best three out of five games, with games going to 11. Opponents alternate serve every two points, with partners alternating serve in doubles play.

In the single-elimination tournament, Oberlin acquitted itself well as a newcomer to the scene. Junior Sarah Verghese secured first place in women’s singles, and Darer paced the men’s side by finishing third in men’s singles. Sophomore teammate Brian Jortner was close behind with a fourth place finish.

In men’s doubles, first-years Tim Gemesi and Ittai Korman paired up to capture third, while the team of Darer and Jortner took second.

Darer was optimistic about the team’s performance over the weekend.

“This was the first match of the semester, and many club members’ first time playing in a tournament,” he said. “We are young team, and many players are still mastering the basic techniques. However I’m proud of the effort I saw from our club on Sunday. Many players were able to execute strokes we’ve been working on since the beginning of the semester. I saw many players getting nervous during the games, rushing the serves and stiffening up their strokes. These tendencies will decrease with more experience.”

OCTTC will have plenty of chances to build that experience in the coming months. The team will travel to Ashland University for a match on a November date to be announced, and also plans to compete in the NCTTA Ohio divisional meet later in the month.

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