In early April the Wesleyan Rams table tennis team set out on its journey to suburban Pittsburgh, Pa. (Monroeville), to take part in National Collegiate Table Tennis Association Championship. As a team member I had the pleasure of going with the squad.
The team put aside busy class schedules and stuck together in pursuit of a national-record, 11th consecutive team championship among 360 colleges, which have table tennis squads from the U.S. and Canada. During three-day the program the Wesleyan team used hard work to accomplish 2014 goals.
Wesleyan’s Yahao Zhang, also a member of the U.S. national team, mentioned that from experience he was willing to continue the Ram’s tradition as national champs.
“It means that I can represent the school, try to play my best and can represent the school and the program well,” he said.
Zhang also stated that playing with great deal of focus brought both the squad and him to a higher level and paid off well in the eventual coed team championship.
“I think staying focused and trying to play with more strategy and with control helped us,” he said. “This was my fourth time playing, so I really wanted to do well.”
The team also believed that motivation helped the doubles and singles efforts in both the men’s and women’s categories. The women’s team just missed winning its division after being eliminated in the semifinals and did not win the women’s team event.
Graduate student Shilpi Abhishek who joined the Rams during the fall 2013 semester entered with an optimistic outlook for the 2014 championship.
“As a team, we did our best,” she said. “We worked very hard, we all were together, and it was nice team spirit. They were excellent matches, nice competition, and it was really very impressive (playing in the women’s rounds).”
The Rams developed their independent roles in an organized system with common goals, attitude, values, and homogeneous behavior under veteran head coach and 1988 Olympic bronze medalist Jasna Rather.
The men’s group clinched got the school’s 11th title against Mississippi College in the finals and finished with hard work, a single purpose and dedication.
“As a first goal, I wanted to get the team championship,” Zhedi Bhai said, “because we made history. We gotten 10 years of championships in the nationals, and I wanted to protect this honor.”
The author, Chiko Jayaratne, is a freshman member of the Wesleyan table tennis team, a reporter for Rambler TV and IMG and offers an insider’s view of the school’s 11th consecutive national team championship. Rambler TV also has a video report on the team crown at http://www.youtube.com/user/thetwurambler.