Viyaleta Manastyrskaya is a table tennis player from Gomel, Belarus who has been playing since she was nine years old.
“When I was a kid, I tried different sports, but table tennis stole my heart,” she said. “I think it happened because of the people that were around me; I had amazing coaches and friends.”
The Texas Wesleyan table tennis team has many international players that help the program be successful. Manastyrskaya, a sophomore biochemistry major who made it to semi-finals at regionals in 2017, is one of them; she said that she never thought she would be coming to the United States to play table tennis.
“I did not even plan to go to university in the United States; it was a dream but no more than that,” she said. “One day I got so lucky to get the number of my coach Jasna (Rather, Wesleyan’s head table tennis coach).”
Manastyrskaya said that her coaches have been a big part of her life and have helped her here.
“My coaches Jasna and Doru (Gheorghe, Wesleyan’s women’s table tennis coach) have helped me a lot during my journey here, and each of them are focused on a different area,” she said. “I grew as a person, classes are going well, and my table tennis skills are improving.”
Manastyrskaya said that the coaches at Wesleyan made the transition a lot easier for her.
“During the first semester, coach Jasna was helping me with so many different things and introduced me to many people on campus,” she said. “I am grateful for everything they are doing for me.”
Manastyrskaya said that she has several goals that she wants to achieve this season.
“Our team goal would be to place in top four at nationals,” she said. “My personal goal is to do even more for Texas Wesleyan than the last year.”
Manastyrskaya said that she has a very unique style of play that makes her different from a lot of other players.
“I am a defensive player with sudden attacks,” she said. “It is unusual style that makes me different, and I think I have a huge advantage because of that.”
Ana Aleksandric, a sophmore computer science major, said that she was excited when Manastyrskaya joined the team.
“A year ago, I was very excited to hear that she is joining the team,” she said. “We are from similar cultures and speak similar languages, so it was refreshing for me.”
Aleksandric said that Manastyrskaya motivates her and the rest of the team in many ways.
“She is very positive and a nice person, so if I get a little bit stressed she is there to cheer me up,” she said. “She is a hard worker as the student and as the athlete, so it is always great to have someone like Viyaleta as a teammate.”
Victor Barragan, a junior chemistry major, said that Manastyrskaya is a great teammate to have around.
“Even though I don’t get to compete with her much, she is a hard worker and very dedicated to the sport,” he said. “She is a great teammate and we are lucky to have her as a part of this team.”
Manastyrskaya said that she loves table tennis but would like to pursue other things after college.
“Table tennis will always be a huge part of my life, but my main focus after graduation would either be entering a master’s program or getting a job,” she said.
The Texas Wesleyan Open Table Tennis Tournment is April 6 at the Sid Richardson gymnasium. The entry deadline is April 2. For more information, email Jasna Rather at email@example.com or call 817-715-4062.