Tuesday, October 8, 2013

2013-2014 NCTTA League

The NCTTA season begins this Sunday as seven college teams from Georgia and Tennessee compete in Atlanta. Several more South divisions meet the following weekends, and then the rest of the country after that with multiple competitions every weekend. The vast majority of play will be team competition, though there will also be some lone-gun singles players.

Unfortunately, the US is not known for its world-class table tennis. But it is known for its world-class universities, and sports are a part of most universities to some degree. In the US, college sports are critical for many sports, with football and basketball the clearest examples of this. Is it possible for our sport to use the university network to improve our sport? To some, not only is it possible, it is necessary.

A league of 200 teams is fairly large, but in many ways the NCTTA league is still small. The nationwide staff (all volunteers) is trained one by one. Budget is a constant concern. School teams struggle to be seen as real sports in the eyes of their athletic departments. Even so, in a country that is considered a table tennis backwater, we might have one of the best collegiate leagues in the world.

In the ITTF team rankings, the Brazilian Men's team is ranked #14, while the US Men's team is ranked #48. With that in mind, consider this Brazilian article, which can be found in its original Portuguese here. English translation by Jorge Vanegas.

  Brazilian College Champion in USA Declines Professional Career
José Barbosa prefers to continue on the road to business, he is in his last semester.
By Francisco Junior
To pursue the dream of being a professional athlete and to represent Brazil, or to continue with another career? In the mind of José Barbosa, College Table Tennis Team Champion in the United States, there is no doubt. The Brazilian studies business (focusing in administration, marketing and management) at Texas Wesleyan University and represents its team in collegiate competition. Though he is stuck in a tough situation, he has already decided not to pursue a career in sports.

"To be a part of the National Team is not in my plans any more. I was on the Under 15 and Under 18 teams from 2004 to 2008." He also said, "
I represented Brazil at the Universiade (College World Championships) held in China in 2011. For that reason, for me the sport was always a door opener," he commented.

This semester, 23 year old José Barbosa prepared himself in order to finish on a high note in USA Table Tennis. In the finals of the NCTTA (National College Table Tennis Association) championships, the Brazilian won the final match against Mississippi College, and therefore Texas Wesleyan won the Championship title.

"I came to the United States in 2010 because I received a table tennis scholarship at Lindenwood University. After one semester, due to my strong performance in team competition, I was invited to Texas Wesleyan University and helped win three team titles (2011, 12 and 13)," José said.

At the last edition of the NCTTA Championships, more than 300 athletes from 35 North American colleges competed. A total of six Brazilians participated. Besides José Barbosa and Claudia Ikeizumi from Texas Wesleyan, there were four others from Lindenwood University wielding their racquets.

José Barbosa asserts: "You cannot compare Brazilian table tennis with American"

In the analysis of José, table tennis played in Brazil "does not pass the entrance exam to enter the world of college table tennis in the U.S." mainly in terms of organization and structure. He recalled that even the food is provided by the tournament itself in the competition gym.

"The matches are broadcast live every day of the tournament with live commentators. The infrastructure is fantastic. We always have as many practice tables as competition tables (20 were in the last tournament). That never happens in Brazil, even in tournaments organized by the International Federation (ITTF, in English)" he compared.

A fan of the German Dimitrij Ovtcharov, José Barbosa relates that he lived with Cazuo Matsumoto in France in 2009, and points to his ex-roommate, the best Brazilian by world ranking (45th place), as a high point for the country at the time.

"I admire Cazuo Matsumoto for everything he has done in recent years. I know how hard he has struggled and how deserving he is of all that is happening," concluded the native of Jundiaí province in Sao Paolo, who cannot resist the longing to return to Brazil whenever there is a holiday, in order to renew his energy by receiving the warmth of family and friends.

We may not be the major leagues, but it's a positive when a player from another country says we're doing something right.

The strongest table tennis countries generally have professional or semi-pro leagues on a foundation of extensive recreational leagues. Leagues aren't a big part of the picture in the US. You can decide if there's a conclusion to be drawn from that.

NCTTA competition takes place in both the fall and the spring. If you're connected to a college in some way - staff, student, parent, etc. - I hope you can help us grow by participating or helping form a team. Playing on a college team might be the most fun you can have in the sport. And whether or not you're not a college student, we welcome volunteers in many capacities.

1 comment:

  1. There are certainly a lot of details like that to take into consideration. That is a great point to bring up. I offer the thoughts above as general inspiration but clearly there are questions like the one you bring up where the most important thing will be working in honest good faith. I don?t know if best practices have emerged around things like that, but I am sure that your job is clearly identified as a fair game. Both boys and girls feel the impact of just a moment?s pleasure, for the rest of their lives.
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