Great Neck North High School held its 7th Annual Table Tennis Invitational on Sunday, March 26. Despite a two-year pause due to the pandemic, the interest in Table Tennis, aka Ping Pong, continues to grow. The event attracted over 80 participants from 26 different schools!
The North High gym was transformed into a table tennis area with 12 tables aligned in 2 rows. With official barriers surrounding the arena and music in the background, the excitement of fun and competition filled the room. The morning session commenced at 9 am and began with team competitions and elementary school singles.
Amy Ford, the table tennis club and team adviser for North HS has been a part of this tournament since its inception. She recalls when Great Neck schools were the first on Long Island to have table tennis clubs/teams. Now, “the number of schools that send teams to compete has grown and the level of competition has increased dramatically”. Ms. Ford adds that “we practice and scrimmage other teams through the winter season to qualify to compete in the regionals and hope to make it to the Nationals.” Ms. Ford was thrilled to see how well the young players could play and will continue to extend the invitation to first graders for future tournaments.
Four teams competed in the High School Division with Brooklyn Tech grabbing 1st place and John Jay HS coming in 2nd place. Middle school teams came from as far as Middletown, NY (Northern Academy), Queens, NY (Ryan MS) and New York City (ESMS) but it came down to Great Neck North MS and Great Neck South MS to duke it out for first place. The games were close but SMS earned the title. Mr. Joseph Bonaventura is the adviser/coach of SMS and was so proud of his team. He said that there is a lot of interest in table tennis where “over 40 kids tried out for a 10-person team.” Both SMS and NMS Teams now qualify for the National competition to be held in Princeton, NJ on May 28.
Twenty-seven kids from 11 different elementary schools participated. Six Long Island schools and 5 NYC schools were represented. The youngest player was a 5-year-old boy, Moataz El-Mallah, from PS 195. The kids competed in a Round Robin format with two players advancing to the next round. Rina Xin from AP Willets was awarded 1st place for the Elementary School Beginners Division and Brady Shin from Lakeville Elementary came in 2nd. Evan Chiu from Cantiague Elementary was awarded 1st place for the Elementary School Advanced Division and Jacob Yu from Munsey Park came in 2nd.
The afternoon session hosted secondary school students in two categories, beginners and advanced. “The skill level of the participants has increased in the past few years” comments Thomas Hu, CEO of AYTTO (American Youth Table Tennis Organization). “This clearly tells us that people enjoy the sport and the schools should accommodate the growing interest of the students and help develop table tennis into a varsity sport as NYC public schools did.” Ryan Cheng from NMS came in 1st place for Secondary School Beginners Division and Tai Abrams from Schreiber HS came in 2nd. For the Secondary School Advanced Division, the competition was extremely fierce. From the semi-finals to finals, all the matches went to the full 5 games and deuces. At the end, Nathan Zhong from North MS came in 2nd place and Nicholas Kui from South HS came in 1st, defending his title for two years in a row. With a total of two team and three single wins, Great Neck wraps up another successful table tennis tournament!