The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

Table tennis club invites students to compete

Within the walls of the Joe Frank Sanderson Center, a little-known organization is thriving. The Mississippi State University table tennis club continues to experience notable success on the state and national competition levels. The club has flourished under the leadership of club president Amelia Andersson and honorary student advisor Becca Siciliano. 

Andersson has been a member of the table tennis club since her freshman year. Having come from a background in tennis, Andersson was intrigued by the opportunities competing in table tennis might bring. 

Andersson invited Siciliano to join her within the organization. As a freshman, Siciliano was participating in competitive table tennis for the first time, and chose to delve into the organization when she learned there was a need for more female members. Siciliano attested to how helpful other members were in developing her skills as a table tennis player. 

“I had never picked up a paddle, but then, they taught me how to hold the paddle; I started from scratch from there,” Siciliano said. 

As the only female members within the organization, Andersson and Siciliano have navigated a variety of challenges that come with being members within a majority male organization. The two women have worked hard to create a permanent organizational structure within the club, in order to improve upon the opportunities available to the team. 

Andersson first began as club treasurer, when she realized she was invested in helping manage the organization. After a year of holding that position, Andersson was elected to the role of president. Siciliano was elected as vice president for the organization. Their efforts to improve the club began immediately. 

“We focused mainly on our equipment, to begin with. We got new nets, got rid of two tables that weren’t being used and increased our membership. We planned events, such as stadium clean-up and the Big Event, in order to get the team more involved,” Andersson said.

For the 2016-17 school year Andersson continues to serve as president, and Siciliano serves in an advisory role. Under their leadership, the organization’s finances have grown exponentially. With their increased budget, the organization has been able to purchase new tables and afford lodging and transportation for the team during tournaments. 

For their most recent tournament, the team traveled to the National Collegiate Table Tennis Association tournament in Atlanta, Georgia. Siciliano and Andersson were the only female competitors out of eight colleges represented. 

“It was kind of intimidating, because, naturally, all eyes were on us. But it was really fun, because we held our own,” Andersson said. 

The competing 2017 NCTTA ‘A’ team consists of club members Varun Coona, Jordan Nichols, Rebecca Siciliano and Amelia Andersson. The ‘B’ team consists of members Zach Duncan, David Herz, Jeff Hsu and Tom Zhang. 

Andersson and Siciliano placed first and second, respectively, in the 2015-16 NCTTA Dixie Division. Hsu and Nichols placed first in their respective divisions at the 2016 Pensacola Open TT Tournament.

Going forth, Andersson and Siciliano look to improve upon the club’s recruitment techniques. They hope to increase interest from female students, who might be intimidated by the competitive nature of table tennis. 

“When you say sport, you’re thinking competitively, but when you think about it, there are tables in almost every dorm on campus. People play whenever they have free time, and I don’t think they are aware that our organization is similar to that relaxing environment,” Andersson said. 

In order to invite more interest, Andersson has tried to set aside Tuesday and Thursday practices as ‘open’ practices for any student to join. The team’s Sunday practices are then periodically set aside as ‘team-only’ practices. Andersson expects this will encourage interest from students who are looking to play table tennis leisurely. 

For those who wish to commit to the competitive team, the organization has a coach that will train students who desire to compete on the collegiate level. 

Andersson and Siciliano are also interested in making table tennis a one-credit course, similar to the running and weightlifting courses available at MSU. 

Ultimately, Andersson and Siciliano are incredibly satisfied in how the club has grown over the past two years. 

“The table tennis club has become a family to us, it is a place we go to wind down; it is now a family and a home,” Siciliano said. 

On Friday, March 31, beginning at 4:30 p.m., the table tennis club will host a tournament in the Sanderson Center auxiliary gym. There will be a $2 entry fee. Cash prizes of $100, $50 and $25 will be awarded to the top three competitors. Any MSU student is invited, and encouraged, to enter into the tournament. 

The table tennis club meets in Studio C of the Sanderson Center on Sundays from 7-10 p.m., and Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7-9 p.m. 

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The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University
Table tennis club invites students to compete