Table tennis players push for support following triumph

Wei-tsen Lu, aerospace engineering graduate student and UTA Table Tennis member, returns the ball during a game July 3 in the Maverick Activities Center. Lu was crowned a champion in the under 1500 rating event at the Texas Wesleyan Open on June 24.

The UTA Table Tennis team is looking for a return after its recent success.

Saivikasvarma Sagi, Wei-tsen Lu and Alec Slepchuk represented the university at the Texas Wesleyan Open on June 24 and brought home some hardware to show for it.

Sagi, industrial engineering graduate student, was crowned the under 2100 rating event champion.

Lu, aerospace engineering graduate student, was also crowned a champion, but in the under 1500 rating event.

Slepchuk, marketing research graduate student, was named an under 1300 rating event finalist.

“Unlike our past teams, I think our current UTA TT team is much better,” Sagi said.

Last year, the team ranked No. 7 in the Texas Division of the National Collegiate Table Tennis Association. This year, the team jumped to fifth place. Sagi said while the ranking is an improvement, the team will need to place in the top three to move on to nationals next year.

As the team improves, it still faces a few struggles. The university allocates $500 to the team each year for funding. Deepak Thipeswamy, computer science graduate student, said the funding limits the team’s opportunities.

“Because of that kind of funding, we only get to choose one tournament per semester,” he said. “We cannot afford to go to any other schools for private tournaments.”

The team also struggles with facilities. In previous years, Lu said the team practiced upstairs at the Maverick Activities Center, but because the area is continuously used for special events, they now practice downstairs on a racquetball court. The court has three tables lined up for the team to play, but because of the cramped space, only two are used at times.

“It’s better for the people who want to play table tennis, but for us it’s too small,” Lu said. “For the real rally, you need more space. Two is good, three is too much.”

Despite its struggles, Thipeswamy said the team works more and more each day toward its goal of making table tennis a major sport at UTA.

“We have really good players and we’ve been proving that,” he said. “We would like more support from the university.”


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