Age Is No Barrier As 'World Table Tennis' Visits New York
by Warren Rosenberg with Ian Marshall and Will Shortz - MetroSports Magazine, May 16, 2022 Photography by Rich London
The Westchester Table Tennis Center in Pleasantville, NY, was the site of five days of intense international table tennis competition as more than 150 of the world’s best athletes representing 32 countries competed in only the second ‘World Table Tennis Feeder’ event to be held in the United States and the first in the New York metropolitan region.
The World Table Tennis is the commercial and events division of the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) committed to becoming the global table tennis commercial leader, transforming the table tennis experience and how it is delivered internationally through world-class entertainment events, and engaging fan-centric content and enhancements to ensure table tennis will have a profound impact on everyone’s lives worldwide. The first tournament to be held in the USA under the auspices of World Table Tennis was the 2021 World Table Tennis Championships Finals in Houston on November 23-29. The first World Table Tennis Feeder tournament was the WTT Feeder in Fremont, California, on May 5-8, 2022.
Capturing the Men’s Singles Championship trophy was Chuang Chih-Yuan, of Taipei who, at 41 years of age, was one of the oldest competitors. He defeated Benedikt Duda, age 28, of Germany in the final in a hard-fought 4-3 battle. According to a post on Table Tennis Daily, the average age of singles champions in table tennis is in the mid 20s with relatively few over the age of 30. Having participated in five Summer Olympics, Chih-Yuan has won four men’s singles titles on the ITTF World Tour, the first being almost 20 years ago in 2003 in Rio de Janeiro. His most recent international tournament men’s singles title was in 2016 in Budapest. In 2002 he won the men’s singles title at the ITTF World Tour Grand Final in Stockholm before he ever won a men’s singles title on the ITTF World Tour!
In contrast to Chuang Chih-Yuan's win as one of the tournament’s oldest athletes, the Women’s Singles Championship was won by one of the youngest. Sixteen-year-old Haruna Ojio of Japan, a defensive-style player, proved to be a nightmare for the attacking-style players she competed with. Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the win for this young woman was who she defeated in the Finals, 4-1, to win the Championship – Lily Zhang, a five-time U.S. Nationals Singles Champion and three-time Olympian. At the 2021 World Youth Championships, Haruna reached the semi-finals of both the under 19 girls’ team and under 19 girls’ singles events. In 2019 she was the under 18 girls’ singles runner-up at the World Junior Championships, a semi-finalist in the same age group at the Asian Junior Championships.
In the Men’s Doubles, the team of Yukiya Uda / Shunsuke Togami defeated Yuta Tanaka / Hiroto Shinozuka 3-0. This was the second consecutive Championship victory for the pair having also won the Men's Doubles in the WTT Feeder held in Freemont, California.
In the Women’s Doubles Sakura Mori / Asuka Sasao defeated Jianshan Guo / Amy Wang 3-1
In Mixed Doubles Chang Chih-Yuan / Chen Szu-Yu defeated Jordy Piccolin / Jamila Laurenti 3-1. The pair had also won the Mixed Doubles Championship at the first WTT Feeder in Freemont.
While this was the first World Table Tennis competition to be held at the Westchester Table Tennis Center, it was not the first table tennis event here with international status. Will Shortz, owner of the Westchester Table Tennis Center noted that, “It was an honor and a thrill to host this World Table Tennis event at Westchester. While top players from around the world frequently compete at our monthly tournaments, we've never had so many internationally ranked players at one time. The quality of the rallies was breathtaking. The event was important to us and U.S. table tennis for several reasons. First, it showed off the Westchester Table Tennis Center, which is one of the premier table tennis facilities in North America. The tournament was streamed to tens of thousands of viewers around the world. And several of the competitors say they plan to return. Second, it gave the best American players a chance to compete against some of their international counterparts without the time and expense of traveling abroad. And finally, the competition helped raise awareness of table tennis in our area, and allowed spectators to see some really high level of play.”
For links to more photographs, please visit the WTTC site at http://www.westchestertabletennis.com/