Table Tennis Tournament Makes Plano Debut

250 students from 50 schools represented in competition

By Justin Hinton
|  Friday, Apr 13, 2012  |  Updated 7:14 PM CDT
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250 table tennis players from the United States and Canada are in Plano to show off their skills in the sport that's sometimes misunderstood.

Justin Hinton and Marc Fein

250 table tennis players from the United States and Canada are in Plano to show off their skills in the sport that's sometimes misunderstood.

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Students from Canada and the United States, including Puerto Rico, gathered in Plano for the 2012 National Collegiate Table Tennis Championships.

Unlike ping-pong, table tennis is more than just a recreational sport, combining speed, motivation, endurance and, at times, luck.

Willy Leparulo, president of the National Collegiate Table Tennis Association, said he believes table tennis and ping-pong are extremely different from one another. He won't even say the word "ping-pong."

"I'll say it just this once -- ping-pong is the recreational version," he said. "It's like Pee Wee football to NFL. NFL's the real deal right? The 'P' word is totally fun, it is. I play it all the time. But at a higher level, it's table tennis."

The competition featured extreme topspin and screaming back-and-forth rounds with extremely fast ball speeds.

"I think it's mostly a strategy game," said Judy Chen, a competitor from the University of Texas at Austin. "You have to think about where you're going to serve, where the opponent's going to serve, how you're going to return it, and it's really fun once you get into the thinking mode of it."

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