Table tennis players seek varsity status

Table tennis may not be the first sport that comes to mind when Ryerson University varsity is mentioned, but the school’s first official table tennis team plans on changing that.

And they’re making progress. They were operating as an unofficial club before, but as of this year they are an official competitive club representing Ryerson.

“Eventually I decided that, hey, why not make this an actual club so that we could get proper funding, proper timings to play,” said team captain and president, Mustafa Malick, a second-year computer science student.

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Two team members practise in the Ryerson Recreation and Athletics Centre (RAC) on Nov. 19. (Yara Kashlan/Ryersonian Staff)

He then consulted with the athletics department to get the ball rolling.

The club held tryouts in September, and its members have been practising together since then, according to Alvin Shi, a first-year business management student and vice-president of the club.

The club is made up of 12 players — eight men and four women.

Earlier this month, the club played its first official tournament, Malick said. They played the Greater Toronto Division competition hosted by the National Collegiate Table Tennis Association.

They were up against Ontario universities like the University of Toronto, McMaster University and many others.

But being new to competing in official tournaments did not put the club at any disadvantage.

“Going in, I thought we were going to get crushed, so we were like ‘let’s just go, have fun and just do the best we can, learn from it,’” said Malick. “But then … it turned out that we were better than expected.

“I feel like we do represent Ryerson pretty well at tournaments, like we did last week when we played. Our girls’ team especially, they came third, but they were really close to coming second in the league,” said Malick.

The boys came fourth when they played at the same tournament.

“We lack experience since this is our first time,” said Shi. “(Next time) we’ll be more experienced, and we’ll know what we are up against.”

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Malick, the team captain, reaches for the table tennis ball during practise in the RAC on Nov. 19. (Yara Kashlan/Ryersonian Staff)

They have their next official regional tournament on Jan. 30.

According to Shi, the team is already planning for the future. They are hoping to become a varsity team next year, which means they will receive full funding from the school.

Their goal was to gain varsity status this year, but there were some minor setbacks, according to Malick.

Nick Asquini, Ryerson athletics varsity operations co-ordinator, said varsity could be their long-term goal, but for athletics to consider them, they need to see continuous commitment, and that there is a successful program running.

“For us in athletics, what we’re really hoping to see from them is sustained participation … coming into next year as well. That table tennis isn’t a one-year project, that we see them again in 2016, and 2017 and 2018,” said Asquini. “That it’s something that can move forward and be a permanent fixture in the department.”

According to Asquini, Malick and Shi have worked really hard since the beginning of the program. “They have done a really good job at creating their club and creating a very committed membership. Right now they look like they’re on solid footing.”

Watch the table tennis team practice doubles at the RAC:

This article was published in the print edition of The Ryersonian on Nov. 25, 2015.

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