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onCampus--Ohio State's faculty/staff news

Vol. 38, No. 18

By: Adam King

Table Tennis Club to host national championships

Ka-chuk, ka-chuk, ka-chuk, ka-chuk.

It's the sound of speed, of precision and of superior hand-eye coordination.

Ka-chuk, ka-chuk, ka-chuk, ka-chuk.

It's a little plastic ball traveling at more than 90 mph across a 9-foot-long surface.

Ka-chuk, ka-chuk, ka-chuk, ka-chuk.

It's a sound that will be multiplied more than 200 times when the competitors in the National College Table Tennis Association Championships come to Ohio State March 29-April 1, 2007.

The university, and more directly the two-year-old Buckeye Table Tennis Club and the Recreational Sports Department, won the bid this month to host the 2007 championships. The best collegiate players from all over the country, who represent more than 30 teams, will converge at the Recreational and Physical Activity Center for the three-day competition.

Getting the championships is the ultimate achievement for Buckeye Table Tennis Club founder Fran¨ois Charvet, a Belgian-born Ph.D. student in business logistics who has been playing since he was 12. He started the club in 2004 as a way to keep his skills fresh, but his pastime quickly mushroomed into one of the more diverse clubs on campus that claims more than 50 members. The club would be bigger, but a limited number of tables means there is a waiting list to join.

The popularity of the sport on campus might explode once the championships arrive.

"We definitely want to expose table tennis more than before," Charvet said. "It would be a nice promotion for the club too. But our main goal isn't to find more people to recruit. If we can raise enough money to cover all the expenses, we might use some for creating a scholarship to attract a student who is a top-quality player or for defraying travel costs to nationals next year."

In its first two years, BTTC's men's team finished ninth and eighth at nationals. The club sent its first women's team to compete at this year's nationals in Fort Worth and it placed fifth. That's out of 124 competitive clubs, showing how quickly Ohio State has made a name for itself.

Charvet said it was rather easy because the campus has a large Asian population, whose members are from a part of the world where table tennis competitors are revered. But the club also sports Indian, European and American players, many of whom won dorm tournaments and wanted to step up their level of play.

Charvet is depending on the younger players to keep the club going long after he departs Ohio State. In the meantime, he'll keep working hard to showcase the sport.

By hosting the nationals, Charvet's job gets easy. The event should bring some Olympic-caliber players to RPAC, including Princeton's Adam Hugh, who is on the U.S. National Team, and Texas Wesleyan's Jasna Reed, who won a bronze medal in doubles for Yugoslavia at the 1988 Games and was a U.S. Olympian in 2000 and 2004. Reed's doubles partner at the 2004 Olympics, Stanford's Whitney Ping, should also return after being named NCTTA's 2006 female player of the year.

Texas Wesleyan, although a small, private school, often brings in the best players because it has a full-time head coach and assistant coach and offers athletic scholarships to its team members. Its men's team won the past three championships while Stanford won the women's title this year.

Whichever teams qualify, however, BTTC president Doug Hurak wants the 2007 nationals to be the best ever. Club members have experience organizing some of the biggest table tennis events in the U.S., including the Arnold Classic exhibition in Columbus and a number of United States Table Tennis Association events.

"This is a great opportunity to bring world-class table tennis to Ohio, mixing it with one of the largest college populations in the country while showing off our great facilities at RPAC," Hurak said. "We expect a huge crowd of supporters with numerous collegiate and non-collegiate clubs in our region."

The 2007 nationals will be free and open to the public in the Davis Special Events Gym at RPAC, where 16 competition tables and eight warm-up tables will be used. Charvet said BTTC also will provide free clinics during the event to get spectators involved in the sport.

To learn more about the event or to become a sponsor, e-mail nttca@buckeyettc.com or visit

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