Ping-Pong Team Takes 3rd in State


By Michael McKay, Staff Writer

The Niles West Ping-Pong team won third place in the Final Four of the ITTI State Championship Tournament last Saturday, Feb. 24. The state tournament was held at Niles West.

“It’s a great feeling to start a varsity team this year, to make it to the Final Four and also host the event, and then take 3rd place. It’s especially cool because the guys on the team are incredible individuals,” coach Jerry Pope said. “The varsity team practiced non-stop.  We played most days and on weekends.  There were some days we played for 5 hours.”

The ping-pong team differs from many other competitive teams at West because it’s a club. Led by senior captain Anthony Ty, the club exceeded expectations in the state tournament.

“Anthony Ty, as President of the Ping Pong Club and captain of the varsity team, went above and beyond the call of duty in working with the varsity team and running drills and motivating the guys,” Pope said.

“We practiced several times throughout the week, bu as we learned that we qualified for state, we really turned it on,” Ty said. “[The drills and practicing] seemed to pay off.”

As most people can assume, competing in a state match for any sport is no walk in the park. The players discussed the difficulties of playing at the highest level.

“For me, [the most difficult part] was playing against the Junior Olympians from Naperville North,” Ty said. “They felt like giants.”

“The pressure that was on us to win was definitely difficult,” senior George Hatzapoulos said. “It was great performing well in the biggest competition.”

With this season wrapped-up, Pope and the returning players are looking to next year.

“Of our 12 varsity players, 10 will graduate this year.  It’s a fantastic opportunity for new players to step up.  Our current varsity team has agreed to work with anyone who is interested in playing next year and training gets underway next week,” Pope said.

Congratulations to the ping-pong team on their big win in state! Be sure to congratulate the players when you see them and check out the off-season training sessions. Students interested in joining ping pong club should attend training sessions

Contributions to this article made by Sarah Cohen, Staff Writer