Great Neck North High School wins top prize at 8th annual table tennis tournament

Great Neck North High School wins top prize at 8th annual table tennis tournament
North High Table Tennis Team. (Left to right) Kayden Li (Captain), Nathan Zhong, Max Lee, Amy Ford (Team adviser)

By Joyce Cheung

The Great Neck North High School gymnasium transformed into a table tennis arena on Sunday, March 10th.  This is the 8th annual event for Great Neck North High School attracting kids from grades 1-12 throughout Long Island and the New York City boroughs.

This year, 24 schools were represented with 10 elementary schools, 8 middle schools, and 7 high schools! Dan Holtzman, principal of Great Neck North High School proudly shares that “

This annual tournament is an incredible opportunity for students of all ages and levels to compete in a supportive environment and foster relationships within the table tennis community,” Holtzman said.

The morning commenced with the School Teams event as well as the Elementary School Singles competition. Students from E.M Baker, Saddle Rock, Lakeville, North Shore Hebrew Academy, and The Schechter School of Long Island were joined by students from the Queens area.

“It is wonderful to see that our participants are getting younger.  This year, we have more 5-7 years old kids and more girls participating,” said Amy Ford, the table tennis club and team adviser for North High School.

Jason Jiang (3rd grade) was the 1st place winner for the Elementary Beginners Division and Rachel Xiao (4th grade) placed 2nd.  Both players were from Jackson Elementary School in Jericho.

For the Elementary Advanced Division, Moataz Elmallah, (1st grade) from PS 244Q  placed 1st and Rachel Xiao from Jericho came in 2nd.

Secondary school students competed in the afternoon.  Tournament director and COO of AYTTO, Edmund Suen, helped run the tournament and noted that “with close to 70 participants, half held USATT ratings!”

He added that “This is very impressive and shows how our school table tennis is contributing to the USATT’s Olympic Championship ambition.”  In the Secondary School Beginners Division, So Yeon Lee, (9th grade) from Cardozo High School claimed 1st and Andrew Lee, (6th grade) from Great Neck South Middle School came in 2nd.

All eyes were then focused on the Advanced Division finals game between two 9th graders, Jay Chen from Stuyvesant High School and Nathan Zhong from Great Neck North High School. There were many intense moments, impressive rallies, tricky serves, and loud cheers.  Jay Chen ultimately claimed 1st place and Nathan Zhong took home 2nd.

The School Teams event did not conclude until the afternoon. Each secondary school team was comprised of 3-5 players.  They competed in a round robin format playing 4 singles and 1 doubles match.

Brooklyn Tech High School came in 2nd place.   Max Lee (11th), Kayden Li (10th, team captain) and Nathan Zhong (9th) secured first place for North High!

The fun filled day was made possible by the supportive North High community.    Parents volunteered at the concession stands and assisted as referees and score keepers to help the younger players.

Spectators came to cheer on their children and friends.  Even North High table tennis team alumni Timothy Lee and Ryan Chen dropped by to support the North High team.

Thomas Hu, the head of AYTTO and PongSpace leaked out that “PongSpace, former Chinese National Team head coach Xu Shaofa, and AYTTO are collaborating towards a virtual coaching program utilizing remote coaches and AI robots to further help bring table tennis into the schools.

With more students playing table tennis in the schools, we hope to see even more participation next year!”

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