The Princeton University Table Tennis Club will travel to the collegiate national championships in Rochester, Minn., April 15-17. (Amitabha Ghosh GS)
As recruiting goes, it wasn’t exactly a hard sell. Amaresh Sahu ’13 had already been admitted to Princeton when he first heard about the University’s table tennis club. He knew a few of the players from the junior tournaments he’d competed in since he was 11 years old. So when he arrived on campus in fall 2009, he became a regular at the club’s nighttime practices at Dillon Gym.
Last spring, Sahu played his way into the national quarterfinalis in the individual men’s bracket and helped Princeton earn a top-four finish in the team championships for the fifth consecutive year. The Tigers are returning to the national tournament this week and hoping to chart a path to the national finals.
To reach the nationals, teams have to earn points at regional events. For Princeton, there were two this year: an October tournament at Penn State, where the Tigers placed second to Maryland; and a February tournament at Dillon, where Princeton avenged its earlier loss, sweeping Maryland 4-0 in the finals.
In the national draw, Sahu said, the teams to beat will be Texas Wesleyan, the defending champion, and Lindenwood University in Missouri. Both schools treat table tennis as a co-ed varsity sport and have lineups filled with international recruits.
The Princeton team, on the other hand, is run by the players. Practice time is limited, both by study schedules and the availability of space at Dillon, but the team makes the most of its opportunities, playing three times a week, often for three hours in each session.
Sahu said the team includes a handful of students who grew up training in the same clubs, and word of Princeton’s successful club has spread through the tight-knit table tennis community.
“We have a good system, somehow,” Sahu said, “and we want to keep it going.”
Below, video highlights of Princeton’s February victory over Maryland.