London Varsity Series 2020: TABLE TENNIS

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There was something oddly mesmeric about spectating six ping pong matchups simultaneously. The hypnotic rallies, the melodic sound of ping pong balls ricocheting from paddle to table, the shrill squeaking of agile feet. This was ping pong in all its glory. With UCL running away with this year’s varsity, it was imperative that KCL Table Tennis Club hit the ground running against an indomitable UCL side.

The matches were all best-of-5s, with the standard 11 points needed to secure a game. Beginning with the men’s and women’s singles events, The KCL ladies got off to a cracking start, with KCLTTC president Ellie Fong decimating all who stood in her path to win all three of her matchups with relative ease. Her efforts were reciprocated by fellow teammate Linda Zeng, who barely broke a sweat as she also cruised to victory in all three of her matches. Unfortunate not to secure at least one win, KCL’s third and final female rep, Kerenza Baker, was agonisingly close to winning in all three of her matches, but ultimately succumbed to the skill of her competitors on all three occasions. Nonetheless, her valiant effort certainly did not go unnoticed. A raucous KCL crowd were keen to remind the players that they were well supported, win or no win. Alas, with six wins out of nine secured, it was up to the men to do their part and propel KCL toward another victory in this varsity series.

KCL’s star man, the mercurial Stephen Domingo, who thoroughly impressed throughout the afternoon, somehow managed only a solitary victory, despite having dominated at least one of the other two matchups. UCL were not short of talent either; it became all too clear soon into the afternoon that KCL were by no means going to casually stroll to victory. Fellow ping pongers Nick Gontarev and Agnimitra Saha performed admirably, both securing one win apiece. UCL’s secret weapon swiftly became a household name in the Fusion Table Tennis Club as a certain Pedrong displayed a ping pong masterclass with an array of awe-inspiring serves and returns. With the women tallying six wins and the men securing three, we entered the doubles events all square at 9-9. Everything still to play for.

Kicking off with the men’s doubles, Gontarev and Saha faced off against Gary Abbass and Chris Yeung in a fiery affair. For some time it seemed that this contest would never end, as each side battled their way through the match; neither pair was able to build up enough momentum for a sustained period of time until finally, the KCL boys were able to muster up enough determination to see their way through to secure the W.

With only one win needed to claim victory for the day, KCL were in pole position as the women’s doubles event commenced. You’d be forgiven for expecting a pairing of Ellie Fong and Kerenza Baker to pip their opponents, but to the surprise of most people in the room, UCL were worthy winners on this occasion. With flair and poise, the KCL ladies were ultimately undone, forever gracious in defeat. This meant that victory was to be decided with the final matchup of the day, that of mixed doubles. Saving the best ‘till last, the combination of Domingo and Zeng up against two UCL titans was a matchup for the ages.

With all the focus on this final match, it would have been easy to overhype such a contest. Yet our expectations were exceeded. Like a pendulum, the momentum would swing to and fro. Rallies galore and last-ditch shots in abundance, one could scarcely believe what was taking place in front of them as Domingo spearheaded the assault on UCL. Two games apiece meant the final game would determine which university would end the day wearing the crown. To the elation of the KCL spectators, all the pent-up tension soon dissipated as the KCL pair rallied their way to victory, dominating the final game to secure what may well be a vital W for KCL in this year’s varsity series.

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