Malden High Ping Pong Club Faces Off in State-Wide Tournament

On January 21st, the American Youth Table Tennis Organization (AYTTO) held a state-wide tournament for Massachusetts high schools. The competition, which was held at Boston Table Tennis Club in Medford, featured 12 high school teams and two middle school teams, with three or four players each. The participating schools included: Westford Academy, Westwood High School, Winchester High School, GANN Academy, Springfield High School, Newton South High School, North Quincy High School, Fusion High School (a team of players from a variety of high schools), Blanchard Middle School, Lexington Middle School, with Lexington High School and Malden High School having enough players to field two teams each.

The competition would be split into two groups of seven, with the top two teams from each group moving onto a semi-final knockout-style bracket. During the group stage, each team would play against all six opposing teams. Matches between two teams would be best of five games. Games would be played best of three sets, with each set being first to 11 points and win by two points. Three points would be awarded to each match's winner and one point to the loser to determine team ranking in the groups. 

Having seven players, the Malden club decided to split into two teams Malden High School 1 and Malden High School 2, which they also referred to as blue team and gold team respectively. The blue team consisted of the more senior members of the club Captain Archer Ou, Captain Cheryl Joe Pidakala, and Jason Chen. Kevin Lin, Kwan Wu Li, Sofi Le, and Philip Li made up the gold team.


The competition would begin shortly after 9:00 after each team had warmed up. Unfortunately, both Malden teams would lose all of their matches against other schools, however, the blue team came up victorious against the gold team when both Malden teams faced off.

The gold team refused to go down without a fight, however. In their first game, junior Sofi Le would upset senior Cheryl Joe Pidakala in an extremely close two-set game with both sets going into “sudden death”. Le would win the first set 15-13 and the second set 12-10. Next, the gold team’s Kevin Lin would face Captain Archer Ou. Ou would quickly bring the game to a 7-0 lead, but Lin refused to give up. Lin would claw back the victor with 10 straight points to win 11-8. Lin, now with the momentum, would take the lead in the second set 6-3. This time, however, no comeback would be made and Lin would take the win 11-7. 

Now facing a 2-0 game lead, the blue team would need to win their next three games against the gold team to win the match. The first step would be for Archer Ou and Cheryl Joe Pidakala to win their doubles match against Kwan Wu Li and Kevin Lin. Li and Lin would take the first set in a hard-fought 13-11, but Ou and Pidakala were hard set on winning the match. Now more warmed up, Ou and Pidakal would take the second and third sets 11-9 and 11-4.

Now, the match was in the hands of Jason Chen, who would need to win games against Phillip Li and Kwan Wu Li to win the match. Chen, not one to back down from a challenge, would sweep both opponents in two set games. 

Despite the poor performance in the group stage, the club was happy with their results. “I thought we played a lot better than last time,” added Club Advisor Mark Gagnon, “they showed a lot of improvement.” Gagnon also pointed out the difference in experience between the teams, “a lot of [the opposing players] have been training for four or five years.” He also added that Malden can’t practice as much as other teams, “I talked to a kid who trains between 20 and 25 hours a week…all we have is our ping pong room for a few days a week.”

Ou echoed these sentiments, “We’re learning still, but since this is our first year competing we're actually making progress.” He also mentioned his hopes for upcoming years, “I’m looking for future generations to be able to get better than us and get on par with the [other schools].” 

Pidakala thought the competition went well, “I’m glad we all had fun and had a good time. I’m really proud of the team,” adding, “Overall, great tournament. Huge respect to Jasper [AYTTO Massachusetts Coordinator] and Mr. Gagnon.” Looking to next year Pidakala expressed the belief that the team will continue to improve.

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

WP2Social Auto Publish Powered By :