Table Tennis Team continue undefeated record with wins over Leman and Fieldston


Stephanie Lee and Oliver Konopko

The Varsity Table Tennis team continued their undefeated streak with a 4-1 victory over Leman Manhattan Preparatory School and 5-0 victory over the Ethical Culture Fieldston School on Monday and Wednesday, respectively.

The team competed very well on Monday, Varsity Table Tennis coach Caroline Surhoff said. She credited the team’s victory to their strong players at every seed and matchup, which makes them a threat in every match, she said. 

In Monday’s game, Jiyon Chatterjee (11) beat an opponent whom he had lost to the previous week, Surhoff said. The matches in table tennis are played first to 3 games. After losing in five games last week, Chatterjee was able to win this match in four games, Surhoff said. 

Both Avi Kumar (11) and Chatterjee — second and third singles — played well during their matches against Leman, Jisang Kymm (10) said. “They finished their matches really cleanly and won without too much trouble.”

Although the team won the Leman match by a comfortable margin, the team had a first singles loss, Kymm said. Leo Hess (12) played the same opponent and had won the previous match, however, he had a surprising 3-0 loss, Kymm said. 

On Wednesday, the team was also victorious and all five of the players won their matches. Both Hess and Chatterjee played excellently, Surhoff said. “They were both down 1-0 to start and came back to win 3-1,” she said. “And then our doubles teams played very well, as usual.” 

The team felt satisfied with their results against Leman and Fieldston, but still has to work hard to maintain their performance, Surhoff said. 

Going into the games, the team didn’t have a particular strategy, Kumar said. Instead, they tried to implement skills they worked on during practices. Since most members have experience playing, Surhoff trusts players to dictate their own matches, Kumar said. 

Some team members use certain personal strategies during their matches. To get in the zone, Hess likes to bounce the ball on his paddle a couple of times between the points, he said. “Focusing in on that helps me get in the right headspace to hopefully win the next point.”

In preparation for upcoming matches, players strategize a plan to counter their opponents, to clean up their technique, and to work on a new serve to throw their opponents off, Surhoff said. “We try to work on different skills and strategies because we never know what we’re up against,” she said. “I always like the third ball attack strategy, which is where you serve, receive, and then win on that third point.” 

Additionally, the team does drills to mimic game-like situations, like practicing serves and returns, Kumar said. 

During practices, the team often competes in round robin tournaments that determine the lineups for the next matches, Kymm said. “[These matches] make sure that everyone’s game is always polished and people are not being complacent just because they had a singles spot last game — it keeps people on their toes.” 

Unlike many other sports, the pandemic hasn’t had much of an effect on the team. However, the team has struggled with having multiple team members out due to COVID, Hess said. “It gets a little bit tough to manage the roster and make sure we have enough people due to COVID-19,” Kumar said. 

As the Independent School Table Tennis League (ISTTL) championships approach, the team must continue to put their focus and hard work to hopefully win the league, Surhoff said.