KCTTC practising with purposeEd Marsh with permission for Varsity

Last year, King’s College Table Tennis Club (KCTTC) sent shockwaves through the world of college table tennis. Starting Michaelmas in Division Two, they achieved a rapid promotion to Division One. In Lent, they won Division One. And then, to cap it all off, they won Cuppers too. In order to get a sense of what is making KCTTC so successful, I went down to a practice session.

Perhaps naively, I’d imagined practice to be held in college: King’s is home to only one table tennis table, and its various chipped edges and inner dimples demonstrate its popularity among students – be that as a table tennis table or, more frequently, a beer pong table. But to avoid those drinking divots, KCTTC trains on a weekly basis at the University Sports Centre.

What was so great about training was that it involved a mixture of abilities. For a team with such high aspirations, they still put inclusivity at the forefront. Harsh Luna, a fresher, told me how, before this year, he’d never really played table tennis but was now loving KCTTC due to the “casual, beginner-friendly environment” of training.

Of course, at points during the session, the intensity ramped up. Captain Joseph Kommareddy made clear to me his intentions for the season: “It’s really important for us to do well in Division One after the success last year. We’re going to hold trials which will be fairly intense. And I know we lost key players but I still believe we have what it takes to do well in Division One.” Kommareddy is a touch understating when he says “key players”: King’s have lost all of the squad that won Cuppers last year.


Mountain View

Tiddlywinks: Serious tactics, silly names

From what was on display at training, however, the next crop of KCTTC players can certainly bring more success. You can tell Kommareddy also has roots in lawn tennis as his position at the table is incredibly deep. Such an unorthodox starting position, however, allows him to counter the more powerful players and outwit those with similar technical prowess. Louis Hobson is another player hoping to help bring KCTTC more success. A third-year undergraduate, Hobson took last year out from table tennis to focus on rowing. Asking him why he came back to KCTTC, he simply replied “It’s not rowing”. Make of that what you will…

It is down to Kommareddy, however, that King’s even have the chance to retain their league and Cuppers titles this year. After the mass exodus (graduation) of last year’s players, KCTTC looked set to dissolve. Kommareddy, however, stepped in at the last hour to take it on. In doing so he took on responsibilities including overseeing practice sessions, helping to train those who’ve never played before, and also being in charge of college funding.

After tasting glory, then flirting with death, King’s College Table Tennis Club are very much back. When trials do happen, Kommareddy told me he expected around 15 players to try out for just three positions. This is a new era for KCTTC, but it promises to be just as exciting.