With the 6th Micronesian Games expected to be the last regional competition for its top players, the CNMI National Table Tennis Team is leaving no stone unturned.
Although, Zheng Ma was recruited from China through the efforts of Tinian Dynasty Hotel and Casino to help train the three Tinian-based members of the team, Marianas Amateur Table Tennis Association said the 22-year-old former coach of the Yin He Table Tennis Club will also be made available to the rest of the national ping-pong table tennis team.
“As his background indicates, his presence will have a very big impact for the CNMI National Table Tennis Team, especially the players from Tinian,” said MATTA official Mario Espeleta.
According to Tinian-based national team player Charlie Cheng, Ma now works as a ping-pong instructor in a big university in Xian, China. He also said that Ma used to coach the same team that now boasts of top-caliber table tennis players Ma Lin and Hao Shuai.
Aside from being a former coach of the Yin He Table Tennis Club, Ma also used to mentor the Shaanxi Provincial Table Tennis Team.
Cheng thanked TDHC chairman Michael Kwan, TDHC executives Alfred Yue and Liang Wei Bin, and China Foshan Office operations director Wan Chan for helping recruit Ma.
“Without their full support and help, we would still be training without a professional coach,” he said.
Aside from Cheng, MATTA also chose Tinian No. 1 Luke Lu to be part of the CNMI ping-pong team for the Games. Liang was also picked by MATTA, albeit as an alternate.
Other members of the national table tennis team are Saipan-based players Su Yong Dong, Chen Lin Ying, and Budhi Gurung. The three bagged the bronze medal in last year’s Palau South Pacific Mini Games.
MATTA also named its national women’s ping-pong team last month and it includes veteran paddler Jean Shi, netter-turned-table tennis player Lucita Paculanang, and up-and-coming players Rose Agulto and Siri Welch.
The Micro Games on Saipan looms to be the last regional competition for the table tennis players, as the Pacific Games Council has modified eligibility requirements for future Games.
Starting next year in Apia, Samoa, only U.S. citizens are allowed to represent the CNMI in the quadrennial event and there’s a strong possibility the Micronesian Games Council will adopt the same rule.