WA team qualifies for table tennis nationals


provided by Ajikutira, Liu, and Chhabra

Right to left: Chhabra, Ajikutira, and Liu stand with their trophy after winning states.

Pravar Mukkala, Co-Managing Editor

The loud, cheerful sound of ping, pong, ping, pong fills the room as table tennis balls are hit across tables and over nets. While table tennis may not sound like a competitive sport, it is something three WA students have transformed into their own sports at WA.

The team, which is new to WA this school year, is comprised of sophomores Samik Ajikutira and Jonathan Liu, and freshman Vivaan Chhabra. The three players won the table tennis championship at the state level on March 20, and will be advancing to the national championship on May 14.

“[We decided to make a team] because of the fact that there was the state championship coming up and then we felt like we had pretty good players in the school,” Ajikutira said.

Winning the state championship was not easy for Ajikutira, Liu, and Chhabra. They had to play against six other schools, which had over 40 players combined. According to Liu, Lexington’s team, which came in second place in the event, had good players, and the game with them was memorable.

Going forward, Ajikutira believes the teams at the national level will be much more difficult to beat than the teams at the state level. However, they are all looking forward to playing in either New York or Boston, as the location is not yet decided upon.

The table tennis team is unique in that there is no set coach for the school team. Ajikutira and Chhabra take lessons from the same coach at one club, and Liu plays for another club. The team doesn’t have official practice sessions, either. However, that doesn’t mean the three don’t take the sport seriously.

“When I was a kid, I didn’t really know how to play. I was having fun,” Liu said. “When I started taking lessons, it became a lot more exciting to play, especially within games.”

Ajikutira feels that table tennis is more of a fun sport than it looks to the eye.

“There are so many dimensions to the game,” Ajikutira said. “It’s really complex compared to what other people see.”

In addition to aspiring to win nationals, the team hopes to expand more over the course of this year and the next.

“We’re hoping that we can continue it for future years […] and maybe make it a bit bigger,” Ajikutira said.

Ultimately, Ajikutira, Liu, and Chhabra aim to promote table tennis at WA so more people are aware of the team and the sports’ challenges.

“Hopefully, like we were able to bring the state championship trophy for Westford Academy to the trophy cabinet, we’ll bring the national trophy as well,” Ajikutira said.