Table Tennis Club scouts for new talent

A former Olympian and U.S. National men’s singles table tennis champion decided last week to take over coaching the Portland State Table Tennis Club.

A former Olympian and U.S. National men’s singles table tennis champion decided last week to take over coaching the Portland State Table Tennis Club.

Sean O’Neill’s resume includes winning the U.S. National Men’s Singles (five times), Men’s Doubles (five times), and Mixed Doubles (six times) Championships.

“At a recent local table tennis tournament, Club President Shubham Chopra approached me to see if I might be interested,” O’Neill said. “I could see how motivated he was to get the team back on the winning track. I mentioned to him that I had helped the team in the past when Mark Blinder was club president and the team practiced at Stott’s Range Room. That, along with being good friends with [Director of Campus Rec] Alex Accetta and knowing the team would be in the new student center, made it a no-brainer.”

O’Neill was a U.S. National Team member from 1983 to 1995 and participated in five World Championships, four Pan-Am Games—winning two gold, five silver and one bronze medal—three World Cups, and two Olympic Games—in 1988 and 1992.

In 1990, O’Neill was the North American Men’s Singles Champion. He was named USA Table Tennis’ Male Athlete of the Year on five occasions and served on the United States Olympic Committee’s Athletes Advisory Council as a player-representative for the sport of table tennis.

The two-time Olympian plans to conduct a recruitment drive at the rec center on Wednesday, May 19 to attract fresh talent to the club.

“We need to get our numbers up and to get the word out that we are open for business,” O’Neill said. “Chopra has stated that his goal is to help continue a rich tradition of table tennis at PSU. He will be graduating next year, so we are also looking for freshmen and sophomores to help join the club’s leadership so we can have a smooth transition from year to year.

“Every successful school in table tennis is built on strong organizational skills,” O’Neil added. “I believe PSU can have a club of at least 75 active members and be the clear No. 1 school in the Northwest.”

The Portland State Table Tennis Club fielded a seven-member squad for the two-star Bill Mason Memorial tournament held earlier this month at the Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation, but none of the players were successful in getting past the second round. Earlier this season, the club finished last among five teams in both legs of the National Collegiate Table Tennis Association regional tournament.

“I know the team has been without an experienced coach for the past season or two and a number of top players had graduated, so the most recent results don’t concern me,” O’Neill said. “There are a number of very good schools in the division, but I am confident we can be competitive if we can get our team size up so that players feel they must be improving to stay on the team.”

The table tennis club practices every Wednesday and Friday at the ASRC from 7–11 p.m. For more information on the recruitment, contact Chopra at [email protected] or by calling 503–329–8561.