Table tennis competitors bring home new friends, medals

Delta Digital News Service

August 13, 2023

By Jacob Wicinski | Contributor

JONESBORO, Ark. – After nearly a week of competing, four local Jonesboro residents get to say they competed in a national competition, with three winning ribbons or medals in table tennis last month during the 2023 National Seniors Games.

The competition was held in Pittsburg, Pa., and featured competitors from all over the country.

Anthony “Tony” Tsui, a Bay High School teacher who competed in the events said just being able to meet new friends at the games was a highlight.

“We met a lot of new friends from different states,” Tsui said. “I saw a guy that inspired me to play in 2017. I recognized him and we got on the phone later on. Just meeting friends along the way, playing and practicing with them, was great.”

Fellow competitor Jianfeng “Jay” Xu, Ph.D., research professor at the Bioscience Institute at Arkansas State University, stated that his confidence only increased during the event.

“At the beginning when I found the tournament sheet, I thought that there was no way for me to beat them,” Xu said. “But I thought that we had a chance to beat them when we played in doubles. We still had a chance to beat those [at a higher level].”

Guolei “Jason” Zhou, Ph.D., a professor of cell biology at A-State, said that the chemistry between the four teammates gave them an edge.

“We felt we had a chance as have we played and practiced together, so we felt we had some existing chemistry,” Zhou said. “In some cases, most people find a partner on the same day of the tournament.”

Yanhua “Jennifer” Xie, Ph.D., associate professor of biomedical and anatomical sciences at the New York Institute of Technology at A-State, would win gold as a women’s doubles champion. She would also add on a silver and bronze medal competing in singles and another doubles competition paired with Zhou.

On what it was like winning gold, Xie recalled feeling intimidated however, she had confidence in her own game.

“The entire stadium heard me,” Xie stated. “One of the players in the doubles we were playing against was the champion of the women’s singles. We felt a little bit intimidated, but eventually we won.”

The four intend to compete in the games moving forward, with Tsui explicitly wanting to see newfound friends again.

“To see people coming back and to meet old friends, I hope we can do that again down the road,” he said. “I think in 2025, in Iowa, we will make plans to go.”


NOTE: Featured Photo – From left: Anthony “Tony” Tsui, Yanhua “Jennifer” Xie, Guolei “Jason” Zhou and Jianfeng “Jay” Xu display awards they received while competing in table tennis during the National Senior Games last month. 

Jacob Wicinski is a 2021 graduate of Florida State University with a bachelor’s in communication and is currently seeking a masters of science in mass communication with a specialization in journalism at Arkansas State University.