The Naperville North Table Tennis Team is this week’s feature story after winning the state championship three years in a row.
If it’s a dynasty (and it most certainly looks that way), it sure is the most quiet at Naperville North… but after 3 state championships in a row, the Huskies’ Table Tennis team deserves a little more chatter
Rachel Zhou: Winning state will give us a lot more promotion of the sport and the team as well, so I think it was special.
Special for a number of reasons. One of the Huskies best players, Rachel Zhou is the younger sister of Sarah Zhou, who helped kick off this string of state titles. And it’s fitting that Rachel was the one to put the finishing touches on the third.
Kevin Farrell: Rachel was the last person to finish and as soon as that last point was played I was like “this is really quite the accomplishment” because everyone needed to play well – not just our stars.
Kevin Farrell is the team’s coach and has steered the Huskies through competitions for the last 6 years. And while he has always had star players to rely on – this team featured one of the world’s brightest in Sid Naresh – an international player who has appeared on the Ellen DeGeneres Show, and who we’ve profiled on Sports Story Sunday. Except… Sid wasn’t able to make the state championship match.
Kevin Farrell: When Sid said he had to go and play internationally in Sweden I was like, oh no… this is going to be a challenge. And it was, it was a tough match. We did win 9-3 but every match was 5 sets and very competitive.
And so everyone else had to step up… which included another star player in Justin Wu – who credits the team depth for this year’s title.
Justin Wu: I think it’s because we have a lot of star players but also we have a lot supporting players who help the team shine. And everyone is really friendly and optimistic so that helps our team spirit.
And that sense of team camaraderie and energy is a sentiment that Zhou echoes.
Rachel Zhou: Compared to how many people would think the table tennis team is like, I think we’re a lot more outgoing and a lot more fun and diverse than you’d expect
And that perfect balance of talent, chemistry and performance seems to be ready to propel North to even more title… at least, that’s the goal.
Justin Wu: That’s definitely one of my main goals, especially since we have another star on the team and he’s really promising so I’m hoping we can get all four.
If Wu and his teammates indeed capture the next three… well, dynasty may not even be a strong enough description.
Reporting for NSW, I’m Kevin Jackman