Season in Review: Girls’ Table Tennis

The Peglegs have undoubtedly broken expectations the past few years, but the team may need to look into revisions if they want to continue their dominance across the city.

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By The Photo Department

Coming off of back-to-back championships, the Peglegs, Stuyvesant’s girls’ table tennis team, had high expectations for the 2023-24 season. The team rose up to the challenge, culminating in exciting results and individual performances throughout the winter season.  Ending the regular season with a 9-1 record and sitting at the top of their Manhattan/Staten Island division, there was little to be disappointed about. Their only loss in the regular season was to Brooklyn Tech in a close 3-2 game, but for almost every other game, the Peglegs swept the opposing team with a clean 5-0. The team entered the playoffs confident, backed by their rigorous training regiment and stellar regular season performances. A third championship in a row seemed on the horizon for the dominant team.

Undoubtedly, the Peglegs’s biggest strength was their dedication to the game and their team. Though the Peglegs made it look easy, the team worked hard to make the playoffs for the third year in a row. They held practices over both winter breaks and on MLK day. This dedication paid off though, as the Peglegs swept Flushing 5-0 and beat Brooklyn Tech in their quarter-finals rematch—a matchup that had cost the Peglegs their flawless regular season record just two months earlier. However, when facing off against a dominant 10-0 Francis Lewis team in the semi-finals for the first time in the last four seasons, the team was unprepared.

With no room for error, the Peglegs were forced to adapt as each point was played. Ultimately, this is where the team fell short. Coach Emilio Nieves attributed the loss primarily to the depth of both teams. “We had a great team this year… but Francis Lewis just had a better one,” Nieves said. The Peglegs’s playoff run, and thus their 2023-24 season, would end in a heartbreaking 4-1 loss. Francis Lewis would go on to win the championship against Staten Island Tech, a team that the Peglegs beat twice during the regular season. 

Though the Peglegs were still a top four team in the city, this didn’t come without several changes this season, particularly surrounding the team’s roster. “This year, we suffered with losing seniors; we’re thinking about strategically filling those spots,” junior co-captain Alyssa Kang said. These were critical spots that had grounded the team’s dynamics and danger in the two prior seasons. “[I was] a little disappointed. I definitely think we could have three peated, but we [still] learned a lot.”

Junior co-captain Cindy Ye also felt losing seniors was difficult to adjust to. “When they were on the team, we could lean on their potential and strength,” Ye said. The team is making plans to not only fill holes in their roster by next season, but potentially adopt a new training regiment. The team currently alternates practice days between starters and non-starters, with captains sometimes coming to the non-starters’ practice. This helped keep the practices very focused and productive—a quality that the team needed for another championship.

However, Kang mentioned that she might talk to Nieves about potentially mixing up the starters and non-starters next year, a change that could help with team chemistry and all-around improvement. These changes may be difficult though, since the team has to share their main practice area, the cafeteria, with the boys’ table tennis team. Plus, with 20 players on the roster, “having them go through so many exercises is just too much,” Ye said.

For now, the team has a few months to relax before resuming unofficial practices at the end of summer break. Though they didn’t achieve the three-peat, the team has definitely gained experience that will carry over into next season. Not only that, with only three seniors graduating, the majority of the team will be returning next season. “[We are] looking to continue building the team, not starting over…next year, the team will be stronger,” Nieves said. Though we’ll have to wait until next winter, one thing is clear: the Peglegs will come back more determined than ever and with their eyes set on claiming back their title.