Serving, Smacking, and Smashing Balls

Meet the captain of the girls’ table tennis team, Cindy Ye!

Reading Time: 3 minutes

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By Geoffrey Huang

1. What got you into table tennis?

I started playing in middle school as a way to kill time at an afterschool program and didn’t take it very seriously. Then, the summer prior to my freshman year, our coach, [English teacher Emilio] Nieves, sent out a mass e-mail to all the incoming girls about table tennis tryouts and the interest meeting. When I showed up to the meeting, Mr. Nieves showed a video of people from the year before, and I got cold feet. I thought that if I tried out, there would be no way I’d get on because the people in the video were just so good. I didn’t show up to quite a few of the initial tryouts until Mr. Nieves emailed me about me not showing up since I’d said I’ve played a bit before. He’s really good at sending these strongly persuasive emails, and so I felt pressured to go to the tryouts. When I did, I realized I had nothing to be scared of, and I made it on the team, and I’ve improved so much as a player since. I think now I live up to the video that was shown at the table tennis interest meeting my freshman year.

2. What are your goals for next year?

In terms of the PSAL, I want to end my time with a championship. I think we have a good team right now that with more time and training could win next year. Unfortunately, we were not city champs this year, but being champs for three out of four years would be impressive. For myself specifically, there’s a lot of serves that I want to try learning over the next year. I’ve also started playing in tournaments and leagues this year, so that's something I hope to keep doing for myself to gauge my progress and also play with a greater variety of people. I also want to get better at juggling table tennis balls, which are hard to do since they’re so light.

3. What is the hardest thing about playing table tennis?

This applies to a lot of sports, but being in the right mindset at the moment is so important. You can practice hard and then get nervous or feel a bit down and not play to your full potential. Keeping yourself at tippity top shape mentally makes so much of a difference to your reaction speed, aim, and technique. Table tennis is one of the fastest sports and really reliant on reaction speed. The feeling of a ball just zooming past you before you can hit it is, to me, one of the worst feelings there is. To prevent that, you really need to be in control of yourself mentally, and that’s not the easiest thing to control when I, and many other student-athletes, have so many other things going on in our lives.

4. What is your fondest memory of table tennis?

My fondest memory is probably placing second for doubles in Individuals this past season. I had never been fond of doubles, so I didn’t consider placing in Individuals to be something that plausible. I think I played the best doubles I’ve played yet at Individuals, and I look back at some of the videos of me and my partner playing, and I’m really proud of us. I stole a ball that we played with at the event and wrote on it with Sharpie, and I look back at it a decent amount to remind myself of what I can do whenever I'm feeling pessimistic before games now.

5. What are your future plans for table tennis?

I really hope to keep playing in college in some form and hopefully competitively. In college, table tennis is not a sport you can get recruited for, but it’s decently popular as a club sport. Despite it being a club, there's still a large competitive aspect to it with different schools playing against each other that I hope to take part in. To do so, I’ll definitely have to work on getting my rating higher than it is now and learning new skills. 

Fun Questions:

Funniest Teammate: Jamie Pan

Pregame Ritual: I haven’t deleted the email that our coach, Mr. Nieves, sent to congratulate me that I made it on the team, and I look back at it before games.

Pump-up Song: “Burn The House Down” by AJR

Postgame Meal:  It's hard to consistently go to a specific place when we have games all over the city in Manhattan, Staten Island, and Brooklyn. Whenever we're playing in Manhattan though, a place I've frequented a lot with the team after games is Phở Grand in Chinatown. The portions are normally so big that I can't finish, but after playing a long game, a nice big bowl of pho is incredibly filling.