FORT WORTH -- Fort Worth is on the map for its museums, its stockyards, its steaks, and now, its table tennis.
“We have a pretty huge reputation,” Matthew Mayfield said.
A reputation as one of the most feared and revered dynasties in the game.
“They hate us and they want to beat us,” said head coach Jasna Rather.
This April, while many were praying the Mavs and the Stars would simply make it into the playoffs, the Texas Wesleyan Table Tennis team was busy winning its 11th national championship in a row.
“It was very nerve-wracking,” Rather said. “I was hiding behind the bleachers in the final match.”
Out of more than 40 teams, it came down to a tie-breaker game against Mississippi College.
“It was a crazy moment for us. Our head coach was crying,” said Mayfield, a freshman.
Emil Santos, a sophomore from the Dominican Republic, was in that winning game.
“We have already 11 titles in a row,” he said. “I’ve been part of two of them, so I feel very proud right now.”
Santos is part of a 26-member, international co-ed team, with a former Olympian as their coach. Coach Rather said her team’s secret is lots of training and good recruitment. Team members practice table tennis two hours a day and train also in the gym.
This isn’t the ping pong you played growing up with your friends.
The paddles make for a faster game; they create more bounce and you have to have a lot more focus to succeed. Santos said they can cost up to $300.
“You have forehand, backhand, pushing, underspin, top spin, side spin,” Mayfield said, describing the team's arsenal of shots.
But as sweet as win number 11 was, the top dogs of table tennis already have their sights set on number 12.