2013 High School Team Rochester Team takes second in State Meet behind Academy of Holy Angels. Rochester players overcame last years Champion Eagan.
This year the Rochester team was coached by Chi Lam and represented by 10 boys: Simon Brandt (C), Xiuqi Cao (C), Yi Chen (C), Brandon Lam (Friedell), Chris Lam (JM), Abhinav Lama (JM), Enoch Tan (C), Isaac Then (C), Ghanashyam Unnikrishnan (C), and Aron Villarroel (C).

Coach Lams comments:

Rochester team took 2nd place in the 2013 Minnesota State High School Table Tennis Team Championships

This is always one of the most exciting weekends every year for Table Tennis in Minnesota. The eighth annual Minnesota State High School Table Tennis Team Championships has been getting bigger every year and this year is no different. It is quite a scene when you see 200 high school table tennis players in one gym and compete as a team to try and take home the championship.

This year tournament was once again hosted at Eagan High School. The 17 co-ed teams and 8 girls teams contributed to the largest participation in tournament history.

This year the Rochester team was coached by Chi Lam and represented by 10 boys: Simon Brandt (C), Xiuqi Cao (C), Yi Chen (C), Brandon Lam (Friedell), Chris Lam (JM), Abhinav Lama (JM), Enoch Tan (C), Isaac Then (C), Ghanashyam Unnikrishnan (C), and Aron Villarroel (C).

For the co-ed, it started with a preliminary round-robin. There were 5 round-robin groups and the top 2 teams from each would advance into the Championship bracket. The rest would go to the Consolation round (last year the Rochester North team won the Consolation round). The format is 10 head-to-head singles and 5 doubles. Whoever wins 8 matches wins the team match. In the preliminary round, they play all 15 matches.

In the preliminary round, Rochester was in the round-robin with Moundsview (number 2 seed) and Minnehaha. Academy. After Moundsview beat Minnehaha 12-3, we played Minnehaha next. We were able to pull off a relatively easy win as well with the same score of 12-3. The showdown came down to us versus Moundsview. Moundsview has 3 of the top state juniors: David Lee, Ben Hyunh, and Joe McGrath. After 10 singles, it was all tied up 5-5. Rochester team number 1 player Chris Lam, played with his very strong partner Abhinav Lamba against Moundsview’s number 1 player David Lee and his team mate, with a thrilling 3-game set win (Best 2 of our 3 in the preliminary round) to put us ahead 6-5 in score. Our number 2 player Brandon Lam and his partner Simon Brandt, played against their very tough number 2 player Ben Hyunh and his partner and lost a close one in also a close 3-game set. Unfortunately, we couldn't pull off 2 more wins in the next three doubles. Team match went to Moundsview, and they won by a team score of 9-6.

Finishing 2nd in the round-robin meant a tougher road to in the Championship bracket (single elimination) for the Rochester team. With 10 teams in that bracket, we were one of the unfortunate teams to have to play another round to try to get into the Quarter-Final.

First, we played Bloomington Jefferson in this qualification round. It was another close one, all tied up at 5-5 after 10 singles. This time, the Rochester team
came through strong winning the 3 out of the next 4 doubles to advance into the Quarter-Final.

Our Quarter-Final match was against last year’s champion Eagan (number one seeded team). Eagan is a Minnesota HS Table Tennis Team power house. They are the only team who won the title more than once in this tournament. In fact, they won more than half, with 4 of out the 7 since the tournament is in existence. This is the team who forced us into the consolation round last year. This is also the team who beat us in the Quarter-Final 2 years ago (our first year with a Rochester team in the tournament). Once again, we ended up with a 5-5 tie after 10 singles. Then it went to 6-6 after two doubles. Our 3rd doubles (Aron Villarroel and Isaac Then), 4th doubles (Yi Chen and Xiuqi Cao), and 5th doubles (Enoch Tan and Ghanashyam Unnikrishnan) were all playing extremely close matches at the same time. Our 3rd and 4th doubles both pulled out a close 5-game set win and put us over the top. The team match went to Rochester with an upset victory over last year’s champion, Eagan, to move into the Semi-Final!

We went into the Semi-Final playing against Benilde-St. Margaret, number 4 seeded team. It almost seems like every one of this turned into a similar match, with a split of the singles into 5-5 score. The determining matches were onto the doubles. We went 3-1 in doubles and won the tie 8-6. Rochester into the Final!

Our final opponent was Academy of Holy Angels (3rd seeded team). This is also the team who won the title a couple years ago. We took the first two singles to start off the tie, but they were quite evenly skilled and strong across their 10 players, and they took the next 8 singles and won the championship 8-2. Holy Angels will represent Minnesota in the Regional High School tournament in April at Rockford, Illinois.

All in all, this is a major accomplishment and the best finish ever for the Rochester team (who was seeded outside of the top 8 this year). Every player stepped up and bonded together as a team to play extremely well and compete against some of the best teams in the State. Congratulations!

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