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National Table Tennis Championships At Von Braun Center

MADISON- After months of local preparations and years of never-ending mental and physical provisions for top-notch competition, North Alabama is set to host the USA National Table Tennis Championships this week in the South Hall of the Von Braun Center.

With competition beginning each morning at 8:30, the action will feature competitors from 37 states and run through Sunday. In addition, the US Olympic/Paralympic Teams will also be involved in their final preparations for the upcoming 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris.

Like all big events, the heart and soul of the Table Tennis Nationals are the hundreds of volunteers who offer their time and skills to make sure the huge event is held without any major concerns. One such helper is Pari Motivaras a former student at James Clemens High. The 19-year old is a sophomore at UAB where she is studying to become a surgeon and plays on the school’s unofficial table tennis team, which is ranked No. 2 in Alabama among college teams.

“I’m looking forward to watching the play live and really excited about this event happening in Huntsville,” said the 2023 graduate of James Clemens where she posted a 4.56 grade point average and earned an academic scholarship to attend UAB. “I love the fact this is great exposure for the sport here in our area.”

Motivaras and her family moved to Madison five years ago from India where she first picked up the sport of table tennis, but wasn’t fond of the sport at the beginning, but soon learned to love the athletic endeavor by getting to know the techniques needed to play the sport, which for some is a smaller version of tennis. While at James Clemens, she joined the school’s club table tennis team comprised of as many of 10 students who hit the table tennis setup in the school’s gymnasium. Upon attending UAB, she soon became involved with the University’s club table tennis team made up of about 13 players.

Motivaras’ play with the Blazers’ squad helped the team become the No. 2 ranked school in Alabama after partaking in the National Competition of table tennis teams. Only the University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa) is ranked higher in the state. Motivaras qualified for the post-season play in the women’s singles where she made it to the Regionals.

She is currently ranked No. 1000 in the country according to National Collegiate Table Tennis Association. She has yet to gather a national ranking among the USA Table Tennis Association. She joined the North Alabama Table Tennis Club over a year ago and has become a well-respected player among her peers where she plays mostly against men. “There aren’t that many women who play table tennis,” added Motivaras.

“When I first began playing the sport, the more I played the more I understood all of the proper techniques, and I put in a lot of hard work to get better,” added Motivaras. “Men have one major advantage over women. They have more good competition to play against, which in turn makes them better. Having the passion for and loving the sport makes my efforts feel better. I think table tennis is an amazing sport. You can be surprised to find out the difficulties of the sport, but that fact leads to being enjoyable.”

At UAB, Motivaras has a 4.0 grade point average and is actually undecided on what type of surgeon she’s looking to become once she graduates. Her passion for health sprang out of experiences with her father who suffered heart spasms and he struggled to locate a doctor and receive the necessary, proper health care. “Yes, that motivated me to be in the health field,” said Motivaras. “While attending James Clemens I joined the Jets Wildlife Club and was part of several health and school/community organizations while being a member of the National Honor Society. I graduated No. 54 out of 527 in my senior class.”

As for the table tennis event this week, she said, “When I registered to be a volunteer, I was given options of helping with the logistics of the tourney. I can manage the scorer’s tables, setup the event and breakdown the event at conclusion of play. I’m just excited to be a part of the big event in the sport I love.”

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