Collegiate Table Tennis Player - #TeamYomi ambassador
What is your full name, age and where are you from?
Allen Wang, 21, Sewell, NJ
What sparked your interest in table tennis at a young age?
I was first introduced to table tennis when I was 6 years old. My dad played recreationally and would always bring me with him to the table tennis center on weekends. I enjoyed watching people play and before long, I picked up a paddle and began to swinging it around myself. I could barely see above the table at that age so my dad bought me a mini table tennis table, where I played daily with my grandma after school.
What are all the different teams you've played on and where?
In China 2012, I played with the Tianjin Provincial team; in Sweden 2014, I played for the professional club Söderhamns UIF in the Superettan League (Super One League) and right now I am playing for UCLA.
You're a bit of an entrepreneur yourself! You started a business in high school and after you played in Sweden. Tell us about them.
During my time in Sweden, I roomed and became close friends with a Norwegian national team member, Espen. He was very entrepreneurial and is the reason behind why I’ve developed such a strong passion for business. We decided to start up an ecommerce business that involved around table tennis equipment retail, called TT Empire. He had a lot of connections in Asia and Europe, while I was very familiar with the table tennis clubs and centers in North America. It was a great experience to be involved with the early stages and growth of a startup. Currently I am working with him on another startup but I am not allowed to disclose any details yet!
Do you feel there is a stigma attached to your sport? And what do you bring to the sport that is different?
I feel that table tennis is often looked down upon as a real sport because most people undermine the need of physical strength for it. As recreational players, most people rarely move and just hit the ball back and forth. However, professional table tennis is completely different. I try to promote table tennis through social media, mainly Facebook and Instagram, with trick shot videos and tournament highlights. I want to garner the interests of outsiders and expand the fan base of table tennis.
Who is your favorite professional athlete and why?
One word - Linsanity. Jeremy Lin is an athlete I admire both on and off the court. As the first American-born Chinese to make it into the NBA, he is an inspiration to many, especially me. I have the utmost respect for his tenacity, as he has been battered by countless injuries but remains positive and determined to improve. Jeremy Lin went against all odds and showed the world that anything is possible, as long as you dedicate your time and hard work to preparing for the opportunity.
You're now a freshman at UCLA, what are you majoring in and what can you see yourself doing after table tennis?
I am currently pursuing a major in Business Economics and a minor in Entrepreneurship. Table tennis is a sport that will be with me my whole life and even when I retire from competing, I see myself playing for fun with friends and family in the future. After college, I hope to establish a career in the investment banking or asset management, where I eventually will start up my own business in the industry.
Do you have any "old person" tendencies?
One of my biggest weaknesses is my love for sleep. I try to squeeze in a nap every day (which I always regret when I wake up 4 hours later with half the day wasted away and not a single HW assignment done)..
What is your all-time favorite food?
I am a HUGE foodie so I love exploring and eating different foods but my favorite is hands down soup dumplings, especially the ones from Din Tai Fung. If they weren’t so expensive I’d eat them every day!
What are your favorite ways to sweat besides table tennis?
When I’m not playing table tennis, the other sport I spend a lot of time on is basketball. I am a big follower of the NBA (go Sixers!) and I play pickup basketball games at my local courts 2-3 times a week.
What are your 2 favorite Yomi Bites flavors?
Apple cinnamon and peanut butter chip!!! Apple cinnamon easily though
Do you listen to music when you play? If so, favorite genre?
Music is a major component in my routine during a tournament. I mainly listen to EDM and hip hop to help me get pumped up for a match, especially Kanye West, Alan Walker, Kygo and Avicii.
If you could educate people on anything about your sport, what would it be?
Even though table tennis has been a part of the Olympic Games since 1988, most people do not acknowledge it as a real sport. It is seen in America as a recreational, or basement activity. However, I believe, without a doubt, that table tennis is the hardest sport to master, as it involves the combination of physical, mental and skill levels - a weakness in any one of the areas will inhibit you from winning.
When and where are your upcoming competitions?
I have a big competition in April called the College Table Tennis Championships, taking place in Greensboro, North Carolina, where I hope to lead the UCLA team to a national title. My most important competition will be the 2020 Summer Olympic Games qualification tournament, taking place sometime later this year.