The ball rotates peculiarly — a product of the barrage of back-and-forth hits it’s endured. Both players transfix their eyes on the object in motion, calculating where the ball is going and what they are going to do with it next. Finally, with one sweeping blow, the ball is sent back over the net, clipping a corner of the table before it shoots off into the distance.Ph.D. student Amitabha Ghosh and sophomore Akhilesh Kajaria stand across from each other grinning, consumed only momentarily by their thoughts on the previous point’s result. A warm acknowledgement of the shot is given, the score is announced and play resumes as if it had never stopped.Intense focus · Former Indian national team member graduate student Subal Mehta is part of the team’s competitive squad, T-Cubed. – Amaresh Sundaram Kuppuswamy | Daily TrojanOn this night — just like any other practice evening — the two battle for every point in the match, focusing constantly on improving both their skills and techniques that will be needed come tournament time. While their focus is unwavering, they enjoy every minute of it.Ghosh and Kajaria are standing on the gym floor on the north end of USC’s PED building. The two competitors are ping pong players — members of the Ping Pong Posse, a table tennis club at USC that, despite its youth, has found continued success since its humble beginnings.Evolution of a teamIn 2002, then-USC students Adam Bobrow and Angad Singh formed a small ping pong club consisting of 10 members — the Ping Pong Posse. The club only had one table to practice on, which, in addition to all its other equipment, was paid for primarily by the club members themselves.Despite the club’s lack of equipment, it eventually grew and improved. The Ping Pong Posse started a competitive team, T-Cubed, which, behind Bobrow’s leadership, placed well in the tournaments it entered. With success came a steady increase in both numbers and national recognition.Then, in 2004, the team caught a break. The Ping Pong Posse caught the eye of table tennis company Killerspin, who was impressed enough with the team’s play and dynamic image to offer the club a sponsorship — making the Ping Pong Posse the only collegiate club in the nation to receive a corporate sponsorship.Now able to practice with proper equipment, T-Cubed made the national tournament three years in a row from 2005-2007, including a third-place finish in 2005.With the backing of Killerspin and the efforts of its members, the Ping Pong Posse has now grown to more than 50 active players, and more annual sign-ups than any club at USC.According to junior Charles Hu, president of the Ping Pong Posse, none of this was possible without Bobrow’s efforts and enthusiasm.“[Bobrow] is, without a doubt, the most passionate person about ping pong you will ever meet,” Hu said. “He treats [the club] like a job, and he gets on my ass when I’m lazy. He really made the club as big as it is today.”Bobrow, who graduated from USC in 2003 with a degree in theatre, has since found success in the entertainment industry, taking a role in the movie Ping Pong Playa as well as providing several video game voiceovers. He even starred in the YouTube sensation “Excessive Ping Pong Celebration,” created by the Ping Pong Posse, which has more than 10 million views.Hitting their strideThis season, T-Cubed has four varsity players on its roster: Ghosh and Kajaria, graduate student Subal Mehta and senior Mikhail Kazantsev.Kazantsev is a former member of the US men’s national team and champion at both the under-22 and under-18 levels. Mehta is a former India men’s national team member and 20-time champion of his region.As determined by the National Collegiate Table Tennis Association, which scores players on a scale from 0 (novice) to more than 3,000 (world-class competitor), the two have rankings of 2,365 and 2,199, respectively. These rankings place them among the nation’s collegiate elite.The experience of the varsity team has translated into success for T-Cubed. The group recently swept the first leg of the Southern California regionals, defeating UCSD 4-0 and UCLA 3-1 to take first place. The second leg, held this spring, will determine which team from Southern California advances to the national tournament in Wisconsin in April.Additionally, T-Cubed hopes to send some of its members to the Associations of College Unions International tournament, where they can compete on an individual level.“I really hope to play in the national tournament next year,” Ghosh said. “I hope, as the Ping Pong Posse, we can really put our name out there.”Relishing the experienceDespite the dominance of the varsity team, the club’s members maintain that the focus of the Ping Pong Posse is on all its members.A large part of that experience is beyond simply playing ping pong, as members of the club recently stepped in as extras for the movies Balls of Fury and Ping Pong Playa, and even squared off against Jason Alexander and Lauren Conrad at celebrity tournaments.“I really want people to know that Ping Pong Posse isn’t just a regular ping pong club,” Hu said. “We do so much other stuff.”Another draw of the Ping Pong Posse is its diversity and range of talent. Regular members consist of undergraduate and graduate students of all rankings, international students, Ph.D. students, professors and even celebrities — Adoni Maropis, an actor on the show 24, practices with the Posse every Wednesday.“We have a really diverse [group],” Hu added. “It really sets us apart.”And considering all that it has accomplished in seven short years, you can rest assured that this is one posse that won’t cease to entertain.
Midfielder Emmanuel Agyemang Badu will captain the Black Stars as the team faces Turkish national football team in an international friendly, Wednesday night in Instanbul.Substantive captain Asamoa Gyan will start from the bench.Goalkeeper Adam Kwarasey will start in goal for Ghana against Turkey in Wednesday evening’s friendly in Istanbul.Black Stars coach has also handed Rashid Sumaila a starting role in central defence where he will partner Jonathan Mensah.Dominic Adiyiah will lead the line for Ghana at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium for the match which will kick off at 18:00GMT (6:00PM local time).Ghana line up Adam Kwarasey, Samuel Inkoom, Harrison Afful, Jonathan Mensah, Rashid Sumaila, Rabiu Mohammed, Solomon Asante, Agyemang Badu, Dominic Adiyiah, Mubarak Wakaso, Christian Atsu.