The Boys’ Varsity Table Tennis Team Reflects on a Year of Growth and Success

The team made playoffs and performed well in individual competitions but also formed close personal connections and worked hard to support each other, both in the game and outside of it.


Ayshi Sen

Here are the members of the Boy’s Varsity Table Tennis Team. From left to right: Nick Lin ’22, Colin Cheng ’25, Sebastian Rosero-Mayer ’23, Shivas Khera ’22, Alexander Wong ’23, Oliver Friedli ’25, Coach Daniel Skilins, Henry Bardey ’25, Kadas Tsoi ’23, Edward Huang ’23, Luke Ellerstein ’23, and Junyu Zheng ’25.

The Bronx Science Boys’ Varsity Table Tennis team entered the playoff bracket in the 2022 season as the first seed. The team was, at that point, undefeated with 12 wins and no losses. 

“It was a great experience, given how well we did in the regular season,” said Colin Cheng ’25, “and it was especially exciting given that it was my first year here at Bronx Science and my first year on the team.” The team last went to the playoffs in 2019, with the past few seasons being canceled due to COVID-19. 

Daniel Skilins has been a gym and special education teacher at Bronx Science for ten years and has coached the Boys’s Varsity Table Tennis team for six years. Speaking on the team’s return after the pandemic, Coach Skilins reflected on some of the challenges they faced. “Figuring out where guys were going to play, where doubles were going to be, how good we were going to be, it was just a lot of readjusting,” he said. “I thought we had a very solid season, but we just ran into a very difficult Stuyvesant team in the playoffs.”

“We were excited to compete in the playoffs,” said Shivas Khera ’22, the team’s captain, “[but] at the same time, we were nervous to face our rivals, Brooklyn Tech and Stuyvesant.” 

Khera started playing table tennis at a very young age. “For me, the inspiration has always been my grandfather,” he said. “He was a national champion in India, and he was the person who taught me.” Khera’s grandfather, Sham Khera, moved to New Delhi when he was 15 years old. He pursued a master’s degree in physics in 1954, and it was during this time that he won the table tennis state championships for New Delhi. Afterwards, Sham Khera joined his children in America and began a lengthy teaching career, which included a lab specialist position at Stuyvesant High School. 

Sham Khera introduced his grandson to table tennis when Shivas was around 10 years old. “I played recreationally until about 8th grade, and then I started playing competitively along with my brother who is currently a ninth grader at Brooklyn Tech,” Shivas explained. “We would play tournaments that placed us on a national level, but being at Bronx Science allowed me to play with great players outside of those tournaments.” Shivas joined the team as a ninth grader and despite the pandemic, he has remained a member since. 

Shivas Khera ’22 is the captain of the Boys’ Varsity Table Tennis team. (Ayshi Sen)

“Over my years on the team, I think we have gotten closer while also improving our performance in PSAL. This year, we took the time to hold practices and team dinners outside of school,” Shivas said, “[and strengthened our] team spirit by creating hoodies for our members, which was never done previously.” 

“We ran more drills and tried to use up the practice time a little bit more efficiently with our weaknesses,” said Coach Skilins. “We really felt like we had a strong lineup; we had the guys in the right place to maximize our wins this year.”

Shivas recalled a January 2022 game against Benjamin N. Cardozo High School in which the first doubles group was down 0-2. If they had lost one more set they would have been eliminated. “With the team cheering them on, we were able to turn it around from 0-2 to 3-2,” Shivas said. “We won when we had basically thought it was over.” The team ended up winning their remaining matches against Cardozo that day. 

“That was a great moment,” Alexander Wong ’23 recalled. “It really felt like we had come together as a team to achieve that even though it was just the two of them playing.” 

“They played with a lot of passion in that game, with a lot of heart,” Coach Skilins remarked. “They just did not quit; that was exciting.”

Unfortunately, the team lost to Stuyvesant in the first round of the playoffs, prompting an early exit from the competition.Yet, Shivas emphasized that the team was very proud of its growth over the season, regardless of the result. “We didn’t go as far as we had hoped,” he explained, “but we grew a lot while making connections beyond the table. I still talk to players on our team everyday [whether] they are starters, substitutes or managers.”

Colin Cheng ’25, Alexander Wong ’23, and Luke Ellerstein ’23 practice in the cafeteria. (Ayshi Sen)

Shivas also pointed to the success of team members in the PSAL Table Tennis Individuals. “I placed in the top 16 singles players in the city, [and the] other starters – and even substitutes – on our team managed to qualify as well. I was especially impressed by our substitutes who managed to qualify and compete in this citywide event.”

“It was very competitive,” said Coach Skilins. “The individuals [were] probably the most competitive I’ve seen, but our guys did great. Everyone had a great attitude, [put in] a great effort everyday, and it was just a great bunch of guys to coach overall. Even with the loss to Stuyvasent it was a great season.”

The rest of the team shared their coach’s and captain’s optimism. “This year stood out,” said James Pan ’22, “not just because of our victories as a team but also the losses, teamwork, and practice that went into making those wins.” 

“Overall it was a fun season,” said Luke Ellerstien ’23, “and we hope to do even better next year.”

“This year stood out,” said James Pan ’22, “not just because of our victories as a team but also the losses, teamwork, and practice that went into making those wins.”