Pongstarz Players

 

Ioanna is a National Table Tennis Champion of Greece and Professional Model with Wilhelmina in New York and Miami.  She started playing table tennis when she was 8 years old and won 3 national titles in Greece before the age of 18.  Then she won a beauty contest and turned to a career of modeling full time in New York.

 

In 2000, the table tennis bug bit her again and luckily she has not recovered.  Ioanna is currently participating in and performing at celebrity fundraising events around the country with PongStarz CEO and pro table tennis champion Kim Gilbert.  Together Kim and Ioanna have helped to raise over $200K for Ping Pong for Charity's Annual Celebrity Benefit  Ioanna currently resides in Miami, Florida.

 

 

Ioanna Papadimitriou

Anastasia Rybka

Anastasia moved to the U.S. from Ukraine in 2014 and graduated from Texas Wesleyan University. In 2017, she moved to Los Angeles and is currently headlining events with Pongstarz pro players.  Anastasia competes internationally and is now considered one of the best female players in Los Angeles.  She has a very fast game and is amazing to watch in an exhibition.  Anastasia has headlined numerous Pongstarz shows with Kim gilbert for GBK Productions and their Celebrity Gifting Lounges held at the MTV Movie Awards, Teen Choice Awards, Grammy Awards, and many more.  She also headlines the Annual Pongstarz Pacific City Beach Pong Festival and the Making Strides events celebrity benefits for American Cancer Society. Most recently, Anastasia has been coaching Justin Bieber at the Gilbert Table Tennis Center,

Erica Wu

Meet 2012 Olympian and current US Team Member Erica Wu! Erica was one of the youngest athletes ever to represent Table Tennis in the Olympics.  

 

Erica is also one of the stars of the critically acclaimed Top Spin Movie and had performed exhibitions with PongStarz CEO Kim Gilbert at Dodger Stadium.

Kim Gilbert

As Pongstarz CEO, Kim Gilbert produces, manages, and headlines stadium exhibitions and charitable benefit events globally.  Kim is a 3-time U.S. Olympic Gold Medalist as well as a National Doubles Champion.  In 2012, Kim was a Top 12 Finalist at the U.S. Olympic Trials for table tennis.  Kim currently serves as a USATT Ambassador and has helped raise over $15 million for charities across the nation and around the world.  In 2017, Kim was featured in Molly Shiot's best seller, "Game Changers: The Unsung Heroines of Sports History" along with other legends  including Billy Jean King, Nadia Comanici, Diana Nyad, Abby Wambach, Athea Gibson, Pam Oliver, and many more. Kim (pictured center) also performs and produces events at www.spingalactic.com where pro players like Soo Yeon Lee and Ellie Mehl (pictured left). 

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Evelina Pivavarava moved to the U.S. from Belarus in 2009 and graduated from Boston College with a Master's Degree in Accounting. In 2015 she moved to Los Angeles in pursuit of better weather, adventure, modeling and acting. Evelina played table tennis as a child has since and joined our Pongstarz Team in 2015. She has been an avid supporter of our Making Strides events with the American Cancer Society and LAUSD Move It Challenge at Dodger Stadium.  Evelina has definitely become a crowd favorite and will be available for challenges at upcoming Pongstarz events.

Evelina Pivavarava

Alex Figueroa

Alex Figueroa has headlined events with Kim Gilbert and Pongstarz since 2012 and is a USATT Certified Table Tennis Coach.  Alex is a highly developed coach with a lengthy relationship with the game of Table Tennis. He also bears a degree in International Training from the University of Leipzig, Germany where he also met the rigorous ITTF standards for achieving a Coach Level 2 status. A native of Colombia, South America, Alex also holds a general Physical Education degree and has been deeply involved with the organization of such large scale table tennis events as the South American Games in 2010, and the Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles in 2015, among others. Alex currently serves on the Board of Directors for LATTF (also known as L.A. Ping Pong) and actively works to promote the sport of Table Tennis throughout Southern California and most specifically, the greater Los Angeles area.

Subal Mehta

Subal hails from India, but has lived and competed as a professional table tennis player in the U.S. for many years.  He is also a pro player and coach at SPiN Los Angeles (franshised by actress Susan Sarandon). Subal has been headlining events for Pongstarz since 2012 such as Ping Pong 4 Purpose and LAUSD Move It Challenge at Dodger Stadium.  Subal also travels with Pongstarz for events at The Cabin Park City, Olympic Sports Academy, Pacific City Beach Pong Festival, and the Making Strides for Breast Cancer events for American Cancer Society.

Christian Laettner (NBA)

NBA Legend Christin Laettner teamed up with Pongstarz Pros Kim Gilbert and Ioanna Papadimitriou in 2016 and 2017 for the Annual Ping Pong for Charity Celebrity Slamfest.  Christian is considered one of the best table tennis players in NBA history.  He will be headlining Pongstarz event in Los Angeles during March Madness is 2018.

Elie Mehl

Elie Mehl (formerly Elmira Zainabudinova), a native of Kazakhstan, has been playing table tennis since the age of eight. Through her career, Elie has competed at the highest level amassing numerous honors including a #1 national ranking and multiple international awards. In 2000, Elie moved to Los Angeles and can be seen in season 7 of HBO's Entourage and in Universal's Balls of Fury. Elie coaches and trains at the Gilbert Table Tennis Center and is available for instruction at all skill levels. She is USATT certified and also headlines shows with Kim Gilbert and Pongstarz. Elie has also headlined numerous  Pongstarz shows with Kim gilbert for GBK Productions and their Celebrity Gifting Lounges held at the MTV Movie Awards, Teen Choice Awards, Grammy Awards, and many more.  She also headlines the Annual Pongstarz Pacific City Beach Pong Festival and the Making Strides events celebrity benefits for American Cancer Society.

Lady Ruano

Lady Ruano hails from Columbia and has competed internationally since 2014 and in 2015 she became a World Cup Finalist.  Her star rose as a Latin American Champion in 2016 where she qualified for the 2016 Olympic Team in Rio. Lady currently resides in Miami and performs exhibitions with Pongstarz Pro Ioanna Papadimitruou.

Instagram Kim and Lily.jpg

Lily Zhang, Team USA

Lily Zhang is a current US Team member and elite world class table tennis player who competed in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London and the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio.  She is a four-time U.S. national champion in women's singles. Lily won the US national championship in 2012, 2014, 2016, and 2017. In 2011, she was a bronze medalist in women's singles and women's team at the Pan American Games and won the women's doubles title at the Qatar Peace and Sport Cup.  She is currently a member of the United States National Women's Table Tennis Team and has been ranked as high as #2 in the cadet (U-15) world ranking[and #5 in the junior (U-18) world ranking.  Pongstarz is thrilled to have Lily on board for the p1440 Event Series in 2018.

Amber Mekush, Pro Table Tennis Player and Model

Amber Mekush is a Sarasota, Florida native who enjoys picking up new hobbies while traveling the world as a Playboy model and photographing both above and below the ground. From freediving to scuba, skydiving to BASE jumping, and underwater photography to droning the skies… nothing has caught her attention quite like ping pong! She found herself obsessed with the sport and in just a few years has become a SPiN tournament regular and a featured player at their events. Most recently Amber played in the One World Players Party and Charity Tournament for the National Tennis Foundation and looks forward to more exciting events with Pongstarz in 2019.

2019 Pongstarz