Dubbed as the largest teams’ table tennis tournament in the world, the 2008 Joola table tennis championships again provided the opportunity for Guyanese players to showcase their tremendous skill and talent.
The championships, held over the Thanksgiving weekend at the Baltimore Convention Center in Maryland saw “Team Guyana /North America” represented by former Caribbean champion Sydney Christophe, national players Paul David and Idi Lewis along with Shawn Embleton reaching the premier division of the tournament, a feat they narrowly missed last year.
Their final position was 13th out of 208 competing teams.
National junior stars Trenace Lowe and Nigel Bryan, just back from the Commonwealth Youth Table Tennis Games in Pune, India continued their brilliant form to lead their teams to notable wins in Divisions Eight and Nine respectively.
The passage to the Top Division was relatively easy for Team Guyana/North America.
On day one, David, Embleton and Lewis triumphed over two teams from New York by scores of 5-0 and 5-1.
Lewis, competing after a long lay-off, dropped the only set for the Guyanese.
On day two, having been placed in Group 1 with ‘Team Joola’ the No. 1 ranked team in the tournament,
The Guyanese team lost three matches and won one.
Team Joola was made up of former Olympic medallist Jorg Rosskopf, who is ranked 59 in the world, He Zhi Wen, ranked 41 in the world and Chen Weixing, ranked number 23 in the world.
The Guyanese only victory came by the score of 5-3 against ‘Momentum’ a tough team from Maryland, USA.
The match was a battle of drama, shouts, screams and cries.
On this occasion, Lewis was the hero, carving out two wins against Richard Burnside and Mark John Wetzler.
David also won two sets and his match with Wetzler provided all the drama of a Broadway play.
After the final point David was seen standing aloft on top of the table shouting his name over and over.
Embleton lost two of his three games.
The match against the top-ranked World-class team provided excitement for the Guyanese supporters and fans which included former national champion Mike Christophe and Manager of the team former Berbice junior player Souvenir Ramdehol.
The Lewis/Jorg Rosskopf match was easily the best game of this tie.
Lewis started slowly and lost the first game 6-11.
He took a sizeable lead 6-1 in the second game before Rosskopf decided to’ step it up to another level.’
David’s match against the chopper Chen Weixing saw him winning a game hardly witnessed by any other player during the entire tournament.
On the final day of competition, the team defeated all the teams in the crossover including a Canadian team with former national player Andrew ‘The Dragoon’ Anderson at the helm.
Christophe, Lewis and Embleton featured in this last minute rescue for the team.
A star studded team made up of former Guyanese and Caribbean champions lost in the semi-final round of this division.
Led by Wayne Gaskin and the evergreen Andrew Gorsira, the team boasted two former Caribbean men’s singles champion in George Braithwaite and Bruce Edwards.
Gorsira was in whipping form providing the best average for the team by winning 13 matches and conceding defeat in only five.
Guyanese Junior champion Bryan won 18 matches and lost 5, (four on the first day of play) as he spearheaded his team Windsor Table Tennis Club from Ontario, Canada to its first division title.
Despite the valiant effort and firepower of female table tennis champion Trenace Lowe her team ‘Four Guyanese & a Trini’ could not match the artillery of their opponents.
The team also included another Guyanese in former national women’s champion Francine Abrams.
Former National ladies player Diane Chance was a huge point’s winner despite her team not making it to the final. She gained a whopping 106 points from her eight wins.