This year’s annual Independence table tennis tournament which serves off at the Cliff Anderson Sports Hall on May 18 will be a dress rehearsal for the upcoming mini, and pre-Cadet tournament.
So says General Secretary of the Guyana Table Tennis Association (GTTA) Godfrey Munroe.
The mini, pre–cadet championships, is set to take place in Jamaica from July 9-15 and the GTTA recently shortlisted a squad to commence training under a panel of coaches.
The coaches named are Idi Lewis, Colin France, Linden Johnson and Dwain Dick while Harold Hopkinson, senior vice president of the GTTA, will manage the team.
Lewis, France, Dick and Johnson are easily the best coaches in the country and more importantly each is aligned to a club. Most of the players in this year’s Independence tournament would have been coached by one of the quartet.
Munroe said the Independence tournament will give the GTTA selection panel pointers in finalizing the team. This means that in cases where there might be a toss up in the selection of a particular player, form in the Independence tournament could serve as the tie-breaker.
Munroe also revealed that Guyana is expected to send a strong team to the mini/pre-cadet championships especially in the pre-cadet category where the trio of Elishaba Johnson, Kyle Edghill and Rajiv Muneshwar is expected to compete strongly for medals.
It was back in 2009 that the three roared to Guyana’s first and only gold medal to date in the team event of the tournament held in Barbados.
That 2009 team had played unbeaten en route to winning gold medal getting past the formidable teams of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. Johnson and Edghill then added bronze medals in the singles competition when the reached the semi-finals before bowing out of the individual competition.
Munroe also singled out the pre-cadet girls’ team of Priscilla Greaves, Neveah Clarkston and Salanas Jackman and Kristie Lopes as having a good chance of also being among the medals.
Greaves, who is coached by France is the leading girls’ player and much is expected of her.
Recently, president of the Caribbean Regional Table Tennis Federation (CRTTF) Juan Villa, met with representatives of regional countries in Cuba where one of the decisions taken was to change the age group of the pre-cadets championship from 10 years and under to 11 years and under.
This ruling takes effect from July 2012 and will be in effect at the mini/pre-cadets championships in Jamaica.
The ruling is of significant interest for Guyana as it allows one of the country’s top players in Jeremy Singh, son of former national female player Lisa Lewis, to become eligible.
Singh will now most likely spearhead the boys 11-years-and-under category.
The NSC Independence tournament will get underway with the nine years and under and the 11 years and under boys and girls’ categories while the juniors will swing into action the following day when the opening ceremony will also be held.
The closing date for entries is May 14 and the competition will end on June 3.
But while the country’s strongest juniors’ mini cadets, pre-cadets and Under-21 players are all expected to compete in the NSC Independence tournament, question marks still surround the participation of the senior players namely Lewis, Christopher Franklyn, Munroe and Paul David.
Although overseas-based player David is reportedly expected in Guyana shortly, there is still a question mark over his participation since the men’s singles of the Youth Week tournament is not expected to get underway until early next month. And although the organizers did state that the itinerary is subject to changes, it is doubtful whether they will attempt to facilitate David by bringing forward the men’s competition, although with the GTTA, anything is possible.
The other three players Munroe, a three-time national men’s singles champion and former Caribean Grand Prix winner, along with Lewis, a former Caribbean junior boys singles champion and men’s singles bronze medallist and Franklyn, have not been invited to train for the senior upcoming championships.
They were overlooked by the GTTA when it staged its lucrative top 16 invitational tournament despite being undoubtedly among the top four players in the country.
So far the GTTA has not indicated its rationale for not inviting the country’s best players for their Top 16 tournament and for omitting their names from the list of players called up to prepare to represent Guyana at the senior Caribbean championships to be held in August.