Trinidad’s Dexter St Louis and the Dominican Republic’s Eva Brito were crowned king and queen when the 55th annual Caribbean Table Tennis championships ended Saturday night at the Beausejour Indoor Facility in St Lucia.
It was the fifth men’s singles title triumph for the France-based semi-professional St Louis and places him firmly in the pantheon of the great table tennis players of the region.
Coming up against the Dominican Republic’s Emille Santos in the men’s singles final, St Louis won in straight games 11-8, 11-8, 11-6, 11-6.
Santos is no slouch. He had lost to the Trinidadian in four close games when they contested the men’s team final which the Dominican Republic won.
Saturday night, however, St Louis was in a class of his own, showcasing deceptive serves, a deadly forehand loop and solid play in the rallies.
He effectively neutralized Santos’s brilliant two-wing attack and the Dominican Republic player was always behind the eight ball.
One particular play, a forehand loop off of a Santos return to St Louis’s backhand that raced across the right hander was easily the shot of the night.
After a Santos return went long at game point, St Louis took off his shirt and bowed to the crowd amid a smattering of applause while Santos was inconsolable after the defeat.
Following the win, St Louis, asked which one of his five title triumphs was the most satisfying said this one simply because of the fact that there was a campaign waged to prevent himself and Rheann Chung from playing in the tournament.
“There were emails left, right and centre to sort of stop me from playing because I live in France and they probably had to spend US$2500 for me and Rheann’s plane tickets,” he explained.
St Louis had reached the final with another 4-0 defeat of a Dominican Republic player, Juan Vila Batista whom he defeated 11-7, 11-5, 14-12, 11-5 while Santos got the better of countryman Isaac Vila 11-9, 12-10, 11-7, 11-8.
The women’s final produced an upset as the Dominican Republic’s Brito handed Trinidad’s Chung, the defending women’s champion her first defeat of the championships.
Chung had won the first two games of the very competitive and highly entertaining encounter 11-7, 11-7 but once the tide turned it was all Brito thereafter who added the women’s singles crown to the U21 women’s title she had won earlier.
Brito, fighting as if her life depended on it and shouting Vamos! vamos! (Let’s go, let’s go!) to urge herself on reeled off the next four games 11-9, 11-8, 11-5, 11-7.
Chung was leading 6-3 in the fourth game on her serve and had a chance to go four points clear but lost that match and Brito sticking to her game plan came away with the win.
Following her defeat Chung told Stabroek Sport that she was tired in the final after her exploits at the championships which included her leading Trinidad to the women’s team gold medal and winning the mixed doubles title with St Louis.
She was critical of the long delays before matches were called, a point also made by the 62 year-old Dave Mahabir.
Chung had reached the final with an 11-6, 13-11, 11-8, 11-8 win over Lineth Vila of the Dominican Republic while Brito who had defeated Guyana’s Chelsea Edghill 4-2 in the quarterfinals, won her semifinal encounter against Aleena Edwards of Trinidad and Tobago 11-4, 8-11, 11-5, 11-7, 11-6.
The Dominican Republic ended as the most successful team at the championships. It won the boys and girls U21 singles titles through Vila and Brito, the women’s singles through Brito, the men’s doubles through Santos and Juan Vila Batista and the men’s team event.
Trinidad and Tobago occupied the runner-up spot with wins in the women’s team event, the mixed doubles event, St Louis and Chung, and the men’s singles event, St Louis.
Guyana won the women’s doubles through Trenace Lowe and Chelsea Edghill and Cuba the masters event through Raoul Bettancourt.