Junior racquet wielders face ultimate test

— Coach Linden Johnson

National Table Tennis Coach Linden Johnson said the upcoming Pan American Junior Cadet Championships scheduled for Vancouver, Canada next month will be the ultimate test for his young team who is aiming to secure a spot for the World Junior tournament set for South Africa, in December.

After a good representation by the Junior Male team in last month’s Under-18 Caribbean Championship, Johnson’s men have now secured the spot for the Pan American tourney which gets underway from June 25-30 and the coach admitted that more emphasis will be placed on performing even better that they did in the Caribbean tournament.

While the final team has not yet been selected, Johnson confirmed the star trio; Shemar Britton, Kyle Edghill and Elishaba Johnson have been training relentlessly and are currently encamped along with talented youngster Nicholas Romain who he said has been kept around the senior guys and could possibly feature in the final side.

According to Johnson the players conduct their weekly sessions at the National Gymnasium form 21:00hrs- 23:00hrs, due to the players having school, while the hours might seem a bit late the coach noted that the players have been coping well with the training which he said is currently in the opening stages.

From left Linden Johnson, Elishaba Johnson, Miguel Wong, Shemar Britton, Nicholas Romain, Kyle Edghill and GTTA president Godfrey Munroe.
From left Linden Johnson, Elishaba Johnson, Miguel Wong, Shemar Britton, Nicholas Romain, Kyle Edghill and GTTA president Godfrey Munroe.

“The players are responding positively to the training so far and we are currently doing some general preparations and as the weeks go by we will be doing specific training such as longer rally times for the players, so as the weeks progress we will be stepping up our training”, said the Coach.

He also confessed that while training for a tournament of such magnitude is a huge task, he doesn’t want the players peaking before their time, something he was keen on avoiding as it usually results in the players falling back a bit when the tournament really gets going.

“We don’t want them to peak before time because they might decline, so we’re monitoring them now because we are looking to qualify for the World Junior Championship tournament in South Africa”. said Johnson.

While the likely representatives have experience playing away from home, Johnson said it was important to help them to get prepared mentally. “Mental drills are the most important because if they are strong mentally then we could accomplish a lot. Right now we’re monitoring them carefully to ensure they are properly conditioned while we also give them individual attention to see where they need to be”.

Meanwhile, only the four top teams from next month’s competition can qualify the grand stage slated for South Africa year end, other logistical factors such as sponsoring of the team and visas are also priorities which the team have to complete.

Johnson said that they are currently awaiting a letter from Canada which is expected to arrive by June 11 so they can begin their visa application process to travel to Vancouver while the Guyana Table Tennis Association (GTTA) have their ongoing Level 1 Coaching Course which has garnered support from the Government of Guyana, it is expected that the association upon completing their logistical work, can then clearly outline their needs ahead of the competition.

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