Coach of the junior national table tennis team Linden Johnson is pretty pumped up about the upcoming Caribbean Cadet and Junior Table tennis championship set to serve off at the Cliff Anderson Sports Hall from tomorrow.
Johnson spoke to Stabroek Sports yesterday while some of the players were adding a few finishing touches to their game.
“Personally I have a lot of confidence in the players and I can tell you that I’ve seen a lot improvements, especially from the under 18 players,” Johnson commented.
He added, “On the boys, I presume that they can do a great lot in the tournament as long as they put their game together and they remain disciplined.”
Commenting on the girls, Johnson expressed a few concerns and stressed that they needed to be positive to overcome any challenges.
“For the girls, they have to hold the forte. They have to be more positive and once they do that, they will be a hard team to get past, looking at the other teams that are coming in,” he noted.
The players have been rigorously going through their paces under the watchful eyes of the coach daily at the Cliff Anderson Sports Hall geared at getting the junior nationals in ideal shape to take on the rest of the Caribbean.
Johnson explained that the players are currently in the final stages of preparation while also expressing satisfaction at the rate of which the juniors are progressing.
“Well, we went through the first stage, the preparation period and right now it’s the transition period and the next is the competition period which we know is just around the corner.”
He pointed out that the players worked on the fundamental rudiments of the sport, mainly concentrating on their serves and techniques while also not neglecting the fitness aspect, which was completed during the preparatory stage for the competition.
“Like the Chinese,” he emphasized, “you know, we can’t compare, they dish out like 3000 serves before a tournament but because of timing, we were only able to get in just over a thousand serves in.”
The long-standing coach explained that much of the under-18 players, many of whom embrace their academics, sometimes have to scrap between extra lessons in the afternoons while also preparing for the end of term exams, which had some clashes with the training schedule. That, however, should not pose much of hindrance since most of the players got in adequate time to prepare themselves for the highly anticipated junior Caribbean looping contest.
Guyana fared well at last year’s tournament with the junior boys’ team securing a silver medal in a three-way tie between host and winners the Dominican Republic and Trinidad and Tobago in the Dominican Republic.
Johnson feels the boys’ team should once again give a good account of itself since home court advantage does matter in these junior tournaments.
The South America side boasts a number talented loppers who will be using the tournament as launchpad while also aiming to do well enough to qualify for the high-level Pan-American Youth Games set for Argentina in July/August 2017.
The likes of Priscilla Greaves, Elishaba Johnson, Kyle Edghill in their final junior tournament and the easy going 11-year-old Kaysan Ninvalle should all make podium finishes while advancing their chances of displaying their skills in Argentina later in the year.