The Caribbean Pre-Cadet, Cadet and Junior Table Tennis Championship begins today at the Cliff Anderson Sports Hall, and emotions are running high as a number of Caribbean youth gear up to serve and loop their way to championship honours.
Four of the ten teams participating in the tournament, the Dominican Republic, Trinidad and Tobago and hosts Guyana who were all part of a three-way tie in the junior boys’ team championship last year, and Barbados were all practicing at the Sports Hall yesterday morning.
The tournament will be conducted in three daily sessions, with the first one being from 10 am to midday, the second from 2:30 pm to 5:30 pm and the evening period running from 6:30 pm to 8.00 pm.
With that in mind, Stabroek Sports took the opportunity to chat with the men entrusted with preparation of the junior loopers, including Guyana’s Coach, Linden Johnson.
“The mood is positive among the players, they are feeling much more confident for Guyana.
“But yeah, going into the tournament, looking at the other teams and seeing the different types of players, we really got to be careful with what we do. It’s all about discipline and once we do that we can get it right,” Johnson said.
Johnson, when quizzed about Guyana’s toughest challengers replied, “Ahhh, the Dominican Republic always fields a good team but we played against them last year, so we know their players. We know the strength of the players in the teams [category], but in the singles, you find that we can take on their number one player who is here also, so that’s a plus for us,” he added.
Meanwhile, Juan Santos, coach of the powerhouse Dominica Republic candidly said, “Our expectations are to will all the categories, to win the event in general.”
Touching on the team’s preparation, Santos noted that two of their juniors spent six months in China preparing for the championships while the others trained at home.
Sixteen-year-old Mariano Looward, one of the youngsters given the opportunity to prepare in Asia, speaking to media operatives said: “My goals are to win the singles and teams gold medal,” whilst adding that his time in China was well spent and ideal for the championships.
Stabroek Sports also caught up with the coach of Team Barbados, Trevor Farley, a former Caribbean champion who said, “I think we should do well, we have a highly rated player in Tyrese Knight who is world ranked.”
Touching on the Bajan’s preparations, Farley observed, “With the preparation we had, I think we should bring home the gold.”
Meanwhile, Trinidadian coach Dexter Abbott, who spent the afternoon running his juniors through their pre-match rituals was somewhat more reserved with his assertions.
“The preparations have been satisfactory,” he noted in a mellow tone. “I am satisfied that the players worked hard, and we, as coaches gave the best of our abilities to them and they soaked it up like a sponge and now it’s time to see what the executions will be like.”
The other countries participating in the tournament are Aruba, Cuba, Jamaica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Suriname.
Patrons are encouraged to come out and witness the young racquet wielders of the Caribbean in action. Admission to the tournament is free.