Guyanese Table Tennis stalwart, Sydney Christophe is currently here on vacation and is assisting with the preparation of the nation’s junior racket wielders ahead of their participation in the upcoming Caribbean Mini-Cadet and pre-Cadet Table Tennis Championship set for the Dominican Republic from August 26 – 31.
The juniors are currently involved in two daily practice sessions at the National Gymnasium under the tutelage of the national coach, Linden Johnson with the support of former female national champion, Chelsea Edghill and recently, Christophe.
“I’m mainly here on vacation, but I seized the opportunity to work with these youngsters,” Christophe, Guyana’s longest reigning national champion and former Caribbean men’s singles champion, told Stabroek Sports after completing a session with the juniors on Monday.
“…As I told Godfrey [Munroe] and the other executives, once I’m in Guyana and there is a team that is in training, and they are willing to work, I’m always available to work for table tennis… this is basically my life,” he said.
“I’ve been working a lot in the United States helping to develop their programme, and for me, in Guyana, it’s just natural to come back and assist,” the U.S based Guyanese explained. Christophe is certified by tennis’ world governing body as a level one course conductor for the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF).
As it relates to some of the aspects he plans to focus on in assisting the youths, Christophe, a southpaw in his playing days, informed that it is important to sharpen their mental awareness.
“In the last weeks which is considered a micro cycle, we want to work more on the mental aspect of the game – mental training – and there is a specific mental technique that we use which is called progressive muscle relaxation,” Christophe said as he emphasized that performance and relaxation are tied together.
He explained that the more relaxed the juniors are, it increases their chances of performing.
Christophe highlighted the need for players at this age to hone the skill of closing games, not allowing complacency to step in while, on the other hand, the need to craft mental grittiness when on the receiving end of games.
In this regard, he urged the Guyana Table Tennis Association (GTTA) to develop a long-term agenda to aid in the development of players to reap success at the Caribbean level and beyond.
Touching on the general observation since he arrived, Christophe noted that the youngers seem eager to “work hard” and expressed optimism in the prospects for young Kaysan Ninvalle and Jonathan Van Lange, both of whom will be contenders in the boys under – 13 categories.