Eleven-year-old table tennis maestro Jonathan Van Lange is eager to measure his development during the fast-approaching Caribbean Mini-Cadet and Pre-Cadet Table Tennis Championship set for the Dominican Republic from August 26 – 31.
In a recent interview with Stabroek Sport, the young athlete noted that he has now acquired more exposure and elevated his skills so that he can be successful at the Caribbean level.
In 2017, he exited the tournament at the quarter-final leg in the boys’ under – 13 singles category and one year on, he is eager to match his skills with his Caribbean junior counterparts.
“I have a far bigger chance of placing in the singles because I have more experience and by God’s grace I’ll be able to do it,” the youngster confidently remarked.
In highlighting his improvements, Van Lange disclosed: “The best thing I have improved on is my serve and partially my fitness level and my movement.”
In addition to his quarter-final exit, the youngster captured bronze after Guyana placed third in the under – 13 teams’ category and added a silver medal to his collection after teaming up with Krystian Sahadeo in the boys under – 13 doubles.
A mark of his improvement has seen him being involved in a number of fierce rivalries with top gun, Kaysan Ninvalle, which he credits as one of the factors that has given him self-assurance about his game.
Van Lange, in February during the GTTA Mashramani junior and cadet championships, defeated his nemesis in the boys’ under – 15 semi-finals before Ninvalle returned to serve a measure of revenge to take the under – 13 final 3-1 to underscore their fierce combativeness.
In more recent times, during the 2018 edition of the GTTA Nationals, the two once again went at each other with Van Lange defeating Ninvalle in the final of the boys’ under – 13 category:11-9, 14-12, 5-11, 10-12, 11-9. Ninvalle, however, returned a day later to defeat Van Lange in the semi-finals of the boys under 15 category: 11-1, 11-9, 12-10 of the boys’ under 15 category, a title he eventually won.
Those exchanges, Van Lange confessed, has ignited an even more burning desire to achieve success in the sport.
“Yeah, that’s another reason for my growth,” Van Lange responded when asked about the battles with his national training partner.
“After I first defeated him in the under – 15 Forbes Burnham semifinals, I got motivated because now I know for sure that I have a chance of defeating him,” said Van Lange, who also won the Banks Malta supreme under – 13 title, a tournament Ninvalle sat out.
Van Lange has benefited recently from the expertise of top female player Chelsea Edghill who is back home on holiday from the United States of Ameriva where she is attending college. Edghill has been a daily fixture at the team’s training sessions at the national Gymnasiuam and she has taken Van Lange and Ninvalle through intense drills in an effort to have them ready for the upcoming championships.