Wed | Dec 13, 2017

Singles start today at Caribbean Pre-Cadet Table Tennis

Published:Friday | August 25, 2017 | 12:00 AM

When singles play begins today at the Caribbean Region Table Tennis Federation Mini and Pre-Cadet Championship inside the National Arena, fans will see some exciting battles. Competition could be especially tight in the girls' Under-13 category.

Jalen Kerr, a smooth topspin player from Trinidad and Tobago, fought off the Dominican Republic pair of Chris Rodriquez and Marco Tavarez in the Under-13 team event. However, those encounters were close. Therefore, all three are title contenders in the singles, with Kerr being the favourite because of his cool disposition.

After placing first and second in the Under-11 category last year, Kerr's teammate, Priyanka Khellawah, and Jamaica's Kelsey Davidson are among the contenders in the girls' Under-13 singles. The Jamaican came back from two sets down to defeat Khellawan to spark a gold-medal success for her team on Tuesday, but that match was so close - 12-10 in the fifth set - that no one can be sure who will win if they meet in the singles. Furthermore, Davidson lost to Dileisy Acevado of the Dominican Republic and compatriot Janiel Blake in team competition.

Dexter Abbott, head coach of Trinidad and Tobago, said, "Priyanka is excellent. She has great temperament, great talent for the future." The pony-tailed right hander, whose grandfather is her coach in the twin-island republic, was voted the most outstanding at an International Table Tennis Federation youth development training camp in Lima, Peru, last year.

HIGH HOPES

Jamaica's Solesha Young is in the mix, too, after team wins over Blake and Acevado.

Eduardo Darley and Ramon Vila, Dominican Republic teammates, came from the Under-11 boys' team competition undefeated and could dominate the singles. Vila is the son of retired senior player Juan Vila, who has high hopes for the assertive left hander. Noting that the boy practises 4-6 hours a day and that he has just come from two months of training in China, Vila, the senior, now president of the Latin American Table Tennis Union, said "he wants to be a champion".

The main challenger to Darley and Vila could be Guyanese Colin Wong. He beat the Dominican Republic number three, Yoel Mendoza, in the under-11 team final. It was the only loss for the champion in four encounters. Smart and efficient, Wong will need to be even better against either of the big guns.

- H.L.