Jamaica's Campbell bags Under-11 title
Liana Campbell kept Jamaica's flag flying high on the last day of the Caribbean Region Mini and Pre-Cadet Table Tennis Championships, held at the National Arena.
On a day dominated by players from the Dominican Republic, Campbell pinged her way to victory in the Under-11 singles final. The slim St Jago Preparatory School graduate won in straight sets over Shary Munoz of the Dominican Republic.
Campbell beat teammate Olivia Peterkin in the semis 11-5, 11-7, 11-5 and outsteadied Munoz 11-3 and 11-4 to take a 2-0 lead in the final. Down 2-6 in the third set, the Jamaican drew even at 6-6 and survived vain attempts to attack by Munoz to win 11-9.
Munoz's teammates dominated the Under-11 boys section. Eduardo Darley and Ramon Vila scythed through the Guyanese pair of Jonathon van Lange and Christian Shadeo in straight sets to win the doubles and then faced off in the singles final. Darley was favoured, but the left-handed Vila won a pitched battle 7-11, 11-5, 4-11, 11-8, 12-10.
Coached by her grandfather, Hazari Gopaul, Priyanka Khellawan routed Jamaica's Solesha Young 11-6, 11-5, 11-5. Her clever use of an anti-spin backhand rubber made the big difference. The victory for last year's Under-11 champion earned her high praise. "She's very spiritual and she focuses well," said Gopaul.
The tournament ended with the match of the week with Mario Tavarez of the Dominican Republic edging Trinidad and Tobago's Jalen Kerr in the boys Under-13 final. The latter hadn't lost a match in the championships but found himself trailing the aggressive Tavarez 2-8 in the fifth set. Playing crisply, he spun, hit, and blocked his way back to 9-10, only to miss a push shot that gave the title to Tavarez.
It was sweet revenge as Tavarez had lost twice to Kerr in the boys Under-13 event earlier in the tournament. The final score was 11-6, 11-13, 11-4, 8-11, 11-9. A key to the match was Tavarez improving his returns to Kerr's accurate backhand top-spin.