Selector explains Commonwealth TT picks
Sandra Riette, the 11-time national champion, who chairs Table Tennis Jamaica's Technical and Selecting Committee, says that age wasn't a factor in deciding who was chosen to play for Jamaica in next year's Commonwealth Games.
As she outlined the rationale used by the committee to pick the team, Riette pinpointed the rushed staging of the September 16 Trials as a key issue. In addition, she said that 13-year-old Solesha Young has not been discarded despite her non-selection for the Games.
The Trials were reportedly staged in a hurry to meet a Commonwealth Games team-nomination deadline, with players learning of the event not long before. Riette was unhappy with this and the apparent lack of information on qualifying requirements, saying, "there was no communication with the players, which was bad."
Speaking earlier this week, Riette explained that the committee carefully reviewed the trials results but also had to consider those who were prevented from competing for various reasons. On the men's side, national champion Simon Tomlinson and former national champion Chris Marsh, who placed one-two in the Trials, were picked as was Kane Watson, who was injured playing for Jamaica in the recent Caribbean Region Championships and is currently undergoing therapy.
With respect to the non-selection of Trials third-place finisher Alphanso Morris, Riette said that the committee decided to pick Titchfield High School standout Rajni Brown, who was fourth.
"They made that choice based on Rajni, (who) has just represented Jamaica at the Senior Caribbean Championships," Riette itemised, "so they'll go along with Rajni, for the future, really."
With regard to the women, Riette clarified why national champion Shenique Clare, eight-time national champion Yvonne Foster, and national player Daidrian Lewis had been picked though they didn't play in the trials. Clare, who has come from overseas to play in the National Championships, which were postponed at the last moment, was exempted. "You couldn't invite someone two days before to leave Anguilla, which had a hurricane just two days before," Riette said.
For Foster, the committee found that the Trials clashed with work.
"She is a lecturer and she had a class that Saturday morning, and by the time she got the notice, she tried to get somebody to substitute for her, and it was totally impossible because of the lateness", reported Riette.
Lewis, who won the Trials for the recent Caribbean Trials, was unable to play because of illness and was also selected.
So was Caribbean Championships representative Onika Francis, who finished first at the Trials. This left no space on the four-player women's team for Young, Brittany Murray, and Larrisa McLaughlin, who placed second, third, and fourth respectively, at the Trials.
Riette reported that the committee had no policy regarding age but allowed that selection would be hard to attain for a 59-year-old like Morris "unless he's the national champion and doing extremely well when he competes against overseas players".
Regarding Young, Riette revealed that the 13-year-old right-hander is slated to compete in an overseas age-group tournament next April.
"So it's not like we are throwing Solesha away. we are not," she emphasised.