Women's Caribbean TT team bronze possible with 110 per cent effort - Riettie
Former national champion Sandra Riettie thinks Jamaica's young women's team can win a medal at the 60th Caribbean Table Tennis Championships but only if they give 110 per cent when the tournament starts on Sunday.
Riettie, runner-up in the women's singles when the tournament was held here in 1993, pinpointed the Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic teams as substantial opponents but urged the Jamaicans to give of their best.
Last week, Table Tennis Jamaica informed The Gleaner that Solesha Young, Dadrian Lewis, Brittany Murray and Kelsey Davidson had been selected to represent the country at the championships.
Acknowledging the youth of the quartet of Jamaican schoolgirl teenagers, Riettie noted that Puerto Rico, the 2018 CAC Games team champion, and the Dominican Republic will be formidable.
"The competition is going to be a real stiff one with the likes of a Dominican Republic," Riettie outlined. "That team is on the international scale where they play mostly," she explained. Observing that the Puerto Ricans won't have the services of their CAC singles gold medallist Ariana Diaz, the veteran coach and former player, said, "You also have the likes of Puerto Rico, although their number one, Ariana, won't be on the team."
Even without Diaz, the Puerto Ricans still has the player with the highest International Table Tennis Federation world ranking in the tournament. That's Ariana's sister Melanie who appears in the latest world ranking list at 138.
Notably, the Puerto Ricans struggled without Ariana at last year's Caribbean Championships as the Dominican Republic dominated the competition and duly took the team gold medal.
The Republic's top-ranked player is Eva Brito, who stands currently at 193. Brito was undefeated in last year's team competition.
Murray was on the team that won a team bronze last year and Lewis has played for the senior team in the past. Riettie thinks their experience is a positive for Jamaica. Speaking realistically, she said, "They have to dig deep and real deep, and if they really put their hands to the wheel, they can get a bronze medal."
"My advice is never give up", she offered. "Always dig in, always put in 110 per cent," she exhorted. "You will always gain."
Fourteen-year-old Young, the national Under-13 and -15 champion, played the singles in Cuba at last year's tournament. Davidson is making her senior debut but was the runner-up in the Under-11 singles at the 2016 Caribbean Pre-Cadet tournament.
The championships will be held at the National Arena where Riettie won her singles silver medal 25 years ago. She says she relives the memories of her playing days every time she goes to the venerable facility.
"Even just passing the Arena, you get flashbacks, you know," she confessed. "Remember the days of Nationals there when the 14 parishes paraded, the camaraderie of the players then, it was such a warmth going there playing."