Sun | Jan 23, 2022

Tough TT title for Tomlinson

Published:Sunday | July 14, 2019 | 12:12 AMHubert Lawrence - Sunday Gleaner Writer

By his own account, table tennis ace Simon Tomlinson had a difficult time extending his run of Jamaican men’s singles titles to four last month.

An evolution of his fast topspin attacking game helped him survive tough challenges at the 2019 National Championships inside the National Arena.

Tomlinson fought off his friend and former University of Technology teammate Kane Watson but had to be sharp in the quarterfinal and semifinal.

“It was tough,” he said of the final against Watson, a three-time champion himself. “Kane had me on the ropes, but no complaints.”

The fast right-hander said his semi-final encounter against another former champion, the left-handed Chris Marsh, woke him up.

“We have played Chris many times, but this time was different,” he explained from his Miami base. “He came out aggressive. He came out strong in the first two games. He won the first two games, and I had to think to myself. ‘Hey! I’m being attacked right now. I’m under pressure right now. I need to respond. I need to respond quickly’.”

Impressed with Marsh’s play, he concluded, “that’s what kind of what woke me up”.

That wasn’t the only match when he was stretched.

“In the quarterfinals, (former national junior champion) Emani McPherson, whom I haven’t seen in almost 10 years, he came back, and we had a close 4-2 game,” he added.

Game has evolved

Tomlinson’s game has evolved recently, and that might have been the difference between his fourth success in a row and failure.

With advice from three-time Caribbean champion Stephen Hylton, he is adding a new texture to his play.

“It’s just a lot of rebuilding, doing new things, trying new things, so when it comes to the game tactics, I have a lot of understanding now of what works for me, easier ways to win points, not so much about expending energy (all the time), allowing myself to adjust to each ball and to force the opponent to adjust also.”

In addition, he learnt from watching China’s Olympic champion Ma Long win his third World singles title in a row earlier this year. Ma recovered from injury just in time to get ready for the Worlds and left an indelible impression on Tomlinson.