Thu | Dec 7, 2023

JTTA targets increased activity ahead of regional tournaments

Published:Wednesday | January 4, 2023 | 1:34 AMHubert Lawrence/Gleaner Writer

THE JAMAICA Table Tennis Association (JTTA) is focused on preparing the nation’s teams for the upcoming Caribbean Championships for both seniors and juniors with local tournaments and national squad training.

“We plan to have a tournament at least every quarter. We want to have at least two for this first quarter to kick things off,” said JTTA President Andrew Lue.

“We know, as well, that our Caribbean Championships are in March for the seniors and the juniors.”

A Carifta gold-medal winner himself, Lue added, “Ihat means we’ll have to have trials and a squad in training, hopefully for at least eight weeks prior to departure for both tournaments, and during that time, we hope to have at least one, hopefully two tournaments so that we’ll be able to satisfy the requirements for performance and so forth to see where the athletes are, so we can get to choose the squad.”

Regarding a 2022 season highlighted by a 10-medal performance by the Caribbean at the Mini and Pre-Cadet Championships in Guyana, he reviewed, “In spite of the challenges, we had a very successful year, I think. The youngsters performed well regionally, and we were able to have squads in training for all the age groups and we had the various clubs having their own little tournaments on a regular basis and the good thing is that we were able to evaluate our level of performance and see how we can plan for better things this year.”

According to Lue, the way forward is clear.

“We’ll have to invest a lot in our junior players. The future of Jamaica table tennis is really with the younger players now, and so therefore we will have to look at how we can give them opportunities to go to camps and to compete regionally and overseas, and to get them some really good coaching programmes.”

Local coaches came in for praise from the president.

“We also have to recognise the efforts of our local coaches, especially in the younger age groups where we see a lot of potential coming to the fore in the under 11, under 13, under 15 age groups, so we have to capitalise on that, and see how we can get some assistance to bolster the training that is provided locally.”

He looks forward to the resumption of high, primary and preparatory school competitions as well.

“We will look forward to having prep and primary championships as long as we can get the participation,” he said.

“The problem we had last year, was that because of the pandemic, when we checked, the schools just weren’t ready.”

The youngest players made Lue smile by swamping vacant tables at the President’s Trophy event held at the GC Foster College last November.

“As soon as a table was available, you had the youngsters playing table tennis in between matches,” he grinned. “The enthusiasm is there.”