Young team does well at 17th OECS table tennis championship
By Jeff Trotman, who accompanied the team as a media official.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines placed third in both the men and women’s team competitions in the 17th OECS table tennis championship at the Beausejour indoor facility from 14 to 16 November in St. Lucia.
The overall performances of the Vincentian players vindicated a bold decision by the new executive body of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Table Tennis Association (SVGTTA) to implement – for the first time – an eight-year proposal of restricting national team selection for regional and international competitions to players under thirty five years of the age.
The four member male squad comprised fifteen year old Kavir Gaymes and Daryl Dickson, twenty year old Romano Spencer and the captain, Carlton Daniel, in his early thirties.
Natasha Shortte and Karen Browne, both in their twenties, made up the two member female team.
Except for Daniel, the other male players were participating in the championship for the first time. The Vincentian teams’ participation at the championship was made possible through sponsorship from the National Lotteries Authority.
Five nations participated in the male team competition with the host nation fielding two teams, which copped the two top spots. Grenada was fourth. The British Virgin Islands, playing in the competition for the very first time, placed fifth with St. Kitts/Nevis in sixth position.
Spencer teamed up with Natasha Shortte to capture third place in the mixed doubles while the female team of Shortte and Browne placed third in the women’s doubles.
Four nations including the host, Grenada and St. Kitts/Nevis participated in the women’s team competition.
Fifteen year old Kavir Gaymes of St. Vincent and the Grenadines was adjudged the most impressive young player at the championships. In presenting Gaymes with the trophy, Teddy Matthews, president of the St. Lucia Table Tennis Association, noted that Gaymes was one of two Vincentians, who participated in the recent Commonwealth Youth Games in India. He said Gaymes has far to go in the sport if he continues playing dedicatedly and receives proper coaching.
Matthews also commended the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Table Tennis Association for its bold step and he predicted that the talent displayed by the young Vincentians would pay dividend in the form of an OECS title in the future.
The Vincentian teams were managed by Elliott Charles, who also functioned as assistant to coach Robert “Bob” Ballantyne, who captained the Vincentian team that won the men’s team title when the championship was last held in 2005 in Dominica.
Both Charles and Ballantyne also participated in the 17th OECS men’s table tennis open singles. Ballantyne also teamed up with US based Vincentian veteran, Percy Dublin, to place third in the men’s open doubles.
Donley DeFreitas, former SVGTTA President, who now resides in St. Lucia, also participated in the men’s open singles competition. He was honoured by the St. Lucia Table Tennis Association during the Championship for his contribution to the development of the game in the sub region. DeFreitas was one of the architects in reviving the Windward Islands Table Tennis Championship in 1976, which developed into the OECS table tennis championship.