France-based professional table tennis player, Rheann Chung will fly the Trinidad and Tobago flag at the Latin American Cup, in the Dominican Republic on the weekend.
“I want to give a big thanks to the Minister of Sport, Anil Roberts, who helped me out to go to this tournament.
“Without him,” Chung told the Express, “I would not be able to go. I want to thank Minister Anil for his high performance off the table.”
The Ministry of Sport paid for Chung’s airline ticket.
The three-day tournament will be staged at the Pabellón de Tenis de Mesa Parque del Este, in Santo Domingo. The round robin preliminaries serve off on Friday.
At the 2012 edition of the tournament, in Costa Rica, Chung reached the quarterfinal round in the women’s singles, losing to eventual champion Caroline Kumahara. The Brazilian won the match 11-4, 11-8, 9-11, 11-4, 11-4.
Another France-based T&T pro, Chung’s step-father, Dexter St Louis reached the men’s singles quarters, in Costa Rica.
In Santo Domingo, however, Chung will be T&T’s lone representative. She is one of 12 players who will bid for the top prize in the women’s singles. Chung was invited on the strength of her women’s singles triumph at the 2012 Caribbean Championships, in the Dominican Republic.
Puerto Rico’s Hector Berrios was invited to compete in the Latin American Cup men’s singles event, after beating St Louis in a seven-game thriller in the 2012 Caribbean Championship men’s singles final. Berrios turned around a 3-1 deficit to get the better of St Louis, 13-15, 5-11, 13-11, 3-11, 12-10, 12-10, 13-11.
Guatemala’s reigning Central American champions, José Miguel Ramirez and Andrea Montufar, and South American champions, Felipe Olivares of Chile and Katia Kawai of Brazil have also been invited to the “Top 12” tournament.
Kumahara and her fellow-Brazilian, 2012 Latin American Cup men’s singles champion Thiago Monteiro are expected to defend their titles. The winner of the 2013 Latin American Cup women’s singles event will earn a berth at the September 21-23 Women’s World Cup, in Kobe, Japan. The men’s singles champion, meanwhile, will compete at the October 25-27 Men’s World Cup, in Verviers, Belgium.
Last week, St Louis was offered a “wild card” to compete at the Latin American Cup, but had to decline because of a club commitment in France.
“I am not going,” he told the Express, “because of a league match on Saturday, but my head will be in two places.”
Like Chung, St Louis was high in praise for Minister Roberts.
“Anil is really good in the Ministry. I have been playing since Marilyn Gordon was the Minister of Sport in 1982…never a Minister of Sport had responded to me no matter what the problem was. This guy Anil, I can call him, text him, e-mail him, he answers faster than (Usain) Bolt finishes his 100 metres.
“I really want to thank Anil. I can count on him to help, not only me but our sport in general.”