CHAMP: Catherine Spicer, seen here hitting a forehand when she won the only match during Trinidad and Tobago’s 3-1 defeat against the Puerto Ricans in the Under-18 team competition on Thursday, combined with Arurn Roopnarine to capture the mixed doubles gold medal in the division yesterday, when the Caribbean Junior Table Tennis Championships continued at Jean Pierre Complex, Wrightson Road, Mucurapo. —Photo: STEPHEN DOOBAY

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GOLD FOR JUNIORS

T&T win mixed doubles at Caribbean Championships

By Shammi Kowlessar

THE night after leading Trinidad and Tobago to the silver medal in the Under-18 team competition, Arun Roopnarine combined with Catherine Spicer to strike gold for the hosts in mixed doubles when the Caribbean Junior Table Tennis Championships continued yesterday at Jean Pierre Complex, Wrightson Road, Mucurapo.
After crushing a Guyanese pair 11-3, 11-5, 11-1 in their opening match, Spicer and Roopnarine really had to work to capture the title as they were extended to five game in their other three encounters.
After winning two “deuce” games to begin the title match, it seemed like the duo would have rolled over their devastated opponents in the third, but Luis Eschevarria and Ashley Diaz stormed back to take the next two games and force a tense decider.
However, Spicer and Roopnarine saved their best for last and went on to prevail 13-11, 12-10, 6-11, 7-11, 11-6 over the Puerto Ricans.
Roopnarine and Spicer later went on to secure bronze medals in the Under-18 doubles events with Aaron Wilson and Brittany Joseph, respectively. And this country also picked up both bronze medals in the girls' Under-15 draw as well as in mixed doubles in the division.
However, the first medal for T&T had come on Thursday night when the hosts lost the Under-18 team final to overwhelming title favourites Dominican Republic.
The 15-year-old Roopnarine drew first blood for the underdogs when the No. 1 player turned back Jose Luis Toribio 11-8, 14-12, 7-11, 12-10 in a very entertaining contest. But then the defending champs came to life and lost just two games from the next three matches to prevail.
Their top player Issac Vila beat both Aaron Wilson and Roopnarine in four games and Jefferson Almonzar cruised past Andreas Pantin in three straight.
The 14-year-old Wilson and Classified champion Roopnarine were favoured to advance to yesterday's Under-18 doubles final, but they squandered a 9-5 lead to lose the opening game of the semis against the Serrano brothers, Luis Enrique and Luis Eduardo, and a 6-0 and 9-6 lead when they had the opportunity to force a decider. The Puerto Ricans eventually prevailed 12-10, 11-8, 7-11, 12-10. Wilson and Joseph were forced to settle for bronze as the Under-15 favourites when they were beaten 11-9, 11-9, 11-8 by eventual champs Andreas Betances and Cinthya Sanchez of the Dominican Republic.
Meanwhile, Spicer and Joseph never had a chance in the girls' Under-18 semis and were beaten 11-7, 11-4, 11-7 by Puerto Ricans Diaz and Caroline Resto.
Two T&T pairs reached the Under-15 semis, but they came up against the regional powerhouses. Jasher De Gannes and Monique Cooper lost 7-11, 11-6, 11-9, 11-9 to Puerto Ricans Lineris Rivera and Jamie Jaime, while Gyshan Latchman and Nalini Boodoo were trounced 11-4, 11-6, 11-3 by Kirtia Diaz and Cinthya Sanchez of Dominican Republic.
The singles events will be contested over the final two days of the tournament and first serve today is 9.30 a.m.
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