Dexter St Louis is eagerly anticipating the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland.
The France-based pro was pleased to hear that the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC) had included a table tennis team for the July 23-August 3 multi-sport event. However, he urged the powers that be, here in T&T, to take a professional approach to preparation.
“I hope we take this as a serious opportunity to carry our sport further, and not as a gift or holidays. I have seen in recent years the TTOC has put their faith in us. Now, we must show them that we are worth that faith and confidence.
“The coaches must ensure that the players do a minimum of 10 hours training per week as of now, else this will be easily another stamp in our passport.”
St Louis will lead the charge for T&T in the men’s team event. He will be supported by Curtis Humphreys, who recently returned from a six-week training stint in Sweden, 15-year-old Aaron Wilson, and Yuvraj Dookram.
Another France-based pro, Rheann Chung is the key player on the T&T women’s team, which also includes Aleena Edwards, Ashley Quashie and Catherine Spicer.
St Louis and Chung recently competed at the ITTF-Latin American Cup, in Paraguay.
Chung was in fine form at the invitational tournament for the top players in South and Central America and the Caribbean. She upset sixth-seeded Chilean Paulina Vega in the group stage to earn a quarterfinal berth. Chung lost in the last eight to Brazilian Caroline Kumahara, the top seed and eventual champion.
Earlier this year, Chung was a bronze medallist in the women’s singles at the Latin American Table Tennis Championships, in Dominican Republic.
“Rheann’s game is up with the best,” St Louis told the Express. “She is really playing in the top 150 in the world now.”
At the Latin American Cup, which featured 12 men and 12 women, St Louis was eliminated at the group stage of the men’s singles. The 46-year-old Chaguanas-born player went under 2-4 to Mexico’s Marcos Madrid and by the same scoreline to Puerto Rican Daniel Gonzalez.
“I would have liked to get to the quarterfinals,” said St Louis, “as I think it was not difficult. I am not making any excuses but the lights went out at 1-1 (in games) and 2-1 in the third (against Gonzalez). That really broke my momentum. It caused me to lose the third and fourth games; I came back and won the fifth game and was leading 10-8 in the sixth and lost.”
St Louis said the Latin American Cup was well organised.
“Thanks to Anil Roberts and his ministry,” St Louis continued, “for assisting us in attending. Without him, whether we are qualified or not, it would not have been possible, so special thanks to the Honourable Minister of Sport.”
St Louis and Chung will next compete at the July 5-7 Heritage Oil Open in Sussex, England. The tournament is a warm-up event for the Commonwealth Games.