TRINIDAD and Tobago men’s and women’s table tennis teams qualified for the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games over the weekend in El Salvador. The women did not even have to hit a ball to qualify as only eight teams turned up for the tournament.
However the trio of Catherine Spicer, Ashley Quashie and the France-based Rheann Chung managed to reach the semi-finals and pick up a bronze medal. After winning two fixtures to top their group, T&T were beaten 3-0 by Venezuela in their attempt to get into the gold-medal match.
T&T were forced to go right down to the wire to get by Jamaica in their first outing of the tournament. With the fixture deadlocked at 2-2, national under-18 champ Spicer defeated Dardian Lewis 11-9, 12-10, 11-13, 11-7 to clinch victory. Five-time Caribbean champ Chung had beaten Lewis in straight games (11-5, 11-7, 11-5) in the opening match, and came back to prevail 12-10, 7-11, 14-12, 11-5 against Yvonne Foster in the fourth match.
Quashie was edged in five in the second match and also suffered a heart-breaking five-game defeat right after with the assistance of Spicer in doubles. After losing the first match against the No. 2 seeds, T&T roared back to win the next three and stun Guatemala to finish at the top of Group Two.
Spicer lost the first match 11-6, 11-7, 11-9 against Mabelyn Enriquez, but later proved to be the heroine again when she whipped Analdy Lopez 12-10, 11-7, 11-8 in the fourth. Just before, Spicer and Quashie had defeated Lopez and Enriquez 11-6, 11-5, 6-11, 11-6 in the doubles.
Chung, a bronze medallist in the Latin American Championships and Pan American Festival this year, had gotten the ball rolling by beating Andrea Estrada 11-7, 11-6, 11-8. With Curtis Humphreys, Aaron Wilson and the France-based Dexter St Louis all winning in straight games, T&T men outclassed both St Vincent and St Kitts 3-0 to win Group Three and qualify for the CAC Games and a place in the quarterfinals.
However, they were then eliminated when they opposed El Salvador for a place in the medal round.
T&T’s only victory in the fixture came in the second match when Caribbean under-19 runner-up Aaron Wilson defeated Davi Diaz 11-3, 9-11, 11-7, 11-8.
Diaz and Erick Aviles then edged Wilson and Humphreys 11-9, 9-11, 10-12, 11-9, 11-8 and then the hosts closed out the victory when Josue Donado cruised past Humphreys, the top-ranked locally-based player, 11-7, 11-6, 11-7.
In the first match of the fixture, Donado whipped five-time Caribbean champ St Louis 11-9, 11-4, 11-9. Ten-time national champ Aleena Edwards and the Canada-based 63-year-old David Mahabir, who became the oldest ever national champ last year, will join the teams for the Caribbean Championships in October in Cuba. The CAC Games takes place the following month in Mexico.