Aaron Wilson handed himself an early birthday gift when he stopped Curtis Humphreys in a five-game thriller at the Scarborough Secondary School on Sunday night, in the TEK Electrical Tobago Open men's singles final.
Wilson turned around a two-game deficit to capture his first major senior table tennis title, the 13-year-old Carenage Blasters player winning the championship match 10-12, 10-12, 11-7, 12-10, 11-9.
Humphreys was up 8-6 in the decider, but Wilson finished strong, reeling off a series of winners to halt an impressive streak.
Humphreys was victorious at the first three major local tournaments this year--Classified Championships, Silverbowl and National Championships—and was on course for a sweep of all five "majors".
Young Wilson, however, had other ideas, winning five of the last six points to spark wild celebrations in the Blasters camp.
At eight-all, Wilson punched with his backhand to edge ahead. A backhand loop made it 10-8 for the talented teenager. Humphreys, carrying the hopes of the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT) team, earned the next point to stay alive in the contest. But Wilson closed off confidently, attacking his opponent's serve with his forehand for the match winner.
Blasters coach Dennis La Rose could not contain himself, throwing himself on the ground to celebrate his young protégé's triumph over top-ranked Humphreys.
Wilson, who turns 14 tomorrow (Wednesday), had earned his championship match berth with an 11-3, 12-10, 9-11, 11-9 defeat of wily Solo Crusaders player, Terry Corbin. And in the other semifinal, Humphreys got the better of PowerGen's Arun Roopnarine, 11-6, 8-11, 11-8, 11-7.
In the quarter-final round, Wilson stopped Andrew Alexander (Crusaders), Humphreys got the better of a former Caribbean champion, Barbadian Kevin Farley (Crusaders), Corbin battled past two-time Caribbean champion Lionel Darceuil (Arima Hawks), and Roopnarine outlasted Everton Sorzano (D'Abadie Youths).
Sunday's victory completed a double for Wilson, the young star having struck gold in Saturday's boys' under-15 event.
But more importantly, the men's singles triumph handed Blasters a sweep of the major titles on offer at the TEK Tobago Open.
Earlier, Ashley Quashie struck gold in the women's singles, clawing her way back from two games down in the championship match to beat Natalie Montes, of Arima Hawks, 9-11, 10-12, 11-6, 11-6, 11-5.
Quashie raced to the front in the fifth game. A superb forehand loop drive made it 5-2 for the Blasters player. She then smashed crisply at the end of a long rally. 6-2. Another forehand drive, and Quashie was in full command. 7-2.
By that time, Montes, making a comeback to the game, was a spent force, and unable to prevent Quashie from cruising to the finish line.
Originally, Quashie was not on the tournament entry list, but made a late decision to throw her hat in the ring. The move paid rich dividends. In the quarterfinal round, she beat her T&T teammate, Linda Partap-Boodhan (Hawks). And in the semis, Quashie dismissed PowerGen's Catherine Spicer in straight games, 11-8, 11-9, 11-9.
On the other side of the draw, Montes defeated late entry, Aleena Edwards (UTT) in the quarters. And in the semis, she turned back the challenge of her Hawks teammate, Brittany Joseph, Montes beating the 14-year-old national women's singles champion 11-8, 11-9, 14-16, 11-6.
In the final, though, it was Quashie who triumphed—the first half of a memorable double for the Blasters brigade.