“Deandre Calderon is a young aspiring player who started playing table tennis seriously last year. He is one of the more dedicated young athletes that we have. On average he works out between 20 and 25 hours a week and during the summer, trained 30 to 35 hours a week. He is a player who just wants to improve all the time.”
That glowing introduction came courtesy of National Table Tennis Coach, Chris Wells while describing a player who has gone through ups and downs, whose work ethic not just in table tennis, is something to admire.
Chances are unless you belong to the table tennis fraternity, you may not be familiar with the name Deandre Calderon, but I assure you in time to come he will make a name for himself.
Losing a father, having his home burn down all in a short space of time, are just some of the hardships this 12-year-old has had to deal with. His love for table tennis turned out to be the perfect remedy.
The name Deandre Calderon was completely foreign to me, until I received a press release from the National Table Tennis Association. It stated that a St Lucia team returned from Jamaica where they competed at the Pre-Cadet Table Tennis Championships in August. In that competition, Calderon was the only St Lucian to advance to the quarter-finals, where he lost to the eventual winner of the tournament Marcos Tavarez from the Dominican Republic. Overall he placed fifth out of 24 entrants, a remarkable achievement for a youngster relatively new to the sport. He is still eligible to play that same tournament next year so watch out.
His performance in Jamaica did not go unnoticed. Calderon received a special invitation to attend a high performance training facility in the Dominican Republic free of charge for two months. He’s excited about being able to go there and refine his table tennis skills.
The Castries Comprehensive Secondary school student, praised and thanked Wells for introducing him to the game and said: “He taught me table tennis from the time I started playing. He never asked for money so it was always cheap for me to come to the training centre. He always keeps me up when I’m down.
Calderon recalled seeing all his friends going to play at last year’s Inter-Primary Schools Table Tennis Tournament, while he remained in the classroom at Grande Riviere Primary School.
He told me, “A few days after that Mr Wells came to my school and I asked him where the place to practice for table tennis is. That coming Saturday I went there and continued coming every day. There was a summer camp which I attended every day then there was the elite program where I practiced after school.”
His hard work paid off. The following year, the determined 12 -year-old Calderon not only made the Grande Riviere table tennis team that competed at the Inter Primary Schools Under-13 Table Tennis Tournament, but was also appointed captain.
Grande Riviere won the team title and the icing on the cake was Calderon capturing the singles title.
This young player receives a lot of support from the table fraternity and players. Following the fire which consumed his home, Calderon received clothing from the school and along the way attracted a sponsor, Miss Riquette Bonne-Smith. She looks after his school needs and any costs associated with table tennis.
Initially, Bonne-Smith was interested in sponsoring another promising player, Cherise Darcheville. However, instead of accepting Smith’s generosity, Cherise unselfishly steered her towards a special and a more deserving player – Deandre Calderon.
In thanking everyone who assisted him he singled out Smith for her good deed and also mentioned one of his biggest supporters – his mother Sandra.
When asked how far he would like to progress in the sport, Calderon immediately replied: “It looks very good in the near future. I need to improve a lot more and train as hard as I can and at the next Caribbean Championships get a medal for my country.”