The 2014 Independence Day Classic Table Tennis Tournament came to a close over the weekend at the Gros Islet Secondary School auditorium, with competitions in Division Two and Division One.
The tournament began last Saturday at the Beausejour Indoor Facility, with players competing in the Under-11 and Under-13 age categories. Roughly 55 players took part. The following day the competition continued with Under-15 and Under-18 age groups.
President of the St Lucia Table Tennis Association, Teddy Matthews said: “It has gone very well for us this year, especially in the junior division where we now have the numbers we did not have before.”
Matthews feels the future looks bright for table tennis given the fact junior players like Sunil Chitole, Myah George, Valdine Belrose, Andrew Daniel and Jean Phillipe Murray continue to do well.
In the Cadet Under-15 division, Daniels who attends St Mary’s College (SMC) and the 2013 Junior Male Table Tennis Player of the Year was in fine form. He defeated all his opponents in straight sets to advance to the finals.
Murray, also from SMC, who was last year’s Independence Day Classic Under-15 champ, paced his way through to earn a place in the final against Daniels.
It was a very exciting final as both players unleashed attacking strokes and the game was a ping pong affair. Daniels however out-played Murray in the final set and won three sets to two. The two third place finishers were Mario St Cyr (SMC) and Chitole from the International School Saint Lucia.
The Girls Under-15 event was unpredictable in the semi-final stage. The semis featured three students from St Joseph’s Convent: Petreuse Edward, Cherese Darcheville and Ayana Edwin. The other semi-finalist was Belrose from Entrepot Secondary School.
Darcheville defeated her colleague Edward in straight sets after a lengthy match punctuated by long rallies. In the other semi-final Edwin pulled off an upset getting past Belrose in straight sets.
In the final, Darcheville who got the better of Edwin 3-2 in a very competitive match that went down to the wire, was crowned the Under-15 Champion.
Simone Matthews of Sir Arthur Lewis Community College won the Girls Under-18 Championship. Her toughest opponent came in the semi-finals against the hard hitting Darcheville. Matthews lost the first two sets, but refocused and regained her composure to level the match at two sets apiece.
In the final set Matthews took an early 6-2 lead but Darcheville fought back and levelled the deciding set at 10 points apiece.
The more experienced Matthews dug deep and got the better of Darcheville winning 12-10 in the final set.
In the other semi-final match Edwin won in straight sets over schoolmate Edward.
In the finals Matthews took no chances. She stayed focused and kept the pressure on a slightly fatigued Edwin to win the title in straight sets.
Proud Samarian Murray was crowned the Independence Day Boys Under-18 Champion but it was no easy feat. He was forced to play an almost flawless game, digging deep in his semi-final match against Chitoleto win 3-2.
In the finals Murray went up against schoolmate Tristan Matthews. It was an exciting match with several lead changes in all the sets. In the end Murray’s fighting spirit allowed him to win the final set to be crowned champion.
Over the weekend Jade Blasse won the Division Two title. His semi-final encounter proved to be a tough matchup, having led Dale Nembhard two sets to nothing only to have him come back and equalize. Blasse was able to recompose himself and won the last set to advance to the finals.
In the other semi-final Vandyke Jude defeated Ryan Sankar in straight sets 3-0.
In the final against Blasse, Vandyke unleashed thunderous backhand slams and vicious chops to stay in the match. However, consistent forehand top spins by Blasse gave him the advantage and he won in straight sets.
In Division One, Senior Table Tennis Player of the Year Adrian Albert cruised to the semis. Bertlan Shepherd, Dexter Theodore and Division Two winner Blasse also qualified for the semi-finals.
In the first semi-final, Albert had a tough match against Blasse but came out on top 3-2. In the other semi-final Shepherd defeated Theodore in straight sets.
In the finals Albert went up against Shepherd in a very exciting encounter, displaying good tactics, shot selection, service and footwork.
When the smoke cleared, Shepherd stood victorious winning three sets to one to be crowned the 2014 Independence Day Classic Champion.