Ping pong fans flocked to the WASA Sports Club in St Joseph to witness the climax of the inaugural competition which featured three-member teams headed by veteran players. And fittingly, the final had to be decided by the veterans after the match was tied 1-1, pairing Dennis Webster against Stanley Hunte for the title. Webster was too good for Hunte, though, displaying an array of cheeky serves and brutal forehand winners to dismantle his rival 11-3, 11-9, 11-3.
Earlier, however, the match of the night was played between A1 players Yuvraaj Dookram of the Wizards and Hunters’ Everton Sorzano. Needing to win to keep the Wizards alive after the A2 match was won by the Hunters, Dookram found Sorzano a tough nut to crack.
The bald-headed Sorzano started like a man possessed in the first game and though unable to serve it out, he eventually took the first game 10-12. Dookram, unbeaten for the duration of the competition, was not going to lie down easily and raced ahead 9-4 in the second. Sorzano, showing great defence to creep back into the contest but a strategic time-out by Wizards killed his momentum as Dookram levelled the contest 11-9.
There was little to separate the pair in the third game with the scores knotted 6-6, 9-9 and 11- 11. Sorzano, however, brought the crowd to its feet with an amazing rally, showing off his tremendous defence to stay in the point and force the error.
He would take the game 11-13 to give the Hunters a whiff of the title. But Dookram’s unbeaten run in the tournament would not come to an end, the 26-year-old unravelling his opponent 11-1 in the fourth to stun the Wizards. There was no coming back for Sorzano who was feeling the pressure and began making a proliferation of unforced errors in the decisive fifth game. Sorzano completely missed the ball attempting a serve to compound his frustration and Dookram quickly put him out his misery, closing out the match with two crushing forehand winners that even Sorzano was unable to retrieve.
Speaking to Newsday after his team’s triumph, Dookram was elated.
“It was a pretty tough match for me. I’ve been playing with Sorzano for a number of years growing up as a junior so he was very accustomed to my game. I had to make some adjustments with my attacks because he is a very good player at retrieving and bringing back a lot of balls. I played a little more safe instead of going for too much risky shots,” he said.
Asked if he knew he would win after his dominating 11-1 win in the fourth, Dookram added: “I was feeling very confident going into the fifth and started being a little more relaxed and that really helped me to push and get that win.” On the concluded tournament, Dookram showered the organisers with praise.
“I really think it’s a great tournament and something different and out of the ordinary. It helped bring back some of the veterans and was really well put together. The sport is being promoted in the right way and we need more tournaments like these to bring more players and spectators into the fraternity.” In the opening match Edwin Humphreys had given the Hunters a 1-0 lead with a convincing 11-7, 11-9, 10-12, 15- 13 victory against south-paw Ancil Russell. Humphrey’s ripping forehand was too much to handle for Russell who started slowly but found his forehand a bit too late into the contest to turn the tie around.
In the third place match, Seechan Spinners defeated Pugh All-Rounder 2-1. Spinners’ Curtis Humphreys swept aside A1 rival Arun Roopnarine 11-6, 11-8, 11-5 only for Courtney Pugh to pull things back with an 11-7, 11-8, 11-12 battering of Franklin Seecharan.
Riad Abasali took care of the left-handed Davonne Joseph 11-9, 9-11, 11-9, 11-5 to seal the deal. Sponsors for the tournament included Seechan & Associates, Andy Jack, Bharath Accounting Company, Sports King, Moses Shoe Collection and Toppers Snacks. A special award donated by Keshorn Walcott was given to Lionel Darceiul.
Tournament Honour Roll Winners: Webster’s Wizards Runners-up: Hunters Third place: Seechan Spinners Fourth place: Pugh All-rounders A1 MVP: Yuvraaj Dookram A2 MVP: Edwin Humphreys Veterans MVP: Dennis Webster