More than the exposure, Reeza Burke wanted young players Arun Roopnarine and Aaron Wilson to use last week’s Scotiabank world junior and cadet table tennis championships in Markham as a barometer to gauge how they stack up against international players in their age categories.
The Trinidad & Tobago teenagers were among close to 100 players from 14 countries who participated in the five-day competition hosted by the Chinese Canadian Table Tennis Association.
“It’s good for our players to travel and get experience in foreign environments, but what is critical is that they assess in their own minds where they are and where they need to get,” said Burke who is the president of the Trinidad & Tobago Table Tennis Federation. “It’s a step by step process that’s pivotal to their overall development.”
Expectations are high for Roopnarine and Wilson who are ranked among the top five senior men players in the twin-island republic. Roopnarine was a member of the men’s team that competed at last August’s Caribbean championships in the Dominican Republic while Wilson was selected to take part in an International Table Tennis Federation training camp in Korea two years ago.
Reeza, a five-time national men’s champion, said both players are improving steadily.
“Aaron is strong on both the backhand and forehand and he likes to play close to the ball,” said Reeza. “He’s also very good at imparting top spin and very aggressive. Arun, on the other hand, is a tactician and critical thinker who is more selective with his shots.”
Both players were eliminated in the cadet quarter-finals.
Guyana and Barbados were also represented at the tournament which was dominated by players from the Asian countries.
Bishops’ High School student Chelsea Edghill and Sachin Panday, who migrated to the Greater Toronto Area with his family three weeks ago, were Guyana’s representatives.
“It’s good to come out and see how you match up against top players in your age group from other parts of the world,” said 15-year-old Edghill who is the country’s top female junior player. “This is my first visit to Canada and I am enjoying the country and the competition which is of a high calibre.”
Edghill, who started playing the sport six years ago, won a silver medal at the Caribbean Regional cadet and junior tournament in Cuba last April and a bronze medal in the Under-21 category at the Caribbean championships in the Dominican Republic two months ago.
Teenager Stephen Payne, who won four medals for his country at this year’s Caribbean Regional cadet and pre-cadet competition, along with Marcus Smith and Tyrese Knight were the Barbadian participants.