The Belize Table Tennis Association held its 10th Annual General Meeting on December 8, 2018 at the Belize Elementary School Auditorium.
Well attended by several players and parents, the meeting covered all reports and financial presentations by the President and the Treasurer.
Elections of officers was also held, where the existing members were unanimously re-elected back as the Executive Committee for the next 2 years. Only change in the new Committee is the Secretary position, where Yasser Musa now holds that position.
Mrs. Petie Matus, who previously served as the BTTA Secretary, has retired from the Committee. Having held the position for 9 years, the BTTA thanks Mrs. Matus for her great contribution to the development of table tennis.
Executive Members are:
Tux Vasquez - President
Hector Lopez - Vice President
Marion Usher - Treasurer
Yasser Musa - Secretary
Dr. Manuel Paguaga - Committee Member
From April 3rd to April 15 our juniors were participating in their highest level of competition yet at the 2018 Commonwealth Games which was held in Gold Coast, Australia. The young athletes who represented Belize included Devesh Hukmani of Belize Elementary School, Terry Su of St. John’s College, and Rohit Pagarani of Belize High School. They are 13, 14, and 15 years of age respectively.
While on the Gold Coast they participated in team, doubles, and singles events. For the team and singles event, they were placed into groups, while for doubles they were placed directly into a single knockout format tournament. In team they had stiff competition from Malaysia and Nigeria. Nigeria’s team included the number 20th ranked table tennis player in the world, while Malaysia’s team was seeded 7th of the 32 countries that participated. Our boys played their very best but could not overcome the skill level of the much older and experienced players from Nigeria and Malaysia. They did, however, leave the matches with a renewed outlook and approach to their game. They knew they would have to be faster and place greater attention to their service and receive game if they would want to make any significant gains on their opponents in the other rounds of competition.
The singles event was their last opportunity to do just that. In the singles event they were placed into groups of three. Devesh Hukmani was placed into a rather difficult group with Javen Choong of Malaysia, and Colin Dalgleish of Scotland. Devesh was already familiar with Javen Choong as his team mate Rohit Pagarani had played him in the team event. Colin was unknown to him however, as he did not play the team event or the doubles. This would be the first time seeing him play. His matches against the Malaysian player finished 0-4, while his match against the Scotsman finished 1 game to 4. Devesh finished with his head held high knowing he had given his best.
From moments like those the boys gained a deeper understanding of their journey as young athletes.They understood that while they may have not won at the Gold Coast, they are learning a lot from it and everyone is supporting them on their journey. During the award ceremonies they watched on as the top athletes received their medals. They knew that they were glimpsing into the future when they would be up on those very podiums accepting their medals.
The greatest aspect of these tournaments is never the final results, but rather watching the athletes evolve and witnessing as they best themselves and aspire for more. Our young athletes continue to aspire for more and we are grateful to be able to facilitate this growth. The Belize Table Tennis Association is proud of our young athletes and are thankful to all those who continue to contribute to the development of the sport in Belize.
Central American U15, U18 Championships
El Salvador February 20 - 23rd, 2018
The Belize Table Tennis Association along with the Belize Olympic committee sent a delegation of five athletes to represent Belize in the Central American Table Tennis U15, U18 Championships held in San Salvador from February 20th-23rd. Seven countries participated including Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama, and Belize. Honduras did not participate this year in any age division, while Nicaragua only participated in the U18. The tournament comprises two age divisions U15 and U18, and in each division Team, Singles, Doubles, and Mixed Doubles events were held. Belize’s Delegation comprised of only a U15 team and included Taye Parkinson, Devesh Hukmani, Jofny Paguaga, Mihir Karnani, and Kelly Liu.
The focus for the Belize Table Tennis Association has been youth driven and we feel that by giving our youngest athletes much exposure to high level play they will advance quickly and develop into strong athlete with long term prospects. This event is the highest level of table tennis within Central America for young athletes and we decided to send our U13 national team to represent us to push their level to new heights. We anticipated great challenges and strong opposition from our neighbouring countries, but we also anticipated for our students to display their highest level of play yet, and this is exactly what unfolded.
The tournament opened with the team event. Our team comprised of Devesh Hukmani, Taye Parkinson, and Jofny Paguaga. Mihir Karnani had recently suffered an ankle injury and so was put on hold to rest for later in the tournament. All the countries played each other in a group format where everyone must play everyone. While Belize was unable to pull off any wins against the other countries as a team they managed to win individual matches and sets off of their opponents within the individual team matches. This was marked improvement for our athletes playing against older and higher level players. The students were pushed to their limits and their growth could clearly be seen moving into every subsequent match. This is exactly the results we were hoping for. The team event concluded on the second day at noon, and the doubles began in the afternoon.
In the doubles we had two teams. Team A included Devesh Hukmani and Taye Parkinson, and team B included Jofny Paguaga and Mihir Karnani. This was the first time for Mihir Karnani playing in a regional competition. It was also the first U15, U18 event for both of them. Their matches ahead would definitely be tough. The format for this event would be a single elimination knockout, one loss and you’re out. Team A played Mexico’s Bogdan Olivos and Leonardo Perez and won 3 games to 1 (-6,2,9,3). This gave them great confidence moving forward as they hadn’t done well against these players in the team event on the previous day. Team B played Guatemala’s Sergio Carillo and Diego de La Cruz but lost 0 – 3 (-5,-4,-3). They had a hard time getting into a rhythm and this was largely due to Mihir’s recovering ankle. They wouldn’t get another opportunity to redeem themselves as with the one loss they were knocked out. Team A advanced into their next match and was scheduled to play El Salvador’s Walter Acuna Villalta and Mateo Martinez. This match would be quite tough as Mateo plays a very hard hitting style. He had given both Taye and Devesh much trouble in the team event. They did however overcome Villalta, and so they would have needed to put much pressure on him during the exchanges. This worked greatly in their favour especially in critical moments during the match. They started the match quite strong winning the first game 11 – 6. El Salvador then decided to mix things up a bit and started playing long serves forcing points into long rallies which favoured Mateo and his partner. Devesh and Taye had a bit of trouble playing the short game and so lost the next two games 8 – 11, 4 – 11. To fend off this tactic they had to rely on being able to counter quickly while maintaining short game play on their serve. In a really close ending they went on to win 11 – 7, 11 - 7. This placed them in the semi-finals, the bronze medal match. Here they played Guatemala’s duo Sergio Carrillo and Diego de La Cruz. This was a very close match, but the Guatemala duo was quite strong and won the Belize team 3 games to none. The Guatemala team moved onto the finals where they won first place. Belize’s team of Devesh Hukmani and Taye Parkinson would have to settle for Bronze. This is our best result yet for Belize in this age division, and it was achieved by two of our U13 national team members. This makes us quite optimistic that we are moving in the right direction and we are hopeful that before they leave that age division they will be dominating the region.
The fourth day began with mixed double in the morning. Our team for this event was Devesh Hukmani and Kelly Liu. Kelly was unable to play the doubles and the team event as she is the only female representing Belize at the games. This would be her first event of the competition. They were matched up against El Salvador’s Eduardo Gonzalez/Victoria Guevara. Their performance was quite good, especially on Kelly’s part. She had struggled mentally in matches in the past but showed to be much stronger here. Devesh, feeling the pressure, made several unforced errors and this ultimately led to the other team just edging them out. They lost 1 – 3. Like the doubles the day before, the mixed doubles utilized a straight single knockout format. Their road to the finals would end here.
In the afternoon the group stage of the singles event began. Each student was placed into a different group where they would have to compete against each member of their group. The top two performers from each group would advance to the final day where they could play for the gold.
Devesh Hukmani was placed in a group with Diego de La Cruz (GUA), Felipe Velarde (PAN), and Eduardo Gonzalez (ESA).
Taye Parkinson was placed in a group with Sergio Carrillo (GUA), and David Monge (ESA).
Jofny Paguaga was placed in a group with Mateo Martinez (ESA) and Leonardo Perez (MEX).
Mihir Karnani was placed in a group with Enrique Ton (GUA), Diego Quintal (MEX), and Walter Acuna Villalta.
Kelly Liu was placed in a group with Stefanie Orellana (GUA), and Samira Munoz (ESA).
After the group stage concluded only Taye Parkinson and Devesh Hukmani managed to make it into the main draw which was scheduled for the following day.
On the final day, Taye and Devesh would have their first round matches of the main draw against the #1 seed from another group. Taye Parkinson was matched up against Diego de La Cruz from Guatemala, the same athlete who managed to edge out Devesh in their round robin match. Devesh would have his first match against Alfredo Sanchez of Costa Rica, the #2 seed in the tournament. The stage was set for some intense matches but our athletes were more than prepared to take on the challenge.
Taye Parkinson is known for his strong fighting spirit, good serving, and his ability to play a variable game. He would have to pull out everything he had in order to upset his opponent. His opponent was aware of this and played quite conservatively, forcing Taye to take the initiative, in hopes of being able to go for strong counters which Taye wouldn’t be ready to handle. Taye played quite apprehensively however, and this eventually led to his loss 4 – 0 (-7,-6,-8,-5).
Devesh went into his match knowing that his chances were slim, but he went in determined to make his opponent fight for it hard. His opponent from Costa Rica had put in considerable work over the past months training abroad in Germany and partaking in other international camps. Devesh had a difficult time adjusting to the quality of spin off of Sanchez’s strokes. He lost the first two games 8 – 11, and then 4 – 11. By the 3rd game he was able to tame it a bit and tried to focus more on his placement, going for Alfredo’s body, to minimize his topspin quality and to expose the open court. This managed him the win on the third set 11 – 6. Alfredo raised his level of play in the fourth game however, moving substantially better, and fending off Devesh’s placements. He managed to win the fourth set 11 – 5. Devesh has quite a powerful forehand himself but he needs a bit more time to prepare for them than Alfredo allows. Knowing he won’t win in the long counter rallies against Alfredo he decided to play quick counterattacks at the table to cut off time from Alfredo and disrupt his rhythm. Alfredo ended up with more unforced errors than he could afford and so Devesh took the set 11 - 8. Now at 3 -2, in favour of the Costa Rican, the pressure built on both sides. Alfredo would want to close off the match and Devesh would be fighting to get to play the seventh set. The sixth game really boiled down to who could’ve handled the situation. Alfredo once again rose to the occasion like he did in the fourth set and played incredibly well despite Devesh’s trying to keep the pressure on him with quick and fast attacks. Alfredo was just a bit quicker and took the match 11 - 4 in the sixth game. Despite the loss Devesh played really well especially against the #2 seed in the tournament.
In the end, the Belize team achieved more than they had hoped for. The junior athletes performed well and hit all of their targets heading into the competition. They showed great improvement in key areas and became more adept at handling tough pressure situations in matches. Our U13 boys even managed to secure a bronze medal in the U15 doubles event. Playing this level of tournaments for the athletes mean great experience and gives them the much needed confidence moving forward. Their progress and performance assures the Belize Table Tennis Association that they will mature into top athletes and will secure much more medals in the coming years.
by yasser musa
On Saturday 3rd February, 2018 twenty-four students from 1st to 4th form went into battle at the 6th annual SJC Table Tennis Tournament to see who will emerge as the intermediate and the advanced player of SJC. And after fire hot action in group play and a rapid knockout round the stage was set with Michael Sobers and Andres Mendez in the intermediate final and Latrell Solis and Terry Su in the advanced final.
Mendez wasted no time with his fellow classmate defeating Sobers in three straight sets. Kristopher Montenegro and Edward Matus both share 3rd place this year at the intermediate level and Amiri Hoare and Jofny Paguaga share 3rd place at the advanced level.
The story of the day was Terry Su, the poised and unassuming player from 2nd form. In the semi-finals Su ended what could have been an unbeatable third straight SJC championship record for two time winner Amiri Hoare. Terry’s serve and loops were delivered with laser like precision, keeping the defensive specialist on the ropes the entire game.
In the final Terry had to face the formidable Latrell Solis, 2014 Player of the Year. Su jumped out with his attack game and it became clear that his form was unstoppable. He captured victory and the SJC championship in four sets.