Ping pong wants more smashers

Table tennis is looking to make a bigger impact on the Cayman Islands sports scene. 

The sport is in the midst of a membership drive and looking for more players. The objective is to stage national competitions and have more of a presence at international tournaments. 

One of the people pushing the sport forward is Robert Sairsingh, treasurer for the Cayman Islands Table Tennis Association. Sairsingh, known for his involvement in football, netball and squash, states Cayman has the potential to excel. 

“We’re geared towards more participation in the sport,” Sairsingh said. “We have about a dozen regulars and that number has increased over the last month or so by some three people. Currently our executive board is Peter Smith as president, Roland Henry as vice president, Richard Lake as general secretary and Colleen Williams as public relations officer.  

“What we have in mind is three stages. The first being to get members, the second to select a new board and the third stage would be have training courses. There are coaching courses being offered by the International Table Tennis Federation to teach others about the sport. Once we build up the coaching here we can have tournaments and harvest that into national teams.” 

The biggest showing from the sport to date is its presence at this summer’s Island Games in the Isle of Wight. The association, which formed in 2008, sent four players to the competition in Cy Elliott (captain), Ansel Tempral, Rohan Clarke and Dante Ramoon (junior). Sairsingh was team manager of the squad, the first ever national table tennis side. He states that event is a good indication of the talent currently on island. 

“The Island Games was largely a testing ground. It was the first time Cayman was represented in table tennis on the international stage. What we need now is to find out what the true level of ability is in Cayman. We drew four people on the team from a small crowd. We need to harness the talent that’s out there and choose the strongest team. 

“In short the Island Games was a thrilling experience. It’s the first step in realizing the talent that exists in Cayman for the future.” 

Currently, table tennis matches are played Tuesday and Thursday evenings 7-10pm. The Clifton Hunter high school hall is the site of matches and sports a number of ping pong boards. Interestingly a pair of boards, along with a few racquets and balls, were recently donated by the international federation.  

Games feature an interesting cast of players. Ramoon is still active as the top junior while Tempral is among the better adult smashers. Cayman Free Press employee Donovan Nelson is another notable player along with Churchill ‘Prince’ Brown. A number of ping pong enthusiasts associated with other sports also take part such as squash star Gabe Rabess. 

Sairsingh states all add to the present climate around the sport locally. 

“Ansel is involved while Dante is an aspiring, young player coming up. Donovan is one of the top three players on island and deserves much kudos. Players like him (whose son Javdon also plays) are so instrumental in getting things done.” 

anselt focus

Ansel Tempral represented Cayman this year.

Table Tennis Cayman Islands

Table tennis is played indoors at the Clifton Hunter hall.

DRamoon table tennis Cayman

Dante Ramoon is the top junior. – PHOTOS: MATTHEW YATES
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