Ping-Pong lovers stage tournament

Table tennis aficionados will have a new way to showcase their skills.

The Cayman Islands Table Tennis Association is planning a local invitational tournament, dubbed the “C.I. Table Tennis Open.” The University College of the Cayman Islands’ multipurpose hall is slated to host the competition, which caters to various age groups, on Nov. 9.

Association president Robert Sairsingh said the inaugural event is about growing the sport here.

“This tournament is in keeping with the association’s objective to develop a vibrant table tennis fraternity in Cayman and to ensure that table tennis enthusiasts of all ages have access to the sport for recreation and competition,” Sairsingh said. “Through hosting this tournament, we intend to reignite competitive drive and inspire further technical development in all participants.”

The association is under new leadership after recent elections. In addition to Sairsingh, Donovan Nelson serves as vice president, Asko Rasinen is general secretary, Ansel Tempral handles treasurer duties and Michael Ricketts is listed as public relations officer.

During the week, there are practice sessions for the sport at John Gray High School’s assembly hall on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7:30 p.m. and at the old John Gray hall from 5pm.

Table tennis hopes to build on last year’s momentum when a week-long coaching clinic at the University College of the Cayman Islands multipurpose hall featured Swiss coach Georg Silberschmidt and saw more than 20 people on their way to gaining International Table Tennis Federation Level 1 coaching certification. At the time, the association planned activities for after-school clubs and at community centers, a table tennis league and a national championship.

There was also talk of forming a national team to participate in regional events, Caribbean championships, Commonwealth Games and eventually, the world championships. Cayman has an obligation to keep the sport going here, as it receives support from the Cayman Islands Olympic Committee as an Olympic sport and has been a member of the international federation since 2008. The global governing body has donated equipment to local players in the past.

On the international stage, the sport’s biggest showing was at the 2011 Island Games in the Isle of Wight. The association, which formed in 2008, sent four players to the competition – Cy Elliott (captain), Tempral, Rohan Clarke and Dante Ramoon (junior). Sairsingh was team manager of the squad, the first national table tennis side.