ARIMA Table Tennis Club (ATTC), fielding only junior players from Guyana, stunned favourites Legends United in the final of the ICWI (Insurance Company of the West Indies Limited) Champions Table Tennis League Wednesday night at the Eastern Regional Indoor Sports Arena, Tacarigua.
After being soundly beaten 6-1 when the teams clashed to begin the competition on August 10 and 5-2 in the second round four days ago, ATTC flipped the script with a commanding 5-2 triumph when it mattered most for the $10,000 winners’ cheque.
Legends trailed from the start, but they had the opportunity to level proceedings at four and force a deciding doubles match with Franklyn Seechan in charge of the penultimate match on the second table and fellow former national top-ten player Kenneth Parmanand to follow.
However Seechan failed to convert five straight match points for 10-5 in the deciding game and then another and suffered his only defeat of the tournament, 8-11, 11-9, 14-12, 9-11, 14-12 to Colin Wong.
At the same time, Niran Bissu, who got very nervous and failed to close out QPCC (Queen’s Park Cricket Club) Parkites in the semi-finals on Tuesday, did not make the same mistake for ATTC time on the main table.
The Under-19 player got significant help from his opponent as returning former national champion Yuvraaj Dookram found it extremely difficult to find the board in his 11-6 11-1, 11-6 defeat, after producing glimpses of his best in his narrow 4-11, 11-6, 11-7, 7-11, 11-8 defeat by Jonathan Van Lange.
This 15-year-old was definitely the star of the night after he had failed to convert a match point in the fifth and eventually lost to the tournament’s leading player Shemar Britton (8-11, 11-8, 12-14, 12-10, 12-10) in the semis the night before.
Van Lange, who had lost in three straight games to Barbadian Tyrese Knight when the teams met on Saturday, got his revenge 11-7, 11-13, 11-7, 11-8, after the runner-up in the recent Silverbowl Championship had beaten Bissu 11-8, 11-5, 11-2 to make it one-all on the main table.
Wong drew first blood for ATTC on the second table with an 11-7, 11-8, 9-11, 11-8 triumph over Parmanand, who did not have to play Krystian Sahadeo in the final match with the matter already settled.
Seechan had whipped Sahadeo 11-6, 11-7, 11-8 for Legends’ only point on the second table. With their semi-final encounter with Parkites deadlocked after the eight matches on Tuesday night, Van Lange and Wong defeated Silverbowl champ Britton of Guyana and Tobagonian Javier King 11-5, 7-11, 12-10, 11-7 for ATTC to move into the title match.
ATTC had also needed a deciding doubles to win their first round encounter last week Wednesday night and then prevailed 5-3 when they met three days later in the second and final round of the round-robin stage.
After winning the first stage with nine victories—from their ten fixtures—Legends moved straight into the final.
ATTC finished the round-robin stage with eight wins, while last year’s champs, Parkites, ended third with six victories.
New Team, including five-time national champ Reeza Burke, Jesse Dookie, and Smalta Crusaders, led by former national champ Anthony “Sandfly’ Brown, were next with three victories apiece.
And WASA Club, without the services of two-time national champ and tournament organiser Curtis Humphreys after the second fixture, brought up the rear with just one victory—a 5-4 triumph over Parkites to start the competition on August 10.