Ping-pong Players Prepare For Africa Junior Championships
It was a thrilling moment when seven regional table tennis teams converged at the Sports Hall of the Accra Stadium last Saturday to compete in a justify-your-inclusion exercise.
The two-day exercise which was staged to enable the officials of the Ghana Table Tennis Association (GTTA) to select teams for the All Africa Junior Championships slated for Accra in March 2004 saw the participants struggling fiercely to merit selection into the national team.
In the women U-21 category, a determined Linda Annor who led the Greater Accra team in the absence of the national players proved her worth when she played an excellent game to dismiss all her opponents to become the champion. Beatrice Gyasi and Linda Nkansah from Ashanti placed second and third respectively after losing the semi-final and final matches to Linda.
In the men's division, David Carboo from the Ghana Navy notched the highest points to emerge winner after the final segment. David Senyo, also from Accra came second while Gama Narh of the Central Region finished third. In the U-18 category which involved only boys, Ben Joe Sam of Greater Accra came first at the end of the competition, followed by Eric Addo from Central while Charles Oppong took the third position.
However, the U-15 girls competition turned out to be an all-Central affair as the Central representatives battled it out among themselves. Eventually, Lucy Addo was crowned the queen of the tourney after a hot contest. Gifty Ocran placed second while Akosua Ketu came third.
For the boys, Jerry Akyede and Samuel Akyede from the Eastern Region took the first and second positions respectively while Philip Mensah from the Central Region came third. In all, 108 players drawn from Greater Accra, Ashanti, Western, Central, Eastern, Upper East and Volta regions participated in the event.
A total of 40 players were selected out of the lot at the end of the first phase of the exercise. However, the final selection is expected to be done early January to allow for adequate preparations for the Africa event. Meanwhile, members of the national table tennis team, the Black Loopers, who were regarded as automatic qualifiers were exempted from the just-ended exercise.
The General Secretary of the GTTA Mr Vincent A. Arhin, said in an interview with the Graphic Sports after the competition that the selected players will be further pruned down to suit the given quota for the Championships.
According to him, the tournament which is expected to bring together all the countries in Africa requires four players each, "but since we are hosting it, we have the opportunity to double our number", he added.
He expressed the hope that the team would be in camp by December. He therefore charged the selected players to commence training in their various regions as they await the date to be called to camp.