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Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
A New Chapter in the History of Table Tennis in the Dominican Republic
General
The Dominican Republic is one of the most successful countries in the history of the table tennis events at the Central American and Caribbean Games; they have a host of titles to their credit. Mario Alvarez and Juan Víla, who are officials with the Dominican Republic party in Cartagena de Indias this week, are two of the most successful players in the history of the competition.

No player has won more medals in the competition than Juan Víla and twenty years ago Mario Alvarez won the Men’s Singles title.
Johenny Valdez gaining experience and now a gold medallist in Cartagena da Indias
He also won the crown in 1982 and 1983 but one title has always proved elusive, the Women’s Team crown, that situation exists no more. On Tuesday 24th July 2005 the Dominican Republic won the title and they won in style. They beat Cuba three-nil at the final hurdle.

Xu Wue beat Glendys Gonzales, Qian Lian overcame Anisleivys Bereau and Johenny Valdez ended proceedings with victory over Dayana Ferrer.

Team Effort
“It was a good performance from the whole team”, said coach, Miguel Rodriguez. “Xu Wue and Qian Lian have been working with the young players and they are making a very positive contribution to the progress of table tennis in the Dominican Republic.”

Xu Wue and Qian Lian are fine players. Xu Wue is a penhold grip player, good close to the net, excellent in the area of serve and receive and clever when blocking with the backhand. Meanwhile Qian Lian is a shakehands grip topspin player with textbook technique. Both are very much a part of a highly motivated and integrated team.

First Appearance
The event in Cartagena da Indias is the first time that either Xu Wue or Qian Lian have played in the Central American and Caribbean Games, both are enjoying the experience. “It’s good playing here, I just try to do my best”, said Xu Wue. “Every match is a new challenge and it’s good to see our young players making progress.”

Equally, Qian Lian was pleased to be in Cartagena da Indias. “I am really pleased to have won for the Dominican Republic”, she said. “We have a good team spirit, I really feel a member of a team.”

Respect
Qian Lian had experienced few problems in the Women’s Team event but she did highlight one name. “Fabiola Ramos is good”, said Qian Lian. “I think she’s been my most difficult opponent.”

Fabiola Ramos has `good hands’ and the choice of Qian Lian is a shrewd selection; she recognised the Venezuelan’s control near the net, an aspect of table tennis which Chinese players notably excel.

Presure
Meanwhile for Johenny Valdez, it might be thought that she is in an ideal situation have two such strong players in the team but it is a situation that can create pressure.

The two stars win easily and you have to follow and do the same; it’s not an easy situation. However, it is a situation with which she has coped and coped well. “I really do feel part of a team and I’m really proud we have won”, she said. “Having the Chinese players in the Dominican Republic is a great help, they give me lots of advice; it’s a good situation.”

Delighted

Equally, Lucia Marte was delighted to be part of a very cohesive team. She had played in only one match en route to the title, that being against Guatemala in the group stage. “I was nervous at times watching them play”, she said. “Having the two players from China in the Dominican Republic really helps, we can learn from their experience.”

Lucia Marte is learning and she is part of a team, a team that for the next four years holds the title Women’s Team Champions Central American & Caribbean Games; when the Games are held again in 2010 both Lucia Marte and Johenny Valdez will no doubt be integral members of the Dominican Republic Women’s Team.


The successful Dominican Republic delegation after the success of their Women’s Team in Cartagena da Indias

Photo by Victor Calvo
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