by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
In the second stage of proceedings, Grace Rosi Yee was beaten by Paraguay’s Leyla Gomez (11-3, 12-10, 11-9) and by Mexico’s Arantxa Cossio Aceves (11-8, 11-5, 11-4), before overcoming Australia’s Dani-Elle Townsend to conclude her itinerary of matches.
“I feel good, it’s my second year playing table tennis; I started playing table tennis two years ago, I trained with the coach but now I don’t have any coaches in Fiji I just have the Oceania coach”, said Grace Rosi Yee. “I train with my sister, sometimes with our Table Tennis Association President.”
For Grace Rosi Yee, just as with the major of players, playing table tennis started as a pastime.
“My family used to play for fun, I also started because it’s fun but then two years ago, a coach came to visit and I started playing seriously with the coach, taking part in the international events” added Grace Rosi Yee. “My sister is really good, she took part in the Olympic Games this year; she’s the first from our country to qualify for the Olympic table tennis event, so we are proud of her, I want to beat my sister, and find a coach.”
Sister is one older, 15 years of age Sally Yee but it was Grace Rosi Yee who qualified for the 2016 ITTF World Challenge in Shanghai, not Sally!
Now that must be a first and underlines the high quality of the ITTF World Cadet Challenge; you qualify for the most prestigious tournament on earth but you cannot book your place in Shanghai!
“So many people play table tennis in Fiji just for leisure, very few play professionally; we have had Chinese coaches but they come and go; they do not stay for long”, added Grace Rosi Yee. “We have had Chinese coaches in Fiji by they come and go; they don’t stay for long.”
Difficult to find coaching and of course there is another problem which all 14 year olds face.
“Schoolwork is the biggest obstacle for me in playing table tennis, because now I’m in high school, so it’s really hard to manage both”, added Grace Rosi Yee. “I can train only two hours a day; I didn’t think too much about my future in table tennis, school is still my main priority, I’m not sure whether I’m going to be a professional table tennis player in the future.”
A sensible approach, education first and then options may open; for any player male or female from a small island with minimal resources professional sport is a difficult goal. It is especially the situation when your chosen sport is not a high priority.
“The Olympic Games wasn’t shown on television in Fiji”, continued Grace Rosi Yee. “I didn’t know how well my sister played; table tennis, it seldom broadcast on television in Fiji, they show more of other sports, like rugby.”
Nevertheless, Grace Rosi Yee and her sister, Sally, make the most of the situation and the most of playing on the international stage.
“It’s just me and my sister playing table tennis in school and my sister is the best” concluded Grace Rosi Yee. “I made some friends from North America here, they are very friendly.”
An experience for Grace Rosi Yee never to forget; it is valuable in both the world of sport and the world of education.
2016 ITTF World Cadet Challenge: Cadet Boys’ Singles – Groups
2016 ITTF World Cadet Challenge: Cadet Boys’ Singles – Positions 1-16
2016 ITTF World Cadet Challenge: Cadet Boys’ Singles – Positions 17-32
2016 ITTF World Cadet Challenge: Cadet Girls’ Singles – Groups
2016 ITTF World Cadet Challenge: Cadet Girls’ Singles – Positions 1-16
2016 ITTF World Cadet Challenge: Cadet Girls’ Singles – Positions 17-32