by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor (Interviews by Olalekan Okusan)
Defeats but as 2016 comes to a close both can reflect on year they will never forget; Sally competed in the Rio Olympic Games; Grace Rosi Yee was a member of the Oceania Girls’ Team at the ITTF World Cadet Challenge in Shanghai.
“We have beaten each other as many times as we have lost against each other but my sister is a better player than me. Actually, I started the game before her but she has caught up with me now; when we are playing she sometimes scolds me when I am not playing too well, it is just to help the team. I do not see it as big deal. Most of all I must I appreciate the sacrifice our parents have made. They have really supported us in the sport and they are also proud of us”, Sally Yee
Both are determined to succeed and both have benefitted from their experiences; furthermore both are clearly grateful for the opportunities afforded. Fiji may possess an idyllic setting but of course it does not have the sporting resources of a world superpower.
“I will continue to work hard to become a better player, we both love the sport and we get great support from our parents. I train hard to be ahead in the game and this is why I am ranked higher than my sister. I was a bit jealous but Sally made us proud by becoming the first table tennis player from Fiji to feature in the Olympic Games”, Grace Rosi Yee.
Places in the main draw denied for the sisters and it was the same for one other sister.
Puerto Rico’s Gabriela Diaz, the elder sister of Adriana Diaz who is the no.6 seed in Cape Town and therefore has a direct entry to the main draw, missed qualification to the second phase by a whisker.
She was beaten by Serbia’s Izabela Lupulesku (11-6, 11-3, 11-6, 11-13, 11-9), before experiencing defeat by the narrowest of margins when confronting Canada’s Justina Yeung (5-11, 11-4, 11-8, 11-3, 9-11, 9-11, 13-11).
“For me table tennis is my hobby, I never thought of being in the team with my sister; things just happened because I won a national competition to earn my place in the team. My sister, Adriana has been in the team before me but I made sure I worked hard to merit my place. Playing together in the national junior team with my sister is amazing but sometimes we argue as teammates; being my last junior championship, I wanted to achieve something with the team, I think I have learned a lot in South Africa”, Gabriela Diaz.
Gabriela Diaz is currently studying at university in Mayaguez; a town situated in the far west of the island, in 2010 it was the home for the Central American and Caribbean Games.
It was a tournament at which Adriana Diaz, even though only nine years old at time was present. She was delegated responsibilities. Time and again she was allotted the job of sitting outside the court, turning over the numbers on the scoring device; since those days Adriana Diaz has been inside the court and has done rather well.
“Table tennis has given me all and it has become part of my life. It has given me opportunities to travel round the world and meet important people. Despite making the national team before my sister, Gabriela, I did not influence her inclusion as she worked hard to make the team. Apart from Gabriela being in the junior national team, my elder sister, Melanie is also with me in the senior team”, Adriana Diaz.
The quest for Adriana Diaz in the Girls’ Singles event commences on Monday 5th December.