by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager
In his opening contest he faced an adversary who at the Manchester 2002 Commonwealth Games, the first time table tennis had featured in the multi-sport gathering, won both his matches in the group stage against England; notably England progressed to win the title!
Amalraj Anthony faced Dexter St Louis who just over two weeks ago on Wednesday 21st March celebrated his 50th birthday; he lost the second before eventually sealing victory by succeeding in a close fourth game (11-5, 8-11, 11-2, 14-12).
“First match, new balls, different to those we have been practising with; new conditions; it took time to find a rhythm. Gradually I warmed up and played better as the match progressed. Tactically there was nothing that really caused me trouble, it was just a case of adapting.” Amalraj Anthony
Success for Amalraj Anthony, Sathiyan Gnanasekaran doubled the advantage by beating Aaron Wilson (11-5, 11-5, 11-4), before combining with Harmeet Desai to secure the contest. They overcame the pairing of Yuvraj Dookram and Aaron Wilson in straight games (11-9, 11-4, 11-4).
A three-nil outcome the end result, it was the same for England as it was for Singapore and Nigeria; alongside India major contenders for honours.
Represented by Paul Drinkhall, Liam Pitchford and Sam Walker, England proved too strong for Ghana’s Derek Abrefa, Felix Lartey and Bernard Sam; a situation which also applied to Singapore in opposition to Mauritius. The combination of Gao Ning, Pang Xue Jie and Ethan Poh Shao Feng showed no charity when facing Akhilen Yogarajah, Rhikesh Taucory and Brian Chan Yook Fo.
Meanwhile, Olajide Omotayo, Bode Abiodun and Azeez Jamiu joined forces to record a three-nil win for Nigeria against the Belize outfit comprising Rohit Pagarani, Devesh Hukmani and Terry Su.
It was very much an instance of a developed table tennis country playing one that is developing; it was the same for Australia in opposition to Oceania neighbours Kiribati and for Canada when facing St Vincent and the Grenadines.
Trent Carter, Heming Hu and Kane Townsend gave the host nation the ideal start when facing the Kiribati outfit comprising Tauramoa Mitta, Allie Johnny and Nooa Takoo; as situation that also applied to Canada’s Eugene Wang, Marl Medjugorac and Antoine Bernadet in opposition to the Caribbean island’s Carlton Daniel, Romano Spencer and André Mitchell.
Teams finishing in first and second places in each group advance to the main draw.