by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
After Ashley Robinson had lost to the vastly experienced Dexter St Louis (5-11, 11-5, 12-10, 11-6) and Paul McCreery had levelled matters by overcoming Yuvraj Dookram (11-3, 11-2, 11-6), Owen Cathcart entered the arena.
He partnered Paul McCreery to success against the combination of Yuvraj Dookram and Aaron Wilson (11-9, 11-9, 11-5), prior to overcoming Dexter St Louis (11-8, 11-9, 11-7), a contest in which at first he appeared overwhelmed. He lost the first six points of the opening game; then lost just two more before gaining success. Again in the second game he mounted a recovery, he trailed 7-9 before winning four in role to inexorably turn the tide.
“It was my first singles match in the main arena, a big hall, it was different, I needed time to get used to the atmosphere. I relaxed, looked at the bench, everyone was supporting me. I started to change the direction of the play more, vary between playing long and short, upsetting his rhythm. Paul and myself make a good doubles combination, we were able to win the points quickly; also we felt confident in the rallies.” Owen Cathcart.
Success for Northern Ireland means they finish in second place in their group behind India and thus advance to the first round, the four first round fixtures being scheduled for later in the evening.
Meanwhile in the remaining contests to determine second places Guyana beat Ghana by three matches to one with Derek Abrefa the one winner for the African country; in the opening match of the fixture, he accounted for Nigel Bryan (11-2, 9-11, 11-2, 12-10).
A hard fought success but most tense was the win recorded by Mauritius in opposition to Barbados; three-two result was the eventual outcome; the star performer for Mauritius being Brian Chan Yook. He beat both Tyrese Knight (11-7, 11-7, 7-11, 6-11, 11-6) and in the vital concluding fifth match, Marcus Smith (11-3, 11-4, 6-11, 11-5).
Tense times for Mauritius, less so for Sri Lanka, Scotland and Malaysia; three-nil wins were the order of the day. Sri Lanka beat St Vincent and Grenadines, Scotland overcame Kiribati, Malaysia defeated Belize.
The first round fixtures will be completed later in the evening.