Table tennis tales

Matt Molloy
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Jaguars earn team silver at provincial table tennis

There was no stopping the Jane Collins Academy Jaguars from defending its provincial School Sports Newfoundland and Labrador table tennis banner.

EXCEEDING EXPECTATIONS — Members of the Jane Collins Academy Jaguars that earned provincial team silver included: (front, from left) Michael Cutler, Bradley Rogers, Bradley Oram, Joshua Norris; (back) assistant coach Mark Collins, Mikalya Garvin, Kiara Eddy, Chelsea Butt, Mackenzie Dawe, and coach David Eddy.

 

The Jaguars, who won the provincial team banners in 2012 and 2013, had to battle Mother Nature and a steady stream of table tennis action in an attempt to win team banner number three.

The provincial tournament took place at Dorset Collegiate in Pilley’s Island over the Feb. 22 weekend, and the island was dumped with snow on the day the Jaguars were scheduled to leave. 

“Normally, you would go to the tournament on Thursday night, play all Friday and Saturday, and come back Saturday night. However, we had a snowstorm, and they weren’t cancelling it. Lethbridge (Heritage Collegiate) couldn’t go, Bay Roberts (Ascension Collegiate) couldn’t go, and we couldn’t go, but they wouldn’t cancel it,” said Jaguars’ coach David Eddy. “They were going to play on Friday…so we gambled and got up on Friday morning and went anyway.”

By the time the Jaguars got to the gym the other teams had finished their encounters, so the Jaguars had to play every one of its games right after the other.

There was no break, so if the Jaguars were to defend its provincial team title, the athletes would definitely have to earn it.

“We got there, bang, we had to play Springdale (Indian River High School) right away, and we beat them 4-1. There was no break, and then we had to play right away, and this time we played Viking Trail Academy (Plum Point). We beat them, and then we played the team from Nain (Jens Haven Memorial School), and they slaughtered us 4-1,” said Eddy. “It came down to our next encounter against Pilley’s Island…and if they had beaten us, there would have been three teams tied at 2-2 and it would have come down to a tiebreaker, and we would have been in trouble. So, we had to win that particular encounter. If we won, we were going to the championship; but if we lost, we weren’t. We won boys’ singles, lost girls’ singles, lost boys’ doubles, and won girls’ doubles, so it came down to mixed doubles. It was 2-2 in the best-of-five match, and we had Mackenzie (Dawe) and Bradley (Oram) playing for us. They were going 2-2, 3-3, 4-4, and went like that until it got to 9-9. It was crazy…I couldn’t even watch it. Anyway, we went on to win it 11-9.”

Dawe, one of many rookies on this year’s JCA team, said her stress level rose with every crucial point.

However, she gave a lot of credit to her partner, who was just one of three players that returned from last year’s team.

“I was taking it point by point, and my stress level was going up with every point,” said Dawe. “Bradley and I just worked together to calm ourselves down, and talked about how we had to take it point by point. We took our time and slowed it down.”

With the win, the Jaguars advanced to the final against Jens Haven, who edged the Jaguars 3-2 to end the two-year streak of provincial team wins for the Hare Bay school.

However, winning provincial team silver exceeded the expectations the team set for itself.

“I didn’t think we were going to deliver because it was pretty much a brand new team. Bradley (Rogers) and Chelsea (Butt) were on there last year, and so was Bradley Oram, so we only had three returning players,” said Eddy. “I wanted them to go to provincials just for the experience, and that would help us next year.

“We started off with six players, so we never had a team in the beginning. We had to recruit a couple of young girls (Mikalya Garvin and Kiara Eddy) in Grade 9 from William Mercer Academy,” said Eddy. “We’ve been playing pretty much all year. A lot of teams probably don’t start until after Christmas, but we kind of play all the time.”

“When we first came into it, like coach said, we weren’t expecting much because it was a fresh start with new players,” said Rogers. “Glovertown had a good team last year, and we knew they had their full team coming back this year, so they were going to be even stronger. Personally, I wasn’t expecting to go very far, but we ended up pulling through at regionals and managed to get to provincials and get silver. It was an excellent turnout.”

Along with Dawe’s and Oram’s mixed doubles’ bronze, Michael Cutler and Josh Norris won boys’ doubles bronze, Butt won bronze in girls’ singles, and Rogers won silver in boys’ singles.

Kiara Eddy won the provincial sportsmanship award.

 

Regional play

Jane Collins Academy hosted the SSNL Central East Regional Table Tennis Championships in early February.

The tournament attracted three teams, the Jaguars, Glovertown Academy Eagles, and New World Island Academy Prowlers.

The Prowlers were the new table tennis team on the scene, and the Jaguars knew the Eagles would bring the biggest test.

“Our first match was against New World Island, and I believe this was their first tournament, so they haven’t been playing much, and we beat them five-straight,” said JCA’s Chelsea Butt. “Of course, we were a little more nervous against Glovertown. It was kind of a big battle, just like last year.”

It was indeed a tough challenge, but the Jaguars edged the Eagles 3-2 to claim the regional banner, and qualify for provincials.

Kiara Eddy and Cutler won regional sportsmanship awards.

info@ganderbeacon.ca

Twitter: @beaconnl.ca

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