The Sunday Mail
THE big guns were forced to watch from the sidelines at the Prince Edward Open as a pair of starlets battled for the title.
Perennial stars Vikram Singh, Brian Chamboko and Shabani Mulenga all crashed out early in the tournament, albeit after a new draw format, and watched as Tinotenda Fambira (14) and Adrian Mabaudi (13) contested the final.
“The boys are improving, that’s all I can say,” said a near speechless Chamboko, before adding, “But you should know that they got lucky with the draw.”
Singh and Chamboko met in the first knockout round and cancelled each other out early. That left the door open for the upstarts.
Officials at the Old Windsor Table Tennis Academy, whose players dominated in other categories at the Prince Edward Open, say such a day was always coming.
“We took a gamble by throwing this boys into the deep end but we were motivated by what they showed us during the eight months we trained them,” said Noah Ferenando, the Zimbabwe Table Tennis Union technical director and one of the Old Windsor coaches.
“We had a compact programme for Tino and Aiden and our first target was winning the Youth Games playing against senior players. When we saw they were ready, we sent them to the Midlands Open last year.”
From there, the goal was to strengthen the boys mentally.
“We realised they lost because of psychological unpreparedness so we spent months working on their psychological aptitude and Edward (Tsai) being a psychologist by profession, helped us in designing a program to mentor them.
“Towards competition we were always discussing opponents’ weaknesses, and come tournament time they exploited that,” added Fernando.
Based at Old Windsor Primary School, the one-year-old Academy has nearly 300 table tennis players on their books.
“We train from ECD … it’s a facility free for everyone. We have 290 kids that we coach every day, at different times, but the consistent ones are the ones we take for tournaments,” revealed Ferenando.