2015 ITTF World Cadet Challenge: Widening Knowledge, Proceedings Commence in Sharm El-Sheikh
Courtesy of ITTF
October 24, 2015 – Excellent conditions, first class organization and a warm welcome from Dr Alaa Meshref, the President of the Egyptian Table Tennis Federation; proceedings commenced in earnest at the 2015 ITTF Cadet Challenge in Sharm El-Sheikh on Friday October 23rd.
A Training Camp is first on the agenda under the direction of Sweden’s Peter Karlsson. Each team practices against each other over the three day period, the respective coaches all being heavily involved; notably special coach education sessions are scheduled for the evenings.
Each of the six continents – Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, North America, Oceania – is represented in addition to the host nation and a Hopes Team. Pertinently they are present with their relevant nationally appointed coaches.
Present once again is Canada’s Maxime Surprenant, the coach for the North American Boys’ Team.
“At this camp, I am learning different ways of training; practicing with players from many other in countries, everyone can learn new things”, he said. “There are many different styles, so it is very useful for our players.”
Earlier this year Maxime Surprenant was his country’s Men’s Team guiding hand at the recent 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto.
“Peter Karlsson is really adding so much to this camp, you can see when he speaks all players just listen carefully to every word he says”, added Maxime Surprenant. “They are from different generations but they know they can gain very good experience from him and try to catch everything he says.”
Born this Century
Different generations and as time moves forward for the concept that fist saw the light of day in 2003, the 2015 ITTF World Cadet Challenge is the first time that every player on duty has been born this century.
“I will make sure everybody in my team is comfortable and ready to play, I made a special preparation for each player in my team to make sure we fight and play 100 per cent”, continued Maxime Surprenant. “I think that this year we are ready and we can have very good results.”
Certainly, it was a very positive Maxime Suprenant.
“I hope we can win the team and doubles events and also make good results in the singles”, he added. “We will have many difficult matches, we have very good players and everybody feels confident.”
Similar to other teams present in Sharm El-Sheikh, the North Americans have met prior to travelling to the ancient Egyptian city.
“Before this camp we prepared well, we had a training camp in New Jersey, it was a very good training camp as we had a good partners from China for practice”, explained Maxime Surprenant. “It was four days but four big days that included physical and technical preparation with multi-ball practice involved; also we played many matches which has helped our team improve, it was good for everyone to be together, we all now feel like a family.”
Team spirit high and in intense competition that may prove vital; equally it will be vital to adjust to the different climate in Sharm El-Shiekh.
“The weather here is somehow different but it won’t affect our players as it is not a big problem, North America is at the same altitude”, explained Maxime Surprenant. “I have tried to prepare the players mentally and make them comfortable; they are here for a reason, they are the best in North America so they can make it here, they have all potential.”
One notable name on duty in the North American Boys’ Team is Canada’s Jeremy Hazin; he was present last year in Barbados.
On that occasion Maxime Surprenant had to determine the players who would travel to the impending World Junior Championships in Shanghai. He decided not to select Jeremy Hazin, who the following day gave the best answer possible. He beat Argentina’s Francisco Sanchi to help guide North America to a three-nil win over Latin America and thus secured third place.
Different Situation One Year Later
Now, one year later, life is somewhat different for the indefatigable Jeremy Hazin who smiles 24 hours a day.
“I will go with one of my players to the World Junior Championships; this also a very good preparation for him but the most important thing is for him to achieve good results here and get experience over there”, said Maxime Surprenant.
The player in question is Jeremy Hazin, the place is La Roche Sur Yon in the French department of Vendée.
Progressing to Senior Level
“I been at the Cadet Challenge for each of the past four years and from those I saw four years ago I already see some who are starting to make progress at senior level but as yet have not celebrated their 18th birthday”, concluded Maxime Surprenant. “I think every year two or three players go very far from this tournament; this year my approach is to be open and not miss anything.”
History suggests that is the situation; of course the first ITTF World Cadet Challenge in 2003 in the Hungarian city of Tiszaujvaros is renowned for the fact that China’ Zhang Jike and Cao Zhen, both later World champions, were present.
However, there are several others who were present some 13 years ago who progressed to become valued members of their nation’s senior teams.
Present at the recent Liebherr 2015 European Championships in Ekaterinburg, Hungary’s Szandra Pergel, Spain’s Galia Dvorak and Russia’s Maria Zelenova (now Maria Dolgikh) all participated in Tiszaujvaros.
Somewhat similarly, present in the Hungarian city, Lee I-Chen now a vital member of the Chinese Taipei Women’s Team and Paula Medina is the leading lady in Colombia.
Interviews conducted by Omar Refaat