(by Steve Hopkins)
Guyana was host to the 61st Caribbean Table Tennis Championship at the Cliff Anderson Sports Hall in Georgetown, Guyana. The event, which concluded on March 31, was a Pan American Games qualification event. The teams that competed included Cuba, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, Barbados, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, St. Kitts & Nevis, Trinidad and Tobago, Aruba, Dominican Republic, St. Lucia, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Suriname, French Guiana, and Haiti. Match format is three player teams with playing order that starts with doubles and then up to four singles matches (first team to 3 wins). The top teams qualify for the Pan Am Games, which will be held in Peru this August.
Puerto Rico entered the tournament as the top seed and did not disappoint. The team of Daniel Gonzalez, Brian Afanador, and Ricardo Jimenez went through the draw easily and defeated the Dominican Republic in the final 3-1.
Brian Afanador and Daniel Gonzalez won the doubles match to provide the early lead. Ricardo Jimenez then fell to Wu Jiaji, the strongest player on the Dominican team. Daniel then defeated Samuel Galvez to retake the lead, and Brian Afanador defeated Wu Jiaji to seal the victory.
Team Puerto Rico now has an automatic birth to the Pan American games. The group will be traveling to France to train as a team in France as they prepare for the World Championships. The team will travel throughout Europe, with plans to compete in Serbia, Slovenia and Croatia. After those events, they will visit Asia and play in events in China, Hong Kong, Japan and Korea.