There was no shortage of excitement over the weekend when local table tennis stars battled it out during the Gaborone Table Tennis Open held at the Gaborone West Community Hall.
While the games started on a low note, the last sixteen matches of the Mascom Wireless-sponsored tournament produced some of the most memorable clashes that solicited standing ovations from the spectators and players alike.
With the championship and P3000 prize money on the line, participants gave all their best, giving credence to the claim of table tennis being the fastest racket sport in the world.
The highlight of the tournament, however, has to be the epic clash between Tshepo Modisane of Smash Maniacs and Boipelo Pitsonyane of BDF club.
After losing the first round and trailing in the second, Modisane put up a gallant fight to try and snatch the round but all in vein as he went on to lose it. In one moment, the two exchanged fierce shots that had the spectators standing up and applauding.
However, the stoutly built Modisane, dubbed “Baby Jake” perhaps for his resemblance to former South African boxer Jacob “Baby Jake” Matlala, made a strong comeback and clinched the third and fourth round to force the game to go into a fifth and final deciding set, which he went on to win.
Another clash which caught the eye was between another BDF man Boipelo Pitsonyane and MacDonald Qalinge of Nhabe club.
Twice during their exchanges, Qalinge sent his opponent crashing through the court resulting in a broken chair and a slightly injured spectator. Speaking to Telegraph Sport after the tournament, the president of Botswana Table Tennis Association (BTTA), Robert Maabong, expressed happiness at the level of play during the event.
He said the arrival of sponsors like Mascom, Kalahari Floor Tiles and Botho College (NIIT) had raised the standard and breathed life into the games.
The BTTA president expressed hope that they can attract more sponsors to make table tennis more competitive. In the men’s single finals, Bonolo Mabote, beat Daffrien Goppani, while Boitshwrelo Butale clinched the women’s singles ahead of Matshidiso Osi.
Both winners walked away P3000 richer each while their runners up pocketed P1500 each.
Joseph Kgatlampane and Tshepo Modisane edged out Boipelo Pitsonyane and Thobo Matlhatsi to win the men’s doubles while the women’s doubles were won by Follah Leero and Oabona Raditloko. After taking the men’s singles and coming third in the doubles, Mabote then teamed up with Osi to clinch the mixed doubles.