Thobo Matlhatsi of Botswana Defense Force (BDF) table tennis club and Matshidiso Osi of Smash Maniacs were crowned the Botswana Table Tennis Association (BTTA) Celiat Construction League champions on Saturday at the Botswana National Youth Council (BNYC) in Gaborone.
Thobo Matlhatsi needed only four points to accomplish his mission in his last three fixtures of the season and he got them in style, smashing Modisaotsile Kola and Tiro Lesomo 4-2 and 4-1 respectively. Matlhatsi’s electrifying form was calmed by defending champion Bonolo Mabote who handed him a meaningless (4-2) defeat.
The table tennis maestro couldn’t hide his excitement, saying he managed to win because of determination and hard work.
“I am happy with my overall performance this season. My coach told me I have improved, citing good attack and ball control,” he said.
Matlhatsi also said he was wary of the threat that Mabote and Kola were posing during the entire league period.
“When the league started I set myself targets and one of them was to beat Mabote in the first round, which I managed. Kola was also coming hard behind me so I had to be strategic,” said Matlhatsi.
He ended the men’s league with 26 points from 14 games (12 wins and 2 losses), followed by Kola with 24 points and Mabote on third with 23 points. Matlhatsi said he will be shifting his focus to upcoming local tournaments in order to better his national rankings.
“There are up to nine upcoming local tournaments. My target is to win six of them and I know it’s not going to be easy. Many players are still wounded from the league, I know they are all up for the challenge,” he said.
Matshidiso Osi of Smash Maniacs table tennis club also came out strong to beat Namibo Mbulawa 4-2 and defending champion Boitshwarelo Butale 4-3 in a do or die match that led her to the league title. However Osi’s win was surrounded by controversy as there was confusion on who could have won the title between her and Butale. They both ended the league on a tie (winning 12 games, losing 2 and accumulating a total of 26 points) but Osi ended up winning by virtue of the scores she registered in her total games.
“I didn’t know I stand a chance to win the league until the last day, and it came as shock to me because we had Boitshwarelo Butale leading the log from the beginning until the last match, I think luck was on my side,” she said after being declared the winner.
“It’s still difficult for me to celebrate at this point because we are all confused and there are some missing points from the first games. But we are still waiting for explanation,” Osi said.
Despite all this misperception Osi added that she was happy with her performance this season because she managed to fit in well in her attacking style of play. Boitshwarelo Butale and Tshepiso Rebatenne ended up on position 2 and 3 in the log standing.