Jelani Miller is the toast of The Learning Centre.
Yesterday the youthful table tennis talent emerged the champion of champions of the St. James educational institution with a thrilling 11-6, 11-8, 11-8 victory over Shaqualle Atherley.
What made Miller’s victory the more amazing was that he had competed and won the Division Three title and had overcome all the odds to defeat Atherley who was the Division One champ.
Showing a lot of patience and skill, Miller maintained the steady play that had seen him win the Division Three title and concentrated on returning serves and minimizing mistakes. His game plan worked to perfection.
Earlier Atherley had shown his class in dominating the Division One final against Carlitos Adamson, winning 11-1, 11-5, 11-0. Atherley was never in danger of being overwhelmed by Adamson and such was his dominance that his subsequent capitulation to Miller took most by surprise.
Miller earlier defeated the talented Jay-tee Brathwaite in the Division Three final, 11-4, 11-3, 12-10. Brathwaite started rather lukewarm in the match-up and Miller generally directed proceedings in the game.
However, in the third set Brathwaite finally found his best form and played his best tennis of the day but Miller held out for the narrow set victory.
Both players had contrasting semi-final victories.
Brathwaite defeated Kris Howell 11-3, 12-10, 11-8 in an encounter that was closer than the scores might suggest. Howell took a while to get his game going, succumbing rather easily in the first set but he then picked up the pace and proved a worthy ally for Brathwaite though going down in two close sets.Miller had a mixed bag against Ramario Mayers in his semi-final. He easily won the first set 11-5, then had to contend with a resurgent Mayers in the second set before prevailing 11-9. Whether he had expended all his energy in the second set or Miller simply stepped up his game in the third, the result was a crushing third set 11-2 win for Miller.
The Division Two title was taken by Joshua Howard who had a ding-dong battle against Jonathan Harewood before emerging victorious 11-9, 11-4, 11-8. Harewood would have rued a few unforced errors as he looked quite a good match for the eventual victor.
In Division Four action Kemeal Butcher defeated Isaiah Foster in one of the more thrilling matches of the table tennis championships.
The two were evenly matched, with Foster a bit more adventurous while Butcher’s forte was his steady, consistent play. This served him well as he took the divisional title with a 11-9, 11-7, 15-13 victory. The final set was as exciting as it could possibly get with the players involved in good rallies and playing a number of well executed attacking shots.
Perhaps their semi-final encounters were a prelude to what would happen later as these match-ups were also exciting affairs.
In his semi-final game against Jaquon Cumberbatch, Foster won 13-11, 11-7, 11-7. The first game could have gone either way but Foster won the important points when it mattered most and this appeared to take a bit of the steam out of Cumberbatch in the following sets.
Butcher had an equally troubling semi-final game against Sherlock Nedd who fought all the way before eventually going down 11-8, 11-5, 15-13.Principal of The Learning Centre, Dawn Rudder, expressed her delight with the competition, stating the participants had given their all in every game they played in an effort to win.
She complimented all the players and offered special congratulations to Miller who emerged Champion of Champions.
The students were coached by Julie Morris of the National Sports Council. (WG)
Please also see pages 48 & 49†