Barbados’ table tennis champion Tyrese Knight put up a good showing but lost 4-1 to Emil Santos of the Dominican Republic when the two met this morning at the Salón Metropolitano Stadium in Rosario, Argentina, for the Olympic Qualifiers.
From the start, Knight knew it was going to be a tough battle against twotime Caribbean champion Santos. Despite showing resistance oftentimes during the match which was streamed live, Knight fell 13-11, 11-3, 9-11, 11-7, 11-9 in the three best of five sets showdown.
The 21-year-old Knight who shockingly was without a coach in Argentina had to rely on Guyana national coach Idi Lewis for guidance during his match against Santos.
Knight plays again on Thursday and it is uncertain if local officials will have a coach in his corner for that important game. No official word was obtained today as to why Knight was not accompanied by a Barbados coach in Argentina.
The opening set started at high intensity as both men traded attacking forehand and backhand shots. Knight down by one point brilliantly levelled the scores 8-8, 9-9, 10-10, 11-11 and was in a position to capture the set. However, two consecutive failed returns by the Barbadian allowed Santos to snatch the first game.
The quality and ability of Santos really showed in the second set when he ran roughshod over Knight.
Knight opened the service and was under pressure from early with a failed return to give Santos the opening lead. That was just the beginning of Knight’s agony as Santos forged ahead 4-0 and put the Bajan on the backfoot.
Knight at least needed to secure victory in the second set to take some pressure off himself. He finally got on the scoreboard when he accounted for two vital points to make the score 2-4 after Santos had two failed returns of his own.
That proved to be no bother to the Dominican who showed why he is among the Caribbean’s best moving to a whopping 9-2 advantage. He went on to trounce Knight by eight points when that set finally concluded.
The speed and attacking nature of the combatants who are both right-handed were in full display during the match. They frequently forced each other to back away from the table during their returns.
Going into the third set, Guyana coach Lewis had a chat with Knight and it was a much better showing by the Barbadian at the beginning of the third set. Knight produced his backhand serves that resulted in some of his winning points as he led 6-3 and put Santos on the backfoot for once in the contest.
However, Santos’ forehand shots were oftentimes too explosive for Knight to counter and eventually he equalised 6-6 and took the momentum 8-7 at the break. On resumption Knight bounced back strongly.
He equalised 8-8 and went on to capture the third set 11-9 after a determined effort and two failed returns from his opponent.
Knight appeared a lot more confident and this was the opening needed to equalise the match heading into the fourth stanza.
Despite showing a great effort to possibly put pressure on Santos and take that set, Knight was unable to achieve that goal.
Instead, Knight lost the fourth set 11-7 after Santos did what he does best and smashed past Knight frequently, leaving the Bajan with little time to respond.
Among the things Santos did really well during the game was to switch up his returns which had Knight reaching a lot to stay alive during the rallies.
The fifth set was played despite Santos’ unassailable lead. It wasn’t all doom and gloom for Knight because similar to the third set, he had a great 6-3 lead in the final set. But each time he appeared on his way to snatch the consolation win Santos made life difficult. Eventually, Knight who needs to work more on his finishes, lost the lead at 10-9 as Santos went on to claim the set 11-9 in the keenly contested exchange.
Knight has one more opportunity to qualify for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan when he competes again on Thursday.