National table tennis coach Tjatur Budi Setiojono (L) in a training session with one of the national junior players at the Multipurpose Hall of Menglait Sports Complex in Gadong yesterday. Picture: BT/Azri Metussin
NATIONAL table tennis coach Tjatur Budi Setiojono is pleased with the progress made by the national junior players this year after they showed improvement in local and regional tournaments.
"There has been a lot of progress in the table tennis scene this year, especially from the juniors," said Tjatur in an interview with The Brunei Times at the Multipurpose Hall of Menglait Sports Complex in Gadong yesterday.
"They can even challenge the senior players in the local tournaments, and that has happened a lot this year," he said.
One of the major surprise this year came when 15-year-old Ak Abdul Rasheed Pg Md Noor progressed to the semi-finals of the men's open at the Brunei Darussalam Table Tennis Association (BDTTA) President's Cup Table Tennis Open 2015 after beating the tournament's favourite Wee Tzu Min – who won the Brunei National Table Tennis Championship last June – in the quarter-final.
"Rasheed has been playing well this year and managed get into the last four of one of the year's biggest tournament, and that really shows how talented he is," added the coach. "I'm sure if he keeps on training hard, he will be one of the top players in the country," he added.
Brunei's young paddlers reached the quarter-finals of the 21st Southeast Asian Junior and Cadet Table Tennis Championship (SEATTA) for the first time at the National Sports Council Bukit Jalil, Kuala Lumpur in June. Both of the sultanate's players clinched second in their respective groups in Malaysia.
Ak Abd Basheer Pg Hj Mohammad Noor beat his opponent from the Philippines 3-0 while his compatriot Abdul Wafi Suhardi also defeated a player from Laos with the same score. "We have two players who managed to progress into the next round, and that was quite an achievement as we have never got past through the group stage before this," said Setiojono.
"Furthermore, we had the youngest players in the competition at that time - so I am really happy with the progress we had so far this year," he added. The coach also stressed the importance of exposing the players to more regional and international tournaments for their developments in 2016.
"Hopefully next year they can play in more tournaments, especially outside the country, so that they can keep on getting more experience to keep on developing," he said. "We have a lot talent, and I don't think we are far left behind other countries in this sport," he concluded.