Watson has more to give
Kane Watson is a reasonable man. He knows that, at 35, he is near the end of his table tennis career. However, one thought keeps him going. He truly believes he has more to give and to gain from the game. That belief led him to his fifth national...
Kane Watson is a reasonable man. He knows that, at 35, he is near the end of his table tennis career. However, one thought keeps him going. He truly believes he has more to give and to gain from the game.
That belief led him to his fifth national singles crown last year. Last weekend, he went undefeated at the Jamaica Table Tennis Association trials for the Caribbean Region Championships, set for Guyana in March.
The COVID-19 pandemic froze world table tennis with Watson in Europe readying himself for a bid to qualify for the 2020 Olympics. When the regional qualification tournament was actually played in 2021, he struggled, and retirement became an option.
“Definitely, that was in the back of my mind, then just getting back out there playing tournaments, I realised that this is what I do, and I still have something left to offer,” he said on Tuesday, “And I still feel like there is something missing, probably a Caribbean title somewhere along the line, but I don’t feel like it’s time to fully call it a day. Although I think I’m in the twilight of my career, I think I have a lot left in the tank.”
With that thought in his mind, the former Kingston College and University of Technology representative played steady table tennis at the trials. In fact, everyone except runner-up Christopher Marsh and third-placed Mark Phillips lost to Watson in straight sets.
“I knew it would be tough to manage the rounds so I tried to play smart, not hard,” the champion explained about the 10-player-round robin one-day trials format, “So, it’s more of a tactical decision to manage the rounds,” he added.
He beat both Marsh and Phillips 3-1. When Marsh met Phillips, the score was 16-14, 5-11, 11-7, 5-11, 11-8.
Now Watson will lead Jamaica into battle in Guyana. When the Caribbean tournament was here in 2018, he reached the last 16 in singles and won the silver medal with Simon Tomlinson in doubles. Asked to compare his form now to his 2018 level, he replied, “I think I’m a bit there in terms of mental. I was more physically prepared back then. Coming back after COVID-19, it has been somewhat sticky. You can’t train as much. I had a lot more tournaments under my belt back then.”
There were times at the trials when Watson was light on his feet and he plans to sharpen up with table work, running and short sprints as the Caribbean challenge looms closer.
“You know when you step to a table tennis table and you just feel like bouncing around a table, I need to get that, between now and then, to get my legs in that active mode where I am just reaching for balls under the table and round the net,” he said.