But “Diteemane” left a mark in the team’s events where both the men’s and the women’s teams won bronze medals behind SA and Angola
South Africa and Angola proved to be the strongest forces of ‘ping pong’ in southern Africa following their total dominance at the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) Southern Africa Region World Qualifiers held in Botswana over the weekend.
Table tennis enthusiasts from Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Angola, South Africa, Lesotho and Eswatini gathered at Botho University from 29 June to 2 July 2023 for the tournament.
The regional qualifiers pitted the Top 8 players in the individual category and the Top 2 teams in the team event qualifying for the Africa Championships billed for Tunisia in September.
In quest of making it through to the Africa Championships, Botswana was represented by a formidable 8-strong squad comprising four men and four women – Masa Lesole, Tshenolo Mooketsi, Bakang Maloka and Boago Malobela in the men’s team and Constance Kuswani, Olorato Ramagapu, Tshepiso Rebatenne and Game Kebodiwang in the women’s team.
South Africa dominated all men’s and women’s individual and team events where they got first positions ahead of Angola and Botswana. The men’s finals pitted the South African duo of Nathoo Chetan and Abrahams Luke, which Luke eventually won 4-3 while Edvane Neto of Angola settled for bronze.
The women’s section was won by Sasman Jade of South Africa after defeating Tavares Ruth of Angola 4-3 in the finals.
Botswana individual players went as far as the quarterfinals in the men’s and women’s singles through Tshepiso Rebatenne, Constance Kuswani, Bakang Maloka and Tshenolo Mooketsi
But Botswana, commonly known as “Diteemane,” left a mark in the team’s events where both the men’s and the women’s teams won bronze medals behind South Africa and Angola.
Tight score margins
Botswana Table Tennis Association (BTTA) president Kudzanani Motswagole told Gazette Sports that they are happy that they successfully delivered a high standard and competitive tournament.
“I am happy that we managed to host the region and they enjoyed their stay in Botswana,” he said. “Hosting comes with pressure and challenges, but I am happy to say the event was very successful.
“South Africa dominated the entire tournament but they did not have it easy this time around because it was tough, looking at the score margins. We have brought a competitive platform for countries in the region and we believe that they also got much-needed competition from us.”
Motswagole added that there was notable improvement among Botswana players, hence BTTA will continue to give them a chance to play in a competitive setup to catch up with the standard of play on the continent.
“Our players did fairly well and I believe we can do better,” he said. “I was happy to see them match the standard of their counterparts who play internationally. I believe people have noted our potential and I appeal to sports leaders to assist and invest in table tennis.”