Friday, April 13, 2018
By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
GOLD Coast, Australia — After meeting and playing against some of the best players in the world, Adrian Rollins said he can go home quite content with his trip here to represent the Bahamas in table tennis at the XXI Commonwealth Games.
While he broke the barrier as the first Bahamian to represent the Bahamas in the four-yearly games, Rollins said he played his best, matched against players who possess a lot more experience than he did.
“Some of them come from countries where there are several million people and they have a lot more players playing the sport and they were considered the best in their country, so for me to come here from the Bahamas where our numbers, in terms of players, are much smaller, I feel it was a good experience.”
Rollins said his match against Sri Lanka’s Rohan Sirisena on Tuesday was an intense one. The match lasted 14 minutes as Sirisena won 4-0. He took game one 11-3 in three minutes, game two 11-2 in three minutes as well, game three 11-4 in three minutes and 11-6 in four minutes.
In his second match, Rollins lost to Vanuatu’s Ham Lulu 4-0 in 15 minutes as well, but the outcome of each game was much closer. Lulu won 11-3 in the first game in three minutes, 11-7 in the second in four minutes, 11-6 in the third in four minutes and 11-5 in the fourth in four minutes.
“I enjoyed the experience, but I felt I could have done a little better with a little more training,” he said. “Obviously these guys have been at the Commonwealth Games several times before, so that exposure to the games gave them a slight advantage over me. But I’m feeling that whoever we send back here, will have my experience that I will pass on to them.”
As a civil structure engineer by profession and the oldest member of Team Bahamas at age 54, Rollins said he’s an easy going guy who started playing when he was in college.
But he’s now a member of the Bahamas Table Tennis Association that meets and plays on a regular basis at the YMCA building on JFK Drive. “We play in Nassau and in tournaments in South Florida. Several of us also visited and played in the US Open,” Rollins said. “Since we started the Bahamas Table Tennis Federation, they had a team that represented the Bahamas at the US Open for the first time last year.
“We intend to do that this year again, plus we have one or two more tournaments like the Central American and Caribbean Games in July in Mexico that we will go to as a team from the Bahamas. I intend to be on that team going to the Central American and Caribbean Games, so the experience I gain here should help me there.”
Shemeka Fernander, who serves as the secretary general for the federation and was the coach of Rollins here, said she thought he represented the country well in his debut.
“I noticed some strengths and some weaknesses,” she pointed out. “We serve a little different in the Bahamas and I think that was something that threw him off his game a little bit. I noticed it also with his opponent. You’re supposed to throw the ball six inches up in the air, which we normally do, but it looked a little short, which messed both of the players up.
“I was very pleased with his game against the player from Sri Lanka. I believe if he had to play another game or two, he could have won. So I was very happy with his performance.”
Fernander said they will definitely take advantage of the experience and they hope to send some younger players to come here to compete in about four years.
She said they are already in a number of public and private schools and now that they have been exposed to this level of competition, they can only see the sport expand in the future.