Date of birth: 27/03/1985
Rubber: Target Pro GT S39
Blade: Hinotec Off-
Bronze medal at the Latin American championship
Bronze medal at the Pan Am Festival games
Bronze medal in mixed doubles at the American Central and Caribbean Games
Caribbean Mixed Doubles Gold Medal
Top 12 regional Junior champion
Top regional champion
Minimes top and regional champion
Benjamin top regional champion
Aquitaine Junior champion
The “Cornilleau Team” Interview
How did you get into ping?
My mother and stepfather Dexter Saint-Louis play ping at a club in Trinidad and from 4-6 years of age I accompanied them in the same hall. I did some drawing whilst they played and, at the end of the training session, I played a few balls with them. I really liked that bit. It was at the age of 8 that I got into playing at the CAM Bordeaux club, when we moved to France. We’d accompanied my stepfather, who’d just been signed with SAG Cestas in division one in 1992.
And then what path did your career take?
I was a member of the CAM in Bordeaux and as soon as I turned 8 or 9, I was putting all my effort into table tennis with daily and individual training sessions with Dexter. I went to Poitiers in 2007, where I remained for 10 years, then I had 2 seasons in Schiltigheim and I’m currently playing for the TT Passageois Agen, whilst training in Bordeaux.
Which are the key moments in your career?
In 2015, I reached the quarter finals of the French championships after some top-level matches. It’s still a fond memory, but more recently I experienced a much more poignant episode. It was in the spring of 2019 and my stepfather, Dexter ST-Louis, who I consider as a father, was very ill and only had a matter of days of his life left. From his hospital bed, he shared his wishes with me: he wanted me to go to the tournament to qualify for the Pan-American Games. The tournament was being held in Guatemala, on 22 May. He finally passed away on 16 May and I really couldn’t see myself going to play ping there as I was at a very low ebb and completely floored by his passing. My mother explained to me that Dexter would have been proud for me to try to qualify and that it was something close to his heart. I decided to go there, though I’d only done a week of specific training in what were very special circumstances. Whilst I didn’t think I’d have the mental capacity to do it, added to which I had a series of physical problems, I did manage to qualify. I have fond memories of it and I was able to return to France for my stepfather’s funeral, which took place just after 29 May.
How did you get to join Team Cornilleau?
I was accompanying my stepfather, who was participating in the world championships in Rotterdam in 2011. During one interview, he was wearing a Cornilleau tracksuit, which caught the eye of various members of the brand who were in attendance that day. They came over to chat with us. I didn’t have a sponsor at the time and it all happened naturally. Cornilleau offered its support and I accepted. I then had some discussions with the brand’s experts to define the wood and the rubbers which best suited me and still play with today. I’m very happy with them.
What type of player are you?
I’m more of an attacker, but I remain calm when I’m playing. A fair few female and male players emit a sound when they hit the ball or win a point, which is not something I do. To stay focused and quiet, I need to be calm. I’ve recently developed my playing style and I’ve made gains in terms of fighting spirit. I previously banked on my block. Now, I play closer to the table and mid-distance. I’ve also improved my forehand and I attack mid-length balls better using this stroke.
Which is your favourite shot?
Since the early days, my strength has been my backhand. Although I’ve made considerable progress with my forehand, my backhand is still the shot I use to best effect for sure.
On a personal level, what has ping given you?
I’ve met a lot of people, who are important to me thanks to table tennis. This sport has enabled me to travel, discover different countries and above all different cultures and to adapt to different situations and conditions. I believe that the open-mindedness that ping has brought me is one of the most important things. Very early on, ping and doing it at high level gave me a passion for the sport. In fact, to be able to perform well, I quickly understood that to be disciplined and organised was essential. I have relied on the qualities developed through ping in other domains too and in my schooling in particular.
What do you think you’ll do once your career as a player comes to an end?
I’ve already begun to prepare for what follows my sporting career by doing training to be able to work with children as I really love taking care of them. As such, I think I’ll work in a creche or day nursery once my competitive career winds up.