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FINDING A GROOVE IN POHNPEI

Guam’s smallest populated sports team competing in the 2014 Micro Games in Pohnpei is by far not it’s least competitive. With only four players on the roster the table tennis team is ready to dig deep and make some noise with each player just eager to showcase their skills.

By Robert Balajadia

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Guam’s smallest populated sports team competing in the 2014 Micro Games in Pohnpei is by far not it’s least competitive. With only four players on the roster the table tennis team is ready to dig deep and make some noise with each player just eager to showcase their skills.

2014 Micro Games Table Tennis Roster

Norby Ocampo (player coach)

Arman Burgos

Colleen Simpson

Frank Candaso

The team runs practices over three hour stretches over twice a week to sharpen their skills and heighten their awareness to get ready for the games.

Arman Burgos is the only member on the roster with Micro Games experience having competed in 2010 and he’s just out to improve from the 2010 trip where nerves got the best of him.

Arman Burgos prepares his serve. (photo by Robert Balajadia)

Arman Burgos prepares his serve. (photo by Robert Balajadia)

“I’m hoping to at least win in the first round,” Burgos admitted. “I thought I was really good at the time, but the nerves got to me. It was only second international competition.”

Burgos is no stranger to international competition having competed in the 2009 East Asian Games, 2010 Micro Games, 2011 South Pacific Games and 2014 Championships in Japan along with teammate Norby Ocampo.

Ocampo is focused on just making sure his team performs at their best.

Norby Ocampo focuses in on returning the serve. (photo by Robert Balajadia)

Norby Ocampo focuses in on returning the serve. (photo by Robert Balajadia)

“We’re making sure we practice what we’re good at and use it as one of our tools to win this. We also practice all our flaws to add balance in our game,” said Ocampo on the daily training. “I make sure I practice my forearm since that’s what I’m most good at.”

Competitors Frank Candaso and Colleen Simpson are of the older bunch to be competing in the games, but they are just as eager and every bit of excited as the other athletes, especially since this will be a first time for both of them.

“I’ve been playing table tennis for a long time and I’m an ‘old school’ player. I’m very proud to be selected and I appreciate the cooperation by people to help send me there. This is going to be a learning experience and I hopefully I get something to bring back here,” said Candaso.

“It’s exciting to just go and represent Guam. It’s going to be a lot of fun and a great learning experience. We just do the best we can and I think the idea is just to be rested and stay loose. We’re going to see new things so for us we just have to learn to adapt,” said Simpson.

Colleen Simpson pushes through the three hour practice. (photo by Robert Balajadia)

Colleen Simpson pushes through the three hour practice. (photo by Robert Balajadia)

The rigorous hours that have gone into training is all part of making the players feel as comfortable as they can through all the emotions the tournament is sure to bring.

Both Ocampo and Burgos described how they’re going to know their in a groove in the game

“If I’m able to return all my opponents shots despite him giving me a different spin, that’s how I know I’m in a rhythm,” said Ocampo

“I usually just play off instinct, but when I’m feeling good I think my spin starts to have a special kick. I feel like I can do anything, but I do know my limitations,” said Burgos.

Team Guam’s table tennis team will be looking to get into groove all tournament long and the youthful exuberance that Candaso and Simpson display are inspiring to all. That, and the fact that they are still hoping to give back to the table tennis community.

“Whatever I learn out there I’m going to bring back here and teach these kids how to play the real game,” ended Candaso. Guam is rooting for you!

Frank Candaso will be making his Micro Games debut along with Colleen Simpson. (photo by Robert Balajadia)

Frank Candaso will be making his Micro Games debut along with Colleen Simpson. (photo by Robert Balajadia)

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