I happen to remember the very first opening ceremony of the World Cadet Challenge back in 2002. About ten minutes to go we (myself and the General Secretary of the Hungarian Association Mrs. Judith Farago – now of course the acting CEO of the ITTF) were standing on the floor trying to figure out a way to start the whole thing off.
I said; “Let’s put a ceremonial serve on the table and bid welcome to the teams before we start “.
So , the participating teams were gathered around the table and the ceremonial procedures went as far as I remember quite smooth – the World Cadet Challenge was born and would then during the golden years of the ITTF Global Junior programme , develop into the primary world event for the cadet age.
Following this morning’s wonderful opening ceremony with excellent speeches – great entertainment and well-dressed continental teams all proudly marching into the University of Guam field house, we can quickly conclude that we now have advanced this event to pure world class.
The tradition of the opening serve was also honored mind you. ITTF Executive Vice President Mrs. Petra Sorling took the center court together with the First lady of Guam Mrs. Christine Calvo for a quick encounter, that surprisingly enough lasted three points.
Sorling opened up with a forehand down the line, well wide of the table (most likely figuring that it would be nice to give the victory to the lovely first lady who together with her husband has been such a supporter of this event). Much to the surprise to Mrs. Sorling and the audience the first lady was eager to test her skills again and grabbed the ball to play a couple of more points . This time Petra countered with a heavy underpin in a strong effort to put things right; 1-1. Now, most people thought it would stop there – but instead the ladies engaged in another rally with the third point deciding the outcome in favor of the ITTF.
However the BIG winner this morning was neither of the two dignities in the court and not us, the well-dressed officials, nor the many players in the field house.
This one belonged to the Guam local organizers for putting on a great show and to the ITTF Development sector for paving the way to success by constantly pushing forward on the international sporting scene . Personally I would also like to throw this event – The World Cadet Challenge into the mix of winners. It has matured over the years and is nowadays presented with class and pride by the ITTF competition department.