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Barker at his best

BEA DOTTIN, [email protected]

Barker at his best

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Experiencing a rebirth in the table tennis arena, Aaron Barker is again poised to take top honours as he prepares to face the equally ambitious Mark Dowell in the finals of the Barbados Table Tennis Association’s senior National Championships at the Table Tennis Centre tomorrow night.
Barker showed much promise as a junior player when a student at Harrison College but that potential was lost, mainly to cricket. Since his return three years ago, and more than a decade after walking away from the sport, Barker is finally starting to reap the rewards consistent with his ability.
“I am easily playing the best table tennis of my life right now,” Barker told WEEKENDSPORT.
“When I left, I was the best junior player in the island and one of the best in the Caribbean, but my first love was cricket and I decided to concentrate on that.”
That drive for cricket success took him to the Spartan Club where he became a regular member of the Division One team (now Premier League) as an off-spinner and hard-hitting lower order batsman.
It was his competitive nature that, by chance, drove him back to the tables after trying his hand at road tennis.
“My barber knows Dale Rudder very well. We would always have heated arguments in his shop about Dale being a better player than I ever was and I would always be on the defensive. One afternoon in the shop we were at it again and on that occasion I couldn’t take it anymore. I called Dale right then and there and told him I was coming to tennis now. The rest is history,” Barker revealed.
It is the friendly rivalry provided by Rudder and Dowell that keeps Barker motivated and keen to improve but there is also a more deep seated rationale behind his new found commitment to the sport.
“I also want to be a role model for the younger players as we have a few talented players now. I want them to see me putting in the necessary work on and off the table that is required to reach and surpass the level that I am at right now,” said the Barbados national player.
Much of that recent work has been done despite a knee injury that affected him during the later stages of the national championships.
“I have a meniscal injury that may require surgery,” explained Barker, who said that he was using plenty ice, elevation and anti-inflammatory medication.
Tomorrow will be the second appearance for Barker in a senior singles final having lost in the “A” Class final to Trevor Farley three years ago. On that occasion, he beat Dowell at the semi-final stage but has not had much success against him since then.
That could change tomorrow night. (PH)