LIV­ING THE DREAM

Fif­teen-year-old Ethan En­nis is climb­ing the pro­vin­cial ta­ble ten­nis ranks

Valley Journal Advertiser - - COVER STORY - BY KIRK STARRATT KINGSCOUNTYNEWS.CA Kirk.starratt@kingscountynews.ca

An An­napo­lis Val­ley ta­ble ten­nis player rec­og­nizes that op­por­tu­ni­ties as great as a re­cent sum­mer camp in Can­ning don’t come along ev­ery day.

Fif­teen-year-old Ethan En­nis, of Grand Pré, is pas­sion­ate about ta­ble ten­nis. He was one of 18 play­ers in­volved in a five-day camp fa­cil­i­tated by the Nova Sco­tia Ta­ble Ten­nis As­so­ci­a­tion at North­east Kings Ed­u­ca­tion Cen­tre (NKEC) in Can­ning in late Au­gust. The An­napo­lis Val­ley Ta­ble Ten­nis Club (AVTTC) pro­vided vol­un­teer sup­port un­der the di­rec­tion of Steph Craan.

En­nis said he wanted to take part in the camp be­cause of the qual­ity of the in­struc­tors and coach­ing. He also had friends tak­ing part and saw the camp as a great op­por­tu­nity to get more ex­pe­ri­ence and im­prove as a player. He said he had a great time in gen­eral at the high-cal­i­bre event.

The sum­mer camp was the first of its kind in the prov­ince, in­te­grat­ing both able bod­ied play­ers and those fac­ing phys­i­cal chal­lenges.

En­nis said it can be dif­fi­cult to get qual­ity prac­tice in Nova Sco­tia dur­ing the sum­mer months. He said it was great be­ing able to meet so many amaz­ing play­ers and En­nis pointed out that those par­tic­i­pants with phys­i­cal chal­lenges are not to be taken lightly.

En­nis has been play­ing for two years now, get­ting his start at Wolfville School. He said a coach from Ja­pan who is a very skilled player, To­mo­hisa Vib­ert, came to study at Aca­dia Univer­sity. Vib­ert be­came the top-ranked ta­ble ten­nis player in Nova Sco­tia and had a great in­flu­ence on En­nis, help­ing him to re­fine his tech­nique.

“He’s just a re­ally good guy and an amaz­ing player,” En­nis said. “I wouldn’t have been nearly as good with­out great coach­ing by Tomo.”

En­nis finds ta­ble ten­nis to be a dif­fi­cult but fun sport and he be­lieves that the chal­lenge and com­plex­ity were part of what hooked him. He said he got a ta­ble when he was younger and played against his par­ents, but his skills re­ally started to de­velop af­ter he got in­volved with the AVTTC.

En­nis now reg­u­larly com­petes in tour­na­ments across Nova Sco­tia. He has com­peted at the At­lantic Cana­dian cham­pi­onships twice and he went to na­tion­als in Markham, Ont., in 2017.

He’s striv­ing to be the best he can be. En­nis wants to be­come more com­pet­i­tive and hopes to climb to the top of the pro­vin­cial rank­ings.

En­nis said one down­side for him is that there aren’t that many play­ers in­volved lo­cally and most of his friends par­tic­i­pate in other sports.

Ta­ble ten­nis is his favourite sport and he would rec­om­mend it to any young player in­ter­ested in ex­plor­ing the finer nu­ances. Those in­volved are very sup­port­ive of each other. En­nis also cred­its AVTTC di­rec­tor Steph Craan for help­ing him get in­volved in ta­ble ten­nis.

En­nis said play­ers in Nova Sco­tia are at some­what of a com­pet­i­tive dis­ad­van­tage com­pared to those from more highly pop­u­lated ar­eas, such as On­tario, where there are more con­sis­tent op­por­tu­ni­ties to train and im­prove.

He said there isn’t any­thing easy about the sport but mas­ter­ing the foot­work is per­haps the most chal­leng­ing, yet im­por­tant, as­pect of ta­ble ten­nis.

“It just takes a lot of time and train­ing and prac­tice like any other sport,” En­nis said.

For him, one of the most un­ex­pected but pleas­antly sur­pris­ing as­pects of get­ting in­volved in ta­ble ten­nis was the ex­po­sure to other cul­tures.

Camp a valu­able learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence

Joe Fisher, man­ager of the 2019 Nova Sco­tia Canada Win­ter Games team with the Nova Sco­tia Ta­ble Ten­nis As­so­ci­a­tion, said all four girls go­ing to the games took part in the camp and three out of the four boys.

He said En­nis, an al­ter­nate for the Canada Games team, is “an up- and- com­ing player who we think will be a for­mi­da­ble op­po­nent” for many. En­nis is a cou­ple of years younger than the Canada Games team mem­bers but Fisher said he “is al­most at their level” and they want to en­cour­age him.

Fisher said the camp was for able-bod­ied play­ers age 25 or younger but they opened it up to any player with a dis­abil­ity, re- gard­less of age. Seven signed up, in­clud­ing some of the top para play­ers in Canada. He said it’s good that able-bod­ied play­ers get to com­pete against some of the top na­tional ath­letes who, even though they have a dis­abil­ity, you can’t un­der­es­ti­mate.

“I think that our play­ers have ben­e­fited play­ing against play­ers that are vastly dif­fer­ent than them, so they’ve learned a lot and they will con­tinue to learn. It’s been a great ex­pe­ri­ence that way,” Fisher said.

He be­lieves the camp will serve as a model for other prov­inces and there is al­ready in­ter­est in hold­ing a sim­i­lar one in Bri­tish Columbia. Sup­port 4 Sport has been a ma­jor part­ner in this in­no­va­tive ap­proach to ta­ble ten­nis, help­ing to fund the camp, and or­ga­niz­ers are ap­pre­cia­tive of NKEC for pro­vid­ing a rea­son­ably priced venue.

Fisher said he is very thank­ful for all the vol­un­teer sup­port the camp re­ceived and the lead­er­ship pro­vided by camp in­struc­tors Pradee­ban Peter-Paul and John MacPher­son.

About the camp in­struc­tors

Pradee­ban PeterPaul has been on the na­tional ta­ble ten­nis team for many years, rep­re­sent­ing Canada at the world cham­pi­onships, Pan Amer­i­can Games, Com­mon­wealth Games and the Olympics. He be­came a coach three years ago and be­came en­gaged with train­ing na­tional team mem­bers, mostly in Toronto and at the Pan Amer­i­can Games Cen­tre in Markham, Ont. John MacPher­son is the cur­rent na­tional ta­ble ten­nis coach for ath­letes with dis­abil­i­ties. He’s coached play­ers from across Canada to the podium at sev­eral in­ter­na­tional events. A Nova Sco­tian, MacPher­son has shared his ex­per­tise with all ta­ble ten­nis play­ers across the prov­ince.

KIRK STARRATT

Ethan En­nis of Grand Pré is con­stantly work­ing to im­prove his ta­ble ten­nis tech­nique. He was among the par­tic­i­pants in a re­cent sum­mer camp at North­east Kings Ed­u­ca­tion Cen­tre in Can­ning.

KIRK STARRATT

Fif­teen-year-old Ethan En­nis of Grand Pré is climb­ing the pro­vin­cial ta­ble ten­nis ranks and is an al­ter­nate for the 2019 Nova Sco­tia Canada Games team.

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