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Living the Dream: Grand Pré table tennis player has sights set on climbing provincial ranks

15-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.
15-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. - Kirk Starratt

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

15-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 Ennis 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.

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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. 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.”

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.
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.

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 Annapolis Valley Table Tennis Club (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, Ontario, 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 down side 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 foot work is perhaps the most challenging yet important aspects 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. He doubts that he would get the same multicultural experience playing hockey, for example.

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, regardless of age. Seven signed up, including some of the top para players in Canada. He said it’s good that our 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.

The participants and instructors at a recent Nova Scotia Table Tennis Association summer camp at Northeast Kings Education Centre in Canning. It was the first summer camp that combined able bodied players with those facing physical challenges.
The participants and instructors at a recent Nova Scotia Table Tennis Association summer camp at Northeast Kings Education Centre in Canning. It was the first summer camp that combined able bodied players with those facing physical challenges.

He believes that 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 Peter-Paul 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, Ontario.

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@kingscountynews.ca

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