Newly-crowned champ has a knack of bouncing back

Shaun Jones

Like a ball being struck from end-to-end, newly-crowned national men’s table tennis champion, Shaun Jones, 39, from Manenberg has a knack of bouncing back.

Involved with the game for 27 years, Jones found his winning groove all over again when he beat Duinefontein Table Tennis Club’s Wafeeq Domingo 4-0 in the men’s final at the national championships, in Bloemfontein, a fortnight ago.

No stranger to winning titles, Jones’ achievement caught many by surprise as he had packed away his table tennis paddles a few years ago to focus more on the coaching side of things.

Over the years he’s won seven national titles, six junior and one senior men’s title, the last time in 2003.

In 2012, Jones founded Duinefontein TTC, which was later taken over by Domingo, his rival in the final at this year’s national competition.

Introduced to the game at an early age by Cape Town table tennis legend, Pedro Meyer, Jones later established Cape Flats Top Spinners which merged with Shiloh TTC two years ago to become what is now known as Shiloh Top Spinners TTC.

Thinking he’s playing days were over, Jones says he left the game for two years between 2016 and 2017 without picking up a table tennis bat.

However, Jones was back with a bang in 2018 and made the SA team in 2019 after 10-year absence and won gold with the team in Maseru, Lesotho, at the Africa Zone 6 championships.

By all accounts, the old Jones was back, but things took an expected twist in 2020 with the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. Instead of losing momentum, the pandemic and the eventual lockdown afforded him the opportunity to spend more time on the board.

“It was a difficult time during lockdown with no play and also trying to keep active was a stumbling block,” he said.

In hindsight, he said, it was probably the best thing that could’ve happened to him as far as table tennis was concerned. A father of five children, three boys and two girls, aged between 7 and 15, Jones suddenly had ample time to spend with the youngsters, coaching them and working on his own game.

As they say in the classics, all’s well that ends well and for Jones that meant having another trophy to add to his collection. So how did he manage to pull one over the youngsters at the nationals. Experience, he said, with a twinkle in his eye, is the great teacher and by all accounts he taught everyone a lesson.

Next up , he says, is to win the Cape Town Open later this month and even prepare for upcoming events.

Shiloh Top Spinners TTC has junior training sessions on Saturdays from 10am to 1pm and on Mondays and Wednesdays, from 4pm to 6pm, at the Ras Centre, 5 Noll Avenue, in Athlone Industria. Seniors train on Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 7pm to 11pm. Call Jones on 067 722 3017 for more information.