Mumbai-girl Senhora D’Souza and China’s Xiaotong Sun clinched the bronze medal in the junior girls team event of the USD 8,000 India Junior and Cadet Open Table Tennis Championships at the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Stadium, Worli yesterday. The feat is special given the pair communicate only through sign language.
In the semi-final, the duo lost 0-3 against eventual gold medallists Anqi Li and Yanmei Yang. China’s Anqi Li defeated Senhora 14-12, 11-4, 11-8 in the opening singles. Later, Yanmei Yang beat 16-year-old Xiaotong 11-7, 11-3, 9-11,11-8. Li combined with Yang to beat the Indo-Chinese pair 11-4, 11-7, 11-7.
Teaming up together was not easy for the Indo-Chinese pair, who don’t understand or speak each other’s language.
Senhora said: “I was very excited when I was told that I will be partnering Sun. But when we started practicing together, I realised that it was not easy. Not just the language, even our playing styles were completely different. Gradually as we started practicing, we bonded over sign language. Though she is younger to me, I have learnt a lot about the game playing alongside her. We have won this medal because of her.
Had she been playing in India, she would be the top seed.” Meanwhile, one of the Hong Kong officials translated what Sun said. “Communication was a major barrier. We couldn’t understand what the other person is saying. But once we started practicing, we bonded at an emotional level. I know only one or two English words,” said Sun.