Phil Capitano and Tina Johns to compete at senior games in mixed table tennis
HUNTSVILLE - Last Thursday marked the start of something big for Phil Capitano and Tina Johns.
Less than one week ago, the Huntsville residents met for the first time, following numerous phone calls about similar interests.
While this may sound like the opening for a tale of two people who met on a blind date, it is, in fact, the story of two liked-minded people who are striving for the same goal … to win a medal.
Capitano and Johns are freshly-minted teammates, introduced and joined together by organizers of the 2013 Ontario 55-Plus Senior Winter Games to compete in the mixed doubles table tennis event at the championships, slated for Feb. 26 to 28 in Huntsville.
“Tina was kind of in the same boat as me,” said Capitano. “All the other positions (in table tennis) had been filled so we got paired together.”
“When I called (general manager Myke Malone) about playing, he said that he might have someone for me to partner with and did I want one. I told him sure and since then, we (Capitano) and I called each other and have been talking since then.”
Capitano has enjoyed the sport of table tennis since he was a teenager in London, Ont. “I came from a large family of 10, and it was felt that we needed some sort of a distraction. So my family put a table into the house, bought some balls and told us to go at it. So my brothers and sisters and I started to play.”
Capitano moved to Huntsville about 14 years ago to start a decorating business with his wife Deborah, but said that he hadn’t played table tennis for the past few years.
However, the spark for his love of the sport was re-ignited after he spotted articles and advertisements in the local media about the upcoming senior games.
“After seeing the ads in the paper that they needed people to participate. The more the ads came out the more I thought that if they really needed someone I could go in a pinch. So I decided I would.”
Johns thought the same way. The former Bracebridge native said she also decided to join the game after reading about the championships in the newspaper.
She said she has always liked playing table tennis, or ping pong to some, for many years, first playing the sport with her husband Dave at their Huntsville home.
“We sort have played it all the time we have been married. We got a table when our kids were young. I now play off and on these days, but there was a time when we would have after-New Years ping pong parties and we would put names in a hat and draw and have fun games. It was never really competitive, but it was a lot of fun.”
Thursday was not only the first time the two teammates met face-to-face, it was also the day of their first practice together. Neither one has ever played table tennis at a competitive level, but they intend to work on their game a few times each week until the games start on Feb. 26.
Johns admits to being a little nervous as games’ approach. “I think it is going to be excited. I like competing so I am sure it will be fun,” she said.
“I am anxious to get the competition going,” said Capitano. “I have been competitive all my life, so this is going to be a very good time. I know since we haven’t played competitively before we will be a bit of an underdog.”
More than 1,000 athletes, officials and fans will converge on Huntsville for the Ontario 55-plus Senior Winter Games.
The 10 competitive sports include alpine skiing, badminton, bowling, curling, duplicate bridge, hockey, Nordic skiing, prediction skating, table tennis and volleyball.
The Canada Summit Centre, Lake of Bays Community Centre, Huntsville High School, Riverside Public School, Huntsville Curling Club, Hidden Valley Highlands Ski Area, Delta Grandview Resort and Arrowhead Provincial Park will host events throughout the last week of February
The event is a provincial multi-sport championship that will showcase athletes 55 and older and is an excellent example of what a healthy, active lifestyle can contribute to improve quality of life in a person’s senior years.
For more on the event, visit www.ontario55pluswintergames.com.