Table tennis players show skills at nationals

Marlborough-based players competed with distinction at the recent national table tennis championships. Photo: Supplied.

Marlborough-based players competed with distinction at the recent national table tennis championships in Christchurch, claiming several medals.

In the senior section, Alex Kennedy took part in the B grade men’s teams competition with two players from Sri Lanka. They won four out of five matches, Alex beating current NZ under-18 champion Jason Sivilay in a team win against Waitemata 2. In the individual events he qualified for post section play, losing to team-mate and eventual B grade winner Helitha Hendawitharana. In C grade, Alex was seeded eighth but made his way to the final losing to the top seed.

Alex and Matt Pigou played well in the C grade doubles, beating the top seeds in the quarter-final before bowing out in the semis.

Nathan Watson was part of the Manawatu 2 team that finished third in B grade. He was seeded second in the B grade doubles with Nelson’s Daniel Astle, and they reached the semi-final, losing to an unseeded pair who went on to beat the top seeds in the final. Nathan beat the well-performed David Walle of Canterbury in qualifying for A Grade, making the main draw.

Jacqui Wood was drafted into the Manawatu women’s team, who finished sixth in a quality field. In the individual events, she reached the final of the over-30 singles, women’s doubles and mixed doubles. In B grade qualifying she lost to top seed and eventual winner Kris Alisch of Canterbury  in five close sets.

Jacqui paired with her daughter Vanessa in the open women’s doubles, taking a set from the top seeds who went on to win the title. In the open mixed doubles she paired with Hasitha Samaraweera and they won a round before bowing out to Dean Shu and Kiwi table tennis legend Li Chunli.

Matt Pigou played only in the individual events but had a superb tournament. In addition to a bronze medal in the C grade men’s doubles with Alex, he reached the quarter-finals of the C grade singles, losing to eventual winner Jay Zhu.

In the D grade singles, Matt beat both the third and second seeds before losing in the semi-final to the fourth seed, bagging another bronze medal.

Youngster Vanessa Wood-Lin played for Canterbury 3 in the women’s teams and won both her singles matches against Australia in a 4-3 win.

Rob Honour, playing in his first nationals, teamed up with Matt and they were just pipped 16-14 in the fifth set against the fourth seeds who later claimed the title.

Megan Stratford, a former NZ title-holder, played in the open mixed doubles  with Rob.

Malcolm Honour, also playing his first nationals, came up against top seeds in the over-45, over-55 and D grades.


Vanessa reached the final of the girls’ under-15 doubles with her regular partner Lydia Mercer-Beumelburg of Canterbury.

The girls, who were seeded fourth, beat the number one seeds in the semi-final before losing to the second seeded pair of Annie Chen and Takaimaania Ngata-Henare in a close five-set decider.

Vanessa excelled in the singles, reaching the last 16 in both the under-18 girls’ singles and under-15 girls’ singles. In the last event, she lost to Joanna Yang, who went on to win the title.

In the teams event, playing for Canterbury 1 in the girls under-18 grade, Vanessa won seven matches from nine starts.

The Marlborough under-15 boys’ Team of Rory Osborne, Joseph Ruwhiu and Peyton Ritchie competed in the B grade with their closest match coming against Canterbury 2, losing 4-3.

In earlier matches , the boys lost 6-1 to Bay of Plenty, Southland 5-2, and to Counties-Manukau who won the grade.

Hannah Smit was a draft player who played for Presidents 1 in the girls’ under-18 grade. She won a single and a double against Presidents 2 in a 7-0 win and was part of the team that lost to Australia 4-3.

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