Top table tennis skills go on show
For the last 90 years ping pong balls have been flying left, right and centre at the Auckland Table Tennis Association.
Next weekend the club will be celebrating this feat while it hosts the Auckland Open Table Tennis Championships in Epsom.
The association formed on August 18, 1924, as a result of a meeting at the offices of Smith, Wylie, & Co, Ltd.
The first annual general meeting was held one week later with an attendance of 26 people.
Ninety years on and the association is still going strong.
It has one of the only dedicated table tennis stadiums in the world, life member Bob Inns says.
‘‘A lot of our success is based around this stadium, because it’s unique.’’
The Auckland Table Tennis Stadium was officially opened at 99a Gillies Ave in 1970.
‘‘We’ve hosted numerous New Zealand champs and in 2010 we hosted a global junior circuit event,’’ chief executive Shane Warbrooke says. ‘‘We are the major centre within New Zealand for hosting tournaments.’’
The Auckland champs is the biggest table tennis event in New Zealand and the association will be hoping one from their own stable takes home the trophy.
New Zealand’s number one men’s player Teng Teng Liu is a member of the association and will be looking to defend his title.
‘‘I like the competition, and the feeling of winning.
‘‘I want to win,’’ the Commonwealth Games representative says.
‘‘My first time I came here the association helped me with some training and found me students to coach and made it possible for me to improve.’’
The ability to adapt to players’ needs is one of the reasons for success, Inns believes.
‘‘I think one of the reasons we have lasted so long is we have been good with the people who really love the sport.
‘‘We don’t try and push a certain way of doing things,’’ he says.
More than 500 people attended the Auckland finals last year and the association hopes for even more this year.
Entry is free and everyone at the open finals session will go in the draw to win a trip to China, Hong Kong or Taiwan courtesy of sponsor Cathay Pacific.
Inns says, ‘‘Everyone has played ping pong at some time, over the kitchen table, at the office, but they come along here and realise skilled athletes play this sport.
‘‘The skill involved is really high level.’’
The open finals are on August 30 from 7pm.
Winding up: New Zealand’s top table tennis player Teng Teng Liu gets in some practice as he looks to defend his Auckland title.
Milestone reached: Shane Warbrooke and Teng Teng Liu of the Auckland Table Tennis Association are looking forward to the Auckland championships.
Go to eastandbayscourier. co.nz and click on Latest Edition to watch Teng Teng Liu compete in last year’s Auckland Table Tennis Championship final.