Top ta­ble ten­nis skills go on show

Auckland City Harbour News - - SPORT - By BEN ROGERS

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. and click on Lat­est Edi­tion to watch Teng Teng Liu com­pete in last year’s Auck­land Ta­ble Ten­nis Cham­pi­onship fi­nal.

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