Big win for Brandon
Brandon Wallace started his table tennis career as a 10year-old playing his dad.
The pair faced off across the dining room table with a net across the middle.
“Playing on it helped me train my eye because it was so small,” Brandon says.
Five years on, Brandon is a national champion with his sights set on even higher things.
The teenager is a member of the national development squad and won the national under-15s doubles title in October. He was also a nominee in the top Maori achiever category of the Auckland Sports Awards this year.
Brandon is from the Ngati Raukawa tribe in Otaki, near Wellington.
His Maori heritage is important to him and this year he joined the Henderson-based Waipareira Trust which has its own table tennis squad managed by Bill Tangariki.
Brandon wants to represent his country at the Commonwealth Games and knows what is required to make it to the top.
“To be successful you need determination and a drive to do well,” he says. “Sometimes I play seven days a week.
“I would do two hours or more of practice a day.”
Brandon has learnt much from the national coaches and credits them for changing his defensive style to a more aggressive approach.
“If you attack first you’re always on the front foot,” he says.
Brandon’s big win at the nationals was hard-fought and learning how to handle the pressure was the key to victory.
“The final had a really great atmosphere,” he says.
“It went to five sets. But the more you get into those situations the more you learn to deal with it.”
Brandon is one of the few non-Asian players in the top ranks and he wants to encourage other Maori to get into the sport.
“It’s a really great sport.”
Inspiration: Brandon Wallace’s bedroom wall is covered with posters of the world’s top table tennis players.