Ball in their court, bound for na­tion­als

The Invercargill Eye - - YOUR HEALTH - STAFF RE­PORTERS

South­land’s lead­ing ta­ble ten­nis play­ers are ‘‘a force to be reck­oned with’’ as they pre­pare for the New Zealand ta­ble ten­nis cham­pi­onships in Christchurch this month.

The re­gion’s top 11 young­sters will be com­pet­ing in ju­nior and se­nior team and in­di­vid­ual events at the com­pe­ti­tion against 320 play­ers through­out the coun­try from Oc­to­ber 5 to 14.

The ju­nior teams’ com­pe­ti­tion starts on Thurs­day and South­land will be rep­re­sented in boys and girls’ un­der-11, 13, 15 and 18 grades.

The in­di­vid­ual cham­pi­onships fol­low, with the se­niors fronting up early next week.

Ta­ble Ten­nis South­land spokesman Daryl Holden said he had high hopes for the play­ers.

They were ‘‘on a ti­tle-hunt­ing mis­sion’’, he said.

‘‘Tra­di­tion­ally, be­cause of a lack of play­ers and high in­ten­sity train­ing part­ners to pre­pare, we have found the go­ing pretty tough at the na­tion­als, but this year there’s real ex­cite­ment that we could win what has been an elu­sive ju­nior ti­tle.’’

That ti­tle hope sits mostly with the squad’s youngest player, 11-year- old An­drei Casareo.

The gifted right-han­der, who is orig­i­nally from the Philip­pines, is top seed in the boys’ 11 years dou­bles with his Can­ter­bury part­ner. He is also fourth seed for the sin­gles.

‘‘If An­drei plays with his nat­u­ral free­dom and con­fi­dence then any­thing is pos­si­ble.’’

An­other player set to com­pete, Finn Holden, fresh off cre­at­ing his­tory by be­com­ing the youngest player to win back-to- back South­land se­nior men’s sin­gles ti­tles, also has ti­tle as­pi­ra­tions.

He is seeded fourth in the un­der-15 boys’ dou­bles and third in the mixed dou­bles, while Maia Ca­vanagh is third seed in the girls’ un­der-15 dou­bles.

For the first time in many years, South­land would field a se­nior men’s team of Kelly Martin, Nathan Ger­aghty and An­drew Flem­ing.

‘‘It’s not go­ing to be easy. It never is but with a touch of luck we could again show why, for a small as­so­ci­a­tion, South­land is a na­tional ta­ble ten­nis force to be reck­oned with.’’

South­landers play­ing in the New Zealand Ta­ble Ten­nis Cham­pi­onships are: An­drew Flem­ing, Damian Mitchell, Caleb Duffy, Finn Holden, An­drei Casareo, Laura Ger­aghty, Maia Ca­vanagh, Kelly Martin, Nathan Ger­aghty, Barry El­lis and Shel­ley Smith.

KAVINDA HERATH/ STUFF

South­land ta­ble ten­nis ju­niors Phan­tharawin Waniyapong, Laura Ger­aghty, An­drei Casareo, Maia Ca­vanagh and Lau­ryn Flem­ing and back Finn Holden. Four of the group will now try and win na­tional ti­tles.

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