Winners, trophies, pressure and relief – Table Tennis Southland’s residential championship tournament had it all.
The province’s best and brightest junior, senior and veteran players bashed it out at the Lindisfarne Street stadium in Invercargill on Saturday, with big entry numbers resulting in some super play.
Shelley Smith and Damian Mitchell walked away with the two key titles, the women’s and men’s A grade open singles.
The steady Smith edged juniors Maia Cavanagh and Holly Wu in tight contests in the round-robin women’s event attracting four entries to retain the title she won for the first time last season.
Smith also added the women’s doubles, mixed doubles and the over-30 combined singles in a top day.
Mitchell was the surprise winner of the men’s title, beating 15-year-old Finn Holden in a thrilling contest that went right down to the final game. Mitchell won four games to three, taking the last 11-9 in a battle of the teens. He had led two games to nil, but was then 3-2 down before holding his nerve in the seventh and final game.
Mitchell’s win over the second seed reversed a straight sets loss in pool play to Holden, who was at his best in despatching multiple former champion Jason Peters 4-1 in the semifinal. Mitchell accounted for Andrew Fleming 4-1 in the other semifinal.
Mitchell was impressive in dealing to Andrew Fleming to win the men’s under-21 singles final, while Holden took out the boys’ under-18 crown over Carl Rodmell in a five-game clash that was full of high-paced open rallies.
Holly Wu, beaten by Maia Cavanagh in a five-game epic in the women’s open, had something to smile about after beating the same player in straight games in the under-18 girls’ decider.
Andrei Casareo was one of the big winners in the juniors’ section, taking out the under-13 and under-15 singles over Ingamar Siegruhn. But he did it the hard way, twice having to dig deep to beat Siegruhn in five games.
Lauryn Fleming also had a fine day, winning the under-13 and under-15 girls’ singles, plus the under-13 and under-21 doubles to confirm her standing as one of Southland’s most promising females.
In the youngest grade, for the under-11s, two players to watch out for in the future made their mark. Zoe Gray won the under-11 girls’ title, while Shogun Waniyapong was victorious in the boys’ section.