Sports Talk

with John Lea, Executive Director, Table Tennis New Zealand

Bay of Plenty table tennis has a huge season ahead, culminating with hosting the TTNZ Nationals at QEYC, Tauranga from October 6-13, more than 40 years after hosting in 1970, 1973 and 1976.

We also host the TTNZ Veterans Championships at the Taupo Events Centre during Easter, with 16 players from our three affiliated clubs, TT Tauranga, Papamoa and Taupo, entered. The action begins on Thursday evening with the annual New Zealand v Australia test match, which Australia won narrowly in 2017.

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Spectators are welcome to support the Kiwis to turn the tables. Teams events start on Good Friday, individuals events on Saturday evening and the weekend finishes with a social dinner at Taupo Golf Club on Easter Monday.

Max Henderson is the sole local representative in the 2018 national squads, having placed fourth at National Under 15 boys trials in January. Max is joined by promising young players training in the junior squad every Thursday at QEYC coached by National Junior Girls' coach Jessica Macaskill.

Jessica was recently employed by TTNZ as midlands development officer with funding support gratefully received from NZCT. Based in Hamilton, she has had a great impact on table tennis in Rotorua and Tauranga in recent seasons. Her forte is understanding the needs of individuals and clubs and applying her wide range of skills to set up and deliver growth opportunities.

Paul Henderson is driving our Sport Bay of Plenty Skilled Deliverers project to have more table tennis played sustainably in schools. He and Jessica are looking for people keen to learn grassroots coaching skills through an ITTF Schoolteacher coaching course.

There are many incentives to get involved with BOP Schools events from July 31, followed by NZ Secondary Schools champs in Hamilton, AIMS Games at Memorial Hall in early September and The Bay of Plenty Open in mid-September.

AIMS Games has a new initiative with a separate AWD (athletes with disabilities) event on opening Sunday. Para coaches and a classifier will be there to help players with a disability. Players can also join the main competition.

Table Tennis Tauranga, based at QEYC, offers new times and programmes in 2018. For inquiries regarding the upcoming Business House league in May or our regular Wednesday, Thursday and weekend programmes across all age groups, visit the website www.tabletennistauranga.com.

Any inquiries on these matters can also be directed to jlea@xtra.co.nz.

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