From playing on the dining room table to beating players years older than her, Takaimaania Ngata-Henare is one to watch at this year's Northland Open Table Tennis Championships.

The promising 12-year-old will take to the table this weekend - contesting the women's title during the senior open on Saturday, and the under 13 and under 15 girls grades in the junior open on Sunday.

Ngata-Henare started playing about three years ago.

She used to play with her family on the dining room table with a net they had purchased for fun.

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Then a school newsletter had a notice inviting people to come along and play at the Northland Table Tennis Centre.

"At the time I was playing netball but I didn't really like it."

She went along to the centre.

"I was really amazed at what the other kids could do."

The rest, as they say, is history. She went more and more and picked up Northland table tennis stalwart Kevin Schick as her coach.

"He taught me how to actually hit the ball."

Despite only recently turning 12, Takaimaania Ngata-Henare has beaten plenty of players older than her. Photo/John Stone
Despite only recently turning 12, Takaimaania Ngata-Henare has beaten plenty of players older than her. Photo/John Stone

At last year's Northland Open she won the under 11 and under 13 singles titles.

She has picked up plenty of titles in the past couple of months alone.

In Napier in July she won the under 13, under 15 and under 18 girls singles at the Hawke's Bay Open tournament when she was still 11.

She turned 12 later in the month, before winning the under 13 girls competition at the North Island Championships.

Then in early August, she won the under 13 and under 15 girls titles at the Waikato Open tournament.

Last weekend, she claimed the same titles in the Auckland Open tournament.

In September she will represent Huanui College at the AIMS Games where she is "hoping to do better than last time".

Last year, she finished second.

The humble, softly-spoken player said she's not the "real competitive type".

"I'm not that fussed about winning. I just want to play well and when I play well I'm happy."

Northland Table Tennis chairman Simon Standing said entries into the Northland Open were being finalised but around 100 people from as far afield as Hamilton, were expected over the two days.