Northland's latest table tennis superstar, Takaimaania Ngata-Henare, is set on representing New Zealand on the world stage and with her recent results. Who would bet against her?

Ngata-Henare, 12, just returned from last weekend's North Island Individuals competition in Whanganui where she entered in the under-13, under-15 and senior women's divisions.

True to her number one seeding in both divisions, Ngata-Henare won the under-13 and under-15 categories while she claimed a win in the senior division, playing against women with much more years of experience and training.

Ngata-Henare proved she is in fine form, winning the under-13 and under-15 singles titles at the North Island Individuals in Whanganui over the weekend. Photo / Tania Whyte
Ngata-Henare proved she is in fine form, winning the under-13 and under-15 singles titles at the North Island Individuals in Whanganui over the weekend. Photo / Tania Whyte

The weekend's results have been a continuance of her form and accolades received in 2019. At the Northland Sports Awards in March, Ngata-Henare received the female sport code award for table tennis before she went on to win the Northland secondary school table tennis girls' competition last month.

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Thanks to her efforts in a trial tournament earlier in the year, Ngata-Henare is set to leave New Zealand for her first formal table tennis competition abroad in August where she will play in the Oceania Junior Championships in Tonga.

Should Ngata-Henare's results in Tonga go well, she could find herself on a plane to Poland in October to play the world's best at the World Cadet Challenge tournament.

Ngata-Henare smiles proudly as she holds her various awards won over the last few months. Photo / Tania Whyte
Ngata-Henare smiles proudly as she holds her various awards won over the last few months. Photo / Tania Whyte

The current Huanui College student started the sport at age 10 through a programme offered by her then school, St Francis Xavier Primary School. Now playing against much older and stronger players, the young prodigy said the experience was worth the challenge.

"[The older players] are pretty intimidating but it's a lot of fun," Ngata-Henare said.

"Sometimes you get that feeling that they don't want to lose to a younger person and so they will try really hard, which is why you need to try really hard if you want to get to the next round."

As a goal-orientated player, Ngata-Henare confessed she was somewhat of a perfectionist when it came to achieving her goals and understood the importance of performing well at the Oceania competition.

"I've found that I'm very picky," she said with a laugh.

"I really want to focus on getting better at this one thing and then when I think it's good, that's when I'll move on to the next thing.

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"One of the bigger [goals] is doing my best in Tonga, playing with everything I have, all the skills I've learned, I want to take over there and I want to use them."

Coached by Northland table tennis stalwart Kevin Shick, Ngata-Henare's training schedule was as busy as any fulltime professional. The 12-year-old trains every Monday, Thursday and some Fridays, and has club nights on Tuesday and Wednesday.

With her family behind her, Ngata-Henare is aiming to perfect her game in the hope she can continue climbing national rankings. Photo / Tania Whyte
With her family behind her, Ngata-Henare is aiming to perfect her game in the hope she can continue climbing national rankings. Photo / Tania Whyte

With tournaments often filling up her weekend, Ngata-Henare said she still found time to focus on things outside of table tennis.

"I guess I just try and focus on what I'm doing at that moment, I only start thinking about [table tennis] when there's a tournament on the weekend."

A big part of Ngata-Henare's success was the influence of her school and her family, notably her grandparents, including grandmother Liane Henry and grandfather Aly Johnson.

Ngata-Henare said her grandfather was an enormous help when competing at a high level and not just in his bag-loading and driving ability.

"Sometimes when I get over-nervous, [Johnson] is always there and he doesn't say much, he's just there and it just makes me calmer."

To follow Ngata-Henare's progress in upcoming tournaments, visit www.ittf.com