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A strong field has lined up in the North Island table tennis champs starting in Auckland tomorrow and continuing over the weekend.
In total there are 164 entrants from Northland to Southland, but what is really standing out is the number of title contenders including current and former Commonwealth Games reps, a couple of athletes from the recently named New Zealand World University Games team and a number of the nation’s top junior players.
Auckland has the largest number of players represented with 83 while other strong regions are North Shore, Waitemata. Manawatu, Canterbury and Wellington.
The open men’s singles is highlight by the top seed Tony Liu (Auckland) who originally hails from Sichuan, China but moved to New Zealand six years ago and represented his new country at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. He is also the current New Zealand Open Men’s singles champion, having won that title on four occasions. The second seed is also Chinese born; Yuhan Gao who plays for North Shore and has a defensive style of play which is rare in New Zealand.
Victor Ma is another top player in the draw and was named in the Kiwi team for the World University Games in Taipei, next month.
The Open Women’s singles draw features Selina Wang (North Shore) as its top seed. She was runner-up in the singles at the 2016 New Zealand Open Table Tennis Championships.
Competing for the title will be Canterbury second seed Jenny Hung who in the 2009 Australian Junior Open became the first New Zealander and the first player from Oceania to win an ITTF Junior Circuit Singles title. Hung also represented New Zealand at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi and 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
The men’s doubles team of Aucklanders Josh Alexandre and Nathan Lowe is an experienced pairing who won the hotly contested World Masters Games over 30’s doubles title this year, however they will be challenged by the Waitemata pair of Alfred dela Pena and Victor Ma who are both promising under 18 players.
Hung and Natalie Paterson (Manawatu) are top seeds in women’s doubles with Paterson playing for New Zealand at the 2013 World University Games in China, and 2015 World University Games in Korea.
Second seeds are Sarah Sandley (Auckland) and Joanne Shaw (Auckland) who both came to New Zealand by way of England which they represented at various levels
Mixed doubles is always hot competition with top seeding going to Gao and Wang ahead of a tight field from around the country.
Draws in the tournament range from juniors to the over 70 years age groups.
North Island Table Tennis Champs, North Island Table Tennis Champs, Friday 14, Saturday 15 and Sunday 16 July, Auckland Table Tennis Centre, Gillies Ave, 8.30am all days