All of the top seeds progressed through pool play in the North Island Table Tennis Champs in Auckland and are set for knockout matches today.
As top seed in the men's Open Singles Tony Liu formerly from Sichuan, China the four-time current New Zealand title holder takes on Roger Wang in his first round clash and is looking odds on to take the overall title as well. Second seed Yuhan Guo from the North Shore faces Aaron Gong from Auckland in his opening match.
Canterbury’s Jenny Huang is the women’s top seed in a draw having being promoted to the top spot after the withdrawal of Selina Wang (North Shore) with Illness. Huang was a New Zealand representative at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi and 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow but will have to watch out for experienced former England reps Sarah Sandley and Jo Shaw in the draw.
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 junior 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.
Mixed doubles is always hot competition with top seeding going to Gao and Hui-Ling Vong top seeds.
The under18 girls provided a semi-final that went down to the wire, with Tianyu Zhang from Botany Downs College pipping tenacious chopper Jiayi Zhou from Canterbury in the fifth set after some spectacular long rallies. In the final, international exchange student, Avon Liu, from Burnside High in Christchurch, after an impressive straight sets victory over Hui-Ling Vong in their semi-final, showed control and constant variation of length and spin to defeat Tianyu’s strong attack.
In the boys 18’s final Dan Shu raced out to a two sets lead as Alfred de la Penastruggled to show consistency in attack and service. It was then Shu’s turn to falter on his serve allowing de la Pena to go into the fifth set in a position with winning momentum. But, once again, Shu showed great consistency under extreme pressure and pulled away for a fifth set victory 11-5.
Shu along with beaten semifinalist Victor Ma are both part of the New Zealand University Games team which will compete in Taipei next month.
The tournament continues through Saturday and Sunday at the Auckland Table Tennis Centre.