Tournament Takes Off In Auckland

Thursday 19 April 2012, 6:01PM

By Dave Worsley


The tables are busy with over 100 players and officials from nations around Oceania and Asia competing over the next four days at the Auckland Table Tennis Stadium in Gillies Ave for the 2012 KVB Kunlun TTNZ New Zealand Junior and The Global Junior Circuit Open.

The Global Junior Circuit Event is the Oceania leg of the ITTF Global Junior Circuit where under 18’s players earn points with the opportunity to qualify for the prestigious Global Junior Circuit Finals at the end of the year. Nations competing include Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Thailand, New Zealand and Pacific Island countries.

The Oceania Cadet Challenge for players 15 years and under has already been completed with the home competitors dominating.

Two players of note who are taking part are Roger Rao and Kevin Wu. Both have recently been a part of the New  Zealand men’s team at the World Championships in Dortmund, Germany. They now return to action on the Global Junior Circuit. Rao, who attends Auckland Grammar is 15 years-old, while Wu is 17 from Kohimarama, but has been training in China of late. Strangely the pair have the same birthday, 7 November, however two years apart.

There will be plenty of experience for Rao, Wu and other Kiwis to call on with Olympic hopeful and former Commonwealth Games medallist, Li Chunli as one of New Zealand coaches on site.

One of the top hopes in the girls competition is Ruofei Rao who is the younger sister of national rep, Roger Rao. At only 12-years-old Ruofei has already played overseas and is recognised as a talent for the future. Part-Maori player Nathan Watson is another to watch in the boys section while it is expected that players from Singapore will be strong and New Zealand should prove to be too strong in boys events while Australia should dominate the girls events.

Play continues through Thursday into the evening with teams events followed by more teams competition on Friday including the finals from 6.30pm. Saturday features boys and girls singles from 9am with Sunday starting from 9am until the semifinals and finals from 2.30 until around 7.30.