Table tennis: Dogged Otago effort not enough to stop Canterbury

Otago fought hard but could not prevent Canterbury from claiming the honours in the men's grade at the South Island teams tournament in Timaru recently.

Nearly 40 teams - six men, five women, seven veteran and 20 junior - competed in the tournament.

The final match of the round robin to decide the men's championship was between Otago and Canterbury's top side.

It was never going to be easy for Otago against the classy Jonathan Wang, experienced campaigner Simon Fenwick and Matthew Hetherington, who only months ago represented the New Zealand senior team.

Fenwick beat Otago's Andrew Marr 3-1 in the opening game, and Hetherington was too strong for Otago veteran John Fogarty.

Ben Duffy picked up Otago's first point when he beat Hetherington in a spirited match. While there were few long rallies, Duffy was able to land some key returns in the fifth and deciding game.

Duffy and Marr dropped the first game 11-2 in their doubles clash with Wang and Fenwick, before striking a hot run of form and winning the match 3-1.

Duffy maintained his winning streak by pipping Fenwick, claiming the decisive fourth game 16-14, but Canterbury sealed the title when Wang beat Marr, and Hetherington beat Fogarty.

Southland comfortably claimed the women's title, with former Otago player Joanna Ma, now living in Nelson, joining the side in the draft.

Otago's Emma Paton had a good win against Ngaire Garrett, and later beat Vivienne Joe, as Otago was narrowly beaten by the top Canterbury side.

The Otago under-15 girls team comprehensively won its grade, a good sign for the future. Lucy Paton, Hayley Tonkin and Annabel Joiner did not drop a match.

The under-15 boys team of Paden Kennedy, Josh Tonkin and Abhishek Sood finished second to a very strong Canterbury side.

The under-13 boys team of Logan Xu, Nathan Xu and Jack Huang came agonisingly close to upsetting Canterbury, losing 4-3 in the deciding match of the tournament.

Nathan Xu (8) continues to impress.

He had only one loss all weekend.

The veterans competition was mixed, with men's and women's teams combining. Canterbury finished top, followed by Otago 2 (Barry Ellis and Dave Arthur) and Otago 1 (Dyna Seng and Colin Tipper).


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