Table tennis: SI champs prove popular

Ben Duffy.
Ben Duffy.
A lack of beds has forced some players out, but Dunedin will still welcome more than 90 competitors for the South Island championships this weekend.

Two conferences, a graduation and a Super rugby match at Forsyth Barr Stadium have put a strain on the city's accommodation services and meant some players have had to give the event a miss.

But numbers for the tournament at the Edgar Centre on Saturday and Sunday have still improved significantly on the last time it was hosted in Dunedin, in 2011.

There will be 91 players competing over the two days, well up on the 54 who turned out five years ago.

"Our junior numbers have exploded in that time,'' Otago Table Tennis Association director of coaching and development Ben Duffy said.

"It's a really good time for the sport at the moment.

"It's one of the sports that is growing and it's a lot of fun to be involved with.''

The rise in popularity of table tennis could be put down to a greater focus on grass-roots development and support of junior players, Duffy said.

Otago had named 40 players for the South Island teams tournament in Timaru in June and it was hoped that, in time, the province could start to
win more titles at a national level.

"In the next three or four years, that's certainly where we want things to go.''

The region also established two junior squads recently and had attracted 10 coaches to help their development.

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