Saturday 15 October 2011

A Day of Surprises and the Making of Champions

Today brought about the end of the Men's and Women's Events at the NZ Senior Table Tennis Championships and what a spectacular day of competition with some amazing matches. There were of course upsets for those dreaming of reaching the top spot. Before the day started Peter Craven, 4th seed, withdrew with a injury leaving space open for someone to fill. In the group stages Yi-Sien Lin's 2-0 lead against Myles Collins wasn't safe and he clawed back to a fifth set thriller where he came back from 9-7 down to claim the last set and go through the group first. Josh Alexandre was also claimed in the maelstrom, being beaten 3-1 by Simon Hoey-Burns. There were a number of other great group matches to be seen during the morning and certainly as the day moved on.

My Player of the Day, Zhiyang Cheng
Photo by Matt Hetherington

Upsets were the story of the day, a player showing incredible mental focus and determination who cannot go without mention today is Zhiyang Cheng. Playing out of his skin in the Round of 16 he defeated the highly experienced number 2 seed and former New Zealand Champion, Andrew Hubbard by a 4-2 margin. In the quarters he continued his run against successful New Zealand players by beating Malcolm Darroch also 4-2. Both were incredible matches for those lucky enough to be watching them, especially in the pressure situations. Zhiyang continued his form into the semifinals where he met teammate Phillip Xiao and fell victim to him 4-1. Another player who showed great form was the Japanese member of the Auckland contingent, Takaomi Shimokawa who also made a semifinal appearance. Beating Hayden Tapp in the Round of 16, he continued on to take out Thom Nguyen, 4-0, in the quarterfinal and book his place in a semifinal with Tony Liu. His semifinal appearance defied his original 8th position in the seedings. He demonstrated great close to the table play with his short pimple backhand and forehand counterloops which earnt him a bronze medal for the men's singles event. Josh Alexandre sprung back from his group match defeat to take Aaron Page out 4-1 and then play an amazing match against Tony Liu where he found the drive to rob 2 sets off the top seed and leave him worried.

Podium for the B Grade Mens Doubles
Photo by Jason Poon
The Graded Doubles were a side-event to the main Open Singles. The B Grade Men's Doubles saw Aaron Page and James Harter of Waikato defend their 2010 title. Taking out the Wellington pair of Heath Murdoch and Hayden Tapp in the semi final, they cemented their place among the medals and awaited the result of the other semi final. Matt Hetherington and Mark Page emerged from it, battled scarred from an incredibly close tussle with the home side's best doubles pairing, Tim Seaholme and Matthew Ball. That semifinal was won in the last moment of the 5th set, a hard fought match (if I don't say so myself). So it was left for the Waikato pairs to fight each other. It was a tight match played by James and Aaron and they managed to edge the win in just three sets over their teammate opposition.

Waikato also managed to steal the B Grade Women's Singles title when Armindeep Singh and Jessica Macaskill beat Lisa Yue and Natalie Paterson by a 3-1 margin and then finished affairs by defeating Sue Shirriffs and Gemma Buzzard in straight sets. The C Grade Mens Doubles Gold Medals were awarded to Bryn Lindsay and Wiremu Thompson who were able to bet Jeffrey Chin and Delano Lam 3-1. Aside from that there was only the D Grade Mens Doubles left to be awarded and Manawatu took the prize with brothers Dean and Zac Lochhead taking the win in the final with a 3-1 win over Jae and Terry Lee.

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