Juniors make early impression

Colte Nolan has been strong in the junior championships so far.

By Allan Clarke

Rockhampton players have made their mark on proceedings after the first two days of the five-day Queensland Junior Table Championships in Townsville.

During the evening of day-one all of the mixed doubles were staged following the conclusion of the first round of inter-club team matches.

In the under-19 section, the city’s leading junior, Matthew Steffen, partnered Wynnum’s Meena Bakanay to take out the gold medal. The regular pairing enjoyed the top-seeded position and just beat the second favourites, Ashmith Sivayoganathan and Caitlin Woods, who are Townsville’s best two juniors in a great final 11-7, 9-11, 11-7, 6-11, 11-9.

10-year-old Colte Nolan won what he hopes will be the first of many gold medals at state level in the under-11 mixed event when he partnered Amy Jang (Gold Coast) to down the highly rated Han Leung and Ada Sun. Nolan and Jang defeated the pairing from the strong Wynnum club in four close sets 12-10, 11-9, 9-11, 11-8. At eight years old, Cruz Nolan is one of the younger players at the carnival and he teamed with Ella Yu of Brisbane and they created a solid first round win which was an impressive result.

Emily Steffen, the reigning under-15 state girls champion, joined Wynnum’s Raymond Li in the under-15 competition and early in the draw they beat the top seeds before being outed by eventual winners Wynnum’s Lockie Green and Dhriti Singh in a semi-final.

The second day of competition saw Matthew Steffen and Nick Green still holding an undefeated record after four matches in the under-19 team section while Emily Steffen’s composite side had won two out of three in the girl’s division. Colte and Cruz Nolan had suffered one loss 3-2 to the top seeded outfit from Wynnum in the under-11 comp.

The local contingent performed well in the doubles’ events played on Tuesday night.

The reliable combination of Steffen and Green picked up a bronze in the under-19’s after they lost to the top seeds from Wynnum in the semis. Emily Steffen and Townsville’s Bridgit Murphy won the silver medal in the under-17 event and the Nolan brothers excelled when they were narrowly beaten in the final of the under-11 final to each collect a silver medal.

On Friday the Queensland Closed Championships will hit-off as soon as the Q-Juniors wrap up.

Joel Coughlan and Matthew Pettett will be Rockhampton’s strongest team whilst Steffen and Green are staying on to take on the state’s best in the inter-club two-person men’s team fixture that will be combined with individual singles and doubles events. Emily Steffen will also be taking part in this tournament in the women’s teams and individuals and the experience these youngsters should gain will be invaluable.

The Rockhampton Table Tennis Association is looking to expand participation in the weekly beginner-junior coaching program. Boys and girls from around six years of age attend this session from 4.30pm on Thursdays and qualified coaches are on hand to teach the basics of the sport. Newcomers are welcome and all they need to bring is non-marking footwear to start them off in a sport offering exceptional hand-eye coordination skills that they can play for life away from the sun.