By Allan Clarke
A lull in the tournament season for the city’s leading table tennis players means that the focus of top graders goes back to weekly fixtures and regular training sessions, for the keener ones, at the Leichhardt Park Centre on Campbell Street.
The very successful Rocky Open, held on the last weekend of May, was the last regional tournament before upcoming national titles.
After a series of regional tournaments and state senior and junior titles, that seemed to be held on just about every other weekend, the next major assignment for Rockhampton’s state representatives will be the Australian Senior, Youth, Junior and Para Championships at Caloundra between July 2 to 11.
The only other national event for the year will be the Australian Veterans Championships at Darwin, during October, and for locals to qualify for selection they need to contest the state veterans at Brisbane late in July.
As for the national carnival at Caloundra in three weeks time, the city boasts some solid representation and everyone who contested the relevant state championships at Easter were selected in the Queensland squad. Joel Coughlan and Matt Pettett will be playing for the state once again in the senior division as will recently adopted Kelsey Le Maistre who moved to Rockhampton two months ago from the Wynnum club.
Matthew and Emily Steffen will represent the state in the under-19 and under-15 teams respectively after making junior sides for the past few years. Matthew will be joined by first-time representative Nick Green who posted some excellent performances at the Q-Juniors and at other recent competitions. Brothers Colte and Cruz Nolan have been selected in teams in the under-11 division. Pam Clarke and Erica Nolan will join the state squad as coaches.
After this week’s matches only two rounds remain in open grade fixtures, prior to a first-past-the-post finish to what has been a competitive season. This fixture is based on four-player teams that are split into two sections with the points gained by each two-player sub team aggregated.
Leading the charge, the combination of Matt Pettett, Ann-Louise Stewart, Dave Hockings and Patricia Green has a handy four-point cushion on Rayden Smith, Erica Nolan, Emily Steffen and Dave Milverton. Teams lead by Joel and Dane Coughlan are not far off the pace but it appears that some big victories will be needed by the teams currently running second through to equal fourth to head off Pettett’s outfit.
In the last outing Kelsey Le Maistre and Erica Nolan put on a great display before Le Maistre wore down her opponent to post a skinny win 13-11 in the deciding fifth set.
Matthew Steffen put on an impressive display to prove too good for Matt Pettett in a clash that went the full distance. The youngster did well to recover from being down two games to one to win the next two sets. As is often the case in these types of fixtures most of the doubles ties were extremely close.
As expected, the players take the doubles rubbers quite seriously and it is quite interesting to see the number of team-matches that are decided by the outcome of these clashes.