by Jessica Macaskill, Course Conductor
Play was organized under the guidance of Australia’s Jessica Macaskill with the help of Masahiko Nishioka.
Jessica Macaskill is currently in Tonga leading an Olympic Solidarity supported Developing a National Sports Structure programme. Masahiko Nishioka is a student present in Tonga as part of the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA), a non-profit organization that provides aid to third world countries
The competition allowed coaches to put the skills they have been learning about tournament organization into practice. The skills required have been learned throughout the last 12 weeks by running small regular weekly competitions.
For many of the children it was their first bigger style competition, their faces a mix of concentration and excitement; whilst for the senior Tonga players the experience showed, with some exciting semi-finals and finals played in the Men’s Singles, Women’s Singles, Men’s Doubles and Women’s Doubles events.
Notably, the inclusion of Para events was greatly received with the local Para players keenly snapping up the opportunity to put their skills to the test.
The Women’s Singles title was won by Eseta Vi, who overcome rising junior talent of Luseane Pepa in the final. The Men’s Singles crown was secured by Fiji’s Sridhar Karra, he beat local favourite Tevita Tausinga in the final.
“It is great to see so many players participate this is our biggest ever competition, with the largest participation numbers and over 160 matches taking place. The players enjoyed the matches with fun had by all. Our Federation is very grateful to our sponsors, Digicel, Tonga Association of Sport and National Olympic, Tonga Development Board and Cocker Enterprises, because without their generous support the event would not have been possible. We are also happy to have local media coverage both TV Tonga and local papers. We are also thankful to the spectators including parents for their support throughout the day and during the finals’ session. The media and support is great for our sport and for building the awareness of table Tennis, one of our current key focuses.” Hasiloni Fungavai (President of Tonga Amateur Table Tennis Association)
On Saturday afternoon all players left the hall having had a great day and already awaiting the 2017 version. In 2017 the Tonga Open is planned to be part of the Oceania calendar with players from other Oceania countries encouraged to participate and visit the friendly Kingdom of Tonga.