13 Apr 2017

In Suva you wake up sweating, and the table tennis makes sure you stay that way.

by Wade Townsend

The Junior Team events got underway this morning in a steamy Vodafone Arena.

The Australian Junior Boys’ team started their campaign for World Junior Championship qualification with a clean sheet against the mixed team of New Caledonia and Tuvalu. But while Benjamin Gould (AUS) took a straight games win in his first match, the Aussie had to dig himself out of hole when he saw a two game deficit on the scoreboard in his match with Arthur Mas.

“Rough start to the morning. But I knew there was plenty of room to come back.  Plus the bench wasn’t going to let me down.” Benjamin Gould.

And while he lost in five games, Mas made what looks like being the shot of the day. A round the back forehand that made zero contact with his racket, but came off perfectly from his hand; even he was surprised to find the ball still in play.

Despite the close score and flair, New Caledonian coach Cathy Gauthier knew things could have gone better.

“It was too bad. This was the first time they played and he had an opportunity win.” Cathy Gauthier (New Caledonia coach)

Smile and a handshake. (Photo: Pennia Rawasoi; Jioji Productions)

The New Zealand junior girls’ team encountered the star studded local lineup from Fiji. And while New Zealand were favourites going in to the match the prospect of playing against 2016 Rio Games representative Sally Yee was exciting, particularly when you get the win.

“We each beat an Olympian today!” Team New Zealand

Yee is looking to get things moving as the event progresses.

“I hope to play better as the tournament goes on. We can all pickup our game.” Sally Yee

And how about the next match against Australia? She’s quietly confident.

“I have beaten top Australian junior girls before, so I definitely can this time.” Sally Yee

New Caledonia played the experience quartet from Australia in the Junior Girls and while they couldn’t get a win on the board, there were plenty of closely contested matches. None was more interesting than Lorie La (NCL) versus Marsha Guseva.

Guseva with a silhouette that could be mistaken for Samsonov, dropped a game to the petite La. Maybe it could have been closer if not for some serious nerves.

“I was so stressed during the match. It was also scary being on the show court. It’s huge! But I won one game so there is no reason I can’t win three next time.” Lorie La

Solenn Danger bracing for a backhand winner. (Photo: Pennia Rawasoi; Jioji Productions)

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