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High hopes for Canterbury Girls U18

Press Release for Table Tennis Canterbury Girls U18 Team.

High hopes for Canterbury Girls U18 team to break years of Auckland domination at New Zealand Junior Open.

Table tennis is rapidly becoming one of the most popular sports; the number of Professional and Junior circuit tournaments is growing all over the world.

New Zealand is following this global trend. This year, New Zealand Junior Open has record number of 197 entries. On July 17-21, young players will compete at Auckland Table Tennis Stadium for national titles in three age categories; U18, U15 and U13. This tournament has attracted players from all over New Zealand and from as far as New Caledonia, French Polynesia, Cook Islands, and Australia. Canterbury will be represented by 16 young players accompanied by coaches and parents.

For many years, teams from Auckland Table Tennis Association have dominated all team events. This year, the Canterbury U18 girls’ team is prepared to challenge the Auckland girls’ team and win the national title.

The Canterbury team consists of three very strong players. Ola Ratka, 15 years old, Burnside High student, is the youngest member of the team. She was born in Christchurch in the family of Polish immigrants and has been coached by Korean coaches at Table Tennis Canterbury Stadium since she was 10 years old. Her hard work and long hours of training are just starting to bring very good results. In January this year, Ola represented Oceania at prestigious ITTF Global Junior Circuit Finals in Guatemala and later in March she won her first national tournament, New Zealand Cadet Open. Two weeks before her 15th birthday, she was included in the New Zealand National Woman’s Squad.

Another exciting player on the Canterbury U18 girls’ team is Angel Huang, 18 years old Middleton Grange student. She was born in China, and arrived to Christchurch with her family as a very young girl. Just like Ola, she started training early in her life here in Christchurch. She represented New Zealand at junior international tournaments. Last year, Angel and Ola played as members of the top Canterbury Woman’s team at New Zealand Senior Open. At the 2012 New Zealand Junior Open in Christchurch, they won silver medal for Canterbury U18 girls’ team.

Ola and Angel have a new strong team player – Mariam Seif. Mariam, 18 years old Burnside High student, was born in Christchurch, but at the age of 5, her family moved back to Egypt. Mariam has been playing table tennis there since she was 10 years old and become one of the top junior players in Egypt. She returned to Christchurch few months ago.

Ola, Angel, and Mariam are playing table tennis on a very high level and can compete successfully with the same age girls from most countries in the world. It is essential for talented and hard-working young tennis table players to compete at international tournaments. Regular participation in table tennis competitions outside New Zealand for the Canterbury girls’ team is impossible because of lack of funding. Recently, Angel and Ola had to withdraw from the most important Oceania’s international tournament in New Caledonia (including Oceania Junior Championships, qualification for Junior World Championships and qualification for Global Cadet Challenge) because of very high costs to the players. After the New Zealand Junior Open, Ola will travel to Korea to train for 6 months in preparation for qualification for Youth Olympic Games in China in 2014, which is a much better use of limited resources and good investment for the future.

Successful future of young table tennis players depends not only on their talent, diligent and hard work, dedication of coaches, and unwavering support of families but, also adequate financial support from government agencies and individual sponsors. New Zealand players like Ola, Angel, and Mariam need assistance to ensure successful transition from promising juniors in to world class players capable of winning international titles for New Zealand.


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