Nathan Xu will be one to watch in Mornington

With less than a week to go until the Oceania Teams Qualification for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the New Zealand Men’s team will be one to watch next weekend.

Going into the competition as the second-seeded team, the team consisting of Tengteng Liu, Dean Shu and Nathan Xu will for sure be a tough battle for the competition favourites and reigning Oceania champions Australia. It’ll be an immense task for the Kiwis to qualify, but anything is possible especially with the recent form the team has been playing in.

Leading the team, Tengteng Liu, the oldest and most experienced of the team is definitely looking to be making his mark and securing a golden ticket for New Zealand to Tokyo in Mornington next week. Having recently won the 2019 NZ Nationals in October, beating teammate Nathan Xu 4-3 in a spectacular match, Liu is heading down under in top form.

20 year old, Dean Shu who hails from Auckland, has spent the last few months in intensive training in Bad Aibling, Germany with the likes of Andy Pereira (Cuba), Gaston Alto (Argentina), Felix Wetzel (Germany) and Australia’s Nathan Pellissier, in preparation for the upcoming trials. Shu has had his share of international competition this year, having recently competed at the 2019 ITTF Austrian Open earlier in the month, losing to Italy’s Daniele Pinto 4-1 in a closely fought match. Shu was also the Oceania star at the 2019 ITTF Australian Open in Geelong, as the only Oceania player to win a singles match, beating Australia’s Rohan Dhooria 4-0 in the first round of the preliminary matches. Earlier in the year Shu also claimed the Men’s title at the first stop of the 2019 ITTF Oceania Tour in New Caledonia defeating his teammate Nathan Xu in a thrilling 7 set match.

Only 16 years old and the youngest in the team, Nathan Xu has had a busy year. In October, Xu added a highlight to his career, beating Oceania No1. Australia’s Heming Hu and defending his title at the 2019 ITTF Oceania Tour | Vanuatu. It was a dominant display by Xu, who was able to hold off his more experienced opponent to win the Men’s Singles title. Following his strong performance in Vanuatu, the young Kiwi recently reached the round of 16 at the ITTF World Junior Championships in Thailand with his partner, Hong Kong’s Wing Lam Ng, a feat no other Oceania player has achieved in the past few years. Earlier this year, Xu added another gold to his growing collection, claiming top honours at the 2019 Oceania Junior Championships in Tonga, winning the U18 Boys Singles, beating Australia’s Alex Lee in exhilarating 7 setter. Going into this weekend, this young star will definitely be looking to make a few upsets in Mornington.

With a golden ticket to Tokyo 2020 and a once in a lifetime opportunity on the line, Friday will definitely be an action-packed day in Mornington.

More information about the Oceania Olympic Team Qualifications here.