April 28, 2017

Cheerleader. (Photo: Tan Tzer Yih)

by Jennifer Aduckiewicz NVC Secretary

The Australia vs New Zealand Veterans Table Tennis Test Match began in 1999. It was established by Bruce Pemberthy, a New Zealand player who was trying to re-energise Veterans’ table tennis. After his proposal was approved in  New Zealand Bruce contacted Ken Cole in Australia and the rest, as they say is history. Each year the top Veterans’ players from Australia and New Zealand are selected to represent their respective countries. The Test Match is a prestigious event with our top players vying for a position in the team. This year saw 2 person male and female teams in the 0/40, 0/50, 0/60, 0/65, 0/70 & 0/75 age brackets. Each match consisted of 2 singles and one doubles with all rubbers being added up to achieve a result. Australia only just came out winners, winning 32 of the 60 matches, very much thanks to our 0/70 & 0/75 players. The younger New Zealanders certainly put up an amazing fight. The Test Match is played in a great spirit of friendly rivalry with great friendships forged. Many players return every year to compete again. Cynthia Langley, the Chairperson of the Australian National Veterans Committee thanked New Zealand for organising the tournament and for our warm welcome to Christchurch.

The New Zealand Veterans Championships are regularly played over the four day Easter Holiday. The Test Match is played on Thursday night, followed by two days of Teams competition played in age divisions. After the Teams presentations, the Individual events begin in earnest with men’s and women’s singles, doubles and mixed doubles. This year 118 players entered the championships with 44 players from Australia plus many family and friends who came to enjoy the competition and pick up a holiday in Kiwi Land. Australia made a clean sweep of the 0/70 MXD but many of the teams saw Australia and NZ playing together.

Double trouble. (Photo: Tan Tzer Yih)

Given that Ken Cole was instrumental in establishing the Aust vs NZ Test Match, it is fitting that the winner of the 2016 Ken Cole Trophy and Australian Veterans Player of the Year,  Case de Bont not only represented Australia in the Test match Team but went on to win many of the Singles, Doubles and Mixed Doubles throughout the tournament. Case was named as No 1 in the 2017 New Zealand Veterans Table Tennis Championships Merit List 0/80 age division. Case has played in the New Zealand Championships 18 times and has been a part of the Australian Test Match Team 14 times. With his wife Joan in constant support, Case clearly thoroughly enjoyed the competition but is still pushing for an 0/80 Teams Division to better cater for the older age group.

As always, the championships finished with a wonderful night of food, fun and friendship at the Tournament Dinner which was held at the Hornby Working Men’s Club. After a sumptuous buffet meal and the announcement of the New Zealand Merit List, where Australia was well represented, we danced the night away in raucous style. We were lucky enough to have Simon Fenwick on our table who announced the special awards. The following awards were presented to Australian players:

  • The Most Annoying Backhand award went to Werner Borkhart
  • The World’s Against Me award went to Stephen Mitchell for so many nets & edges
  • Bouffant Under Fire award went to Lorraine Baker for looking immaculate despite the score
  • Wiggles Award for the brightest outfit went to Viv Haloucha.

It was my first time representing Australia at the New Zealand Champs and foolishly entered two age divisions of every event. Crazy! Needless to say I spent my first day back in Australia on the couch; dead beat but happy.

Celebrations after the table tennis. (Photo: Tan Tzer Yih)