Players brace for fight

ROCKHAMPTON'S keener Table Tennis players are looking forward to competition with their counterparts from Bundaberg in the annual clash for the Cree Shield.

The stage has been set for Saturday evening, November 7, and teams have to be finalised next week.

It's Bundaberg's turn to travel this year so locals are hoping to gain a home-ground advantage. With the opposition currently holding the Shield following an extremely close victory last year in the Rum City, all stops will be out to wrest the trophy back to where locals believe it belongs.

Pam Clarke's efforts to steer her state team to a medal at the national veteran titles in Sydney were frustrated by a New South Wales outfit that proved to be just too good in the final round.

With Queensland pitted against perennial arch-rivals in the play-off for the bronze medal, the match went right down to the wire when at five rubbers apiece Queensland lost the tie-breaking encounter by eleven points to nine in the deciding fifth set.

Victoria and South Australia won the gold and silver medals respectively. These four teams are traditionally the strongest in the over-50 section and this year unfortunately Queensland didn't get to take home a medal.

Clarke figured prominently in both doubles events in this section where she and her partners were narrowly defeated in the quarter-finals.

Fixtures in top grade on Tuesday received an unexpected boost when Thomas Goldhammer from Germany subbed into a vacant position.

The twenty-year-old backpacker was on a short stay in the city and indicated an interest in playing competition and regulars took advantage of finding out how the sport operates in his country.

While Craig Ottaway edged out the visitor by a few points in the deciding fifth set in his first hit-out, Goldhammer later showed he would be quite handy.

In a great clash that was punctuated by some quality service techniques and attacking play Goldhammer narrowly got the wood on Scott Headon 11-9 in the decider. Shaun Pettett's consistent returns won him a game but the visitor was too strong. Pettett was outclassed.

The handicaps in the Thursday afternoon junior competition are generating interest and making top-liners play hard.

Kerrod Coughlan was too solid for Mathias Andersson, Matthew Pettett and Kent Jacobsen while the improving Rayden Smith held out David Hockings, Riley Steffen and Enoch Pun. Smith's clash with Pun was a classic where he won 12-10, 11-9, 5-11, 7-11, 17-15. In another close finish Riley Steffen outlasted David Hockings 7-11, 12-10, 11-8, 8-11, 18-16.

Children interested in taking up the sport can attend the playing centre at 4.30pm on Thursdays. Vacancies exist in training squads and fixture matches.

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