Rayden Smith will be a key player for Rockhampton.
Rayden Smith will be a key player for Rockhampton. Pam McKay

Rocky looks to serve up eight straight in inter-club

TABLE TENNIS: This weekend Rockhampton's keener table tennis players head off to Bundaberg to take on their southern counterparts in the annual clash for the Cree Shield, the annual inter-city competition that has been dubbed the holy grail by many players from both clubs over the years.

The Bundaberg and Rockhampton clubs have been taking part in an annual competition for more than 40 years and presently the shield is named in honour of Eric Cree who has been a stalwart of the sport in the Rum City for many years. For the first 25 years of the competition's existence the trophy carried the name of Trevor White who was involved with the sport in Rockhampton for a considerable period of time

The most amazing statistic about the more recent inter-club battles is the fact that Rockhampton has won the trophy for the past seven years, albeit by a few skinny margins along the way. The local players taking part in this weekend's matches will be thinking that winning eight of these competitions in a row has a certain ring to it that sport lovers in this state will appreciate.

Matthew Pettett, Dane Coughlan and Rayden Smith will lead the charge as they will comprise the top division side. As is the usual situation, Rockhampton will field some very good players through the second and third grade ranks. Bundaberg currently boasts a good supply of juniors and while the better ones will compete in the higher grades some of them will end up at the other end and no doubt bolster their lower-graded teams.

A lot of locals have been performing well in the city's fixtures and it is hoped this form will continue over the weekend. Ann-Louise Stewart and Jeff Green engaged in a tight struggle that Stewart won over four sets. Craig Ottaway subbed after being away from competition for a while due to out of town work commitments and played really well to upstage Erica Nolan 7-11, 11-6, 6-11, 11-8, 11-9.

James O'Sullivan prevailed in a classic over Shaun Pettett over a long five game battle and in the same match Geoff Geddes had too many answers for the in-form Joe Clifton to win in four close sets.

Hitting some form at the right time in terms of this weekend's matches Linda O'Sullivan played very intently as she rounded up the difficult play of Christoph Leitner. While she won in straight sets the encounter was closer than the scores indicate.

Paula Hockings also put in an impressive performance over improving junior Matthew Steffen. In a clash that produced plenty of fine rallies and hard-hitting reflex shots the experience of Hockings made the difference, but the youngster showed that he's not far away from some eye-catching victories in this weekly competition.

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