TWO of Southland’s foremost table tennis coaches, Shelley Smith and Barry Ellis, have experienced plenty of success recently.
Both excelled in the Southland residential championships, with Smith achieving the rare feat of the Triple Crown in winning the women’s open singles, women’s open doubles and mixed doubles titles.
She then carried her form on to the New Zealand championships in Christchurch, where she won two golds and a silver medal.
The golds came in the B grade doubles, where she won the title with Armindeep Singh, of Waikato, and in the over-30 doubles with partner Helen Beumelburg, of Canterbury. The silver medal came in the B grade singles, a title she also won in 2015.
Ellis almost replicated Smith’s Triple Crown at the championships, where he won the open doubles and open mixed doubles titles. He was also successful at the nationals, taking gold in the D grade singles and silver in both the over-55 men’s doubles with Subhash Kumar Batra, of Wellington, and in the D grade doubles with Kelly Martin, of Southland.
Martin was part of the Southland senior men’s team at the nationals, along with Nathan Geraghty and Andrew Fleming. The trio finished fourth in the C grade event with good wins over Auckland and Manawatu.
This year marks 50 years of interclub play for Ellis
She began playing at the age of 10. Her father, Eric Neal, who recently returned from competing in the Australian veteran championships, was the reason she got into the sport. she said.
Both Ellis and Smith are heavily involved in junior coaching in the south and are proud to be a part of a growing sport in Southland.
While that is testament to the success of the coaching duo, they say it is not always about winning but also about juniors learning new skills and playing to the best of their ability, meeting new people and having fun along the way.