Skills camp has star sharp and raring to go

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A nine-time Otago representative can now add New Zealand representative to his impressive list of table tennis accolades.

Tahuna Normal Intermediate pupil Alex Clarkson was selected as one of two New Zealand under-12 representatives to take part in the 2017 ITTF-Oceania Hopes Week and Challenge, a five-day training camp and one-day tournament in Tweed Heads, Australia, earlier this month.

Alex (12) said he learned a lot of new skills during the training sessions which he hoped to incorporate into his game.

“It was mostly moving around the table and trying to get different shots .. and trying to get rid of weaknesses.

“We learnt a few new shots but most of the time it was just strengthening old shots.”

Each day, the group did six hours of “hard-out training”, had a break and then trained again, he said.

“It was really fun and tiring.”

The group was made up of Australian, New Caledonian and Fijian players, who Alex played against on the final day.

He said they had a similar style of play but were a lot faster than what he was used to.

Alex started playing table tennis three and a-half years ago and became an Otago representative six months later.

“It’s quite a fast sport.

“It’s really, really easy to get good at if you have reasonable hand-eye co-ordination.”

Since then, he has been in a New Zealand training squad twice, an Otago representative nine times and is hoping to win the Dunedin intermediate competition with fellow pupil Isaac Hobbs for the third year in a row.

With the table tennis season about to get into full swing for the winter, Alex, a member of the 38mm Table Tennis Club, hopes to get his New Zealand ranking points higher so he can make it into the cadet squad.