Table tennis family together for competition

A family that plays together, stays together . . . Three generations of table tennis players (from left) Abby Newell, Molly Newell, Debs King-Newell and June King competed in the Southland open table tennis championship last week. PHOTO: JESSICA WILSON

Getting to play with her daughter and granddaughters lured a Mosgiel ping pong player back to the Southland tables.

The last time June King played in the Southland Open table tennis championship was in 1999 when she won the open women’s singles.

On Saturday, she went back with her daughter, Debs King-Newell, and granddaughters, Molly (14) and Abby (11) Newell.

King said it was great to be back competing in the championships again and enjoyed playing alongside her family.

Her motto is “A family that plays together, stays together”.

She won the over-60 women’s singles and teamed up with King-Newell to finish second in the open women’s doubles.

King-Newell also won the open mixed doubles with Ben Duffy, of Otago, and was second in the over-45 women’s singles.

Molly finished second in the under-15 girls’ singles. She also paired with Ruby Anderson, of Otago, for the doubles events and finished first in the under-15 girls and second in the under-18 girls’ events.

Abby, in her first year competing, was third in the under-11 girls’ singles and second in the under-11 girls’ doubles.

The return to the Southland tables was also a move back to King’s old stamping ground – she used to live in Invercargill and played more than 100 games for Southland.

Her daughter was the first Southland junior table tennis player to represent New Zealand, under-18.

The family’s youngest generation have kept up the family tradition.

Molly has been playing for about three years and is part of the New Zealand junior training squad, and Abby, who took up the sport earlier this year, is in the Otago junior squad.

King said she enjoyed playing table tennis because it was good exercise, “makes you think” and was suitable for people of all ages.

“You have got to watch what the other person is doing, not just what you’re doing.”

“I think it’s a good game to play as long as [the player’s] eyesight is good enough.”

After moving to Dunedin from Queenstown about a year ago, King started a table tennis club and is a regular feature at the Dunedin-hosted New Zealand Masters Games.

She enjoyed the competition because she played against people in her age group.

“I want to play in that as long as I can hold the bat.”