NO one could have predicted it.

The King’s Birthday Weekend Table Tennis Country Week Championships at the Gippsland Regional Indoor Sports Stadium (GRISS) featured the strength of the regional associations around Victoria, with games keeping spectators on the edge of their seats.

Each game drew intensity, with everyone playing their best and holding onto each point as the cards flipped.

The clubs involved in the tournament included Traralgon, Bairnsdale, Leongatha, Wonthaggi, Albury Wodonga, Geelong, Melton, Sunbury, Ballarat, Shepparton, Deniliquin, Yarrawonga/Mulwala, Table Tennis Victoria and Mornington Peninsula/Frankston.

Traralgon entered 10 teams into the draw



TRARALGON local Heath Sposato had a strong start, beating Sunbury’s John Jillella, Shane Mallia and Alex Anh Nguyen in Round 1.

The trio stood no chance against Sposato’s strength, combined with the Warr brothers Steve and Mick. While the brothers didn’t quite get Sposato’s results, their games still held strong at four sets for most games, with some going to five. Overall, the Traralgon team beat Sunbury eight games to three, with 27 sets to 18.

From Sunbury to Ballarat, Traralgon’s A1 team was too good in Round 2, coming up seven games, 24 sets to Ballarat’s ‘Hurricane’ team’s four games and 15 sets.

Sposato once again brought his ‘A’ game, winning all three of his single matches. Not quite sharing the same luck, Mick and Steve Warr dropped a few games.

Round 3 saw the treble hit the stage for the Traralgon trio, winning their third round against Bairnsdale, not leaving much room for error. However, unlike the previous teams, Bairnsdale took a game off Sposato. Bairnsdale’s platinum Cary White won the top spot over Sposato in four sets. The games were tight, with points always being on the edge of tipping in one’s favour and never-ending the set below eight. While a few games were lost to Bairnsdale, Traralgon still won seven games to four.

Luck for Traralgon turned in Round 4, with Albury winning 6-5. Albury’s Max and Levi Geering met Sposato’s game with force, which ended in three sets for both. Thankfully, combining the strength of the Warr brothers against the Geerings in the doubles helped bring a win for the Traralgon team.

Geelong was the top team in A1. They waited until the Monday morning of the long weekend to take the battle to Traralgon, showing incredible strength to win 9-2. Warr and Sposato however won against Geelong’s Calden Lyons.

Sposato finished fifth, while Steve Warr came eighth, Mick Warr 13th, and their team third.


Men’s Open Singles

SPOSATO and Steve Warr also participated in the men’s singles knock-out rounds.

Both made it to three out of five rounds before being knocked out.

Steve then went into the Over 30s Men to take second place and Family Doubles with Geoffrey Warr (from Bairnsdale) where they were runners-up.



TRARALGON’S B2 team included Peter Gomez, Geoff Lawn and Jeff Pollard, who picked the unlucky straw of the weekend, starting with the number one team of their sections, Geelong.

The Geelong team again overpowered Traralgon, leaving the game at 6-5 in Round 1.

Traralgon had better luck in Round 2, as they were warmed up and roaring to go, which resulted in a 6-5 win over Sunbury.

While still a tight one, Traralgon was relentless about getting points back and getting a win. Luckily in Match 11, Gomez snatched up the last game in four, winning the round.

Come Round 3, it was all red for Albury, as they snatched the win 9-2 against Traralgon.

While Albury only got second in B2, Traralgon couldn’t quite figure out the game the opposition was playing.

The games won by Lawn and Pollard raised to five, showing a rollercoaster of results such as 11-3 and 11-5. Sadly, the effort of those games wasn’t enough to take the win.

Traralgon then had Ballarat, who fought them 6-5 and won.

Round 4 was very swap and change, with the two teams winning one game and then the next team winning. This left it up to a decision round, which Ballarat’s Teck Young was lucky enough to win against Lawn in three.

Back at it again on the Monday, Traralgon scored a 9-2 win against Wonthaggi in Round 5.

The win for Traralgon was tiresome, with most games being four or five sets. Traralgon finished the tournament in fourth place.



TRARALGON’S Jason Comrie, Guri Soni and Mark Strini lost the first round to Deniliquin 6-5.

The game lifted around match five when Soni won the first Traralgon game, which led to a string of wins, but it wasn’t enough for the first round.

Feeling a bit more prepared, Traralgon beat Melton 8-2 in Round 2.

The swap with Soni and Ian Strong in the team indeed gave them more power, even in the doubles, they smashed it, gaining the win.

Ballarat wasn’t so lucky in this section as Traralgon beat them 10-1 in Round 3, taking the first double. The results showed the roaring strength of the Traralgon team, with Soni returning to give Strini a break. Games once again favoured four to five sets over the tournament in this round. The favours just seemed to go towards Traralgon for this round.

Round 4 was Traralgon’s day, as they took seven games from Yarrawonga, who took four. Together, the Yarrawonga team was strong, taking out both doubles, but that’s where their strength ended against Traralgon’s power.

Constant rotation was in for Traralgon by Round 5, but it still wasn’t enough in the final round to beat Shepparton.

Strini came to relieve Comrie for this round, but the game wasn’t in their favour, losing 7-4.



TRARALGON’S Leonie Degnan, Rino Metlikovec and Alan Fullard took 7-4 from Ballarat.

Don’t let the wins fool you. This was a tough one for the team. With most games going to three sets, it was close in the scores that tilted Traralgon’s way.

Round 2 saw the game flipped, with Traralgon losing 7-4 against Melton.

Melton showed relentless strength against Traralgon, often dragging the games to four or five sets.

Brushing off the loss from the inter-association games, Bairnsdale came in strong during Round 3, winning 9-2.

Unfortunately, Traralgon lost to Shepparton in the next round. Metlikovec’s game wasn’t promising to start with, but the next matches brought hope, with Fullard and Degnan bringing home the games and the doubles. After this, it seemed Shepparton was pushing games back further, going to five sets.

In Round 5, the top team in the section was Mornington Frankston, who beat Traralgon 8-3.

Traralgon was stronger together in this round, taking both doubles and one singles match, but it wasn’t enough. Even sets going up to 18 points were present in some games. There really was no stepping down for the Traralgon team, even when all hopes of winning were lost.



IN the first round, Traralgon’s Paul Ryan, Daniel Stevens and Ronald Winkelman were set against rivals Bairnsdale.

Winning 10-1, the trio showed much promise for the section, with Bairnsdale rarely escaping the three-set matches.

Brian Blythman was the one winner for the opposition, who managed to get a game in three early on against Winkelman.

Strength bellowed in this Traralgon trio as they fought Wonthaggi, winning 7-4 in Round 2.

Most of the games in this round went to four sets, with Wonthaggi falling behind.

Wonthaggi’s Sean Michael seemed to be the only team member who could keep up with Traralgon’s games or even challenge the games further to five sets.

With much struggle, he took most of his games apart from when he played Stevens in the final match.

Traralgon won again in Round 3, this time beating Melton.

Melton had shown great trouble throughout the levels for Traralgon, but this win came in 6-5.

The first lot of games were taken in turns winning between the two teams, which changed after the first doubles with Traralgon jumping in front. Trying to regain matches, the Melton team picked up their final games, pushing for the win, but thankfully, for Traralgon, it wasn’t enough to win.

It was then red on red in Round 4, with the ruby-red Albury team taking ahead, which set them up for first in the section.

The win was well earned by Albury, who took 9-2 during the round. The start of the round wasn’t looking good for Traralgon, as they braced for their first weekend loss. Stevens seemed to be the only one who could keep up with Albury’s highly-prepared team, who helped take a doubles and singles win.

Settling for third, Traralgon lost 7-5 to Yarrawonga in Round 4.

After winning four matches in a row, things started to look down for Traralgon, but coming back in five and four sets, the team braced for a long round. During this round, the team’s fourth, Adam Guo, stepped in to help them get closer to the win in Paul Ryan’s place. Even with the addition, Traralgon couldn’t quite get past Yarrawonga’s James Loughnan.



TRARALGON’S D3 team started by watching their opponents in Round 1, allowing them to learn their styles.

Sadly for Traralgon’s Noel Burns, Gavin Carrigg, and Brian Considine, watching wasn’t enough to get by Leongatha’s team in the second round, losing 10-1.

Bringing in the win, Carrigg won against Leongatha’s Michael Holwerda in three sets.

Unfortunately, this was the only game that slipped to Traralgon in this round. Overall, Leongatha took the section by storm, not dropping a round.

Traralgon slayed the Albury ‘Rising’ Dragon (the name given by Table Tennis Victoria) 7-4 in Round 2.

This round, the team faced many games to four sets, with a tough final few matches going to five sets.

It’s only a flip of a table that sets the game and the lighting advantages, but with wicked spin control, Considine and Burns gave Albury the challenge they were looking for.

Flipping the previous round’s results, Bairnsdale took on Traralgon and won 7-4. Bairnsdale seemed to be in a double rhythm, winning two matches in a row while keeping up a four, five-set challenge.

Traralgon lost the final round 10-1 to Yarrawonga.

The single-match win came from Considine, who challenged Yarrawonga’s Evan Kibble in four sets, riding points up to nine and even 13.



STARTING with a bye, Traralgon’s Henry Franssen, John O’Brien and Trent Strong began their second round with an 8-3 victory against Albury.

With a ‘false’ start, it seemed that Albury was going to pull ahead, winning the first set, but Traralgon quickly turned things around, smashing out the next four games, breaking against Albury’s Ky Lieschker who took two of his Traralgon singles. O’Brien pulled ahead of his game, beating him in five on-and-off sets.

Traralgon pulled ahead of Leongatha in Round 3, although sadly, this round was where luck ended for Traralgon.

Mirroring the scores from the last round, Traralgon lost to Wonthaggi 8-3. Just getting warmed up, Wonthaggi lost the first two matches, only to see the game improve later on and keep strong, giving only one more game for the round. This soon helped place Wonthaggi first in E1.

Once again, the score was 8-3 against Traralgon, with Shepparton being victorious in Round 5.

Being the second-strongest team in the section, Shepparton wasn’t letting Traralgon pass, riding up scores to 10, 12 and the top of 17 in one game.

Traralgon ended up coming third.



TAKING Traralgon head-on, Sunbury Table Tennis Association held on tight to the game against Traralgon’s Katrina Brandon, Allan Cooper, and Fiona Fullard, losing 6-5 to open the section.

The decider was between Traralgon’s Brandon and Sunbury’s Jenna Manning, which Traralgon ending up winning.

The race was tough, but Brandon got there, ready to hit the floor. Luckily, in Round 2, Traralgon had the bye.

Shepparton threw together a strong team for Round 3, leading to an easy victory over Traralgon 9-2. With near-roof touching shots and ‘should be illegal’ rubbers, Traralgon had no chance.

Shepparton’s Tshering Wangchuk presented the near-roof shot, who landed the shot back onto Fullard’s side and back over to his, winning him the shot. You wouldn’t believe it until it happened to you.

From the number one team to the number two, Melton were Traralgon’s next opponents. By now Traralgon was worn out, and lost 9-2.

Traralgon kept the games tight, aiming for four sets or a winning game from Fullard to three. Dropping down a few places in the section, this was where the trio put in every last drop into their games.

Some familiar faces were present as Traralgon raced Bairnsdale for the bottom two spots in Round 5, which Traralgon lost 8-3.

The familiar face staring back was Sale player Sharon Collins, who showed no mercy towards the trio, beating Fullard, the top player on the team.



TRARALGON’S Maya Gomez, Dhiira Slade and Manan Slade had an easy one for the first round, beating Melton 11-0.

Most games settled at three sets; four exceeded but didn’t tip over.

Round two was a bye for Traralgon, before Round 3 saw Bairnsdale proved too strong, winning 8-3.Bairnsdale’s Leigh Thompson somehow broke through the team’s power, winning against both the Slade brothers and Rohan Reynolds, beating Dhiira in five.

Power: Dhiira Slade and Maya Gomez took top place in the E3 section. Photograph: Katrina Brandon

Once again blindsided, Melton placed a second team in for Round 4, only to lose 8-3. Focused and ready to go, Traralgon roared, with most games going to three sets towards the end.

To top off the other wins, Traralgon beat Yarrawonga 9-2 in the final round.

Finishing at the top of their section, no one expected any difference for the trio, as the three always improve. This pushes the team up for next year, and they may be ready for a few grades higher.

Up and comers: Traralgon Juniors Tynen Long, Maya Gomez, Saxon Long, Angela Guo, Dhirra and Manan Slade showed no mercy in E3 and E4, easily winning the King’s Birthday Long Weekend Country Championships. Photograph: Katrina Brandon


Open E Singles

MAYA Gomez and Manan Slade participated in the Open E singles.

Gomez was knocked out in three of five rounds and Slade received runner-up.



TRARALGON juniors cleared the room as they took first place in the competition.

Traralgon’s Angela Guo, Saxon Long and Tynen Long went up against Leongatha’s first team in Round 1 (winning 8-3), only to replicate the game later in the second round to the other Leongatha team.

Quick and easy was the tagline for this team, where games rarely went into four sets.

If Table Tennis Victoria’s (TTV) team can’t win a match in the group, they may be too strong for this section. All but one game went to three, with Traralgon keeping hold of the win no matter the cost. Traralgon won 11-0 in and against the second TTV team 8-3.

Another 8-3 game arrived on Traralgon’s doorstep, and once again they won.

Being the final match, Traralgon hit the top spot for the weekend in this section.