Trying hard was key to winning ‘tough match’

A philosophy of trying harder when things are not going as planned has come off for Shelley Neal.

The Edendale woman has just won the South Island open women’s singles table tennis title in Nelson.

She beat Canterbury’s Anny Li 11-7, 9-11, 11-3, 11-6 and 11-8.

Neal (47) said when she was at the tournament earlier this month, a junior player asked her if she had a plan to win the singles title.

‘‘I said that I was going to try hard, and if that plan didn’t work out, I was going to have to try harder.’’

At one point in the final she had to do that, being down 6›0 in the fourth game of the seven›game match.

‘‘I tried harder and I managed to win the next 11 points in a row to win the game.’’

The final was ‘‘a really tough match’’, and it had not been easy to get there.

‘‘I had to beat two of the junior players that have recently been selected to represent New Zealand in the Oceania Championships in Melbourne in September.’’

The title was ‘‘extra special’’ because she won it in 1997 when she was 22 years old and still had the newspaper story from then.

‘‘So, 25 years on and I am still playing and loving table tennis and couldn’t imagine life without it.

‘‘Table tennis is my healthy addiction.’’

She also won gold in the over-30 and over-40 singles.

What she lacked in youth she made up for in experience and cunning, she said.

Each player had their own style of playing which had to be counteracted.

‘‘I have to adapt my game with every person I play.

‘‘Some of the juniors just go out and play exactly the same every time.’’

At present she was ranked 11th in the country but hoped to crack the top 10. She felt that she had not hit top form yet.

‘‘I’m just going to keep working on my fitness and training.’’

Her next major competition is the New Zealand Championships in Auckland in October.