Originally written by CODY WINNELL
HAMILTON table tennis star Melissa Tapper has won yet another national title, this time at the National Table Tennis Championships at Perth earlier this week.
Tapper was chosen to represent Victoria in the teams’ event at the tournament, while also competing in doubles (including mixed) in the under-14s, and under-16s competitions plus singles in under-14s, under-16s and under-18s.
She came home with an amazing haul of seven medals, three of them gold.
Tapper’s stellar performances also earned her another trip overseas, this time to Japan for the World Junior Championships in November.
It will be the jetsetting youngster’s second overseas trip in two months as she goes to the Czech Republic this weekend.
The Perth nationals saw the best young table tennis talent from all over Australia assembled to compete for the country’s top honour.
Tapper’s good form in tournaments around Victoria meant she was always going to be hard to beat in any event she took part in.
The round-robin style tournament kicked off with the teams event where states went head to head with one another in search of winning the premier state gold medal.
Tapper represented Victoria and won 15 out of her 18 matches to help the state to a creditable silver medal.
She then competed in the doubles competition.
In the under-14 girls section Tapper’s partner was Cassandra Ng of Melbourne. It was the first of her gold medals.
Her second gold came in the mixed under-14 doubles where she won with Robbie Frank, also of Melbourne.
In the under-16 girls and mixed doubles she won the bronze medal with Shyam Depilia (mixed) and Bec Scarborough (girls).
Tapper then competed in the singles section of the nationals, not just in the under-14s, but also in the under-16s and under-18s.
While she competed strongly in all her events, it was the under-14 girls where she shone brightest.
Tapper was seeded number one going into the tournament and therefore had the bye in the early rounds.
In the finish she had fought her way into the final and was facing off against a WA opponent.
“I lost the first two sets against her so I was pretty scared,” Tapper said.
But she settled, winning the next four and recording a hard fought victory.
In the under-16s, Tapper faced off against Scarborough in the semi-finals and defeated her in six sets.
Then in the final, Tapper clashed with Michelle Carpenter from Ballarat. She couldn’t quite match it with Carpenter and lost in seven sets, still a very close result.
In the under-18s, Tapper was knocked out in the second round by the number one seed.
Overall it was a great performance and it didn’t go unrecognised, resulting in her winning the trip to Japan.
For now, her main focus is on the Czech Republic next week, where she will play some of Portugal’s best talent.
“I just have to try my best and have a lot of fun,” she said about playing overseas.
She will train in the Czech Republic for a week before she competes, under the watchful eye of Simon Gerada, who used to coach Tapper from Melbourne.
Tapper said she was enjoying her table tennis as much as ever and said winning titles and trips overseas “makes it even better”.