Nelson Table Tennis Club member Glenda Ferguson. Photo: Jonty Dine.

Age no barrier for table tennis star

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Glenda Ferguson’s love of table tennis began in a Mosgiel garage at age 11.

Now in her late sixties, the Nelson Table Tennis Club veteran was the oldest player competing at the recent national interclub tournament, squaring off against players five decades her junior.

Glenda won silver with her team in the B grade, defeating Manawatu 5/2 to finish second.

“It was a real upset,” she says.

During her run, Glenda came up against a 13-year-old and an 11-year-old, pitting the oldest and youngest players against each other. The youngster from Waikato eventually prevailed in the fifth set.

Glenda says she uses her steadiness and cunning to try outwit much younger players.

“It just comes with experience.”

Also in the Nelson team was Glenda’s daughter, Kylie Collett.

Glenda’s family ties to the table have always been strong.

Her father began the Rovers Table Tennis Club in Mosgiel to help keep troubled youth off the street.

Making her national debut at just 14-years-old, Glenda went on to win a host of Otago and Taieri titles. After taking a few years away from the sport to have three children in Christchurch, Glenda made the move to the Top of the South and joined the Nelson Club in 1983 from where she has represented the region in countless competitions.

It was here that the next generation of her family took to the table. “Our three girls began playing too and in 1985 all three represented Nelson in a New Zealand U15 tournament.”

Glenda says her most memorable moment came in 1995, playing with daughters Leisa and Kylie in Whangarei.

“We won the C grade but the highlight was winning the Barna Cup ahead of 20 other women’s teams.”

This was judged on 40 different categories including sportsmanship, punctuality and friendliness. “This meant more to me than winning the competition, especially with all of us in the same family.”

She says the social aspect and exercise keeps her in the game.

“It’s just something I have always done, it’s part of my life.”

Glenda says she plans to keep playing until she is sick of it.

“We just had a club member retire at 97, I don’t think I’ll be playing that long.”