On Sunday 11th August the 1st ever Plymouth Junior Open table tennis tournament took place at the brand new English Table Tennis Association and Eggbuckland Community College funded, purpose built table tennis facility at the college.
This gave local junior players the opportunity to compete against other juniors from across the country in the first national event of the new table tennis season.
Despite the time of year the event was extremely well supported with some very experienced players entering the tournament with high expectations to earn crucial England Ranking points early in the new table tennis season. The entry included players as young as 8 years old competing in a tournament for the very first time. The event was divided into four age groups split between boys and girls in under 11,13,15 and 18 age groups.
The tournament was also the culmination of the first ever residential table tennis training camp held in Plymouth at the new facility, which was organised by Plymouth based ETTA regional coach Paul Whiting, assisted by local coaches Kevin Buddell, Darren Reed and Mike Hugh. Sparring was also on offer with Andy Millman and Eric Cheng assisting.
Over twenty local players of all age groups took the opportunity of the 3 day training camp to prepare and work on their game prior to the tournament. How beneficial this proved, as nearly all the titles were won by the children who attended the training camp. This was testament to all of their hard work and endeavour, training for over six hours a day. Whiting commented on all their excellent performances which simply would not have been possible without the building of the facility which is now challenging to become one of the very best table tennis facilities in the country. He hopes to run similar training camps in the future.
The most notable successes were at under 11 and 13 age groups with Stanley Shilton winning the under 11 age group and local player Ben Edmunds winning his first open title in the boys under 13 age group with Okehamptons’ Emily Haskell taking the under 13 girls title. Special mention must go to Plymouth’s Francesca Maestri who pushed Emily closely and showed a vast improvement following her hard work at the 3 day training camp. The Under 13 girls runner up was Emily’s training partner Zoe Bennett.
The under 15 age groups saw Carl Baldry from Cornwall upset the seeding by beating Ed Haskell in the boys final and Holly Johns taking the girls title beating Emily Haskell in the girls final, both proving to be too strong for the rest of the opposition.
The most eagerly awaited event was the under 18 boys and girls competitions which also proved to be the strongest events, with Plymouth’s Ollie Buddell and Torbay’s Jaz Johns both seeded number 1 with strong challengers from a group containing Saltash’s England ranked number 22 girl, Beth Wilson, Nat Sheehan, Jordan Bone, Ed and George Haskell, Carl Baldry and Cornishman Locryn Van der Velde.
They both endured tough matches with Beth Wilson challenging Jaz all the way in a high quality final, but finally England Number girl 9 Jazmine Johns took the girls under 18 title.
Nat Sheehan fought his way through to the final by beating Plymouth’s Jordan Bone in a highly entertaining defence versus attack semi final. In the other semi final Ollie Buddell overcame Ed Haskell proving he still had plenty to offer in his final junior year.
In another high quality final Ollie Buddell proved too strong for Nat, justifying his number 1 under 18 seeding and won this seasons, and Plymouths first Junior Open championship.
All the competitors, parents and coaches displayed great sportsmanship throughout the tournament which ensured the smooth running and this was endorsed by the ETTA referee Shawn Haskell.
Special thanks go to Debbie Whiting, Jan Marshall and Laura Bone for their hard work keeping all the competitors and parents fed and hydrated on a long hot day.
Testament to all of the hard work and investment made at the college was that as the tournament took place, the English Table Tennis Association and Sport England announced that they were in search of 4 locations nationally that fitted rigorous selection criteria to open and support a new pilot project of focussed grass roots and high performance development centres.
The new facility at Eggbuckland Community College has been shortlisted as one of these possible locations, with the final announcement due within the next few days.
The ETTA and Sport England following a recent visit were not only impressed by the new facility in Plymouth, but highlighted all of the recent hard work carried out by all the local clubs and the volunteers working in Table Tennis in the Plymouth area.
Table Tennis is becoming increasingly popular in the UK and with Sport England now working with the English Table Tennis Association looking at new and innovative ways in expanding the sport and investing in more localised focussed projects that will hopefully increase participation but also have the ability to produce players of a high standard to challenge for local, national and international titles in years to come.
If the ambitious project does come to Plymouth it would be one of the most significant investments in Table Tennis ever made in the city.
The Imminent announcement has not affected the new child and adult coaching sessions already being planned from the 1st September at the new facility and will be open to all ages and standards, juniors and seniors.
The highly regarded table tennis coaches already in place at the new facility are determined to offer the best coaching available to all standards of play and are offering numerous sessions throughout the week.
They would also like to extend an open invitation to anybody who would either like to come along for a game or speak to us about attending one or more of our new sessions.
Why not pop along to one of our open days at Eggbuckland Community College every Sunday in August or September between 2pm and 3pm or call Kevin Buddell on 07836 550308 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more details. All table tennis equipment can be supplied free of charge for anybody who would like to come along and have a go.
Eggbuckland Community College, Activate Sports Hall, Westcott Close, Plymouth PL6 5YB.