Monthly Archives: March 2015

Our cup runneth over

We’re completely spoiled for headlines this week. The last fixture in the penultimate week of the season saw a truly epic, cliffhanging win for Swots over Telsports that propelled them to the final of the Handicap Cup on 6 April. Results across Division 3 have also secured promotion for Swots. And Prefects are nail-bitingly close to winning the second division title.

Sandy Pearson – won a crucial tie-break for Swots

Sandy Pearson – won a crucial tie-break for Swots

With Robert Brown injured, Swots called up Sandy Pearson, fresh from his cruise around the south Atlantic, to join Dave Beveridge and Emma Bissett for their Handicap Cup tie. Dave and Emma had secured three good points each and Sandy had added a seventh before he faced his namesake, Sandy Elrick in the last match of the night. Swots were 7-9 behind but our Sandy first made it 8-9. At 25-25 in the second game, and with Elrick to serve, Telsports were one point from the final. However, they lost it, and a nerve jangling tie break game got underway. Dave and Emma could barely watch, but at 20-20 the man with the Royal seal of approval for cleaning floors, added the Swots seal of approval by taking the next six points and the tie. Phew.

The previous night, Swots had secured a 10-0 win over Lairds at Ward Road, Dundee. Collin Bleak was the super-sub for that one, joining Dave and Emma again. With Tigers dropping points elsewhere the following night, it was enough to secure Swots’ promotion to Division 2. However, the performance of their lives next week could still see Swots snatch the title from the jaws of Comets who are already promoted.

Earlier, on Monday, Prefects played Attackers and drew 5-5. Attackers were a man short but Alex Thom, in particular, was impressive for the Monifieth team beating all three Prefects. However, two wins for Howard Lee, one apiece for Ian Smith and Kong Wan, and an impressive fourth consecutive doubles win for Ian and Howard was enough to avoid a rare defeat. The two most enthusiastic members of Howard’s fan club were spectating in the balcony. They enjoyed some great entertainment when not distracted by book reading. Prefects have been truly immense this season and are now just a hair’s breadth from winning the second division title.

Alongside Prefects, Prospects recorded a routine 10-0 win over the youngsters from Topspin. Collin Bleak, Sandy Pearson and Dave Goddard were this week’s Prospects. This was the team’s last fixture and they now face a wait on results elsewhere to decide their final position in Division 3. Fourth place remains a possibility.

On Tuesday, at Ward Road, New Kids were scrapping for as many points as they could muster against Star to save them from dropping back into Division 2. It was a tough night for Peter Bladen and Nick Shepherd who were unable to find a third team member to complete their line-up. However, our duo battled hard to take two points off Star (one each) although the final result (8-2) was never in much doubt. Star streaked into a 3-0 lead and, after winning the doubles, added another three wins in a row (including one concession) to run out comfortable winners. Whether two points will be enough to help keep the Kids in the first division will become clearer after their final fixture next week. They’re still fighting though.

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Zak Ho wins Grove Trophy

The youngsters from St Andrews Table Tennis Club’s youth development squad gathered last Monday night in the Victory Memorial Hall to compete for the annual Grove Trophy. The Grove Trophy is named in honour of Tim Grove, founding member, former kids coach, club stalwart and honorary lifetime member.

Zak with the Grove Trophy and his winners medal

Zak with the Grove Trophy and his winners medal

After some fierce competition, Tim was on hand to personally present the trophy to Zak Ho (age 14) who defeated the 2013 winner, Darren Munn, 11-9, 11-8 in the final. It was a terrific performance from Zak who had been seeded number five, and had clearly been concealing his determination to win the cup. The recent Dundee and District Minor Boys champion, Murray Paterson (age 11), won the third place play off after beating Alex Thomson (age 14) 2-1. After two shared tight games, Murray won the deciding game 11-1.

The tournament was ably organised by head coach Howard Lee and Bill Sutherland. Many thanks chaps.

Prefects close in on promotion

This week saw the first celebrations of the season in St Andrews Table Tennis Club. Eleven year old Murray Paterson’s success in the Minor Boys category at the DDTTA youth open championships at the weekend will hopefully be the first of a few by the end of the season.

Ian Smith, Kong Wan and Howard Lee contemplate the possibility of promotion

Ian Smith, Kong Wan and Howard Lee contemplate the possibility of promotion

On Tuesday the bigger lads, in the form of Prefects (Kong Wan, Howard Lee and Ian Smith) took almost the last huge step towards promotion with a sound 8-2 thrashing of close rivals, Barons, up in Dundee. All three of our heroes played their part. Howard picked up another impressive hat-trick and seems to be destined for even bigger things. Ian and Kong also contributed well with two terrific wins each, which included victories over Scott Hamilton, one of the area’s rising stars. Having struggled to get doubles wins for most of the season, Howard and Ian showed that they now have the knack, winning the seventh point of the match in what was their third consecutive doubles win in recent weeks. Show offs.

The previous night New Kids were fighting for Division 1 survival in a tough fixture with Knights. After a good start to the season, the Kids have started to struggle and this fixture didn’t help their cause. With Michael Hahn unavailable, Peter Bladen and Nick Shepherd called on Howard Lee to make up their numbers. Howard forced Stuart Halliday to five games but that was the closest anyone in the team got to a win and the Kids were ultimately whitewashed 10-0. The team isn’t relegated just yet but they need a couple of big results if they are not to exchange places with Prefects.

In Division 3, Swots fixture was conceded but Prospects travelled to Ward Road where they delivered a fine 6-4 win over Squires. The points came from a superb brace of hat-tricks from Collin Bleak and Dave Goddard. However the big lads were overcome by the little women in the doubles, going down 3-0 to Winnie Stein and Tanya Kapelyukh. Dave’s summing up of their doubles display is, regrettably, not printable. Emily Howat turned in another good performance for Prospects without seeing any points for her efforts. The result sees Prospects at the top of the bottom half of the league in sixth place but they have a good opportunity in the two remaining fixtures to sneak up to fifth.

Youngsters shine at Dundee tournament

Murray, winner of Minor Boys Singles

Murray, winner of Minor Boys Singles

Three of St Andrews Table Tennis Club’s youngsters took everyone by surprise with their heroic performances in the Dundee and District Table Tennis Association’s Youth Open competition at Ward Road Gym, Dundee on 15 March.

Playing in the Minor Boys singles, Keir Paterson and Sam Thomson both played exceptionally well, with Keir winning four of his six matches. However, the star of the day was Keir’s elder brother, Murray (aged 11), who won the Minor Boys event beating top seed, Jacob Munro, from the Dundee development squad, 3-2 in the final.

The three boys are part of the club’s new intake this season and this early success is a terrific return on the Awards for All Scotland grant that the club received to develop coaching and improve overall performance in the club. Watch out for more from these youngsters.

Gute Reise und viel Glück, Maxi

Three of the St Andrews table tennis teams were in league action on Monday this week, with Swots having to wait until Thursday to get in on the act.

At home on Monday, Prefects had a more than tricky encounter to navigate in their now expected voyage to Division 1. It started with a stutter after Viscounts took a 2-0 lead; Kong Wan losing to Filip Jovanovic and then Howard Lee losing a tight five game encounter against Andy Hughes. Prefects then won three in a row before Andy inflicted more damage, this time on Ian Smith in match six (3-3 now). Having won the doubles last week, Howard and Ian pulled out the same recipe to put Prefects into the lead for the first time. Matches eight and nine were shared before Kong, yet again, had to bear the burden of deciding the overall result in match ten. It was a terrific effort from the man from Hong Kong but big Andy, from Dundee, just sneaked it in five games to let Viscounts get away with a draw.

Maxi Strobl – played his last match for Prospects this week

Maxi Strobl – played his last match for Prospects this week

Alongside, Prospects were aiming to accumulate as many points as they could against Sputniks, to keep them in the top half of Division 3, and as far away as possible from the chance of being dumped in a potential Division 4 next season. They did well. In Captain Maxi Strobl’s last fixture for the team all three of our heroes picked up hat-tricks, but just failed to collect a full house of points when Maxi and Collin Bleak lost the doubles 3-1 to Deepak Gopinath and Eric Brown. Dave Goddard will also welcome his winning outing after being ill in recent weeks. Final score, Prospects 9, Sputniks 1. Maxi now goes off travelling for the rest of the season and, with the greater adventure of a Masters year at Oxford University ahead of him next season, will leave the club with our thanks for his terrific organisation and motivation of Prospects, and our very best wishes for the future.

Up in Broughty Ferry, New Kids had a tough Division 1 encounter with Missiles. It was the proverbial games of two halves with New Kids racing into a 4-1 lead before Missiles finally fired all engines to reverse the momentum and level the contest by the end of match eight. Michael Hahn completed another terrific hat-trick for the Kids this week in match nine before Nick Shepherd was given the unenviable task of trying to win the fixture in match ten. It wasn’t to be. Nick battled hard to get into the match against Ian Hunter, especially in the second and third games, but just came up short. Michael and Peter Bladen had previously lost the doubles in straight games. Final score 5-5.

The week’s action concluded on Thursday when Swots took on Telsports up in Dundee, with the aim of collecting maximum points. In the end, it could have been better, and it could have been worse. Swots shot into a 4-0 lead but the threat was evident when Emma Bissett had to work hard to beat Dave Axton in five games. She didn’t manage to beat Sandy Elrick though (1-3 in that one) and in the next match Dave Beveridge succumbed by the same margin to the aforementioned Mr Axton for the second time this season. The doubles match was then pivotal. Another five game epic, it saw Robert Brown and Emma forced to come back from 1-2 against Messrs Elrick and Axton to win 3-2. The relief of retaining the team’s unbeaten doubles record seemed to settle our guys and the last three matches all went to Swots. The last match was hardly a stroll, however, with Sandy making it tricky for our Dave when he took the second game 13-11 before going down 11-13 and 2-11 in the third and fourth games. Final score, Telsports 2, Swots 8.

Swots match next week has been conceded because Princes are unable to field a team. The effect of the two results is to put Swots back on top of Division 3 with everything to play for.

New Kids face an uphill struggle

All four of the St Andrews table tennis teams were in either cup or league action this week.

Aces’ Grant Williams, Jason Fleming and Gary Lowson ahead of the fixture with New Kids.

Aces’ Grant Williams, Jason Fleming and Gary Lowson ahead of the fixture with New Kids.

On Monday, in Victory Memorial Hall, New Kids had their first Division 1 fixture in weeks, and it was a tough one. Aces are currently lying second in the league and were in no mood to be generous. Michael Hahn, however, humbled all three of the Broughty Ferry stars with a terrific display of attacking table tennis. Unfortunately, neither Peter Bladen nor Nick Shepherd could add to the St Andrews tally, although Peter must have been disappointed to lose his match with Gary Lowson after being 2-0 ahead and narrowly losing the third game 12-14. That was followed by Michael and Nick losing three of the four doubles games 10-12. With the result over at 2-6 (then 2-7) Michael secured his hat-trick in the last match with a fine straight games win over Gary. Final score, New Kids 3, Aces 7. The Kids are not down and out of Division 1 just yet but, with the fixtures running out, they need a dramatic turn in their fortunes.

Alongside, Swots were up against one of the district’s other top teams, Knights, in the quarter final of the Handicap Cup. With a potentially unsettling debate about the allotted handicaps just before the contest, Swots focused on the table tennis, and on following their game plan. There were a couple of close games, but Dave Beveridge, Emma Bissett and Robert Brown all coped surprisingly well with their Division 1 opponents’ tricky serves, caused a few problems of their own, and raced into a comfortable 6-0 lead. The district’s top player, Robert Toth, got Knights on the scorecard after he beat his namesake with the loss of only one point in the first game of match four. He couldn’t maintain near perfection though and Robert (Brown) won the second game 31-26. Dave and Emma sealed a valuable win for Swots in matches five and six with 2-0 wins over Callum Riddoch and Stuart Halliday, respectively. Final score, Swots 11, Knights 1.  The absence of a league fixture for Swots this week means they have slipped temporarily into third place in Division 3, but with a fixture in hand.

Collin Bleak’s efforts against Comets led to the disintegration of his right shoe

Collin Bleak’s efforts against Comets led to the disintegration of his right shoe

Meanwhile, up in Broughty Ferry, Prospects faced the, now third division title favourites, Comets. It proved to be a miserable night. Prospects leading player, Collin Bleak, brought the contest level in match two with a good win over Fraser Smith but, try as they might, Prospects couldn’t add to that tally for the rest of the evening. Collin, in particular, would have expected to win at least one more but the disintegration of his right shoe may have put paid to those chances. It is unclear whether he played with ‘one shoe, you’ve only got one shoe,’ or in bare feet in the doubles, but Prospects lost that one as well. Emily Howat was no doubt favoured as Collin’s partner after she did well to take a game off Dougal Ogilvie earlier in the night, but the tactic was ultimately fruitless with Collin presumably trying to avoid splinters in his feet. Final score, Comets 9, Prospects 1. A disappointing result for Prospects and Swots.

On Tuesday, Prospects were in action again, seeking to join Swots in the Handicap Cup semi-finals in another Third v. First division tie at Ward Road. However, they got off to a bad start against Kings, losing the first two matches and going 4-0 behind in games. Neil Lea and Emily Howat got Prospects off the mark with fine draws in the next two matches before Maxi Strobl collected the team’s first win to bring the score back to 4-6. Another draw from Neil and a terrific 2-0 win over Aleksandar Jovanovic gave Maxi a slim chance to win the tie in the last contest, but only if he could win 3-0 against Fiona Kinloch. However, after a promising start, Maxi succumbed 27-31 in the first game and the dream was over. Final score, Kings 10, Prospects 7.  A great effort though and a terrific night for club Chairman Lea who won four of Prospects’ seven points.

The week’s action at least finished on a high note when Prefects cemented their place at the top of Division 2 with a fine 7-3 win over Tass. Our boys went behind in the first match when Kong Wan narrowly lost in five, but after Howard Lee and Ian Smith won the next two 3-1, Prefects simply got stronger and never looked like losing. The points were ultimately evenly distributed, with all three Prefects winning two singles games each. Their seventh point….wait for it….came in the doubles; Howard and Ian beating Stuart Farquharson and Ian Hutcheson 3-1. Howard had the chance to make it 8-2 in the final match but the shock of winning the doubles had taken its toll and, after taking a 1-0 lead, he lost the final match 1-3.