Monthly Archives: March 2016

TT youngsters put on a show

This week’s report on the activities of St Andrews Table Tennis Club focuses on the junior tournament held in the Victory Memorial Hall on Monday. Probably the youngest overall group of players to take part in this event, the boys put on a great show of table tennis, unfazed by the large group of spectators who included club chairman Neil Lea and Tim Grove, founder member of the club fifty years ago.

Split into two sections of four, Murray Paterson emerged as undisputed winner of Group One with victories over Michael Snodgrass, Jake Martin and Liam Baillie. The foursome contesting Group Two gave organisers, Howard Lee and Dave Beveridge, a headache of the best kind when Tom MacKay, Campbell Snodgrass and Keir Paterson all tied on two wins each, with Andy Ruseckas just losing out to the threesome. On a count-back of games won and lost, it was Keir (9) who emerged with the best ratio to go on to challenge big brother Murray (12) in the final.

Competitors for the 2016 Grove Trophy, left to right: Liam Baillie; Andy Ruseckas; Jake Martin; Tom Mackay; Keir Paterson; Michael Snodgrass; Campbell Snodgrass and Murray Paterson.

Competitors for the 2016 Grove Trophy, left to right: Liam Baillie; Andy Ruseckas; Jake Martin; Tom Mackay; Keir Paterson; Michael Snodgrass; Campbell Snodgrass and Murray Paterson.

With all the competitors taking to the tables again to play for final positions, the standard of play, concentration and good sportsmanship was a credit to Howard’s and Dave’s coaching over the winter months. As expected, the final itself provided some excellent attacking rallies, with Keir putting up great resistance. But in the end it was Murray who became this year’s winner of the Grove Trophy with an 11-9, 12-10, 11-8 scoreline.

Michael Snodgrass was presented with a personal signed message from former Olympian and Commonwealth champion, Matthew Syed, for being the club’s ‘most improved’ junior over the season.

Only two of the club’s league teams were in action this week. On Monday, in Division One, Prefects’ opponents Rifle Club could only field two players but were still able to run out 7-3 winners, although by all accounts there was much exciting play to admire over the evening. On Tuesday, Swots travelled to Ward Road to take on Division Two leaders, Barons. Credit to Collin Bleak who managed a fine singles victory and who also combined well with Dave Beveridge to win the doubles. Following much debate, and little agreement it must be said, about what was going wrong in the early stages of the match, our lads still mounted a remarkable recovery from a set and 1-7 down to win in five. Adding the two points gained to their season’s total has ensured that Swots will enjoy Division Two status again next season.

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Fun, more fun, most fun?

The adult beginners/returners group meet at 6pm in Madras College Gym on Thursdays.

The adult beginners/returners group meet at 6pm in Madras College Gym on Thursdays.

There are three strands to St Andrews Table Tennis Club – the Junior coaching group, the teams competing in the Dundee League and the Adult beginners/returners group. It would be difficult to know which group has most fun, but it would be hard to bet against this accolade going to the last named. In only its second season, the Adult group which meets at Kilrymont Community Use (Madras College Gym) has attracted players of a wide range of standards for a variety of reasons but there is no doubting the enjoyment factor as everyone has a go at mastering the mystery of the spins and the speed of the sport – so much so that it has been decided to continue the group into the summer term and so, when Kilrymont re-opens after the Easter break, the group will reconvene on Thursday 14th April from 6.00pm. New members are always welcome.

The junior group also had a fun session this week, inviting parents to stay and play rather than merely dropping off and disappearing. With family bragging rights at stake, hopefully none of the youngsters were docked their weekly pocket money for victories scored against pride-pricked parents. More serious business is scheduled for next week when the group members will compete to become the club junior champion and the holder of the Grove Trophy.

Now to the life and death exploits of New Kids in their fight to avoid relegation from Division Two. With nearest rivals Comets only picking up a single point in two matches, New Kids took the chance to draw level despite going down 4-6 away to Thumpers. Clyde Johnson was again the hero with three singles wins and victory in the doubles with Ian Smith. Don’t mention five setters to Ian though – fighting back from a two game deficit to 77 year old Jim Fleming, Ian won the third 17-15 and the fourth 11-9 only for his recovery to go unrewarded when he lost the decider 11-13 after having two match points. To rub salt in the wound, he later lost another 2-3 to Ian McLagan.

Summer training for Division 1 Prefects will include sessions on how to read the fixture list correctly. Despite a mix up, they made it to the second table at Forthill on Monday to play Aces, just in the nick of time, with two players, and were delighted to find that Clyde was willing to play in both matches (almost) simultaneously. With the adrenaline of the dash still pumping through his veins, Howard Lee excelled in beating Gary Lowson for the first time and Clyde put another one on the scoresheet for St Andrews with an exciting four game defeat of Jim Dyson. Final score 8-2 to Aces.

Meanwhile, at the Victory Memorial Hall, Swots showed much improvement in their ability to win close matches. Taking on Attackers from Monifieth, the threesome of Collin Bleak, Emma Bissett and Dave Beveridge may have gone down 4-6 but in winning three of the six five-setters, showed the difference from the first half of the season when they lost 1-9 to the same team, having won none of the many close encounters that night. Special mention goes to Collin who saved four match points against Rick Prevost to record a 12-10 victory in the fifth.

Have Swots and Prefects cemented their status?

New Kids’ fight to maintain their Division Two status was again the most important focus for St Andrews Table Tennis club in this week’s matches in the Dundee & District League. For Viscounts’ visit to the Victory Memorial Hall on Monday evening, Clyde Johnson joined Ian Smith and Kong Wan in the Kids’ line up and proved the most successful player of the evening with three singles wins and a doubles victory with Ian. Ian added a singles win against Glen Paterson and was very unlucky to be pipped by Filip Jovanovic, 8-11 in the fifth. The team’s fighting spirit was epitomized by Kong who determinedly wouldn’t let the first set go against Glen, eventually taking it 17-15, and then winning the next two 11-8, 11-9. At the end of the night, 6 points on the board for New Kids and a boost to the spirits for the remaining matches.

From time to time, eyebrows are raised questioningly at the name New Kids, as generally they are represented by the three scholarly gentlemen Dr Wan, Dr Smith and Professor Falconer. However, when the club first entered the team in the league in 1994, it was a vehicle to give experience to the youngsters who attended coaching sessions, with the first ‘Kids’ being Ewan Marroney, Graham Swankie, Alistair Hood and brothers Thomas and Jonny Randall. When Bill Sutherland came to St Andrews from the Central League in 1996, he took over stewardship of the squad as our photo shows. If New Kids are missing from Division Two at the end of the season, perhaps the club committee will have to consider it more appropriate to drop the name and bring back the currently unused ‘Truants’ handle.

Bill Sutherland with the coaching group (Alison Bell, Alastair Hood, Greig Harrison, Stuart Bell, David MacFarlane and John Dobson)

Bill Sutherland with the some of the original New Kids (Left to Right: Alison Bell, Alastair Hood, Greig Harrison, Stuart Bell, David MacFarlane and John Dobson)

Also in Division Two, Swots also enjoyed a 6-4 victory against Tigers at Forthill. Dave Beveridge and Emma Bissett each chipped in with a win to add to Elaine Forbes’ fine hat-trick, with Elaine and Dave winning the doubles in four sets. This win hopefully cements their status as a mid-table team but four tricky fixtures loom over the last three weeks of the season.

Prefects might be disappointed that they only managed one win against Kings, the team directly above them in Division One. Peter Bladen defeated Plamen Kostadinov in four sets, but all three Prefects found St Andrews University student Adeola Fabola too hot to handle. Howard Lee hit some form towards the end of the evening to win two sets against Aleksander Jovanovic and Robert Brown had a number of close games against Plamen and Aleksander without quite being able to convert them into wins. However, Prefects do look to be safe for another season in the top tier.

Sandy flies the flag

Sandy the sailor

Sandy the sailor

As they have joyously trudged back and forwards to Dundee on dreich winter match nights, club members have no doubt been sparing a thought for how Sandy Pearson’s warm weather training has been going. It’s therefore good to report that Sandy recently emerged victorious in a crew v guests tournament with an international flavour in Aqaba, Jordan. Overcoming opponents from the Far East, including Thailand and Indonesia, it was ironic that it was a fellow Scotsman whom Sandy met and defeated in the final to win his first ever TT trophy! Haste ye back, Sandy, for the last few matches of the season – Prospects need the manpower!

Team defeats and individual success

Team defeats and individual success is the theme of this week’s report on the exploits of the St Andrews Table Tennis Club.

To get the worst news over with first – despite a brave 6-4 defeat to highly placed Telstars, New Kids lost ground to their closest opponents in the battle to avoid relegation from Division Two. Kong Wan, Clyde Johnston and Ken Falconer all won a singles match and Clyde and Ken combined for an impressive doubles win. However the match between closest rivals Comets and Tigers ended in a 5-5 draw, rooting New Kids more firmly to the bottom of the table and running out of matches to stage a comeback.

Also in Division Two, Swots took on Viscounts, the team one place below the St Andrews outfit. Hopes were high when Dave Beveridge made an impressive start to go two games up, but teenager Filip Jovanovic showed great resolve in saving match points to take the next three games. Collin Bleak and Emma Bissett enjoyed better fortune, each winning five-setters, but from a team score of 2-2, things ran away from the home side and it was only in the penultimate match that Collin managed to put another point on the scorecard. The 3-7 loss therefore dropped Swots below the Mylnefield team.

Once again, the report of the Prospects match in Division Three is a tale of their being a player short, which gave them little chance against the very experienced Tass threesome. Fabio Sani kept his personal average in the 50% plus zone with two good wins, but with injury putting paid to Dave Goddard’s and Neil Lea’s participation, the squad is literally limping towards the end of the season.

But now let’s lift the gloom! Emma and Dave B were joined by Howard Lee and Elaine Forbes in the Dundee & District Championships played at Ward Road on Saturday and the St Andrews foursome enjoyed a good measure of success. Emma took runner’s up spot in the Ladies Singles and then combined well with Elaine to go one better and win the Ladies Doubles title.

Left to Right: Emma Bissett, Dave Beveridge, Elaine Forbes and Howard Lee all enjoyed good performances at the DDTTA closed championships

Left to Right: Emma Bissett, Dave Beveridge, Elaine Forbes and Howard Lee all enjoyed good performances at the DDTTA closed championships

Dave Beveridge won through his group in the Veteran’s Singles to reach the final for the first time. Unfortunately, he then found Forthill’s Jim Dyson in good form, but in taking the second end, Dave forced Jim to bring his best attacking game to the table in the next two games. In the company of Elaine, Dave also contested the Vets’ Doubles final but again Jim Dyson was the thorn in the flesh. Jim and partner Fiona Kinloch proved just too strong, winning in three close sets.

Two of the St Andrews’ squad also featured in the Ballot Doubles final. Howard combined well with Iain Martin of Star TTC to win through a very strong group to find Elaine and Jim Dyson awaiting them in the last match of the day. A closely contested first set was eventually won 15-13 by Elaine and Jim and this hard fought advantage swung the match their way as they ran out 3-0 winners.

Focus on the Sunday changed to the junior events. Howard swapped his bat for his coach’s cap and had a hectic day supporting  five youngsters from the club. Jake Martyn, Campbell Snodgrass and Keir Paterson played well against strong opposition in the group stages of both the Minor and Cadet competitions. Michael Snodgrass, a newcomer this year to the sport, showed great potential by winning his group and reaching the semi final of the Minors. Last year’s winner, Murray Paterson also won his group and lost narrowly in an exciting five set semi final. Murray also powered his way through to the final of the Cadets’ event where he met his old rival, Jacob Munro, whom he had beaten in last year’s Minors final.  On this occasion, Jacob had the upper hand.

The St Andrews club is delighted that Murray and Keir have been selected to represent Dundee A and Dundee B respectively in the forthcoming Scottish Interleague Tournament in Perth over the Easter weekend.