Monthly Archives: April 2016

Nice shirts at least

On Tuesday evening the curtain fell on another busy playing season in the Dundee & District Table Tennis League with teams from Division Three competing for the Halliday Trophy at Ward Road Gym.

Left to Right: Sandy Pearson, Emily Howat and Neil Lea prior to doing battle in the Halliday Cup

Left to Right: Sandy Pearson, Emily Howat and Neil Lea prior to doing battle in the Halliday Cup

St Andrews TTC was represented by Prospects, with Emily Howat, Neil Lea and Sandy Pearson unfortunately not quite managing to match their smart appearance in club shirts with smart play on the table. The tidy threesome never quite got to grips with the “tag” format of the event but nevertheless it was a light-hearted note on which to end.

Overall, it has been a season of consolidation for the club. Prefects finished in 7th place in Division One, with a comfortable margin between them and the teams in 8th and 9th places, who will face relegation. Peter Bladen was the highest placed Prefect in the individual averages, agonisingly just missing the magic 50% mark. Howard Lee won more than a third of his matches – a very creditable performance in his first season at the top level.

The aim of keeping two teams in Division Two was achieved, albeit with a fair spillage of blood, sweat and tears. Newly promoted Swots were pleased with their 8th place, with New Kids relieved to finish only one behind. Clyde Johnson scored a magnificent 18 invaluable wins out of 21 and Ian Smith chipped in with an average of 46% in the “Kids'” battle to avoid relegation, while Emma Bissett had many fine victories to be the leading Swot of the regular team selection.

Prospects’ 8th position in Division Three was lower than they would have hoped for when the season started in September. Injuries and work commitments depleted the team in seven matches, a situation which made a higher finish nigh on impossible. Four of their players finished with averages of 50% or higher – Sandy Pearson, Dave Goddard, Fabio Sani and Ian Brumwell (with a particularly noteworthy 63% in his first season) – which begs the question of how high they might have flown had they managed to field a full side for each match.

And so we now have the summer to reflect – and to work on new forehands and cunning tactics for the next campaign – roll on September!

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The cream always comes to the top

1965 was a busy year – Wilson was Prime Minister, Ross was Scottish Secretary, Churchill died, J K Rowling was born, Stanley Matthews played his last top flight game, Ronnie Biggs escaped from prison, the Beatles film ‘Help’ was released and the Rolling Stones topped the charts with ‘Satisfaction’. And in the old Burgh School in a small corner of Fife, Arthur Edward and Tim Grove were spending intervals and lunchtimes contesting bragging rights on the table tennis table they set up in Arthur’s art classroom.

Move forward to 2015/16 and you find current members giving thanks to Messrs Grove and Edward in celebrating the 50th anniversary season of St Andrews Table Tennis Club. To mark the occasion, twelve players laid down their modern bats, covered in thick sponge and mesmerising rubbers, to wield instead old style sandpaper weapons – and the resulting noise of ball on bat in the Victory Memorial Hall on Monday night was deafening.

There was scant reward for event organiser, Howard Lee, when his name was included in the first four drawn out of the hat. Immediately proclaimed the ‘group of death’, all the players involved in the group had been mooted as possible favourites to win the event, and it lived up to its billing with many tight encounters. Howard started with a deuce victory against Clyde Johnson, but defeats by John Carlton and Dave Beveridge put him out of the running. Dave then beat John but went down 21-19 to Clyde, who in turn beat John. Thus, with Dave and Clyde tied on two wins each, the group score sheet was rushed over to referee Bill Sutherland to work out who would go through to the final.

No such headaches for Bill when it came to sorting out the other two groups. Ian Smith emerged as clear winner against Emily Howat, Emma Bissett and Collin Bleak while Elaine Forbes was undefeated in her group with Sandy Pearson, Alain Leger and Ken Falconer.

With all tables again in use for the second stage of the event, Ian and Elaine were joined in the top group by Clyde who got the nod having beaten Dave in their ‘head to head’. With the sandpaper unreceptive to his usual sidespin attacking game, Ian had to adopt a more economic style than usual, but it wasn’t quite enough to win the race to 21 against either Clyde or Elaine. Thus the latter two took to the table for the final with Clyde deciding to favour a very non aggressive style, a ploy which paid dividends as he worked his socks off to gain a 17-10 lead. Probably benefitting from a lifetime of having played the ‘first to 21’ scoring system, which Clyde can only have heard of from his grandparents, and eventually finding her hitting range, Elaine impressively clawed back Clyde’s lead and sneaked ahead in the last few rallies to win 21-18. They say the cream always comes to the top…

Here is a video of the final two points:

More action and great rallies from the event can be viewed on the club’s YouTube channel

No doubting Sandy’s delight at winning the doubles event, but Clyde still looks stunned at losing a seven point lead in the singles ‘final’.

There was time after the singles event to add in a doubles tournament and this time Clyde, partnered by Sandy, got the better of Elaine and partner Emily in the final.

Voted an overall success, the sandpaper bat event will surely become an annual feature at the club – but with the government health warning issued for players’ normal strokes, it can really only be contemplated at the end of the competitive league season.

Kids survive against all odds

The soap opera of St Andrews table tennis team New Kids and their attempt to avoid relegation from Division Two of the Dundee League reached the final two episodes this week and, true to the genre, there was an ending of high drama. Needing 13 points from their last two matches, New Kids felt well up to the task and were eagerly anticipating the first fixture against Attackers when, only a few hours before ‘kick off’, the Monifieth team conceded the tie because of the unavailability of their home venue. With the end of the season imminent, there was no possibility of rescheduling and so New Kids were awarded 10 points.

Clyde Johnson’s 18 wins out of 21 matches were vital to New Kids’ escape from relegation

Clyde Johnson’s 18 wins out of 21 matches were vital to New Kids’ escape from relegation

And so to the last episode, with only 3 points now required for the great escape – a match against Forthill’s Comets, postponed from mid season when bad weather prevented the Broughty side from travelling over the Bridge. Clyde Johnson, Ian Smith and Ken Falconer, in no mood to heighten the drama, buckled down to the challenge and ran out 8-2 winners to end the suspense which has pervaded the club over the past weeks.

Meanwhile, in Division Three, the featured programme was again ‘The Invisible Man’. Sandy Pearson and Emily Howat gamely took up the challenge of competing with a player short and turned up for the match at Ward Road on Tuesday to encounter an unusual situation. It was agreed that one of the Bishops would play his two matches in quick succession to allow him to head to Dens Park for the Dundee v Celtic match. However only one of his team- mates showed up and so on the night only four matches were actually completed, leaving the league match secretary to work out the allocation of points (officially, 6-3 to Bishops).

Across the road in Telephone House on Thursday night, Emily and Sandy found Telsports with their full complement of players. Sandy hit top form with three singles victories, Emily pitched in with another win and so they took to the table for the doubles with the score 5-4 in favour of the home team. A great fighting display from the St Andrews pair saw them reel off three sets in a row to force a very creditable 5-5 draw to round off their season.

Swots secure solitary point from last two fixtures

It was another week of varying activities for St Andrews Table Tennis Club .

In Division Two, a busy week on the table for Swots started at the Victory Memorial Hall against a Rockets side who, requiring sixteen points from two matches to ensure promotion, were in no mood to be generous. Swots just couldn’t live with the Broughty Ferry threesome, only Emma Bissett managing to force a deciding set on the night. However, Emma didn’t manage to put a score on the door for Swots in losing 12-10 to Carol McLean in the final set of the evening.

Little cheer on the following night either when Swots went down 1-9 to Chieftains at Ward Road. Collin Bleak came through 11-9 in the fifth for a notable win against the steady Fiona Kinloch. This afforded some consolation for his earlier loss to Chris Riddoch (10 –12 in the fifth) but the most nail-biting encounter of the contest was surely Dave Beveridge going down 18-20 in the fifth to Chris in the last match of Swots’ season.

Prospects gave 12 year old Murray Paterson his Division Three debut in their fixture against Squires. Murray did more than could have been asked of him by winning the first end against both Winnie Stein and Steve Wilson but lost out overall. Ian Brumwell was in great form, winning two singles and, agonizingly, just missing his hat-trick with a 14-16 fifth set loss to Tanya Kapelyukh. Ian scored a doubles win with Sandy Pearson who was also involved in close singles matches, recovering from a 10-12 fifth set loss to Steve to beat Winnie 18-16 in the fifth. A 4-6 defeat then, but an exciting night’s play.

For the youngsters who attend the junior coaching sessions, their winter season was wrapped up with an evening of fun games devised by coaches Howard Lee and Dave Beveridge.