A much more upbeat report comes out of the St Andrews Table Tennis Club this week. With all five teams in action, there is only one defeat to draw a quick veil over, two victories to celebrate and an honourable draw in the Division Two derby to highlight.
Bad news first – although again sympathy is due to Truants who were short of regular players Graham Wood and Alain Leger for their trip to Broughty Ferry to play Tigers. Collin Bleak in particular proved a worthy stand in, winning two of his singles and Dave Goddard also pitched in with a win to give Truants their first points of the season in this 7-3 reverse.
Playing for his own team, Prospects, also at Forthill earlier in the week, Dave Goddard had been in unstoppable form winning three singles and combining with Jon Fraser to take the doubles as well. Another couple of singles wins added by Jon gave a finishing scoreline of 6-4 against Sputniks to get Prospects off the mark.
At the Victory Memorial Hall on Monday evening, Prefects had the advantage of starting 3-0 up when opponents Kings could only field two players. With the form which postgrad student Michael Hahn is showing at the moment, this was too much of a handicap for Kings to make up. Michael won his two singles and joined up with Peter Bladen to squeak home in the doubles at 12-10 in the fifth to give the home side a 6-4 victory.
The only penhold player in the club, Kong Wan, picked up a fine hat-trick of wins
And so to the match of the week. Smarting from two defeats to Swots last season, New Kids got off to an excellent start with a win for Kong Wan against Rob Brown. Thereafter the match score swung back and forwards with neither side able to take more than a single point lead. Rob recovered from his early setback to post two wins, Dave Beveridge added another two for Swots and they combined to take the doubles. In the meantime, Kong with his second singles victory and team mates Fabio Sani and Ken Falconer each added a point to New Kids’ tally. With one tie to be played and the score at 5-4 in Swots’ favour, the two players unbeaten in singles faced each other and, to continue the tone of the evening, neither could gain the upper hand. Kong and Dave took the match to a deciding fifth set and still couldn’t be separated when they reached 10-all, and then 12 all. In the end it turned out to be Kong’s night as he “edged” it 14-12 to earn the overall draw for New Kids. A great evening’s play and hopefully the forerunner of many more exciting Monday evenings at the Victory Memorial Hall.
Back to the table in earnest for three of St Andrews Table Tennis Club’s five teams this week with the start of league play for season 2016/17 – but it turned into a week of warning as all three met with defeat.
With the standard of teams in Division Two being particularly high, it is definitely going to call for some fine performances from our three teams if they are to retain their status come next spring. Truants started their campaign in the unfortunate position of having to call on two reserves for their match against a strong threesome from Telephone House. Knut Radmer, Dave Beveridge and Dave Goddard experienced little joy in a 10-0 defeat by the Telstars trio who were obviously buoyed up by the return to fitness of Jim Houghton who missed most of last season after damaging his achilles tendon in an early match.
Swots fared little better later in the week at Forthill, going down 9-1 to newly reformed Rollercoasters. Rob Brown was the only St Andrean to put a score on the door. These were particularly tough starting fixtures for both our teams as, even at this early stage, it is expected that their opponents will be the division’s front runners.
Michael Hahn – singles hat-trick against last year’s champions
Despite going down 3-7 at home to Aces, Prefects did find something to cheer about with the scintillating form of Michael Hahn in winning all his singles ties. All three went to a deciding fifth set and, to the delight of team-mates Peter Bladen and Howard Lee, Michael produced some fantastic attacking play to edge over the line each time to gain three precious points against the top Forthill side which will expect to be up there as a contender for the Division One title.
Next week’s report will definitely have news of points for at least one St Andrews team though – as we have the first derby of the season when New Kids start their Division Two campaign against club mates Swots!
Some of the St Andrews’ TTC league players (L-R: Emma, Elaine, Collin, Dave, Sandy and Howard) recently enjoyed some some extra practice at the new University Sports Centre.
St Andrews Table Tennis club members are eagerly awaiting the start of Dundee & District League fixtures this week after a summer both of practice on the tables at the Victory Memorial Hall and of tactical discussions around the tables in the Whey Pat Tavern!
Having successfully kept their place in the top division, Prefects have strengthened their squad for the new season. Team stalwarts Peter Bladen and Howard Lee are joined by Michael Hahn, who makes a welcome return to continue his studies in the town, and by Clyde Johnson who played such an important role in saving New Kids’ Division Two status last season. They start with a home tie against Forthill’s strongest team, Aces.
In Division Two, St Andrews provides three of the eleven teams which should make for a season of interesting derbies. Swots and New Kids will again fight the fight to stay in a very strong division. For the first time in a number of years, the team name “Truants” has been resurrected by our amalgamation with the former “Triple Bypass” club which plays out of the Morison –Duncan Hall in Gauldry. This joining of forces has encouraged the return of Alain Leger to competitive play. Truants kick off their season in Gauldry with a tie against Telstars while Swots travel to Broughty Ferry to take on the recently re – formed Rollercoasters. New Kids have more time to hone their skills, having been allocated a “free week.”
Last season Division Three side Prospects had difficulty on several occasions in fielding a full team. Answering the call from his former clubmates, Jon Fraser has sacrificed his academic career in England to return to St Andrews to take up the role of team secretary and lick his team-mates into shape. The return to better health of club chairman Neil Lea should also help ease Prospects’ selection problems, making them one of the stronger pools of players in the bottom division. They too have been given a first tie over in Broughty against Sputniks.
With Monday nights in the Victory Memorial now being dedicated to team matches, practice sessions switch to Kilrymont community use facilities on Thursday evenings from 7.30 to 9.00pm with the Adult Beginners/Returners group preceding them from 6.00 to 7.30. Club coaches Howard Lee and Dave Beveridge will also get the youngsters’ coaching group underway again at the early session on Mondays at the Victory Memorial Hall.