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Inspired by the Olympics? If so, Dundee welcomes you..

Olympic Come and Try Event – Sunday 21st August 1pm to 4pm at Dundee International Sports Centre (DISC)

Funded by Awards for All, sports organisations from the Dundee area are getting together at DISC to present the opportunity for those enthused by watching the Olympics on TV to give it a go themselves.

Representatives from the Dundee and District Table Tennis Association will be on hand throughout the day to encourage newcomers and returners of all ages to pick up a bat.

Amongst other sports on offer will be football, korfball, netball,badminton,short tennis, hockey, Tae Kwon Do and (possibly) cricket.

Please spread the word to everyone and anyone who may be interested.

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Excitement growing in anticipation of the new season

Prospects, Swots, New Kids, Prefects! The St Andrews Table Tennis Club’s teams are rarin’ to go! And, a good thing, too…

This Monday, the 14th of September, will see the kick-off league matches for the 2015-2016 season, with Prospects taking on Villa in Division 3, and Swots taking on Telstars in the second division, both on home ground (Victory Memorial Hall) from 6:45pm. On Thursday, New Kids will be away for their Division 2 fixture versus Rockets, while Prefects have a few more weeks of leisure before needing to be ship-shape to face their new Division 1 challenges.

Indeed, after a summer of lying about, resting on their laurels from last year’s triumphant season, the club members now need to show they can do more than bend elbows and ears at the Whey Pat inn. We wonder, can any of them still even hold a table tennis bat?  Watch the video reflections of four club members as they contemplate the new season.

Elaine Forbes and Dave Beveridge, winners of the Eglinton Cup in 2015 are presented with the trophy by club chairman Neil Lea.

Elaine Forbes and Dave Beveridge, winners of the Eglinton Cup in 2015 are presented with the trophy by club chairman Neil Lea.

To help shake off the rust, the club recently held its famous Eglinton Cup tournament. It was established in 2006 in memory of the fine David Eglinton, who played in the St Andrews TT club from the late 1960’s through the 1980’s, reaching Division 1 in 1982. This year the handsome trophy will be engraved with the brave new winners’ names: Elaine Forbes and David Beveridge. And, while we expect that Elaine will take this further accolade to her phenomenal career with grace and dignity, we are sure we will see the exact opposite from “Flash’’ Dave Beveridge.

Also, for those not privy to the mysterious inner workings of the Dundee and District Table Tennis League, we mention there have been a few changes to our teams this season. To be fair, this represents both league and club reactions to the stunning triumphs of the previous year, the intake of new folk, and the departure of regular players. Team members are listed on the home page.

So, send flowers, throw money, or otherwise, join us, to celebrate another fine adventure; another frolic with the wooden (and carbon fibre) bats, our larger plastic balls, and slate tables, another season with the St Andrews TT club!

Howard honoured again

St Andrews Table Tennis Club’s Howard Lee capped off a terrific season at the club’s AGM last night when he was awarded the Graham Neilson trophy for the most improved player over the last twelve months.

Howard Lee (L) is presented with the Graham Neilson trophy by chairman, Neil Lea

Howard Lee (L) is presented with the Graham Neilson trophy by chairman, Neil Lea

Howard fended off stiff opposition from a number of strong candidates but he was the Committee’s unanimous choice (with the exception of Howard’s own vote) after playing a pivotal role in helping Prefects to the DDTTA second division title and improving his personal average (win rate) from 47% in season 2013/14 to a remarkable 80% this year. Beat that.

There is apparently no truth in the rumour that Howard is installing a larger mantelpiece to display his numerous medals this season, or that the damage to the Neilson trophy was inflicted ‘Calcutta Cup style’ by last year’s winner not wishing to give it up.

The AGM also saw secretary, Ian Smith, step down after three years sterling service. Ian’s reputation, in particular for writing quality minutes, is second to none and he will be a hard act for newly-elected secretary, Dave Beveridge to follow. Dave’s previous role as publicity officer was filled by Collin Bleak. Whether Collin can match Dave’s reputation for political incorrectness remains to be seen. The other office bearers were all re-elected.

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.

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.

Day of the Daves – Swots and Prospects progress to quarter finals

New Kids, Swots and Prospects were in Handicap Cup action this week, while Prefects had a re-arranged league match. If last week’s action was dramatic it had nothing on what unfolded in St Andrews and Broughty Ferry on Monday night.

In Victory Memorial Hall, Prefects (Ian Smith, Howard Lee and Kong Wan) fought out a terrific 5-5 draw with Barons in Division 2. There was never more than a point between the teams. Young Scott Hamilton from Barons returned another impressive hat-trick of singles wins and partnered the equally youthful Craig Shearer to a five game doubles win over Ian and Howard. Prefects weren’t letting them have it all their own way though. Howard and Ian both beat Craig and John Thain, and the final result of the fixture came down to Kong’s energy and experience versus Craig’s youth and raw talent, in the last match of the night. It was a breathtaking contest. Kong has two speeds, fast and really fast, and he deployed them both to come back from 0-2 to win the match 14-12 in the fifth.

Alongside, Swots (Dave Beveridge, Robert Brown and Emma Bissett) were playing Thumpers in the Handicap Cup. Swots got off to a good start and were 5-2 ahead after four matches, the best of which was Emma’s 2-0 defeat of Jim (of the awkward bats) Fleming. However, only Robert could pick up a win over the next three matches and Thumpers moved 8-6 in front. The next two matches and the final outcome were to be decided by tie-break points. Emma first beat Ian McLagan 2-0, taking the first game 26-25. Dave, who had lost 14 points in a row at the start of the night, took the first game off Tony O’Shea 26-22. Struggling to win points on Tony’s serve, Dave squandered a big lead in game two, but rallied to 25-25. With Tony to serve, Dave finally made another decent return and the Thumpers’ player dumped the ball in the net, probably through sheer shock. Final score Swots 10, Thumpers 8.

Dave Goddard

Dave Goddard

If that was dramatic, it had nothing on Prospects’ cup tie against Comets in the Ferry. After five matches Comets were 8-2 in front, and then only one game away from victory when Neil Lea and Glenn Christie shared match seven 1-1. Captain Maxi Strobl rallied his troops with a storming 21-9, 21-9 win over Fraser Smith. Dave Goddard then had the big task of having to beat Eric Brown 2-0 to take the contest into a deciding third game between the same two players. Dave is a fair size himself and he proved he has the heart to match. The big man reeled off three games 21-15, 21-19 and 21-18 to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. A special mention goes to the recuperating Neil Lea, chairman of the St Andrews’ Club, who won a crucial game for the Prospects in this tie. Final score Comets 9, Prospects 10.

The final contest of the week was New Kids’ handicap cup tie against Kingsway at Blackness Fire Station. Despite the best efforts of Peter Bladen, Michael Hahn and Nick Shepherd, there was to be no joyful outcome to this contest. The Kids are having a lean spell just now and Kingsway were in no mood to make them feel better. The Firies made a great start to the tie to go 4-0 ahead. While New Kids rallied a bit around matches three to five, to narrow the lead to 6-4, Nick Shepherd and Peter Bladen then lost both of the next two matches 2-0, to Willie Cooper and Derek Thomson. The handicaps may not have done New Kids any favours, over the piece, but that made it game over. Final score Kingsway 10, New Kids 4.

At the end of the week’s activity Prefects remain top of Division 2, for now, and Swots and Prospects progress to the quarter final of the Handicap Cup. Not bad.

Pressure mounts on TT title chasers

It was league business again this week for the St Andrews table tennis teams, and it’s getting a bit like a pressure cooker for a couple of our teams.

At home on Monday, on the top table, New Kids faced Earls, the current Division 1 leaders and hot favourites to lift the title. Michael Hahn was the only player to damage Earls in the away fixture and it was the same again this week. However, Michael’s two wins over Ally Rennet and Patrick Cao weren’t enough to put the overall result in any doubt. It was an unusually barren night for Peter Bladen and Nick Shepherd and our doubles pair of Michael and Peter could only muster up eight points in their doubles loss against Ally and Christian Fischer. Nevertheless, any wins are welcome in the quest for Division 1 survival. Final score New Kids 2, Earls 8.

On the neighbouring table, Swots were spurred on against Sputniks by big Dave Goddard who was performing his own personal version of the Mexican wave in the viewing balcony (description unwelcome). The Forthill team have improved greatly since the away fixture, so for Swots to repeat a 9-1 victorious score-line was no mean feat. All three Swots (Dave Beveridge, Robert Brown and Emma Bissett) played a significant part in the win. Emma was disappointed not to make it a perfect 10 but her game isn’t suited to Deepak Gopinath’s persistent chopping and he frustrated her into too many unforced errors. Dave and Robert also had to battle back from losing the first game of the doubles, but ultimately kept their heads to win 3-1. Swots still top, and still unbeaten in Division 3.

Up in Dundee, on the same night, Prefects scored a solid 6-4 win over the firemen of Kingsway. The carpet tiles and the low ceiling in the lecture room at Blackness Fire HQ make it no-one’s favourite venue but our points came from terrific singles hat-tricks by Howard Lee and Ian Smith, Unfortunately, the dynamic duo were unable to convert their doubles efforts into a seventh point. Kong Wan, an author of books on quantum mechanics, had a tough night, unusually losing to all three of the Kingsway players. He identified some quantum fluctuations that caused several adverse net cords and edges, upsetting his normal rhythm. Prefects remain top of Division 2 for now but there are several teams hot on their heels and, like Division 3, this competition won’t be decided until much closer to the end of the season.

Maxi in action

Maxi in action

On Tuesday, Maxi Strobl, back from a long festive break, picked Collin Bleak and Emily Howat from the Prospects squad to play Princes at Ward Road, Dundee. The Dundee youngsters were a man short but they won four of the seven matches that were actually played. None of our heroes could beat Darren Mitchell, arguably one the league’s future stars. Along with his namesake (but not brother) Jack Mitchell, the two youngsters also humbled the bushy bearded Collin and the sparsely bearded Maxi in the doubles, winning in four games. The St Andrews players all beat young Jack though and, along with the points won by default, it was enough to come back over the Bridge with a 6-4 win.