As the new season approaches in the Hastings & District Table Tennis League, the league has attracted 33 entries, spread over three divisions, which represents a drop of two teams.
There have been small but significant changes to the squads of two of the main contenders in Division 1 which will undoubtedly influence the battle for the championship.
League champions Saints A will have to defend their title without the league’s top player, Ritchie Venner, who was unbeaten last season. Venner, who, along with Rose Rainton, is the league’s most high profile player at national level, is currently ranked No. 6 Veteran (Over 40) in the country.
Saints’ challenge will now be led by Hastings champion Dave Butler and James Winchester and have added Mick Hart and Andy Syrett to their squad.
Former champions and Watts Cup holders Bexhillians A, led by Rob Warner, also face a player shortage with Lewis Mayhew and Martin Kellaway having limited availability while David Rayment is added to their squad.
This could open the door for Paul Barry’s Hollington Academy A who finished second last season, although their chances may hang on the work commitments of Nathan Darby who has been looking sharp in practice at local venues.
Bexhillians C may step up into the elite group with the acquisition of James Beale
to add to Graham Gillett and John Wilson. Beale is a Bromley player and a sports psychologist who may well bring his day job skills to the table to good effect.
Hollington Academy B have added Sam Collins to their squad, led by Rose Rainton, while their C team have lost Will Goodstone to basketball, but replaced him with another Eastbourne junior in Fraser Kent. Tackleway A have included James Gorridge in their squad after the relegation of Tackleway C.
Promoted Bexhill D will be hoping to retain their new status while Tackleway B have added Sue Pingram to their squad which may add some spice to the Tackleway derby with Roger Pingram in the A team.
Bexhillians B have added Brian Busbridge and Saints B include Graham Deeprose from the A team while Tony Catt’s Tigers A will rely on the same three players.