As another season approaches, the Hastings & District Table Tennis League will incorporate a few changes in club structures. After four years at the Hastings Academy ‘central venue’, the three clubs sharing the venue will merge under the banner of Hastings Academy.
This will mean the sad demise of long-established clubs Saints and Tigers as well as Hollington Academy, who broke away from Hollington TTC when the central venue was set up.
Monarchs and Nalgo will be sharing the venue of Hollington TTC, making the latter the nearest thing the league now has to a central venue.
On the playing side, little has changed statistically with 35 teams competing in three divisions; the same as the last two seasons, although the number of registered players has dropped slightly.
Hastings Academy A, who had Paul Barry and Nathan Darby unbeaten last year, will be favourites to take the title for the fourth year in succession, despite losing Bashar Ubaid, who has relocated. The champions’ squad now includes sixteen year old Fraser Kent who won the Eastbourne Closed title two years ago but missed most of last season with illness.
Runners-up Bexhill A are somewhat of an unknown quantity having lost David Rayment and named Robert Warner and Martin Kellaway as Divisional reserves.
Former Hastings champion Lewis Mayhew is one of three named players but has commitments in other leagues. Most of the attention on Bexhill A will be focussed on Slovakian junior Martin Kapusta, a student at Bexhill College, who has impressed at practice and at Sussex Junior events.
Hastings Academy B (formerly Saints A), led by Dave Butler, are unchanged and will be looking to outdo Bexhill and provide a challenge to Academy A.
Academy D seem to have resolved a lack of depth in their squad with the acquisition of two useful Eastbourne League players in Andrew Martin and Faldie Adams.
Hollington A step up from Division Two, having added Ron Davenport to join Shaun Godfrey and Kevin Barry as the strongest promoted side in recent history.
Division Two champions Academy F (formerly Saints B) take the step up without Davenport and Jamie Martin.