Englanddominate as Island stages 6 Nations Table Tennis International
England dominated the team events but had to share the main individual trophies with Wales and Scotland when the 6 Nations Junior and Cadets Table Tennis International – sponsored by Isle of Man Bank - was held at the NSC over the weekend.
The event brought over 70 visiting players, coaches and officials to the Island from England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales and Guernsey. At the end of the two-day team event the awards were presented by Isle of Man Bank managing director Bill Shimmins while Deniese Smith, Area Manager for Branch Banking, did the same in relation to the individual trophies.
Englandswept the boards in the team event winning all four categories – cadet boys and girls (under 15), and junior boys and girls (under 18). Wales finished runners-up in the junior girls contest while Scotland took second spot in the three remaining sections.
The Isle of Man teams were always going to have to battle the odds as they were up against countries with much bigger populations while, in the case of Guernsey, the Island has its own table tennis centre with a professional coach. However, there were notable performances from Ronan McDonnell in both the team and individual events of the junior competition.
Ronan opened the Island’s account on the first night of the team event with a hard fought victory over the Irish number two Ryan Farrell. Ronan won the first two games, but was then pegged back to 2-2. He got off to a flying start in the decider, leading 5-1 at the changeover and clinching the point by an 11-4 margin. This put the Isle of Man into a 1-0 lead but Ireland stormed back to win the remainder for a 4-1 scoreline.
Best chance of an overall victory came in the last of the team matches when Guernsey provided the opposition. Ronan again rose to the occasion winning both his singles matches – 12-10 11-7 14-12 against Alex Robinson and 11-9 in the fourth against Liam Robilliard. The Island team came agonisingly close to gaining the extra point it needed for a match win. The doubles pairing of Will Bayley and Mason McLarney lost in four after having game points in both the third and fourth legs while Mason lost one of his singles in four games, again after having game points in a leg which he lost. The end product was that Guernsey triumphed 3-2.
It was a similar story for Mason’s brother Hadyn in the under 15 team event. He just lost out on several occasions in five games but finally got his reward when he came back from two games down to defeat Guernsey’s Sam King 11-9 in the decider to get a point on the board for the Island.
The individual competition saw another battling performance from Ronan. After losing to Ireland’s Ryan Farrell - whom he had beaten in the team event - in the group matches he then needed to beat Scotland’s Blair Fowler to qualify for the knockout stage. He did so in five games to progress to the quarter-finals where he was up against English number two Adam Harrison. Ronan had a game point in the first leg before losing it 12-10 and then lost the next two as well, but it had been good experience for the Manx senior champion who still has further years in this age group.
Roll of Honour for the weekend was as follows:
Team event– Junior Boys: 1 England 2 Scotland 3 Ireland; Junior Girls: 1 England 2 Wales 3 Ireland; Cadet Boys: 1 England 2 Scotland 3 Ireland; Cadet Girls: 1 England 2 Scotland 3 Ireland.
Individual event– Junior Boys: winner, Colin Dalgleish (Scotland), runner-up, Helshan Weeasinghe (England); Junior Girls: winner, Chloe Thomas (Wales), runner-up, Jessica Dawson (England); Cadet Boys: winner, Sam Mabey (England), runner-up, Daniel Lawrence (England); Cadet Girls: winner, Maria Tspatsinos (England), runner-up, Lois Peake (England).
Tournament organiser and referee was Maggie Mulhern with Mike Bayley, chairman of the Isle of Man Table Tennis Association, acting as umpire co-ordinator.