SENIOR SCHOOLS INTERNATIONAL TABLE TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIPS 2014
This year the Senior Schools International Table Tennis Championships were hosted by Wales at the National Institute of Sport in Cardiff. Seven nations were in attendance competing for team and individual medals at U’14, 16 and 18 age groups. The Isle of Man squad, resplendent in their new kit sponsored by OCRA (Isle of Man) Ltd, sent five teams who all travelled together in a mini-bus supplied by Blacks Van Hire.
The Isle of Man squad comprised:
Under 18 The Island Champion Ronan McDonnell and the Doubles/Mixed Doubles title holder Hadyn McLarney.
Under16 Aaron Faragher and the U’16 Island Champion Sean Drewry.
Under 14A Carl Blatcher and last year’s U’14 Island Champion Wael Kassim.
Under14B George Melvin, Nathan Evans and this year’s U’14 Champion Juan Moore.
Under 14 Girls The U’12 Champion Freya Melvin and Kerenza Baker the Junior Girls Champion.
Our squad was accompanied by tournament umpire Les Wilson, the IOMTTA Chairman, Maggie Mulhern, who took charge of the U’18 team with Ewan Watterson, Andy McLarney and Tim Baker managing the other age group teams respectively.
TEAM EVENT SUMMARY
Our team was placed 8th out of 11. McDonnell and McLarney won their opening match 3-2 against Wales and later beat Jersey B 3-1 after defeats at the hands of Jersey (1-4) and Scotland B (1-3).
England A overpowered England B (3-1) in the final and Jersey A were placed 3rd after beating Guernsey A (3-1) in their play-off.
The highlight was their 4-1 win over Guernsey B. Unfortunately, they had been placed in the same group as England A and Scotland A who both beat our team 5-0. Although England A topped the group by beating Scotland they finished 3rd overall behind Wales A and Wales B. Our team had two more matches to determine their final position and after losses to Guernsey A (1-3) they faced Guernsey B again and this time beat them 3-1 to finish 9th.
Neither of our teams won any games in their group matches and then faced each other in the preliminary knock-out round. The bragging rights went to the A team, Kassim and Blatcher, who beat Melvin, Evans and Moore 3-1. The A team then lost 0-3 to Scotland A and eventually finished 8th when they lost their play-off match 0-3 against Scotland’s B team.
Our B team were involved in the 11th/12th play-off match but lost that 0-3.
Freya Melvin and Kerenza Baker went down 0-5 to Scotland A but bounced back to whitewash Guernsey to finish third in their group after a not unexpected defeat 0-5 to the eventual championship winners England A. Ireland were placed second and England B took the third spot. Our team lost 0-3 to Scotland B but again overpowered Guernsey (3-0) in their 7th/8th place play-off.
INDIVIDUAL EVENT SUMMARY
McDonnell was drawn to play in the same group as the eventual singles Champion Conor Edwards who has represented Wales at the Commonwealth Games and is part of their squad again this year. They had a very close match with Edwards just winning 3-2. McDonnell’s other group match was against Blair Fowler from Scotland who he defeated 3-1. In the first knockout round McDonnell went out to Daniel Barna from England (1-3).
McLarney lost 0-3 to both Jack Bennett of England and Lawrence Stacey from Guernsey, so did not progress to the knockout stages.
Both Aaron Faragher and Sean Drewry failed to secure a leg in their two singles matches. Ryan Oyler (Wales) was crowned champion by beating Alex Ramsden (England) 3-2.
None of our five players proceeded beyond the group stages as they lost all their matches in straight sets. Josh Bennett beat James Smith 3-1 in an all England final.
Melvin beat Leah Moore (Guernsey) 3-1 but lost her other two group matches. Neither of our players made it to the knockout stage as Baker lost all three of her group matches 0-3.
All the players acquitted themselves well and Maggie Mulhern commented that she was encouraged by their performance and said that the experience of playing at this level was vital for the development of our squad.