May I first of all, take this opportunity, on behalf of the Association, to wish you and your families a very enjoyable and safe Christmas and New Year.
Having navigated intact through my first year as Chairman of the PTTA following the retirement of Jim Clegg, I must convey my personal thanks go to our very experienced and supportive committee and indeed all the members of the Association, in helping to maintain the recognised reputation of Preston Table Tennis locally within the Preston Sports community, across the North West and indeed nationally. We have retained our Table Tennis England Premier Club accreditation and continue to try to develop the coaching and playing opportunities available to PTTA members. We are actively looking to bolster the number of players attending the coaching activities on Monday evenings (particularly some younger players) and the community sessions on Fridays, so if you have colleagues/ friends who might be interested, please let them know. The performance of the various Preston teams participating regionally at Senior, Vets and Junior/ Cadet levels continues to be very competitive.
The Association remains in a sound financial position and many thanks to our Treasurer Debbie Nickeas; please continue to assist Debbie in performing her role. A number of grant applications to support coaching initiatives are also currently being pursued.
The League and Cup competitions appear to be reasonably competitive at the halfway point of the season and are generally running quite smoothly - the amended format of the Handicap Cup for 2014/15 has created a level of interest and in general we have received largely positive feedback with some extremely close games being recorded – congratulations go to the handicap setting team! I do though recognise the Handicap Cup scoring system has caused some associated cerebral strain on members from a mathematical viewpoint (i.e. adding up!) – we are considering purchasing a number of calculators for next season! Particular thanks must go to Tony Rigby and Andrew White for their sterling work during 2014 in organising the league and cup competition fixtures – a sometimes thankless task. Incidentally, if you do wish to contact our Head Coach, Tony can be instantly recognised through his fluorescent yellow Astra A team strip which I’m reliably informed allows the current league leaders to practice safely at night in coned-off areas on dual carriageways and motorways!
The 2014 summer league programme, organised by Barry Crook, was yet again extremely popular and successful. We could not accept all the teams wanting to play, so if you would like to play this coming summer 2015, I would suggest you open negotiations with Barry and submit your teams/ players early. Press coverage again through Bryan Walker with the LEP continues to be excellent as always. Special mention again to the ‘experienced’ Gerry Stokes who remains the PTTA’s Hon General Secretary since volunteering in 1956! Our understanding is that he is retiring at the end of this season but I recall we thought that last year! An incredible period of service from Gerry to Preston Table Tennis.
You should all be experts by now in accessing our Preston Table Tennis 365 website with yet further improvements and additions recently included; particular thanks to Andrew White and Paul Grayham for their support in developing and maintaining the site and to Bryan Walker for keeping results up to date – please provide your completed scorecards promptly and accurately to ensure the currency of the site. Further changes and improvements will continue to be added as required; feedback welcomed.
I must convey our sincere thanks to all the people who volunteer as ‘helpers’ on the various coaching nights and support PTTA events and particularly to the Club Secretaries. . I would particularly ask all players to please support the Secretaries, the MRC and the running of the League by being absolutely clear regarding your availability to play in scheduled matches. Additionally I would request all players remain mindful of their responsibilities in terms of retaining discipline when playing. Other members in the vicinity, including many junior players and their parents, do not deserve to be subjected to inappropriate language.
Rota lists for Friday ‘community’ nights are still in operation if anybody wishes to get involved. The co-operation we continue to receive from the St Augustine’s centre management continues to be excellent.
Despite reducing his level of involvement with the PTTA due to his new commitments at Longridge Golf Club, Jim Clegg continues to liaise with the ‘great and the good’ from the newly branded Table Tennis England. Some of you will have seen the pre-Commonwealth Games TT international between England and Australia at the University of Central Lancashire back in July and Preston’s profile was maintained with the staging of the National Junior and Cadet National Finals in Preston in November this year.
Remarkably September 2015 actually marks the 10th anniversary of the opening of the TT Centre at St Augustine’s by the late Sir Tom Finney; where have the years gone? The PTTA are currently discussing the details of a suitable event to mark this important milestone. Further information to follow as our plans develop.
In closing, may I finally wish you all the very best for the remainder of the season, and thank you in advance for your continuing support of the Preston Table Tennis Association through 2015.
Andrew Williams. Chairman PTTA
Our annual Preston Closed Championships will be held on Sunday 8th March, 2015.
Entry forms will be out shortly from Andrew White; please support our annual championships.