Over the past few years, Preston Table Tennis Association in conjunction with with Table Tennis England, Preston City Council, UCLAN and other partners have given you the opportunity of watching England Teams play on your own doorstop in Preston - by hosting and organising International matches against India, Portugal, Poland, France, Israel and Australia twice. If you didn't take the opportunity to watch those matches we hosted, you missed out big time. Now some of those England players who played in Preston are making waves at the highest level possible in table tennis.
Story so far:
After losing their first two matches in the group stages to Sweden and France, Team England won their remaining group matches, including victory over Germany to secure qualification from their group in third place.
In the knockout stages, they beat Poland 3:2 before defeating France 3:2 in the quarter-finals (France had earlier beaten England 3:0 in the group stages).
Their semi final against Japan will be screened live on Saturday 5 March on the ITTF's own TV channel here.
where you can also catch up videos of their earlier matches.
For a review of the quarter final win against France, check out these linksTable Tennis England review
The last time England reached this stage was in 1990 - the first year of the competition - when England finished with the Brone medal behind Sweden (gold) who beat China (silver) 3:2. The format was a little different back then consisting of 4 matches of singles and a doubles match - not forgetting of course games were first to 21pts and best of 3 and not first to 11, best of 5 as it is now.
In 1990, the team was Carl Prean, Desmond Douglas [who the PTTA brought to Preston to run a 3 day coaching course for PTTA members in 2008] and Alan Cooke. The connection with the 2016 England team is Alan Cooke, who is now the England Teams Men's coach. Life comes full circle! For those of you who like nostalgia, I've found this PDF version of Table Tennis News from October 1990 - it makes interesting reading and can be found on Table Tennis Englands website in their archive section.
Not to put too fine a point on this achievement, England's mens team have achieved the equivalent of England's ladies football team reaching their semi-finals of the Woman's world cup in Canada last year and England's mens football team reaching the semi-final of the world Cup in Italy back in 1990.
If we ever manage to get England to play in Preston again, you should come because some of those same players you've seen in Preston are now making waves at the highest level at The Perfect World Team Championships in Malaysia.
Where's the press coverage English media!!!!! You're missing out on an opportunity to develop a fan base and market share of one of the most popular social sports in Britain. And that ties in nicely with this story on Table Tennis England's website. Well done Table Tennis England and ITV.