In this newsletter:
* Our future in young hands
Table Tennis is a sport that all people can enjoy and participate in throughout their lives. More than half of the membership of Table Tennis England are over 40 and that is a wonderful achievement for any sport to be able to retain the enthusiasm and commitment of players as they enter their senior years.
However, the future of our sport lies in young hands.
Helping cadets and juniors realise their potential is something which I am passionate about. I have recently been honoured by being appointed as Chair of Youth Committee of the European Table Tennis Union (ETTU) and I want to use that position, along with my role as Chair of Table Tennis England, to influence the opportunities for all young people to play table tennis at all levels.
In England, we have already set our young people as a priority for the future of our sport. I should also say that I am always inspired by and grateful for the generosity of our coaches, volunteers and older players who are prepared to invest time and effort into teaching and encouraging our young players.
For the future, we want to work with our young players at two levels. We need to create an environment which encourages young people to play and enjoy table tennis, achieve their potential at whatever level they aspire to and then continue with the sport for decades.
And, we also need to create a pathway where exceptional talent is identified and nurtured, so we can once again produce players to compete on level terms with the best in the world.
We have already seen the first steps on the road to international successes in our current stream of cadets and juniors and we look forward to building on these achievements (some of which are listed below).
As always, please click on the links attached to the brief reports for more information.
Our future in young hands . . .
Europe Youth Top 10: An 11th hour 59th minute call up for reserve Tin-Tin Ho to participate in the Europe Youth Top 10 event in France did not inhibit the quality of her performance in any way and Tin-Tin finished in a very credible fifth place. Tom Jarvis was in the cadet boy's events and after a shaky start, composed himself to win two of his matches. It is a great marker for the future that we have two young people chosen to compete as part of Europe's elite and show great promise in this company.
Women's British League: Our top women players participated in the opening weekend of Women's British League of the season, and Ormesby's Maria Tsaptsinos, still just 17 years old and learning her craft in the juniors, eased to 10 straight victories in the country’s finest division to put her top of the averages in the Premier Division.
England Youth Squad: Table Tennis England has announced a 28-strong England Youth Squad geared to help the elite players of the future reach their full potential. The line-up, which is split into a performance group of 13 players and a development group of 15, was announced after skill and fitness assessments of all the players who applied to join the squad. These players have signed an athlete's agreement in which they agree to commit to the programme, which includes 10 training camps, fitness and behaviour criteria.
Sainsbury School Games: The annual Sainsbury School Games gave our young players an opportunity to participate in an Olympic-style event with competitions over many sports disciplines taking place for the duration of the tournament. The table tennis was of a high standard and many congratulations, not only to our winners, but to all the regional players who produced an excellent show-case for table tennis within this major sporting event.
Croatian Open: Helshan Weerasinghe (17 years old) continued his run of successes by winning gold and silver medals at the Croatia Junior Open. The Tonbridge youngster triumphed in the Junior Doubles with his Slovenian partner and was beaten in the final of the Junior Singles. It follows his first ITTF Junior Circuit title in the singles at the Funchal Junior and Cadet Open in Madeira last month.
London Hall of Fame: Tin-Tin Ho, just 16, has followed in the footsteps of the likes of Rio Ferdinand, Linford Christie, Sir Bradley Wiggins and Mo Farah by winning a prestigious London sports award. Tin-Tin was the youngest member of Team England at the Commonwealth Games, where she won silver in the mixed doubles with partner Liam Pitchford.
Officials: It is not just the playing side of the table where our young people are making an impact. Alex Mercer, who has officiated at both the Youth Olympics and Commonwealth Games this year, is in line for the Young Official of the Year award.
Archives: While we are looking to our future talent, we are not forgetting our past. Our archivist, Diane Webb, is running a popular series of old photographs of past players and events every Friday on our website. We are hoping that our members will be able to help to compile a true and accurate record of our sports' history by putting names to faces.
Susie Barna: I was saddened to learn of the death of Susie Barna at the age of 96. The widow of the legendary Victor Barna, who won 22 world championship titles, she was made an ETTA Vice-President in 1976.
Congratulations to . . .
. . . Jo Drinkhall who is one of 30 British sportswomen to be shortlisted from 300 nominations for the prestigious Women in Sport 2015 calendar. Voting is taking place online to secure the final 12 women and their sports who will be represented on the pages next year.
. . . Craig Howieson who claimed his second Grand Prix title after a victory against Chris Doran, and to Emma Vickers who registered her first Grand Prix title of the season with a win against Abbie Milwain in the South Shields Grand Prix.
. . . England’s men and women at the European Team Championships - although they missed out on promotion at the European Team Championships in Lisbon, they gave us reason to expect there are better things to come in the future.
Sandra Deaton, Chair, Table Tennis England