The University of Nottingham (UoN) hosted the Table Tennis PG Mutual National Championship for the first time in the David Ross Sports Village from the 3rd-5th March. Going into the tournament, teams from UoN were amongst the favourites to do well, due both their home court advantage and having already passed the 500 point marker in this season’s BUCS (British Universities and Colleges Sport) leagues.

Prior to the weekend, Kelly Sibley stated that the whole team was very excited, as well as a little nervous, to be hosting the championships, and that the whole team was in good form.

Danny Reed also commented on how the University of Nottingham Table Tennis society had full settled in at the David Ross Sports Village and had been able to take full advantage of the new strength and conditioning rooms that are available for them to help train and that the team the opportunity to train and spend more time together, helping create a strong spirit amongst the players.

The tournament saw the 32 best players in the country including Olympic, Paralympic and Commonwealth champions compete here in Nottingham. At the end of the weekend’s games, the Green and Gold had a successful collection of medals, with Maria Tsaptsinos winning gold in the women’s doubles.

With over half a million viewers watching via live stream, courtesy of The Sport Bible, Tsaptsinos and Tin-Tin Ho encountered the experienced London 2012 Olympians Kelly Sibley and Joanna Drinkhall, both previous National Champions. They won the title in straight sets, 11-6, 11-9, 11-8.

Head Coach of the UoN table tennis programme Kelly Sibley, who had hoped to regain her National singles title, lost out narrowly in the final to Tin-Tin Ho after leading 2-1 earlier in the match. Sibley and partner Joanna Drinkhall then took silver behind Ho and Tsaptsinos in the Women’s Doubles, adding to Kelly’s bronze in the mixed pairs with Danny Reed.

“Tsapatsinos also took home a bronze in the women’s singles and  In the Under 21 event Maria lost narrowly to doubles partner Ho who also took the Women’s Senior title. The victory adds to a remarkable year for Tsaptsinos, who has already won the British Universities Premier North title this year with team mate Jenny Liu.”

“Postgraduate student Danny Reed, this year’s British Universities’ champion, won three bronze medals across the Men’s Singles, Men’s Doubles and Mixed Doubles events.”

Tsapatsinos also took home a bronze in the women’s singles and  In the Under 21 event Maria lost narrowly to doubles partner Tin-Tin Ho who also took the Women’s Senior title. The victory adds to a remarkable year for Tsaptsinos, who has already won the British Universities Premier North title this year with team mate Jenny Liu. Kelly Sibley was also unlucky not to win the gold, losing in the final for a second year in a row to Tin-Tin Ho.

Star of the weekend Tsapatsinos said: “I’m so happy with my results over the weekend; the way I am progressing over the last six months is starting to show in my matches and I feel like all the hard work I put in before Nationals is paying off! I was nervous with all the hype before the event, but in the end the home crowd actually really helped calm my nerves.”

Maria Tsapatsinos in action at the David Ross Sports Village at the weekend

Postgraduate student Danny Reed, this year’s British Universities’ champion, won three bronze medals across the Men’s Singles, Men’s Doubles and Mixed Doubles events after some tough semi-final match ups, including a 7 set battle with eventual Men’s champion Paul Drinkhall.

Reed was able to claim the bronze medal, making it three bronze medals for the University of Nottingham and exemplifying the extremely high standard of table tennis players currently competing for the University of Nottingham. Fellow Masters student Yolanda King also took bronze in the Women’s Doubles with partner Lois Peake.

“The University of Nottingham’s Table Tennis Club in BUCS this year have been highly successful, with a total of 10 teams competing this year- 5 men’s and 5 women’s.”

“The clubs achievement in scoring over 500 BUCS points so far this season is an achievement that no club at Nottingham has done so far and is the clearest indication of how strong table tennis is at the university currently.”

As previously mentioned, the University of Nottingham’s Table Tennis Club in BUCS this year have been highly successful, with a total of 10 teams competing this year, 5 men’s and 5 women’s. From the men’s team, both the 1st and 2nd top their respective divisions while there the 3rd team sit in second to the 2nd team whilst in the women’s, the Midland 1A division is a University of Nottingham one two as the women’s 1st and 2nd team lead the way whilst the 3rd team also lead their division.

The dominance of the club in BUCS over the past few has been recognised by the University of Nottingham, with UoN Table Tennis winning the UoN Performance Sport Club of the Year in both 2015 and 2016.

All of this looks very promising for the University of Nottingham as they approach this years Nottingham Varsity Series against Nottingham Trent. Yet the clubs achievement in scoring over 500 BUCS points so far this season is an achievement that no club at Nottingham has done so far and is the clearest indication of how strong table tennis is at the University of Nottingham currently.

For those wishing to join the club, there are casual sessions on Thursday and Friday afternoon whilst the teams train on Monday to Thursday afternoons and evenings.

The success of the table tennis club in both last weekend’s nationals and this seasons BUCS as well as the improved facilities they now have access to from the David Ross Sports Village all points towards a very positive and successful future for table tennis at the University of Nottingham.

Jeremy Dunn

Images courtesy of University of Nottingham Sport

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