The first of this season’s Varsity Super Wednesday events will be held at the University of Nottingham’s David Ross Sports Village, and amongst the teams competing are the green and gold’s all conquering Table Tennis side. As the teams prepare for the clash, we were able to speak with Liam McTiernan, the President of University of Nottingham Table Tennis, and Yolanda King, the women’s team captain, about their thoughts on their preparation going into the fixture.

A club at its strongest

The University of Nottingham Table Tennis club are on track to become the first team from the green and gold to smash the 500 point barrier in BUCS (British Universities and Colleges Sport) this season. In 2016, for the second consecutive year, UoNTT won University of Nottingham performance club of the year. All this points to club that is at the very top of its game.

“It definitely is,” said Yolanda, “the highlight is the strength and depth of the team at the moment and the first team is certainly stronger than it’s ever been before, yet beyond that the rest of the teams are all doing fantastically in their leagues this year.”

‘It’s incredible the strength of our team currently,” Liam added. “We’ve got fourth and fifth teams that are equally as strong as most universities first teams and this strength owes a lot to the setup we have here.”

The team’s dominance has been shown in BUCS this season. The men’s first topped their league whilst the seconds and thirds took a one two placing in the division below. It has been a similar story for the women’s teams as the firsts and seconds had another green and gold one-two.

The men’s and women’s first teams also won their respective BUCS Trophies for the third time in three years at BUCS Big Wednesday in Bath this week. The women’s seconds also attained gold while the men’s 2s were pipped to first place by Sheffield.

“You go from competing on an individual basis for the nationals to competing completely as a team, as part of the entire university team, looking for the bragging rights as we want to trash Trent”

Yet any fears of this busy season effecting team stamina are far from their minds right now. “We play games week in, week out, but we now of course have our sights set on Varsity as we know how significant that is as its often very highly spectated,” said Liam, dismissing any fears the close fixtures could be an issue.

“Of course it’s a busy part of the season,” Yolanda said, “but I think we manage our training well and our performances in the build up to any Varsity so don’t worry, we aim to be in fine shape for Varsity to win it.”

 

“table tennis will once again be competing on in a Super Wednesday event were the points will only go to who out of Uni of and Trent have won the most sports on that day”

The clear favourites?

Given the aforementioned success of the table tennis club this past year, it’s understandable that some will have them down as clear favourites for this match. There is, however, a very different atmosphere and structure surrounding a game in Varsity to say a match in the PG Nationals held in David Ross last month, as Yolanda was keen to point out.

“It’s Varsity, it’s the classic Trent vs Uni of that the whole year builds to. It’s a different competition really. You go from competing on an individual basis for the nationals to competing completely as a team, as part of the entire university team, looking for the bragging rights as we want to trash Trent.”

Despite this, perhaps due to the dominance and reputation of table tennis at the moment the University of Nottingham, table tennis will once again be competing on in a Super Wednesday event were the points will only go to who out of Uni of and Trent have won the most sports on that day. Both Yolanda and Liam though were keen to praise the system after experiencing it last year.

“It definitely works in that people don’t just come to watch one sport but they come to watch a few,” commented Yolanda. “It’s great for both the spectators and helps the teams as those who might not at first be interested in table tennis get to see a game and see what we do.”

“It’s not just for the spectators it helps but each team from various sports get the chance to go and support each other,” Liam added.

Although this will be the first time David Ross Sports Village will be used for Varsity and a Super Wednesday, table tennis have already used the new complex in the aforemented PG Nationals and as a result, Liam and Yolanda were looking forward to seeing it’s use in Varisty.

“The DRSV is absolutely incredible and we’re really excited to have Varsity here as it gives us the chance to show off the brilliant facilities we now have”

“It adds excitement for everyone, not just us, and the more events we get to host at DRSV, the more we get to promote our university,” Liam stated with Yolanda agreeing.

“100%. The DRSV is absolutely incredible and we’re really excited to have Varsity here as it gives us the chance to show off the brilliant facilities we now have.”

Evening the tie

Given that last year saw the University of Nottingham run out 7-0 winners against Trent, doubts have surrounded the viability of this being anything but a one sided clash. Liam, though, disputed any claims that this year was going to simple for the University of Nottingham to win.

“We’ve been aiming this year to make the match a bit fairer as Trent since last year lost several of their best players and we’ve only gotten stronger. We’ve devised a system that we hope will make it a bit more intense and enjoyable for spectators to watch rather than just a totally one sided affair like last year as it potentially could have been. Despite that though, I still feel confident in that we’re going to win.”

Whilst Varsity is the one time of the year the form guides go out the window, the confidence and determination in the University of Nottingham Table Tennis team will take some real beating as they get fired up to help ensure Nottingham remains green and gold for another year.

Jeremy Dunn

Image courtesy of University of Nottingham Sport

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