End of Season Review

This last season has seen a number of changes in the structure and direction of English table tennis which have impacted on our club and as a result necessitated some changes in our own policies and development planning. The NGB has no funding for High Performance (and probably will not have until at the earliest 2017) and will be sending players abroad to compete even in major events only if they have a chance of reaching say the quarters or are able to self-fund. Chloe Thomas from our club played for Wales in the World Championships in China, Hannah Hicks didn't play for England as for the first year since 1939 England sent no women players only 2 men. Wales sent squads, so did Scotland and Ireland. Some National Training is taking place at Lilleshall mainly for younger players in the 10 to 14 age groups but players have to apply for selection, pay around £1,600, commit to attending 10 to 12 sessions per season and accept that they can only play abroad with England's permission and almost certainly will need to self-fund. This year for example England will send no girl Cadets to the European Youths as their level is considered inadequate. As a result many clubs in UK are starting to do 'their own thing', running joint camps, sending players abroad, joining clubs abroad, attending training camps in UK and overseas etc. as this is seen as a more viable route to senior development.

In our own club we have noticed that our player base is changing: with many of our older players levels are diminishing, younger players are leaving for University or starting work and competing less, even younger players are heavily committed to school work and training less and many coaches are giving up or moving on. Players such as Hiba Feredj who has played for Bournemouth Sports over the last two years has now opted to play for Algeria at both Junior and Senior level in view of the continuing lack of interest from England: she has already lead her new country to a win over Egypt in the final of the Junior Girls' Team in the African Games. It is time for us to regroup and start again to bring through new groups of young players and young coaches. Last season we had a Men's Team in the Premier Division of British League, a Boys' Team in the Premier Division of Junior British League and our Girls' Team won promotion to the Premier of JBL. In the coming season we shall have no teams at all in British League; instead some of our better players will have the chance to play for other teams. We are not prepared to and don't have the funding to spend thousands of pounds bringing in players from abroad just to prop up our teams as a number of other clubs will do.

Over this last season we have seen considerable development of young coaches in our club; Emma Blachford, Lily Cherry and Jacob Blackburn all passed their Level 1 and Matt Ware passed his UKCC Level 2. In the Individual Bournemouth League Championships Matt Rogers lost in the Premier Division final, Ali Malloch beat Jacob Blackburn in the final of Division 3 and Josh Moore and Jordan Greenwood lost in the finals of Division 4 and 5. Zac Dowling lost in the final of the Men's Doubles and Wei-Jun Liang in the final of the Veterans 50. Matt Stanfield was 5th in the English Schools Individual Finals and Zac Dowling was the winner of the Blackpool GP Band 4.

Amy Blagbrough, still only 15, played a number of Senior GPs and ended up in the money, 3rd place in Women's Band 2, 4th in Women's Band 3 and 4th in Under 21's. Matt Ware took overall 2nd place in the Men's Open pushing Ryan Jenkins down into 3rd and was also winner in the Doubles event.

At National level Tony Clayton is Veteran's 60's Singles and Doubles Champion and Sanja Clements although losing in the final of the Vets Singles still retains the England No.1 spot. Chloe Thomas playing in the Welsh Nationals (taking place in June this year) was triple champion, winner of the Women's Singles, Women's Doubles and in her last year winner of the Under 21 Women; she was even losing finalist in the Mixed Doubles with brother Patrick. Amy Blagbrough playing in the Czech Youth Festival in Prague reached the Quarter Finals of the Singles and Team events.

There will be one more major event this season for Chloe Thomas and Matt Ware who will both compete in the Heritage Oil Tournament in early July.