Celebrating 100 Years of Table Tennis in Cheltenham with Thrilling Centenary Tournament

Cheltenham Table Tennis Association Celebrates Centenary with Thrilling Tournament

May 9, 2024 | Richard Comley

Cheltenham Table Tennis Association, one of the country’s longest-running leagues, marked its 100th anniversary with a captivating Centenary Tournament. The event, held at the YMCA Sports Hall in Arle Road, drew players of all skill levels, providing everyone the opportunity to compete for prizes.

The Cheltenham YMCA has been a steadfast supporter of the association since its inception in 1923 as the Cheltenham Ping Pong Association. The YMCA hosts regular practice sessions and is the home of Cheltenham Table Tennis Club, the town’s largest club, welcoming players twice a week.

The tournament format was grueling, with participants facing a schedule of seven or eight games before a knockout round determined the winners of each section. Groups were meticulously set up, ensuring close and thrilling matches, particularly in Groups 5 and 6, where the top three players pushed each other to the limit in five-game showdowns.

Reigning county champion Darren Griffin demonstrated his class, winning all his matches 3-0 to claim the Centenary Championship. The veteran’s victory added to his impressive tally of 25 county titles, cementing his status as one of the region’s table tennis legends.

Darren’s final opponent, Matt Hartwell, had to come back from a 2-0 deficit to reach the title clash.

The tournament also showcased the sport’s rising stars, with 15-year-old Charlie Davidson reaching the semi-finals, where he faced off against Darren. The youngest competitor displayed immense potential, foreshadowing a future where the veteran players may struggle to maintain their grip on the trophies.

In the Consolation event, Jon Gaskell’s tactical prowess, combining pimpled rubber blocking with devastating forehand counter-attacks, saw him edge out the attacking left-hander Grant Pawsey in a five-game thriller. The Plate competition was won by Dave Metcalfe, who triumphed over Mike Tyrell in the final.

The event’s success was made possible thanks to the tireless efforts of Tournament Referee Dave Harvey, a table tennis stalwart who has won the Cheltenham Closed Championships 30 times and the County Championship 13 times. Despite being forced into retirement due to injury, Dave’s dedication to the sport continues to shine through.

Cheltenham Table Tennis Association’s Centenary Tournament was a true celebration of the sport, showcasing the region’s talent, from seasoned champions to promising youngsters, and underscoring the enduring passion that has sustained the league for a century.

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