End of an Era at Chelsea Academy
London Rankings No4: An explosive sell-outJon Kaufmann – 10th December 2018
The fourth London Community Ranking Tournament was another huge success with an over-capacity entry in all bands and a record breaking 160 plus participants. So popular have these tournaments become that the organisers had to put up the ‘Sold Out’ sign a full 48 hours before the event. There were wonderful contingents from hosts, London Academy; from the Harris Invictus Academy from South London; from the highly innovative Brighton Table Tennis Club; from the West London Ping collective and for the first time, from the Fulham Brunswick Club. Their collective contribution to the day’s success was immense. Of course, there were very many highlights from the packed day’s play but three in particular stand out.
First up was the introduction of fifteen players from the new London Academy Primary School, under the expert supervision of the London Academy coaching team, these enthusiastic Year 2&3 youngsters had their very first taste of a table tennis tournament. And they did not disappoint. Representing a newly created Band 6c and playing in three groups of five, these future stars battled away without complaint for the entire morning. Medals and certificates were duly presented to the delight of parents and players alike By the March tournament I understand their numbers might double. With a youth structure like this, it is no surprise that the London Academy is one of the leading table tennis centres in the country.
The second stand out feature was the inclusion of the England T21 national team which is the official category for players with Down Syndrome. These three young men, all from the Brighton Table Tennis Club and fresh from their World Championships, proved to be wonderful competitors and wonderful personalities. Their enthusiasm for table tennis was infectious and their involvement added a whole new dimension to the Band 5 & 6 events.
The third highlight of the day came from the Band 1 & 2 competitions which turned out to be the most fiercely competitive of the four London Ranking tournaments so far. The third tournament saw Greenhouse star Zion Naibing win the Band 1 & 2 double and it looked highly possible he could repeat that feat. It was not to be. But there was a double winner. In a very strong field, Cain Fagan from the Brunswick Club in Fulham took the double, seeing off fierce competition from Russian, Chinese and Lithuanian rivals. In the end it was Wen Wei Xu and Brendon Bennett both from Brighton TTC who were to make the Band 2 & 1 finals respectively, but Cain Fagan, a mightily determined competitor himself, was not to be denied his double triumph.
All eyes now turn to the fifth tournament to be held back at the Greenhouse Sports Centre in Marylebone on Sunday 27th January. Online booking will be open by the end of this week. It promises to be another explosive day of table tennis.
An updated ranking list should be on the London Ping website by early next week so all players can start to plot their London campaigns for the new year.
As always, a massive thanks to our sponsors and partners; Top Spin Sports, BeTT, the London Academy, Greenhouse Sports and West London Ping. And to all the organisers, volunteers, coaches, parents and players, we wish you the very best of season’s greetings and look forward to resuming the London Ranking tournaments with you in the New Year.