For the second consecutive month, the London Ranking Tournament was another sell out with dozens of hopeful participants being turned away in the week prior to the event. Held for the second time at the prestigious Greenhouse Centre in Marylebone, this tournament attracted no less than 150 participants with over 100 playing in the morning and a similar number in action in the afternoon bands.
Only six months into this exciting new London Ping programme, no one could have imagined just how successful these tournaments would become. With five tournaments now safely tucked away, it looks likely that the London Ranking Tournaments will become a regular feature of the London table tennis community. The demand is clearly there.
This latest tournament, like all those before, had its own special highlights, though of course this is purely a subjective view. In reality, every game is a highlight for those directly involved, so to pick out any one game is, in one sense, against the very spirit of the day. These tournaments were never designed to focus on winners, but rather on participation and enjoyment. That said, two matches in particular really got the crowd on their feet. First up was the quarter-final in the Band One event where Nahom Goiomc from the Greenhouse high performance group gave top seed, Gabriel Achampong from the London Academy, a real run for his money. Gabriel triumphed in the end, but Nahom came out of the encounter with much credit and many plaudits from the crowd.
Another eye-watering highlight came in the Band 3 final where two very young competitors gave a chess like performance to match anything seen during the day. Maliha Baig, ranked No 1 in England in her age group and Ty Dennis-Thompson from the Harris Invictus academy in South London saw their fortunes ebb and flow throughout a five set thriller. In the end Maliha was to triumph but the real triumph was the pure quality of play and the sporting manner of the match. Both young competitors are to be congratulated, particularly given they had dispatched many a seasoned player on their respective paths to the final.
And in that wonderful final, another showcase of young talent was on display, but not directly on the table. When the call went out for a volunteer umpire, up stepped ten year old Jaihao Xu from the William Hogarth School in Chiswick. And undaunted by the occasion, Jaihao gave a first rate account of himself make exactly zero errors throughout the five set encounter. How many adults in the room could have done as well?
Finally, a word to all those parents that stepped forward to manage the Band 5 & 6 groups in the upper arena. Without their help things would surely not have proceeded so smoothly. And a special thanks to Maria from Greenhouse for her expert and caring help in organising those junior bands throughout the day.
All in all another great community day of Ping and a big thankyou to all the participating schools and clubs; Barnes, Ashburnham, William Hogarth, The London Academy, Chelsea Academy, the Harris Invictus Academy and of course last but not least, the amazing fifty strong team from Greenhouse.
Thanks also to Eamon Brennan our super webmaster; to Tommy Cutler for his continued Top Spin sponsorship; to Asif Masood for a great catering stall, and to Jason Sugrue for his very smooth and professional Centre Management and overall support.
Next tournament is at the London Academy on 2nd March. Entry forms online at londonping.co.uk in a few days time.
Best regards to all, Jon K