Year starts, London the destination

Nigel Eckersley, winner of the men’s singles over 50 years title (Photo: Mike Rhodes)

by Ian Marshall, Editor

Established in 1984 for players over 40 years of age, the Veterans English Table Tennis Society, known universally by the acronym VETTS, now boasts some 1,000 members; each year six regional tournaments are staged in addition to a National Championships.

The most recent was the VETTS Southern Masters held on Saturday 6th and Sunday 7th January at the Redbridge Leisure Centre in London.

A total of 222 players competed in five age groups ranging from over 40 years to over 80 years; the events being Men’s Singles, Women’s Singles, Men’s Doubles, Women’s Doubles and Mixed Doubles.

Notably 1,153 matches on 32 tables were played over the two day period. Impressively 83 prizes were awarded for nine singles, nine consolation and 10 doubles events, matters being overseen by Jan Johns, Chair of  Veterans English Table Tennis Society and Kim Mudge, the Referee.

“We welcomed players from home and abroad, including England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Turkey, Sweden and Germany. We are justly proud of the number of people continuing to compete into their more senior years: for example 44 competitors in the over 70 years’ men and 10 in the Over 70 years’ women. The weekend was combined with a social event on the Saturday evening, on this occasion a karaoke, featuring the singing stars of VETTS.” Susie Hughes, Deputy Chair (VETTS)

Significantly, the entry included Stuart Gibbs, who to the best of my knowledge, has represented England at junior, senior and veteran level. In addition such notable English names as Peter Radford, Nigel Eckersley, Sara Williams and Sue Collier alongside Pam Butcher, who was awarded the MBE (Member of the British Empire) in last year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours, were present.

Hard fought contests played in the best spirit were the order of the weekend. Lorestas Trumpaukas won the Over 40 Men’s Singles title, the counterpart Women’s Singles gold medal finished in the hands of Sara Williams.

Likewise, respectively, the Over 50 years’ titles finished in the hands of Nigel Eckersley and Sue Collier, the Over 60 years in the grasp of Bill Grant and Helen Shields, whilst John Clarke and Sally Bax emerged the successful players in the Over 70 years category. Brian Bicknell clinched the Over 80 years’ top prize.

Sunday 7th January: Roll of Honour