A busy Saturday at Wellington Presbyterian Church as Wellington TTC played host to two tournaments. First the Frank Spalding Memorial Masters table tennis tournament commenced at 9am on Saturday morning with the finals played 1pm. Then the Ballymena Junior Table Tennis Challenger event followed hot on its heels at 2pm with the finals played at 6pm.
The Frank Spalding Memorial witnessed a welcome comeback to table tennis for Wellington Table Tennis Club’s Pawel Sulkowski who topped his group beating players from Belfast, Donegal’s and Dungannon on this route to the top tier of the tournament. There he meet Omagh’s Des Flanagan in the semi-final. It was a match of contrasting styles with Sulkowski’s powerful attacking shots proving too much for Flanagan’s excellent defence and despite dropping the first set 10.12, Sulkowski fought back to take the next 3 sets 11.5, 11.9, 11.8. In the final he met Ulster Master’s number 2 Philip Wallace who had played flawless table tennis all morning and who then defeated a resurgent Rodney McKirgan from St Anne’s Table Tennis Club 11.8, 11.3, 11.9 in his semi-final. The two attacking players promised an exciting match and Wallace, who is presently playing out of Ormeau TTC, took the first two sets 11.7 and 11.5. Sulkowski dug deep and took the third set 11.8 but this was not to herald a dramatic comeback as Wallace surged into an early fourth set lead which he would not relinquish winning the set 11.5 and so capturing the prized Frank Spalding Memorial Cup.
The intermediate tier of the event was won by Paul Gallagher from Donegal who defeated Gus Agnew in the final 11.8, 11.3, and 11.6. Joint 3rd was Wellington’s Mark McAllister and Glenburn’s Norman Nabney. The bottom tier was won by St Anne’s Mervyn Taylor who defeated Ormeau’s Jeff Irvine in the final 11.8, 11.8, 7.11, and 11.8. Third spot was claimed by the evergreen Ted Mahaffey from the Carnmoney 96 Table Tennis Club.
The Ballymena Challenger followed a similar format with young table tennis players competing over four Divisions. However instead of the best of five sets the big entry meant that matches had to be played over three sets. Ballyclare’s Sebastian Kidd won Division 1 with a hard fought three set win over Craigavon’s Aedan McGivern. Joint third went to the defeated semi-finalists Senan Sheridan from Ormeau and Peter Baird from Ballyclare TTC. A special mention to Ballymoney’s David McCaughern who lost ever so narrowly to the eventual.
The Division two event saw Wellington players Michael Allen and Scott Crawford lose in the quarter-finals. The division was won by Glenburn’s Elijah Lawther who defeated Ballyclare’s Caleb Crawford in the final. Equal third went to the beaten semi-finalists Ballyclare’s Andrew Leckey and Glenburn’s Chris Minnis.
Division 3 witnessed the battle of the Joshes as Josh Hickman from Craigavon defeated Lisburn Rapid’s Josh Thompson in the final. Equal third was St Anne’s Eli McKirgan and Ballyclare’s Angus Catherwood. The bottom Division was won by Paedar Sherdan from Ormeau who defeated Glenburn’s Marnie Young in the final. Equal third went to Osmond’s Kieran McToal and Wellington’s new recruit Alex Corr.
Also a big congratulations to Ollie McQuillan, Wellington’s sole representative at the Sophie Early Charity Table Tennis tournament in Craigavon were he ended up a very creditable second to Dungannon’s top player Mark Irwin.
The Wellington Table Tennis club wishes to thank Wellington Church for the continued use of their excellent hall facilities, David Witherspoon and Norman McBride for setting up the arena and John McFaul for his help and guidance regarding the Challenger event.