Season review: Highlights, but missed chances for Strongtower
BALLYMENA Academy Strongtower's table tennis season is all but over with Friday's Ballyclare Mayfair tournament ending competitive table tennis for the season.
It is hoped that a table tennis summer school can be held in Ballymena with Ulster coach Amanda Mogey keen to improve the skills of local players for the incoming season, though new players, too, would be welcomed to the summer school. Further information will be provided if and when a suitable venue is confirmed.
Looking back at the season there were some highlights but also many missed opportunities.
Pavel Sulkowski ended the season as the top Ulster veteran and he remained undefeated in the County Antrim Table Tennis League all season. However his absence on two occasions from league matches ultimately cost the club the Division 1 league title.
Hopefully the club can retain the two Sulkowski's services next year and the possible signing of the talented Garry Crawford should help with the club's attempt at regaining the title last held in Ballymena by the all conquering Carnlea team.
However the Division two trophy was retained by the club as last years Division 3 champion's AS Patriot's were victorious in a very competitive league.
The club failed to hold on to the Division three and Division four titles though the young Academy Thunder team of Jonny Wilson, Jonny Moore, Andrew Herbison and Peter McCrum were in contention in Division four right until the final week.
The Cup competitions once again proved unfertile ground as none of the teams managed to progress beyond the semi final stages.
However the individual league tournaments did bring some silverware to the club with Ciaron Nelson and Eva Richards winning the mixed doubles and Peter Neeson winning the Under 17 title. Peter was also awarded the league's Most Improved Player award at the league dinner.
Runner up awards also went to Jordon Hood in the Under 14 singles; to Jimmy O'Hara in the Veteran singles; to Peter Neeson in the Division 3 singles; to Ciaron Nelson in the Division 2 singles and to Ciaron Nelson and Ballyclare's Ian Davies in the Open Singles.
Again more silverware would undoubtedly have come the way of the Academy if the players from the Division 1 team had been able to attend the various competitions. Hopefully work or exam commitments will not bear too heavily on next years events.
The AS Strongtower club wishes the Irish team of Paul McCreery, Daryl Strong, Keith Knox and John Murphy the best of luck at the Liebherr World Team Table Tennis Championships in Moscow, Russia.
It is hoped that some of them will be playing at next season's Ballymena Table Tennis Open and the North Antrim Open both tournaments organised by Academy Strongtower and held in Ballymena Academy.