First English Table Tennis Grand Prix of the season
After the English success at the Commonwealth Games a few weeks ago it’s now time for the English winter table tennis season to start again. The Liverpool Grand Prix (GP) is the first of 10 competitions ending in London, Spring 2015. This is a chance for players to improve their National Rankings and for younger players to come through and stake a claim for the National teams.
The Liverpool GP takes place on the 16th/17th of August and the competition is fierce throughout. Darius Knight is the top seed at the event and the England number 5 will look to win this competition for the first time. Standing firmly in his way is the Scottish Number One, Gavin Rumgay, who caused quite a stir with his passion and energy in his play at the Commonwealths.
Also in contention are good friends David McBeath and Matt Ware who are ranked 9th and 11th in England respectively. “We have grown up together since 10 years old, so I am use to playing him” said Ware when asked if it was hard it’s difficult playing someone you’re close to. McBeath says “We know each other’s games so well but I think when we play a competitive game we just treat as we would any other match and we still stay friends afterwards.” So watch out for that match up if it happens; as either one of these young players could go all the way if they can beat the other one in the latter stages.
Darius Knight is looking forward to the competition this year too “It’s always difficult playing a best of 5, but at the same time it’s more fun too! I’ve never won Liverpool somehow I’ve always messed up there or not performed well so this year I’m looking to go one step further.” Rumgay, Ware, Chris Doran and McBeath will be looking to compete with the top seed with McBeath adding “I think there’s a few of us who can take the title. It will probably go down to who plays the best on the day.” So Knight will have to perform at his top level to take the elusive title and kick start the season.
It won’t be plain sailing for the Women’s top seed Karina Le Ferve either. She will have to play well to get past a strong Welsh contingent in sisters Angharad and Megan Phillips and the improving Nicola Hall. “I think a lot of players have the potential to be tricky when they play well. All the Welsh players can have their good days, even Nicole who I have in my group. But also Abbie Milwain is an underrated player in England who can pick up some good wins.”
The level headed youngster isn’t getting carried away though and instead focusing on her own performance, “I rarely look at any draw and expect it to go to plan so we’ll just see who comes through the rounds and I’ll try to concentrate on myself.” If the Sussex Open and Commonwealth Games is anything to go by it will be far from plain sailing in the Women’s competition so expect plenty of 5 set games.
“I love playing the GP circuit & this year I’m hoping to make a serious effort at improving my ETTA ranking.” Said Paralympian David Wetherill who also says Liverpool is a “good gauge for your level of play as it’s the first one of the season.”