I’m a table tennis player and coach based in Keynsham.
I started playing table tennis from around 10 years old after two members of the Bath & District Table Tennis League came into Moorland Junior School and took a PE class. One of them was Judy Higgs who I knew from outside of school through my local church, so I started attending Culverhay School Junior training, on a Thursday night.
Unfortunately I wasn’t one of the best students of table tennis there. However I kept at it and gradually built up some confidence and came runner up in a couple of early inter club competitions, 1998 and 1999.
League table tennis was next from around 14 years of age to 18. Playing just at Culverhay School to start with in a all junior team. I then took a season away from the junior team to help my Dad’s team to promotion from Division Two in 2003/04. I say I helped in a loosest sense as I only picked up one win, before joining Oldfield Park TTC in their H team. This was alongside Gareth Higgs who was a few years old and could drive us to games when I was in the 6th form.
Then I took a break from the sport for 5 years, not through choice! I attended Aberystwyth University and they didn’t have a table tennis club in 2005-08. There was a limited practice night in the town and always talk of taking on other counties but there wasn’t the drive for this and it fizzled out to just a youth club. I stayed in the town for a further two years working and playing badminton and football but I couldn’t wait to get back to a table.
When I came back to Bath in 2010 this wasn’t an easy transition. That gap in play meant that I was only slightly better than a beginner (some may say that’s still the case). So I joined Bathampton TTC and only won once in about 30 games! Very painful experience but I did meet the one and only George Aylett so it wasn’t all bad.
I went on to play for Bathford TTC for one season, but my contribution to their points haul was only slightly better.
A new project then took my fancy after playing with three social players on a Monday night at St John’s in Oldfield Park (make sure you go and check that out if you haven’t been!). Jon Bowers was entering a new team for Newbridge TTC in Division Two so I joined as their fourth player alongside Steve Tainton and Paul Jefferies.
This was only a one season stay again though as I only played a handful of games and my wins didn’t justify more game time. However I needed to be playing regularly to improve and these three were gunning for promotion (and won the league the following season).
The opportunity to join Key Centre TTC in their B team in the 2013/14 season as I had moved to the town. One of their rules back then was that you had to live in Keynsham to sign on and I enjoyed playing against them in the last three years as they had a relatively youthful side for a table tennis team.
15 wins followed that season and I was enjoying my time playing under Sue Ruse. 22 wins for the 2014/15 season but back to just 15 in the 2015/16 season but each year my playing ability grew a touch.
Promotion followed in the 2016/17 season and I gained a better win ratio but played less games. Having the club captain Ken Milsom playing five games and getting us 15 points kind of helped with the promotion; but it gave everyone a chance to take on a new set of players.
Division One was a step beyond all of us as a team at that time. I only managed a 25% win ratio (which was as good as it got) and we didn’t win a single match.
There were some highlights personally with a 3-0 win against my Dad and two wins against our A team as we lost 8-2. It gave me a good grounding in playing better players with a more attacking style.
This all paved the way for my most successful season as I broke into the top ten league players in Division Two. We finished runners up as a team and got back to Division One.
In the summer of 2019 I completed my first coaching badge to start to help beginners in the sport. I was also made captain of the B team in our venture back into Division One, 2019/20, with a brand new set of team mates that I’ve hand picked to stay up this time.
Thankfully it was a success and we didn’t just stay up but we actually finished above our A team. Personally I achieved 40% win ratio which was an improvement from my last outing at this level.
Who knows that the future will hold as there is talk of a reshuffle at Key Centre TTC. A few players are leaving and I have my eye on a few that I want to bring in.
The one thing that has stayed consistent with me is my love for the sport – be that on an outside table, indoor, league game, tournament or just knocking the ball around. If you’ve read down this far then go and pick up a bat, get out and play the game!