New champions crowned in historic Blackpool Table Tennis Association closed competition at Palatine

The Blackpool Table Tennis Association's closed championships under way at Palatine Leisure Centre
The Blackpool Table Tennis Association's closed championships under way at Palatine Leisure Centre

Sixty-four players were in action as the Blackpool Table Tennis Association hosted their annual closed championships at Palatine Sports Centre.

The event, which is split up into 12 different categories, brings together players registered in the Blackpool and District Table Tennis League or players from junior coaching sessions at Stanley Park.

Thirty-two men aged between 18 and 65 entered the men’s singles event, hoping to have their name put on the highly prestigious trophy, which dates back to 1936.

It was number one seed, Jon Ash, 49, who went on to record his 12th men’s singles title.

He comprehensively defeated Paul Gawne 11-8, 11-2, 11-9 in the final to equal Steve Bevan’s record of 12 men’s singles titles.

Ash concluded that taking the first set and serving a high percentage of first serves was pivotal to his win.

He said: “I’ve played Paul many times in the Blackpool Table Tennis League, so I know his game, but there is no easy game with table tennis as it’s all about having the right mentality.

“Taking the first set was important as it really settled my mind to go on and play the rest of the match with confidence.

“My serve is crucial to my game and I think Paul struggled a bit which meant I could go and seize the initiative.

The taxi driver from Lytham now wants to go on and beat Bevan’s record.

“The first time I won the men’s singles was in 1993 and then I quit the sport in 2001 but I’ve come back 10 years later,” he said.

“I’m just going to take it year by year. If I can keep physically and mentally fit, then I’ve a great chance of beating his record.

Elsewhere, Tamar Packford claimed the ladies singles title and mixed double’s title with her husband Andy.

Fifteen-year-old Taran Che won both the Handicap Singles and First Division title, while Peter Hoole won the Second Division trophy.

Brian Jackson, chairman and coach of the Blackpool Table Tennis Club, has organised the event for the last 35 years and has strongly encouraged more young people to get involved with the sport.

He said: “Any ability can come along and have a go, people don’t need to have played before. It’s a great sport for players of all ages, which encourages physical activity as well as endorsing cardiovascular benefits.

Mr Jackson also paid tribute to the work undertaken by event volunteers.

He said: “Without them the events and coaching wouldn’t happen.

“I could volunteer hours of my time but without people helping we wouldn’t have these events.”

Anyone who would like to get involved with Blackpool Table Tennis should visit or attend coaching sessions held every Monday at Stanley Park Leisure Centre (6.30-8pm).