Table Tennis has always been known for being unpredictable and full of thrills – and this year’s PG Mutual National Championships did not disappoint, with a host of world-class table tennis from the best of England’s table tennis stars.
Taking place from 3-5 March at the David Ross Sports Village, University of Nottingham, hundreds of fans were treated to three days of high quality table tennis, with Sunday’s finals day seeing Paul Drinkhall and Tin Tin-Ho retain their singles national titles, with Joanna Drinkhall make her return to high-profile competition since topping the podium at Glasgow 2014.
Top seed Paul Drinkhall won the final match of the competition, narrowly beating third seed Sam Walker to claim his sixth national title, making him the joint second all-time national title holder in the history of English Table Tennis.
Drinkhall, 27, is the reigning Commonwealth mixed doubles champion, with his wife Joanna - and the husband and wife team took the mixed doubles crown this week. Paul also claimed the men’s double crown with his Team England teammate Liam Pitchford.
Paul Drinkhall said: “The final was a great match, with some good long rallies where we were both away from the table and there was quite a lot of tactical play, with a few mistakes and changes in the scores.
“It is a great feeling to have retained by title. I don’t feel that I have played my best recently, but I have matured mentally and that is what I think helped me win this weekend. I believed in myself and kept fighting.
“I think for next year’s Commonwealth Games we are in a very good place, I think that the teams they have always looked out for are ourselves, India, Singapore and Nigeria but I think we will be right at the top this time and people will be really trying to beat us. But we are used to that, ready for that and are in a good place. We are all very eager to get that gold medal.
18-year-old Tin Tin-Ho was the star of the women this year in Nottingham, retaining her women’s singles title in a thrilling match against Commonwealth medallist Kelly Sibley, 28.
Ho also won the women’s U21 title at the PG Mutual National Championships on Saturday 4th March and took the women’s doubles title with Maria Tsaptsinos, 19.
Sibley, who was disappointed not to become national champion this year is feeling confident ahead of the 2018 Commonwealth Games and looks forward to the prospect of competing on the Gold Coast.
“The National Championships is vitally important as part of the journey to the Gold Coast, it’s part of our goal setting and we are using it as good match practice. It’s good experience and a chance to see what is working well and what isn’t.
“I am really excited for the 2018 Commonwealth Games. I played the last Games when they were in Melbourne and absolutely loved it so when we found out that it was on the Gold Coast we were delighted. After the success we had in Glasgow, everybody is upbeat and excited and can’t wait to get out there and see what we can do.”