TABLE TENNIS: Grantham club is gearing up ready for nationals

Benjamin Rigby (left) with his Junior Boys' Trophy.
Benjamin Rigby (left) with his Junior Boys' Trophy.
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Four young table stars from Cliffedale Chandlers Table Tennis Club are preparing for the Butterfly Schools National Table Tennis Championships.

Jake Crane (Barrowby School), Lucy Bridle (Cliffedale Primary)and Steffi Popa (Priory Ruskin) and Benjamin Rigby (Charles Read) came through their qualifying rounds a couple of months ago to be able to compete at the championships being held in Wolverhampton where they will face competitors from all over the country.

Hannah and Emily Winfield, runners-up in Women's Doubles.

Hannah and Emily Winfield, runners-up in Women's Doubles.

But it is not only players representing the town’s schools and club as Cliffedale Chandlers are also providing several officials for the championships.

Club stalwarts Cathy Steeples and Peter May will be joined by Walton Girls pupil Alexandra Robinson who at 15 years old is currently one of the youngest female county-qualified umpires on the circuit.

Alexandra has herself played at these championships in the recent past, as well as helping her primary school team to the team finals whilst at Isaac Newton Primary. She said: “Although I’m nervous about umpiring at this event, I’m also excited and looking forward to it.”

Alexandra has also recently been selected to officiate at the upcoming School Games at Loughborough University in September.

Joining them will be Tim Bridle who will also be there coaching his daughter Lucy, whilst Benjamin Rigby will be umpiring in between his matches.

All of this follows a busy time for the club who have just completed the National Cadet League and Grantham and District League seasons, and also had members competing in the Lincolnshire Senior Closed Championships in Grimsby last weekend.

Benjamin Rigby used this as a warm-up for the Butterfly Schools Individual Championships by winning the Junior Boys’ category, beating Henry Walshe from Scunthorpe 3-0 (12-10 11-8 11-7).

The club also had success in the Women’s Singles with Hannah Winfield beating Grimsby’s Chloe Lingard 3-2 (8-11 10-12 11-8 11-7 11-9) to clinch the title.

Hannah and her 10-year-old sister Emily also finished as runners-up in the Women’s Doubles, losing 3-0 (3-11 7-11 11-13) to Lincoln’s Lesley Keast and Alkista Olympiou.

l Cliffedale Chandlers hold sessions at The Meres leisure centre on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays (12-2pm and 2-4pm) which are open to all ages and abilities.

The club is currently encouraging more girls of all ages to come and try out this fantastic sport. First two sessions are free.

For more information check out the club’s Facebook page or www.cliffedalechandlers.org.uk