At they celebrate their 80th anniversary, Mansfield & District Table Tennis League is hoping to see player numbers increase this year as the sports continues to blossom nationwide.
Table tennis is currently undergoing something of a renaissance and is becoming one of the fastest growing participation sports in the country.
We can boast quite a few players aged over 80 in our league
The Mansfield & District League was founded in 1935 and has produced international players such as Martin Kinsella (Ireland), Michelle Haynes (former England number one), Georgina Walker, Chester Barnes, Derek Marples, James Rawson (a player that has won medals in four Paralympic games with a gold in 1992 in Barcelona), and many past and present players that competed at British League level.
Publicity officer Ben Swain said: “In its prime, when the local area had collieries and hosiery companies with strong sports and social, the league had up to eight divisions.
“With many factories and industries moving away from social support and people having a greater choice for their leisure activities we are doggedly strong with two, sometimes three, divisions.
“Popularity of the sport is rising due to the initiatives put in place by Table Tennis England such as PING, you may have noticed many outdoor table tennis tables in Nottingham, and also LOOP, where there are packages encouraging companies to put table tennis tables in their workplace.
“We want to try to increase the participation in Mansfield and hopefully increase the amount of divisions to a constant three, maybe even four, in the coming years.
“It’s a cheap sport to get involved in and the Mansfield league, although competitive, is a very friendly league with great people and makes a match night a good night out.
“Table tennis is a sport for all ages and we currently have players as young as 13 and as old as 89 playing competitively each week. Our winter season runs from September to April where teams play each other in the league and cup competitions once a week.”
He added: “It is a well-known fact that doctors regard table tennis very highly in regard to promoting aerobic fitness and maintaining mobility in joints and muscles. It is one of the few sports where 70+ years vets can play each other in organised competition at local and national level. I’d like to mention we can boast quite a few players aged over 80 in our league too.”
Mansfield can also boast a good family tradition with dynasty of families playing through the years, together and for rival teams. Some of key families that have played over time are the Zygadlos, Linfields, Wrights, Hills, Clarkes, Butterys and Haynes and they are keen to keep this tradition going in the future.
The league format consists of, at maximum, 10 teams, per division, where each team plays each other in their division. Similar to football they have home and away fixtures and on each match night each team presents three players with 10 points available to win.
All players play each other with nine singles and one doubles match played at the end.
Matches normally start at 7.30pm and finish around 10pm.
The league also run a team handicap cup competition called the Shippam Shield. This was first started in 1936 so there is a lot of history behind this competition.
Throughout the year other competitions take place - the Autumn Cup, Showstoppers, Yuletide and the Annual Championships.
Swain added: “We also pride ourselves on offering one of the best presentation evenings in local table tennis, where we have England coach Alan Cooke and two of the best players in the UK come and give a demonstration and take challenges from MDTTL players.
“Last year we had UK women’s No.1 Kelly Sibley and UK men’s No.7 Chris Doran and we plan to keep doing this in the future.
“Current venues where we have teams are Mansfield, Sutton, Pleasley, Jacksdale, Ravenshead and Hucknall. We have spaces at some of these venues to accommodate new teams and would also welcome new venues too.
“We have own appointed coach who would be willing to help out any new teams at the beginning or throughout the season, and in the local area the two best places to go and play socially are at Ravenshead Leisure Centre on a Wednesday night (7.30pm) and River Maun Recreational Centre on a Thursday night 7pm.”
All abilities are welcome over the two divisions and cost for a season is £50 per team and £10 per person (£5 junior ).
You will need to register with TTE to play competitive table tennis which would cost £10 and then it’s the cost of the venue, which can vary.
The most consistent Mansfield & District Table Tennis League team over the last 11 years have been Zygabyte Computers A who have won nine of the last 11 Division One titles.
The core members of Zygabyte Computers are Bob Hume, Dean Brookes and Joe Zygadlo.
Bob, Dean and Joe had played together in pairs in various teams in other leagues but never all together at the same time until Zygabyte Computers was formed in 2002, with Dean joining in 2003.
In 2002, coinciding with the official start of Joe’s computer business, the Zygabyte computers team was born. Moving to the Nags Head Public House Pleasley and installing new lighting they are still there to this day.
Joe and Dean play in the British League and National Vets League, also supporting TTE Grand Prix’s and Veteran tournaments.
Bob plays for Nottinghamshire in the over-60s and with Dean and Joe in Division One of the Midland Vets League.
League chairman Brian Roddis started playing back in 1956, joined the management committee in the early 60s, and has been a member ever since, having served many roles.
He said: “Every new player and team will be welcomed and I am keen with the rest of the committee to make the Mansfield League one of the best in the area.
“I have been involved with the league since the 1950s with the highlight being, hosting a European match at Mansfield Leisure Centre between England and Yugoslavia.”
For more information, contact Ben Swain on email@example.com or Debbie on firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also visit www.tabletennis365.com/mansfield.