Sponsored by Bribar

Ellenborough & the World Championship of Ping Pong

By Peter Bayman

After the 2017 televised finals of the World Championship of Ping Pong at Alexandra Palace (better known as ‘Ally Pally’ to the locals) we approached the promoters, Matchroom Sports, to see whether we could hold one of the future qualifying events at Ellenborough. We heard nothing for several months but then were delighted to be contacted in the summer by Matchroom, who invited us to run what became the UK Qualifier in October 2018. Competitors told us that this was the best qualifier they had ever attended so we must have done something right! As a result of this success, we then won the opportunity to also host the last two qualifiers in the week leading up to this year’s finals, the Late Qualifier on the 20th January and the Last Chance Saloon on the 24th January, just two days before the world finals.

Of the eventual 64 players from all over the world who competed for the $100,000 prize money in this year’s finals weekend at Ally Pally, seven had qualified through our events – three more than through any other venue in the world!

In addition, at least another seven had played at our events despite having already qualified for the finals through their own national qualifiers or as invited top seeds. These players were only able to compete in the group stages and their results were discounted so that they did not knock out anyone who was still trying to win a place at the finals.

Players who competed in the events at Ellenborough came from countries as far afield as China, Mexico, Australia, Philippines, Jamaica, Lithuania, Ireland, Germany, France, Spain, Netherlands, Belgium, Scotland and Korea (probably a few more as well). These included the Chinese player Jianyu Shen (pictured below) , who went on to become the first female player ever to reach the semi-finals of the World Championships, losing only to the eventual champion, Andrew Baggaley of England.

The Chinese party of about 22 individuals, including translators, photographers and coaches arrived at Ellenborough at around 8.30 a.m. on Thursday 24th January for the Last Chance Saloon. Their Director of Event Organisation later sent us an email from China saying: “It’s very nice to meet you in London. Thank you again for arranging such a wonderful tournament. The whole team and I were really appreciate for your help. We really had a very great time in your club and I am looking forward to meet you again.”

The local Chinese restaurant in Enfield must have been happy too, as the entire Chinese squad tucked into a huge takeaway in our lounge, as captured here by our photographer Pete Bussey. I’m not sure how they managed to play after all that food but it didn’t seem to slow them down!

Also competing at our qualifiers were some familiar faces from Ellenborough’s past, including star players such as Mark Mitchell (pictured below), Graham Sandley and David Wells. Mark, in particular, had some great matches and was unlucky not to qualify for the finals weekend, having sustained an injury and then losing to eventual qualifier Sherwin Remata. Graham also sustained an injury during the last event, which David Wells did not manage to compete in at all due to back trouble! We wish them all well and hope to see them again in the future.

Our club has certainly received a lot of exposure and publicity through these events. One of our members who competed at the Last Chance Saloon, Iain Francis (pictured lower), was even interviewed on camera for Chinese television!

Two of our members, Steve Harris and Reg Allen, were put forward by us to umpire at Alexandra Palace on the Saturday afternoon and said they thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Steve Harris even got to umpire a match featuring the eventual World Champion Andrew Baggaley and appeared on TV with him. Both Steve and Reg could be seen on TV and in pictures taken at the event. I was asked to be the Chief Umpire for the finals weekend but I declined as I needed a rest!

In addition to receiving a supply of the official sandpaper bats and match balls, we also received a large number of complimentary tickets, which went to competitors, club members and their families and friends, juniors attending coaching and various other table tennis contacts. This distribution of tickets in itself generated a lot of goodwill for the club.

A large number of competitors from all over the world approached me either at the qualifiers or at Alexandra Palace to thank us for running the qualifiers at Ellenborough and to comment on how much they enjoyed our hospitality, facilities and good organisation.

Matchroom Sports also indicated their thanks for our efforts and suggested that we were highly likely to be offered the opportunity to host qualifiers again for next year’s finals.

None of this would have been possible without the assistance of a group of our club members who helped in a variety of ways and over many hours to make these events a success so a huge vote of thanks goes to all of them – they know who they are. Watch out for some possible ping pong events during the summer and maybe next year you could be playing in the qualifiers!

For more information email: ettcpingpong@gmail.com.

All Photographs by Pete Bussey


About us

Ellenborough Table Tennis Club
Craddock Road, Enfield, Middlesex, EN1 3SP
The Club Tel No: 020 8363 1585
Community Amateur Sports Club No. 05153
Club Location

Contact us

Club Secretary: ettcbooking@gmail.com
Membership: Ron Smith 020 8363 8643 or 07957 450792
Hall or League Bookings: Joan Bayman
Website Admin: Bernie Kelly

Facebook & Twitter Admin: Sandy Nash
Coaching: Enquiries

© Copyright 2016 - 2020 Ellenborough Table Tennis Club