It was with trepidation and excitement that 24 Ulster players and 4 coaches boarded the ferry on the morning of Friday 26 January to make their way to St Matthews Academy to play a friendly match against Scotland and then compete in the North Ayrshire Open. For many, this was their first major team event. Hopes were high and the players did not disappoint.

 With over 160 players competing in the North Ayrshire Open, it was a busy weekend of table tennis and long days. It was unfortunate that some of the boys in the U15 and U19 categories had to withdraw in the final stages of the competition, in order to catch the ferry home otherwise the medal haul for Team Ulster would have been even greater.

Podium places were achieved in the following:

Gold medals for

U19 Girls – Grace Looney
Women’s singles – Emily Flynn
Band 3 – Euan Hanna
Band 4 – Lilly Smith

Silver Medals for

U15 Girls – Eimear Hutchinson
U13 Girls – Eimear Hutchinson
U13 Boys – Karsten Close

Women’s singles – Grace Looney
Band 1 – Joe Sheard
Band 2 – Junior Close
Band 3 – Conor Smith

Semi – Finalists
U19 Girls – Emily Flynn
U19 Boys – Adam Faulkner
Band 1 – Ben Watson

Other notable performances included Adam Faulkner’s match against J Johnson in the quarter finals of the men’s singles but unfortunately was unable to get over the line. The U15 boys also performed extremely well in their groups but unfortunately due to time pressures they couldn’t finish their event.

A huge thank you to lead coach John Fall and Susan Irwin, Claire Nelson and Joe Sheard who ensured that everyone was well looked after, in addition to the coaching they provided throughout the event. Thanks also to the tournament organisers for making us feel so welcome. Hopefully, in the future we can reciprocate the visit for Team Scotland and we can build on this to provide more opportunities for Team Ulster who are going from strength to strength.