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Scotland coach Stephen Gertsen appeals for table tennis players and clubs to join proposed north league

By Craig Christie

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THE sport of table tennis could soon have a north league, pitting players of all ages and abilities against each other.

Stephen Gertsen coaches youngsters in Elgin.
Stephen Gertsen coaches youngsters in Elgin.

Scotland national squad coach Stephen Gertsen, whose role as a Moray College lecturer led to him setting up a table tennis club in Elgin, is keen to see a league formed in this area.

Gertsen has used the Covid-19 lockdown period and subsequent halt in sporting activities to reach out to players across the Highlands and Islands and Grampian.

The former Wales Commonwealth Games star also helped set up a club in Inverness and has made connections with players across Moray and Banffshire to promote his sport further afield.

He said there is a Moray coast club in Portknockie who have shown an interest in joining the league, which would be formed under the umbrella of the sport’s governing body Table Tennis Scotland (TTS).

“It’s something we’ve thought about for a while,” he said.

“I’m trying to gauge the interest out there but we know there’s a few clubs interested in it so we will see what happens.

This could include social clubs, community clubs and/or informal small group sessions. The main purpose of this initiative is to grow the sport further and to offer healthy competition within the region. Initial plans are to form teams consisting of three players, possibly with a reserve to cover for injury or illness. Players must be aged eight years upwards and teams can consist of a mix of junior and adult players if required.

Players with disabilities can also take part, with a table being set up for wheelchair players within the league.

Early ideas for a format suggest that each player could play two of the other three members of an opposing team, with games played up to 11 points and matches contested over the best of five games.

Fixtures could be spread out over the winter and played on one Saturday or Sunday in November, one in February and one in April, for example, with a different host venue each time.

Because the league would come under Table Tennis Scotland jurisdiction, each club would need to join the TTS and each member of the squad would need individual affiliation.

“We’ve got the club in Inverness who will have a couple of teams, and there’s Elgin and the Moray coast clubs as well,” Gertsen said.

“We’ve had interest from Fort William, Golspie, Tain potentially, and Nairn, so it’s quite widespread.

“It’s the next logical step for table tennis in this area and it should be really positive for the area if we can get that going.

“I think something will come off but on what scale depends on how much interest we get from across the area.

“There probably are people out there who are playing recreationally and this could be for them. It’s more about making a little bit of competition but in a fun and social environment.”

“The Inverness club jumped straight in to national league in Perth this year. Not everyone is going to want to make that commitment so that’s why we want to give them a local league first and hopefully that will entice more youngsters to get involved.”

For more details on how to get involved, email Stephen Gertsen on stephengertsen@hotmail.co.uk.

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