A record-breaking field, including 47 women and girls, will compete at the Mark Bates Ltd Senior National Championships Qualifying Tournament at the weekend.
The number of female players beats the previous high for the tournament, where players battle to earn their places alongside the elite at the Nationals ‘proper’ in March.
There is also a healthy contingent of para players, including Paralympic medallists and wheelchair players Jack Hunter-Spivey and Megan Shackleton.
Their matches will be played under certain rules adaptations which are in place when a wheelchair player plays against an able-bodied opponent. Watch the video at the foot of this page to see which rules are adapted – and how clubs and leagues can easily implement these changes in their own competitions.
There will be 16 men’s groups and seven women’s groups, with 24 tables in action at the David Ross Sports Village at the University of Nottingham this weekend, January 6-7.
Click here to see the draw and other information in the event programme.
Top seed in the men’s events is local player Maxim Stevens, a former Junior national champion, who is followed by Shaquille Webb-Dixon, Ralph Pattison and Bryan Kwan to complete the top four seeds.
Commonwealth champion Hunter-Spivey is in Group 10, which is headed by Rhys Davies and also features recent WTT under-11 medallist Dimitar Dimitrov.
Para stars Aaron McKibbin, Ash Facey, Billy Shilton and Max Flint are also competing.
In the women’s competition, Erin Green is the top seed, ahead of Anaya Patel, Tiana Dennison and Rebecca Savage.
Group 6 is eye-catching as it features para world champion Fliss Pickard as well as her colleague Shackleton and multiple age-group national champion Sienna Jetha.
We will be reporting live from the event, so make sure you are following us on our social media channels to keep up to date. We will also be live on TTE.TV on Sunday, with key matches to enjoy as the drama unfolds!
The qualifiers will join the top 16 players, who were invited before Christmas, at the Mark Bates Ltd Senior Nationals from March 22-24.
Tickets for the Mark Bates Ltd Senior Nationals, which will also feature under-21 and para classes, will go on sale next week with a pre-sale window for Table Tennis England members.
What is the qualifying Tournament format?
The event will begin with group stages on the Saturday, comprising of groups of 6-8 players, subject to entries received, with 2 or 3 players from each group qualifying for the knockout stage on Sunday.
Progressive knockout matches on Sunday will be the last 32 players only and will be played to a final list, for example players losing in the last 16 will play out for places 9-16 and so on.
The top 14 finishers in both the men’s and women’s singles at the tournament will qualify for the Mark Bates Ltd Senior National Championships at the same venue from Friday March 22 to Sunday March 24.