Chris Doran, Bryan Aiglemont and Ethan Walsh all qualified for the Ping Pong World Cup via the UK Open Sandpaper Championships.
Doran led the field at the Championships in St Neots, storming to the title in a high-standard field without dropping a game. The only two players all day to get to double figures against him were France’s Aiglemont, who plays for Moberly TTC, in the final and Walsh in the semis.
Sandpaper table tennis, aka ping pong, is a variation which returns to old fashioned equipment, using sandpaper instead of a soft, flexible, grippy rubber on bats. This puts emphasis on the player’s skill, agility and fitness, and is just that little bit different.
The day included a Plate Event for players knocked out in the round of 16, which was comfortably won by Viktória Főfainé Balics (Hungary). Peter Chvojka (Czech Republic) won the Consolation Event for players not reaching the R16.
Pauline Williams, Peterborough DTTA, took home the Organisers’ Award in recognition of her enthusiasm and sportsmanship. Ben Dunkley (Revolution TTC) was the top junior.
As winner and runner-up, Doran and Aiglemont both qualified for the Ping Pong World Cup in Mexico City in January 2024. Walsh qualified too, via the repechage-style ‘double elimination’ round. Walsh also defeated Aiglemont in a thrilling play-off to earn a $500 subsidy from the International Classic Table Tennis Federation (ICTTF) for Mexico City.
All three of the qualifiers have a strong pedigree in sandpaper table tennis, having had good results in the former World Championships of Ping Pong (WCPP) events.
Ian Johnston, the UK Open defending champion, fell to a shock defeat by Chris Christoforou in the last 16 but has already qualified for Mexico City through the Scottish Ping Pong Championships, so the UK will have a strong presence.
The Mexico City Ping Pong World Cup is organised by the ICTTF and sponsored by Major League Table Tennis (MLTT). Disciplines include Sandpaper, Hardbat, Wood and “Your Choice”, with Women’s, Senior and Junior events as well as the Open category.