Legends hit top spot in title race

ACADEMY Strongtower Legends have moved to the top of the County Antrim Table Tennis League after last week's action.


Ballyclare Methodist B 4, AS Legends 6: Legends travelled to Ballyclare boosted by the news that nearest rivals and league leaders Restaurant 1608 A had suffered a surprise defeat away to Knockagh A.

Legends made a perfect start as Pawet Sulkowski came from a setdown against Ian Davies to take the first singles in four close sets 6-11, 11-6, 11-7 and 11-6.

Dawid Sulkowski extended Legends' lead with a four set victory over Michael Baird 11-5, 11-9, 8-11 and 11-0. Legends captain Wayne Charleton made it 3-0 with a straight sets victory over John Holmes 11-7, 11-7 and 11-7.

Michael Baird responded for the Ballyclare outfit with some fine attacking table tennis to defeat teenage protg Adam McIlmoyle 11-3, 11-6 and 11-7. But the comeback was short-lived as the Sulkowskis won their next two singles - David defeating Ian Davies 6-11, 11-5, 11-6, 11-7 and Pawet defeating John Holmes 11-8, 11-7, 10-12, 11-4.

Ballyclare mustered a mini-revival when wily tactician John Holmes outmanoeuvred Adam McIlmoyle in straight sets and Ian Davies defeated Wayne Charleton over five gruelling sets to make the score five games to three.

But the revival was nipped in the bud by Pawet Sulkowski who won a classic five setter against the gifted Michael Baird 11-4 in the deciding set. It was just as well that the AS Legends won this singles as they lost out in the doubles 12-10 in the fifth set. MOM - Pawet Sulkowski (AS Legends).


AS Patriots 6, AS Towers 4: This keeps AS Patriots top of Division 2 but full credit must go to Towers who pushed the league leaders all the way and probably deserved a share of the spoils.

The match proved to be very close typified by the first singles that witnessed Jimmy O'Hara edge past AS Towers number one Kenneth Johnston 12-10 in the fifth set.

Ciaron Nelson also took five sets to dispose of the in-form David Witherspoon winning 11-6 in the final set. Amy Hawthorne had a real tussle with AS Tower's Norman Bowman before winning 14-12, 11-9 and 11-5. Tom McLeister had a straight sets win against AS Towers Frank Allen to make it 4-0.

The fifth singles saw the first upset of the night when as Towers' David Witherspoon defeated Jimmy O'Hara with some great flat drives. Kenneth Johnston, inspired by David's victory then inflicted a rare straight sets defeat on Cairon Nelson 11-7, 11-7 and 11-9.

It took the Patriots' young talent Amy Hawthorne to stop the rot with a fine exhibition of controlled table tennis to see off the challenge of Frank Allen 11-8, 11-8 and 11-9. The final singles saw the indefatigable Tom McLeister take on Towers powerhouse Norman Bowman in a real shoot out.

With both players hitting fierce forehand drives it was Tom McLeister who won the first set 11-3. Norman responded by winning the next two sets 13-11 and 11-9. The fourth set could have went either way but Tom managed to edge passed Norman 11-7 and took the fifth set to secure the vital sixth game for the AS Patriots.

It was just as well that Tom did win this battle as Patriots lost the two doubles by the closest of margins – O'Hara and Nelson losing to Johnston and Witherspoon 11-5, 9-11, 11-9, 11-13, 9-11 and Hawthorn and McLeister losing to Allen and Bowman 9-11, 11-9, 9-11, 11-9, 9-11. MOM - Amy Hawthorn (AS Patriots).


AS Nuggets 1, AS Tigers 9: AS Tigers continued their rich vein of form of late by defeating a weakened AS Nuggets side.

Nuggets lost the first eight singles before Ryan Herbison defeated Michael McMullan 11-9, 11-8, 11-7.

The full results with AS Nuggets names first were: George Graham lost to Darren Tweed 7-11,7-11 and 8-11; Kyle Bonnes lost to Michael McMullan 5-11, 11-13.11-9 and 8-11; Ryan Herbison lost to Stephen Witherspoon 8-11, 7-11,9-11, George Graham lost to Michael McMullan 11-9, 7-11, 8-11,and 8-11; Kyle Bonnes lost to Stephen Witherspoon 8-11, 9-11 and 9-11; Ryan Herbison lost to Darren Tweed 9-11, 7-11 and 5-11; George Graham lost to Stephen Witherspoon 5-11, 6-11 and 7-11; Kyle Bonnes lost to Darren Tweed 9-11, 11-5, 8-11,and 8-11; Ryan Herbison defeated Michael McMullan 11-9, 11-8, 11-7; and Graham and Bonnes lost to Tweed and McMullan 6-11, 5-11 and 3-11.

With both sides out of contention for Division 4 honours it is only the Knock Out Cup that may provide these young teams with the opportunity to lift some silverware. MOM - Darren Tweed (AS Tigers).


AS Aztecs 439, Carnmoney 92 B 474: The Knock Out Cup – Senior or Junior - is the one competition that the Academy Strongtower has failed to lift.

AS Aztecs had to play a preliminary match against Carnmoney before entering the first round proper. The Aztecs had home advantage but on a handicap of 70 points, they started the match 30 points behind Carnmoney who had a handicap of 100 points.

The first match saw Peter Neeson take on Carnmoney's Mark Ross and after the singles were played, the Carnmoney lead had stretched to 48 points.

Jordon Hood managed to reduce the deficit slightly to 40 points after the second singles against Carnmoney's Ryan Spiers. The deficit was further reduced to 34 points by Tom Alexander who defeated Hugh Patterson. The fourth singles win by Jordon Hood over Leslie Forrester had the deficit back to 30 points.

An excellent fifth game saw Peter Neeson make amends by defeating Ryan Spiers to bring the Aztecs to within 11 points of Carnmoney.

But just as it looked like a victory was on the cards the Carnmoney team hit back with Mark Ross defeating Tom Alexander to increase the lead to 29 points. When Tom lost to Leslie Forrester the difference was 35 points and only two singles and a doubles remained.

Peter Neeson and Hugh Patterson drew their singles with the gap remaining at 35 points. Jordon Hood did his best to bring the gap down with a fine victory over Mark Ross.

But 26 points down going into the doubles meant that a minor miracle was required to see the Aztecs progress. Unfortunately no such miracle occurred with Carnmoney winning the doubles and the match by 35 points. MOM - Jordon Hood (AS Aztecs).


The Academy Strongtower table tennis club held a table quiz in luxurious surroundings of Wellington Church Hall on Saturday night.

Sixteen teams enjoyed a good night's craic with the competition being tight throughout. Indeed it required a tie-break question to separate the top two teams with Give Us a Clue edging out Tiger in the Woods to claim the Academy Strongtower Perpetual Shield.

Club Treasurer Wayne Charlteon thanked quizmaster Robin McClelland, quizzers and Church committee for helping to make the night a great success.


There is a further four weeks of coaching at the club. Coaching costs 2 per night to cover expenses.


Academy Strongtower hopes to host the first Ulster ranking table tennis tournament to be held in Ballymena for over 30 years. It is hoped that the event will take place on Saturday, April 10. Any local business interested in a sponsorship opportunity should contact club Secretary Norman McBride on 07879885683.

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