Mair and James Kelly travelled to Cardiff to play in the Welsh Team Championships after being invited by the Ael-y-Bryn Table Tennis Club. The 2 West Cork players joined Beth and Kate Roberts, with Beth as the nominated captain. Beth and Kate are currently ranked No.1 and No.2 respectively in the Welsh Junior Girls Rankings and Beth as No.5 in the Senior Ranking.
The Welsh Team Championships are played with 5 Divisions with mixed teams with both Seniors and Juniors playing. The Ael-y-Bryn A Team played in the 1st Division at the well appointed Welsh National Sports’ Centre. The event is held over 2 weekends with the top team in each division being promoted and the bottom relegated for the second weekend.
Mair and James have close family connections in Wales with their Grandmother, Uncle, Aunt & cousins all living in the country and have had considerable success playing in various tournaments. However this was their first adventure in this Team event.
Cardiff was abuzz with sports fans as one of the major venues for the Rugby World Cup and with the very popular Cardiff City Half Marathon held over this weekend so the players stayed about an hour outside of the city and travelled in each day.
The first match was against the Cardiff City League A Team with Neil Wright, Steve Hall and Steve Eades. The team made up of 3 out of the 4 player squad had James Kelly up first against the Welsh Senior No.17. Neil started off with a win in the first set with James fighting back to take the second but was unable to capitalise on this with Neil Wright taking the final 2 sets.
Beth Roberts went even further in the second match against Steve Hall with Steve wining out by the narrowest of margins 14/12 in the fifth and final set. Beth and Kate combined well in the doubles to win in straight sets and James levelled the match when he beat Steve Eades 3/1. The final match with Kate Roberts and Niall Wright went to the Cardiff City player in straight sets. With Cardiff City League A Team remaining undefeated for the rest of the event this 3/2 score line and the 5 set loss in the second showed how close Ael-y-Bryn came to winning the event.
The second match was again a very close affair with another five set match against the head settling the final score. This time it was James Kelly who was on the wrong end against Welsh No.12 Reece Lo, who ended the event on a 100% record. Beth won against Jack Anthony and Ryan Crowley to leave the score 2/3.
The third match of the day came against Bridgend with wins for Beth against Jonathan Davis and Louise Islip and Kate against Ryan Trigg and an exciting 5 set doubles win with Kate and Mair against Louise and Jonathan that went to 12/10 in the final set the team recorded their first win 4/1 and were finished for the day.
Both Mair and James felt they performed slightly under their expectation and found that many of the players they played were “unorthodox,” this kind of experience was exactly why they had travelled and they looked forward to the second days play.
Cardiff City C were the team’s first opponents on the Sunday and Beth put in a solid performance against the Welsh No.13 Cade Short but was unable to pull off the victory. James restored the balance with a confident win against Pouyan Javanmard to level the score. Kate and James did not combine well in the doubles and went down in straight sets. Kate Roberts put in a great performance against Cade and took the match to the final set but was unable to hold on for the match. Beth finished strongly with a 3/1 win against Benedict Watson.
The final match was against the Cardiff League B Team that saw Ael-Y-Bryn’s Kate, Mair & James reach their stride with a straight 5/0 win and enough points over their rivals to take 3rd place in the Division.