Tokyo 2020 hopefuls head Nationals line-up

Author:
Paul Stimpson

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The line-up of players competing at the Mark Bates Ltd National Championships has been finalised, with Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls heading the field.

Liam Pitchford, Paul Drinkhall and Tin-Tin Ho will all be fighting for titles in Nottingham as they continue their build-up to the Tokyo 2020 singles qualifying tournament in April.

And the two para competitions feature two Rio 2016 medallists, as well as a number of others who are in the reckoning for a place in Tokyo.

The blue riband domestic competition takes place at the University of Nottingham’s David Ross Sports Village from Friday February 28 to Sunday March 1.

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There are no surprises at the top of the seedings, with Pitchford and Drinkhall the top two in the Men’s Singles and Tin-Tin Ho and Maria Tsaptsinos in the Women’s Singles.  Pitchford and Tsaptsinos are the defending champions and there is a full complement of 32 in both the Men’s and Women’s Singles.

The top two seeds are also the top pairings in their respective doubles events, where they will be looking to retain their titles, while Ho is back with Sam Walker at the top of the Mixed Doubles seedings, having won the title alongside Josh Bennett last season.

There is an increased para contingent this season, with competitions for standing classes 7-to-10 and wheelchair classes 3-to-5. The respective top seeds are Rio 2016 Paralympic medallists Ross Wilson and Aaron McKibbin in the standing and Jack Hunter-Spivey and Sue Gilroy in the wheelchair.

The Under-21 events will have first-time winners as both defending champions are not involved – Ho because of leaving the age group and Tom Jarvis because he has opted to concentrate on the Senior event. Denise Payet and Luke Savill are the respective top seeds.

It is a young field, particularly in the Women’s Singles, where 23 of the 32 players are still in their teens. Nine of the Men’s Singles competitors are also aged under 20.

The youngest player in the field is Anna Green – the 13-year-old earned a place in the Women’s Singles via the Qualifying Tournament and she joins older sister Erin, 15 among the competitors.

At the other end of the spectrum, Lorestas Trumpauskas and Xiaoman (Jane) Ji are both competing at the age of 50.

The Greens are not the only set of siblings present – three others will be in Nottingham including George and Alice Hazell in their respective Senior and Under-21 singles competitions.

Josh and Jack Bennett also both feature in the Men’s Singles and as a partnership in the Men’s Doubles, with Josh also lining up in the Under-21s.

Naphong and Naphat Boonyaprapa also pair up in the doubles. Naphong qualified for the Men’s Singles and Naphat is in the Under-21s.

The schedule will be confirmed in the next few days.

Doubles pairings

Men’s: Liam Pitchford & Paul Drinkhall; Sam Walker & Tom Jarvis; David McBeath & Michael O’Driscoll; Luke Savill & Joe Cope; Josh Bennett & Jack Bennett; Sam Wilson & Chris Doran; James Smith & Ethan Walsh; Josh Weatherby & Louis Price; Naphat Boonyaprapa & Naphong Boonyaprapa; James Hobson & Israel Awolaja; Lorestas Trumpauskas & Alim Hirji; Graeme Barella & Ben Piggott; Shaquille Webb-Dixon & Connor Whitehead; David Gofton & George Downing.

Women’s: Tin-Tin Ho & Maria Tsaptsinos; Denise Payet & Emily Bolton; Jasmin Wong & Charlotte Bardsley; Mollie Patterson & Lois Perryman; Lois Peake & Evie Collier; Millie Rogove & Mari Baldwin; Mya Sultan & Tiana Dennison; Anaya Patel & Erin Green; Amy Marriott & Gemma Kerr; Kirsty Maull & Rebecca Savage; Anna Green & Megan Jones.

Mixed: Sam Walker & Tin-Tin Ho; Tom Jarvis & Maria Tsaptsinos; Josh Bennett & Denise Payet; Alim Hirji & Emily Bolton; Chris Doran & Charlotte Bardsley; James Hobson & Evie Collier; Naphong Boonyaprapa & Millie Rogove; Naphat Boonyaprapa & Erin Green; Josh Weatherby & Rebecca Savage; Louis Price & Anaya Patel; George Hazell & Letitia McMullan; Ethan Walsh & Mollie Patterson; James Smith & Alice Hazell; Jack bennett & Lois Peake; Graeme Barella & Rachel Baker; Ben Piggott & Lois Perryman.

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