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Sophie reaches quarter final of World Youth Championships

Participation in the World Youth Championships is by invitation only for those players ranked high enough to qualify, and Sophie showed what she is really made of at this top-quality event in Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal. 

Sophie with French partner Clea de Stoppeleire 

Sophie reached the last 16 in mixed doubles with partner Daniel Berzosa (Spain) losing out to the eventual winners Sora and Harimoto 4/1.  Following that, she paired up with Clea de Stoppeleire (France) against Ivanovo/Terekova (Russia) to claim a 3/2 victory. Next up were the German pair of Kaufmann/Griesel in the quarter final. When Sophie and Clea took the first set and led 8/4 in the second, it looked like a shock was on the cards, but the Germans recovered and eventually won 3/1. 

Sophie -v- Anna Hursey (Wales) 

Following the doubles exploits came the prestigious singles event.  Sophie defeated Mariana Santa Comba (Portugal) in the last 32 to set up mouthwatering clash with Welsh wizard Anna Hursey. In an epic battle, where the lead was constantly changing, Sophie showed her grit and determination fighting back from 8/10 down in the seventh set to win 13/11 and advance to the quarter final. 
 
Sophie’s run came to an end when she faced Miwa Harimoto (Japan) who is tipped as Japan’s next superstar, following in the footsteps of her famous brother.  Harimoto was relentless and although Sophie fought bravely, the Japanese girl won 4/0.  Sophie showed good signs in the 3rd set when she had a game point at 11/10, but Harimoto was just too strong on the day. 
 
It was another fine display from Sophie on her table tennis journey and Coach Conn Higgins, who was extremely proud of Sophie’s displays throughout the week, said, “it was both an honour and a privilege to coach Sophie at this prestigious event. 

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A Successful Week in Italy and Slovakia for Sophie Earley

Sophie Earley travelled to Italy and Slovakia to compete in the WTT Youth Contender events in Lignano and Senec between 24th October and 7th November. She was competing in both the U15 and U17 singles. Keep reading to see how she got on!

First up was the Lignano event with the U17 competition. Sophie sailed through the group stages in this event, beating Alice NILSSON (Sweden) and Nora POLONYI (Hungary). Sophie topped the group reaching the round of 32, where unfortunately she lost out to Kendra MOLNAR of Hungary 1/3.  However, these matches provided Sophie with great preparation for the U15 Singles.

In the U15s competition, Sophie was grouped with Mia BUIC and Nina SKERBINZ, coming out on top with two 3/0 wins. Sophie was then in the knockout last 32 stages receiving a BYE into the last 16 where she met another Hungarian opponent, Sophie BARCSAI – and this time it was Sophie coming out on top with a 3/0 win to take her through to the quarter finals.

After a few long days of competition, a determined Sophie faced her toughest opponent yet – Sena SMAILJI (Croatia). Sophie took the first 2 games, but Sena came back to win the 3rd game. Sophie continued to dig deep and secured a place in the semifinal with a 3/1 win. Again, in the semi-final Sara TOKIC (Slovenia) proved tough opposition but Sophie held out for a 3/1 win in a tough challenging game. Waiting in the final was Lin Qian of Singapore, now with an U15 WR of 5.  We knew this game would go the distance with two worthy finalists both demonstrating their great skills on the table. Lin Qian held firm and won the gold by the closest of margins 3/2 and Sophie secured a superb silver medal to add to her collection.

Onto the WTT Youth Contender in Senec

But there was no rest for Sophie as she went straight to Slovakia to compete in the WTT Youth Contender in Senec. Wasting no time, Sophie topped her group in the U17 Singles beating Leah TVEIT MUSKANTOR (Sweden) and Nina NEMETHOVA (Slovakia). Sophie then faced the challenge of EliskaSTULLEROVA in the Round of 32, with Sophie grappling a 3/2 win. Sophie continued her success with a 3/0 win in the round of 16 vs Vera VOLKAVA (Belarus). In the Quarter finals, ZHOU Jingyi (Singapore) – now with an U19 WR of 10, awaited Sophie. Sophie put up a good fight, but JingYi was victorious and ended up finishing in 2nd place for the u17 Singles.

In a hard-fought game, Coll provided the barrier for Sophie’s pathway to another medal. Coll overcame Sophie in an entertaining match (3/1). It was not to be for Sophie on this occasion in Senec, but a great run in a difficult tournament.

Overall, a great week for Sophie to be able to compete against the top players worldwide in U15 and U17 competitions. A Silver medal is a great achievement in a top-class tournament in the WTT Youth Contender in Lignano, and we believe that this is not the last time we will see Sophie Earley on a podium!!

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Home Nations, Glasgow 12-14th November 2021

Irish Teams announced
The following players have been selected to represent Ireland at the Home Nations, taking place in Glasgow from the 12th – 14th of November.

Senior Ladies

  • Sabina Devereux (Wexford)
  • Claire Heller (Dun Laoghaire)
  • Erin Thompson (Glenburn)

Senior Men

  • Ryan Farrell (DCU)
  • Alex Gillen (Dublin)

Junior Girls

  • Silke Heinen (Ballincollig)
  • Nicole Scott (Glenburn)

Junior Boys

  • Dillon Byrne (Dublin)
  • Tom Colvin (Craigavon)
  • James Skelton (Ormeau)

Cadet Girls

  • Grace Looney (Ormeau)
  • Niamh Mason (Lisburn)
  • Anjali Singh (Ormeau)

Cadet Boys

  • Isaac Ellison (Pays Rochois & Genevois TT 74)
  • Matthew Mooney (Ormeau)
  • Senan Sheridan (Ormeau)

Best of Luck to all players and coaches at this years Home Nations.

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European Senior Championships Qualifiers Update

Play begins on 27 August for both Irish teams at the European Championships final qualifying round, taking place in Belgrade.

Both teams are in action at 1230, the men facing Lithuania, while the women go against Croatia.  The men’s match will be carried live on the ETTU website.

Later the same day, the men are up against Netherlands, while the women face Bulgaria.  28 August sees the final group match for the women, versus Norway.

Women

  • Claire Heller (Dun Laoghaire)
  • Mia O’Rahilly Egan (Dun Laoghaire)
  • Erin Thompson (Glenburn)
  • NPC Jing Yi Gao

Men

  • Ryan Farrell (DCU)
  • Alex Gillen (Dublin)
  • Joey Nelson (Dublin)
  • NPC Richard Butler
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2021 European Senior Championships Qualifiers, Serbia

Irish Teams announced
The following have been selected to represent Ireland at the final Qualifying Round for the 2021 European Championships, taking place in Serbia 25-30 August 2021.
The final draw for the Qualifiers will take place on 25 August.

Senior Ladies

  • Claire Heller (Dun Laoghaire)
  • Mia O’Rahilly Egan (Dun Laoghaire)
  • Erin Thompson (Glenburn)

Senior Men

  • Ryan Farrell (DCU)
  • Alex Gillen (Dublin)
  • Joey Nelson (Dublin)
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EARLEY CLAIMS IRELANDS FIRST EVER MEDALS AT EUROPEAN YOUTH CHAMPIONSHIPS IN VARAŽDIN, CROATIA

With partner Silvia Coll (Spain), Sophie faced the challenge of the Czech Republic with a stirring 3/0 victory in the round of 32 doubles.

Again, in the last 16 France provided stern opposition but the Ireland/Spain combo held out for a 3/1 win.

Quarter-final Sophie/Silvia faced Slovenia. Again a stirring 3/0 victory put Ireland into the semi-final.

Now Ireland had its first ever medal at European Youth championships.

Top seeds Kaufmann (Germany) /Rosu (Romania) provided the barrier to gold. The barrier to gold proved too strong, so Sophie though disappointed had secured Irelands first ever medal.

History had been made but the story doesn’t end there.

In the singles Sophie like a hurricane blew all opposition a side, defeating Baiasu (Romania) 4/0, then Terekhova (Russia) 4/1, Massart (Belgium) 4/0 and Bled (France) to storm into the semi-finals.


A second medal secured, but which colour?

In a tense exciting affair Sophie fought with passion and no little skill but Kaufmann proved a mountain to high to climb and Sophie claimed her second bronze medal.

In the Team event Sophie played with partner Anjali Singh. The girls played 4 matches, all ending on a 3/2 score line with losses to Netherlands, Serbia and Lithuania; with a win against Latvia. Ireland finished 26th of 34 countries.

Coach Conn HIGGINS said it was incredible to see the Ormeau legend perform at such a high level in intensely pressurised situations and to capture not one but two bronze medals.

This did not happen without much planning, determination, dedication and the expertise of her club coaches Gervis and Keith.

John Murphy lit this flame and it has become a burning fire.

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Europeans Update

Junior Boys prepare for individual events as the team event in Croatia comes to an end.


The Irish Junior Boys team of Dillon Byrne, Owen Cathcart, Tom Colvin and James Skelton finished up in the team event at the European Championships following a final day win and loss in the playoffs.


Despite qualifying to the playoff round to go to the Last 16, where they lost out 0-3 to the hosts Croatia, the Irish team continued to struggle for consistency, letting a number of chances slip away as they went on to lose out 2-3 to Finland, Cathcart earning the wins for the team.  


In the teams strongest collective performance, Luxembourg were beaten 3-1, with Cathcart and Skelton combining to deliver the points, however the team dipped a little again against Greece, going down 0-3 despite two 5-setters that should have been put away for a 2-1 lead.  Overall the team finished in a creditable 27th place, seven places down on 2019, but with three of the team available for two more Championships, there is much to build on for 2022.


Singles and doubles competitions begin on 21st July.

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EYC Croatia Update

Ireland top their group in Varazdin, earning a playoff against Croatia to progress to the Last 16.

The 2021 European Youth Championships are taking place in Varazdin, Croatia, from 16 July-1 August, with an Irish team travelling outside the island for the first time in 17 months.


The Ireland Junior Boys Team of Dillon Byrne, Owen Cathcart, Tom Colvin and James Skelton are representing Ireland at the event.


Lithuania were first up on Day 1, and the lack of play and match practice over the last year showed for the Irish team, as they went down 2-3 to an efficient Lithuanian side with some awkward styles.  Owen Cathcart took the two rubbers for Ireland, which would prove crucial later on.


The evening match was against Latvia, who had earlier beaten Lithuania 3-1, which meant a win against Latvia would not be enough for Ireland to progress, it would have to be a 3-1 win or better.


A second tough team match in only a few hours could have gone either way, but with Cathcart anchoring the team again with a win in the first rubber, Tom Colvin chipped in with another win, leaving Cathcart to close out the match for a 3-1 victory, Ireland topping the group on countback.


The morning of Day 2 will see Ireland face a tough match against 5th Seed Croatia, with both teams then progressing to the evening matches, the winner entering the Top 16 Knockout, while the loser of the morning match enters playoffs for positions 17-30.

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Best of Luck Colin Judge in the Paralympic WQT

We would like to wish the very best of luck to Colin Judge who has flown out to Slovenia to compete in the Paralympic World Qualification Tournament. The tournament takes place in Laško, Slovenia from 3rd to 5th of June.

The event organisers in Slovenia will be streaming some of the competition on their YouTube channel; see the event website for more information on this, plus for times and days that Colin will be competing on via their app. Also, keep an eye out on our social media as we will be sharing further details on Colin’s games.

Keep up to date on the tournament by clicking this link https://wqt2021.si/

Best of Luck Colin from all at Table Tennis Ireland!!