International Women’s Day: Table Tennis highlights in 2013/2014

International Women’s Day is an ideal opportunity to look back on the wonderful achievements of our Female players throughout the 2013/2014 season and to pay tribute to their dedication and commitment to the sport.

Teresa Devaney picked up the Player of the Year award at the 2013 ITTA AGM and continued her form with excellent results at the Veterans Six Nations held in ALSAA in September.  She took Gold in the over 50’s and was part of the team that won the silver in the team event.  She was joined by Audrey Robinson, Helenna Dennett, Ros Carrpenter, Jennifer Harrison and Sharon O’Brien who all had excellent wins throughout the weekend.

August ‘13 saw Sinead Keon win Gold at the World Dwarf Games in Michigan, USA.  She took the top spot in the Open Women’s competition ahead of Joy Stilen (USA) and Kim Dean (GRB). An excellent achievement by Sinead who attributes her success to the dedication of her coaches at Galway Speeders including Rena McCarron Rooney.

The Women’s British Leagueteam of Sabrina Devereux, Emma Ludlow, Hannah Lynch Dawson,  Ashley Givan, Meadhbh Slattery and Annalise Walker had some good performances over two weekends playing in Division 1.  Star of the team was undoubtedly Hannah Lynch Dawson who won an impressive 8 out of 10 matches.

Katie McGlone continues to go from strength to strength, topping the Senior women’s ranking list this season for the first time. She was the recipient of the Billy Marshal Award presented to the best Junior/Cadet/Under 12 player at the 2013 ITTA AGM following excellent performances at the Slovakia open where she took bronze in the cadet doubles and reached the quarter finals in the cadet singles.  She also took bronze in the cadet singles at the Junior/Cadet Six nations and along with Rebecca Finn won team silver improving on last year’s result of bronze.

The Butterfly National Senior Championships last weekend in Limerick produced some really nail biting matches. A new name is on the trophy this year following Emma Ludlow’s win over last year’s Champion Ashley Givan.  Katie McGlonemade it all the way to the semi-final, a remarkable achievement for the young cadet.

It was not just on the High Performance end of things that we saw our women in action with a record number of female players attending the Stiga Junior Challenger tournaments all around the country. The schools programmes funded through Irish Sports Council Women in Sport funding are going from strength to strength with more girls getting involved, joining clubs and progressing up the rankings.

Pat Hunter, who is making history herself as the first female Chair of the Irish Table Tennis Assoiation, today said,

” We are delighted on International Women’s Day to celebrate the achievements of our female athletes – as highlighted above. We have some top class female athletes coming through our system, and the significant efforts by our Coaches through the Women in Sport programme has helped to increase female participation in our sport.  We are very grateful to the Irish Sports Council for their continued support of this programme – long may it continue, to ensure that girls are encouraged into sport to the same extent as boys.

Sport is a very powerful social change tool because it teaches women confidence, self esteem and strength. Girls who play sports do better in school – socially they learn teamwork, negotiating skills, how to deal with winning and losing, planning and goal setting skills.  They become empowered thanks to the social and psychological benefits, as well as the better known general physical health benefits.  It is also argued that participation in sport teaches discipline, self-control, self-confidence, independence, and the value of working within rules and structure.  So I appeal to all parents to support their daughters’ sports participation in the best way they can!

 All in all it has been a successful year for Ireland’s women, long may it continue!