Table tennis enthusiasts enjoyed an afternoon of exhibition matches, games and free professional coaching on Sunday to celebrate the official opening of two new outdoor table tennis tables at Tonbridge Racecourse Sportsground.
Deputy Mayor of Tonbridge and Malling, Cllr Roger Dalton, declared the table tennis tables officially ‘open’ at the start of the three-hour Table Tennis Festival, which was organised by Tonbridge Round Table as part of the Tonbridge Festival.
National and international table tennis champions including Danny Lawrence, Helshan Weerasinghe, Pam Butcher and Chamika Weerasinghe amazed those who attended with a stunning exhibition match display.
Butcher, the current over-85 ladies world champion, illustrated perfectly why table tennis can be enjoyed by people of all ages.
Visitors were also treated to a host of fun prize games including ‘beat the robot’, when players had to face dozens of table tennis balls fired at them at high speed.
Anyone can play on the outdoor table tennis tables, which are free to use and equipment can be borrowed (also free) from the refreshment kiosk nearby. The tables are also wheelchair friendly.
Free professional table tennis coaching for all ages will be available at the new tables on Saturdays and Sundays at 11am to 1pm throughout the school summer holidays (from 23 July). In bad weather the sessions will move to nearby Lambert’s Yard Scout Hut. There’s no need to book in advance – just turn up – and all ages are welcome.
Festival organiser Toby Butler said: “It was lovely to see such a range of people take part in terms of age, from six to 86. It is such an easy game to pick up, and Tonbridge is very lucky to have a number of local clubs and a league in West Kent to support those who want to play regularly.
“Danny Lawrence and Helshan Weerasinghe are both from Tonbridge and they are national champions. I hope the new outdoor tables and the free coaching sessions will encourage more people to take up the sport.”