Table tennis teen Ashley lands first major event of season

LIVER BIRD -- Isobel Ashley, who won at the Liverpool Grand Prix table tennis tournament.
LIVER BIRD -- Isobel Ashley, who won at the Liverpool Grand Prix table tennis tournament.

Up-and-coming table tennis star Isobel Ashley, of Chesterfield, has made an immediate impact at the start of the new season.

For she landed the women’s under-21 title at the first major tournament, the Liverpool Grand Prix.

The 18-year-old Ashley had to dig deep to beat Kate Cheer, of Sussex, in the final. But she triumphed 3-2 (9-11, 11-5, 11-5, 7-11, 11-7) after an entertaining five-set marathon.

She had earlier seen off Sunderland’s Charlotte Weatherby in four sets in the semi-finals, having topped her group by beating Beth Atkinson, of Somerset, 3-0, and Beth Richards, of Wales, 3-1.

The Liverpool event was the first of eight Grand Prix competitions throughout the table tennis season. The next is at Aldershot on October 3 and 4, with the last in London next June.

Ashley, who is currently ranked number ten in England on the under-21 list and number 26 on the senior women’s list, also entered the senior women’s singles at Liverpool. However, she was eliminated in the group stages after finishing third behind Welsh duo Charlotte Carey, who went on to win the competition, and Megan Phillips. She did defeat Phillips, coming from 2-0 down to win 3-2 (9-11, 5-11, 11-8, 11-9, 11-7), but despite two more victories, a couple of defeats cost her dear.

Ashley was also eliminated from the group stages of the band one women’s singles , which is for players with a certain amount of national ranking points.