TABLE tennis in Chesterfield continues to go from strength to strength.
The town boasts a long list of young stars who have competed on the world stage over the past 40 years.
Former England junior Colin Deaton, World and Commonwealth Games champion Alan Cook and five-times English Senior Ladies Champion Nicola Perry all hail from the area.
Internationals Kerry Hall, Lucy Davidson, Sean Cullen and Daniel Lowe have tightened Chesterfield’s grip on the sport, while Olympian Liam Pitchford and 16-year-old Isobel Ashley look to be carrying on that legacy.
Hollingwood-born Deaton’s natural gift for the game led to him coaching, and alongside Dennis Neal, encouraged others to take up the sport through the 1960s.
The foundations they built is continued by the hard work of coaches across Derbyshire today.
Former English Table Tennis Association National Coach of the Year Mel Buxton has coached the county’s top players.
He said: “People often ask why table tennis is so popular in Chesterfield, this is probably due to the enthusiasm of the coaches and the established clubs around the town who offer something different from the mainstream sports.
“To continue with the development of young players, more work is required in the local schools to encourage the participation in the sport especially at a younger age.
“Currently table tennis coaching is carried out at Walton and Holymoorside, St Mary’s Junior and Holmehall Primary Schools. At senior school level Springwell Community College and St Mary’s R.C. High School have ETTA qualified coaching at their schools.
“From this introduction to table tennis young players are encouraged by the coaches to join established clubs in the area to develop their skills even further and hopefully to play in the local league.”
There are a number of other clubs in the area, including Speedwell Table Tennis Academy.
Chesterfield Leisure Centre hold training sessions on Friday evenings where long-serving Derek Marples passes on his words of wisdom.
Mel added: “He is a former top player in the Chesterfield and Sheffield leagues and is still playing in the Chesterfield and District Table Tennis League at the grand old age of 82.
“He may not move as fast as he did but the enthusiasm is still there and he carries this enthusiasm into developing players at his class at the leisure centre.”
Chesterfield and District Table Tennis League was formed in the 1930s and is chaired by ETTA qualified coach Ron Chapman.
The league currently has five leagues with approximately 12 teams in each division and is always looking for more players.
“Who knows there may be a future international from the local area that has yet to pick up a table tennis bat,” added Mel.