Lisburn Racquets Club is set for a major sporting showdown this weekend as the city welcomes competitors from the home nations for the annual Senior 6 Nations Table Tennis Championships.
The event follows the hugely popular Power NI Ulster Open in 2014 - an event which attracted a stellar field from Ireland and across the UK.
This year, the excitement has gone up a few notches as the cream of the crop gather once again - this time on the International stage.
Along with the host Nation, teams representing Scotland, England, Wales, Jersey and Guernsey will be competing.
Ireland’s Men’s and Women’s teams have youth in abundance, with the average age of the eight players just 20 years old.
The men will be led out by long-time number 1 player and three time National Champion Paul McCreery, from Saintfield.
He will be flanked by the ever-present and in form Gavin Maguire, who trains and works at Lisburn Racquets Club. arguably the man on form going into the Championships with three tournament wins under his belt so far this season.
On the women’s side is an Irish Team full of promise and potential.
The most experienced campaigner of the group is Ashley Givan, Dungannon, and the four time National Champion will of course be looking to make a mark in her home province.
Joining Ashley is the rapidly improving Rebecca Finn, Carryduff, who will be making her first appearance on the Senior Team after recently claiming both the Irish Senior and Irish Junior Classification titles. Rebecca, the current UK Schools Games Champion will relish the challenge.
Scotland’s charge is led by the charismatic Gavin Rumgay while Wales’ threat comes in the form of Mike Marsden and Dan O’Connell.
England have handed call ups to two of their top youngsters, as hot prospects Helshan Weerasinghe and Alex Ramsden provide the challenge.
Big names to look out for on the womens side include Wales’ Charlotte Carey, no stranger to the Irish players having practiced many times on these shores, while Karina Lefevre of England and Guernsey’s Alice Loveridge will be worth looking out for.
Speaking on the build up to the event, Alderman Paul Porter, Chair of Leisure and Community Development, stated: “We are pleased to present this prestigious international event in the splendid Lisburn Racquets Club with the support of Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council.
“On behalf of the Council, may I take this opportunity to wish all participants and officials an enjoyable and successful Championship.”
The Team event kicks off on Friday at 4pm and will resume at 9am Saturday morning. The Singles event takes centre stage on Sunday with play commencing at 9am.