Sheila helps England to international triumph

THE recent tide of success for English sport, hinging around the national cricket team and Ryder Cup golfers, has spread into the England Veterans' table tennis team.

And central to that achievement was Hastings-based Sheila King, who formed one-sixth of the team which landed the eighth Six Nations Veterans' (over 40s) Table Tennis International at Widnes two weeks ago.

England won all five of their matches against Guernsey (9-1), Ireland (7-3), Wales (8-2), Isle of Man (10-0, a contest in which Sheila won both her singles matches) and Scotland (6-4) and Sheila also reached the semi-finals of the individual event and the final of the doubles.

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The Tigers player, ranked number eight in the country amongst women at veteran level, said: "It's got to be on a par with my first England experience when my partner and I won the Women's Doubles five years ago. It's always an honour to represent your country, that's as good as it gets. I did enjoy the experience and hopefully I will get the opportunity to play again in one of the other countries."

Sheila, who reached the last 16 of the World Veterans' Championship in Vancouver four years ago as well as negotiating the group stages in the same competition at Manchester two years previously, defeated Maggie Mulhern (Isle of Man) and Juliette Yeaman (Guernsey) to win her round-robin group in the individual event. She then eliminated another Englishwoman Shirley Gelder 3-1 in the first knockout round before bowing out to Ireland's Brenda Buoey 11-8, 9-11, 7-11, 8-11.

Sheila actually teamed up with Gelder in the doubles, beating Welsh pairing Regina Donovan and Brenda Annand 3-2 in the semis only to lose a five set epic against Jenny Harrison and Teresa Devaney of Ireland 6-11, 11-7, 6-11, 11-3, 5-11.

Sheila, Rosemary Rainton and Sara Coggon will play under the banner of Hollington Table Tennis Club in the first of two British League Division One meetings in Cheltenham this weekend.