Finally, Spring has sprung and our thoughts turn to the Sheffield championships sponsored by Redtooth, as the closing date fast approaches and the organising committee anticipates the customary healthy entry.

This year our event celebrates its 80th anniversary and will be staged at the English Institute of Sport on Sunday 8th April. We hope our female players in particular will lend their support as they number a mere 12% of the table tennis population. With projects running nationally such as “This Girl Can”, funded by the National Lottery, developed by Sport England and designed to encourage increased female participation in sport; the hope is that our tournament will be embraced by our clutch of fine female players who regularly grace the Sheffield league.

The mantra of “This Girl Can” is “a celebration of active women who are doing their thing no matter how well they do it or how they look. We want to help women overcome the fear of judgement that is stopping too many women and girls joining in.” These are also the aims of the Sheffield tournament committee in support of our female players.

In Division Six, Telecom’s Linda Lowthorpe (15/27) heads the “girls” leading scorer’s list, followed by team mate Val Morfitt, Nicola Chadwick and Gill Alvey (both Albert Premier).

Chrissy Sykes (Vulcan Redtooth) is marginally the top female scorer in Division Five, closely pursued by Dronfield’s Hannah Jenkinson the three-time junior girl’s champion. Emma Hickman (Abbeydale) is also enjoying a successful campaign with 21/25, followed by Wadsley’s Liz Ford and Hazel Young (Albert Premier).

Northern General’s Pat Thorley (29/41) is ranked 7th overall in the Division Four list and nationally at 74 in the women’s veteran’s list. Last year’s women’s handicap champion Sarah Thorne (Abbeydale) has good figures with 19/39, and Amanda Tolson (Crookes) is making good progress with a 40% success rate, followed by Abbeydale’s Gillian Jones.

Division Three’s lone female representative is Vicky Johnston (Redtooth) who to date has figures of 16/30, her best showing for sometime at this level. Organisers hope that she, along with all of our eligible female players will support the competition, in the accustomed spirit of fair play, fun and friendly competition, with particular emphasis on the new women’s handicap event for players from Divisions three to six.

In the second tier, Northern General’s Paralympian - Susan Gilroy MBE and Judi Walker - the outstanding six-time women’s champion of the 1970’s - continue as the division’s sole female representatives.

The top flight is blessed to have four nationally ranked women in the top seventy five of England’s senior’s list, headed by our defending champion - Abbeydale’s Isobel Ashley ranked 29. Stocksbridge’s Zoe Cheesman holds the 35th ranking spot; Sarah Short a seven-time Sheffield champion now playing for Swallownest is ranked at 41 and completing the list is Janet Adams (Scorpions) a two-time winner positioned at 74.

So step forward women and girls - please email your entries to Mrs Cheryl or post them using the form on our or in the league handbook.