Table tennis: Top pair aim for double triumph

Paul Drinkhall and Joanna Parker .
Paul Drinkhall and Joanna Parker .

PAUL Drinkhall and Joanna Parker are aiming to celebrate their engagement by being crowned as champions at the English National Table Tennis Championships next month at Ponds Forge.

Both ranked as British No 1 the pair, who were engaged at Christmas, will hope to complete a unique double when the tournament starts on March 1.

Drinkhall, aged 23, from Middlesbrough, is defending his title and may secure his fifth senior crown – surpassing Matthew Syed’s total of four in the process. His fiancée Parker, aged 25, from Chertsey, meanwhile, will hope to win her third singles title after losing out to English No 2 Kelly Sibley last year.

They will also compete in the mixed doubles.

Together they will also strive to reclaim the mixed doubles title that they won on four successive occasions between 2007-2011 before losing out last year with Sibley and Darius Knight emerging triumphant.

Their main rivals will come in the form of their fellow Team GB members from the London 2012 Olympics. Drinkhall will face stiff opposition from 19-year-old Liam Pitchford (Chesterfield) and 29-year-old Andrew Baggaley (Milton Keynes) while Parker will battle Sibley (Leamington Spa) once more in the women’s singles.

As well as those events there will also be the men’s and women’s doubles and also the under-21 events where English No 2 Pitchford will hope to recover from his shock defeat to Gavin Evans last year to win the title.