Andrew Baggaley heads a record entry for the Mark Bates Ltd Senior National Championships Qualifying Tournament at the University of Nottingham this weekend.

The four-time ping pong world champion has not featured at a Senior Nationals since reaching the semi-finals in 2014, but will return in 2022 if he comes through the qualifying process.

With 114 male players and 37 female players, the field is at a record high for the event, which promises to see a busy weekend as players vie for a place at the blue riband Mark Bates Ltd Senior Nationals at the same venue at the end of March.

Click here to see the draw and additional information in the event programme.

What is the format?

The event will begin with group stages on the Saturday, comprising of groups of 6-7 players with the leading players from each group qualifying for the knockout stage on Sunday.

Progressive knockout matches on Sunday will be the last 32 players only and will be played to a final list, for example players losing in the last 16 will play out for places 9-16 and so on.

The top 14 finishers in both the men’s and women’s singles at the tournament will qualify for the Mark Bates Ltd Senior National Championships at the same venue from Friday March 25 to Sunday March 27.

There, they will join the top 16 players in the national rankings (from the ranking list published on February 9th), plus two wildcards.

This means they will compete alongside England’s finest, including defending singles champions Liam Pitchford and Tin-Tin Ho, fellow Olympians Paul Drinkhall and Sam Walker and a host of other big names.

Players who play in the qualifier and qualify in the top 14 places will not need to pay the entry fee for the Mark Bates Ltd Senior National Championships.