It’s time to get excited for the 2013 Sainsbury’s School Games as the players and coaches have been announced for the eighth edition of the popular table tennis tournament.

After the brief foray into the 2012 Olympic Games venue ExCeL last year, the Sainsbury’s School Games will head back to Ponds Forge in Sheffield with both the team and individual competitions ready for action.

The School Games are a fantastic advert for junior table tennis and help the players get used to playing intensive matches in a bustling atmosphere as they would in a large tournament. For some, it will be the pinnacle of their careers, while for others it will provide a stepping stone for more grand occasions.

This year’s field is full of high-calibre players with international youngsters from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales all on show in September (13-15th).

Leading the way, and defending their team title, will be the England Midlands team who followed up their wins in 2010 with a great all-round effort in 2012 to secure first place ahead of the dangerous England South East side. It looks as though these two sides will be the teams to beat once again in Sheffield 2013.

Five of the victorious Midlands team from 2012 remain with Adam Harrison, Sam Mabey, Isobel Ashley, Olivia Churchill and Craig Allen all returning. Meanwhile, their ranks will be boosted by the appearance of exciting young England prospects Tom Jarvis, Alex Ramsden and Amy Humphreys.

However, the Midlands team will start as underdogs against a strong England South East team who will look to build upon the boy’s titles they won in 2011 and 2012. Led by England international Helshan Weerasinghe, who was present in both of the last two years, they can call upon the likes of Marcus Giles, Daniel Lawrence, Tin-Tin Ho and Lois Peake in an impressive line-up.

The England South West girls will hope to defend their crown from London with Maria Tsaptsinos returning to lead the side. Joining her are Letitia McMullan, Jasmin Johns and Bethany Wilson.

2012 Sainsbury’s School Games title winners
England Midlands
Boy’s Team:
England South East
Girl’s Team:
England South West
England Midlands

It’s not all about the English though as Scotland, Ireland and Wales will hope to make inroads in Sheffield. With plenty of experience to boot, Scotland could be one of the surprise packages by utilising their international trio of Blair Fowler, Yaser Razouk and the dynamic Christopher Wheeler.

Alongside the team and singles events will be the disability team events where several faces from 2012 return for another crack at the title. The England Midlands disability team was the only Midlands side to win their discipline last year, a result that proved crucial to the destination of the overall title at the final tallying of results.

Craig Allen is the only survivor of that squad while former Champion Jordan Abbott returns again to help the England North West side to mount a challenge.

The English Table Tennis Association will provide full coverage and pictures from the event once again in September so keep your eyes peeled for the latest news!

Click here to see the 2013 Sainsbury’s School Games Team Lists

Written by Russell Moore (July 21, 2013)