On Saturday, February 15th, the St Andrews Men’s 1st Table Tennis team had their last twofixtures of the season in BUCS Scotland 1A, playing against Aberdeen and Edinburgh’s 1st teams, who, alongside St Andrews, had won all of their fixtures this season. The St Andrews team of Prab Leelayudth, Michael Hahn, Jon Wong and Thomas Modder were attempting to defend their title as the best Scottish university team. In the morning, St Andrews demolished Aberdeen’s 1st team 9-1, with Aberdeen’s top player defeating Modder in 5 close games. Leelayudth and Hahn was particularly dominant winning many sets with minimal loss of points.
The afternoon’s match against Edinburgh’s 1st team was, realistically, always going to be the title decider, and with Edinburgh’s team featuring Scotland number 3 man and Commonwealth Games athlete Sean Doherty, as well as three other very good players, it was always going to be a tough match. However, St Andrews got off to a good start in the first half of the match, with Leelayudth and Hahn producing dominant performances to both beat Edinburgh’s number 3 and 4 players 3-0. Wong and Modder were both beaten 3-0 by Edinburgh’s number 1, but Wong managed an unexpected 3-1 victory against Edinburgh’s number 2, putting St Andrews 5-3 ahead.
The next set of matches saw Leelayudth beating Edinburgh’s number 2 in 3 close sets and, whilst Hahn was defeated by Edinburgh’s top player, he was able to win a set against the Commonwealth Games athlete. The other two matches were, at this point, crucial, and, whilst Modder was able to play strongly to defeat Edinburgh’s number 3, Won lost unexpectedly against Edinburgh’s number 4, leaving the score-line 7-5 with the four final singles matches all poised to be close games. Leelayudth was outplayed by Edinburgh’s top player but Hahn was able to secure a crucial 3-0 victory against Edinburgh’s number 2 who he had had difficulty against previously. With two matches left, Wong and Modder were set up against their correspondingly ranked opponents and, whilst St Andrews only required one more win to secure overall victory, both matches could have been won by either team. Modder started strongly, winning the first 2 sets before losing the third; whilst Wong lost the first sets but, following a change of tactics, won the next two sets. Both St Andrews players were able to secure victory at more or less the same time, with Wong winning a tight fourth set and Modder dominating his opponent, resulting in the win from St Andrews in a match which could have very easily been lost.
This result means that the St Andrews 1st team have now won the Scottish League for five consecutive years, despite being regularly challenged by strong teams from Edinburgh and a few other universities too. Prab Leelayudth and Jon Wong have both been on the 1st team for all five of these years and are in their final years of undergraduate study. Similarly, Michael Hahn has been on the 1st team for all four years of his undergraduate degree and will also be leaving at the end of the year. Thomas Modder, a Masters student has contributed strongly this year, winning the vast majority of their matches. Leelayudth and Hahn’s record in this league is especially worthy of recognition – in the last 5 years for Leelayudth, and 4 for Hahn, both players have only lost 2 individual matches each, all against Edinburgh’s Commonwealth Games athletes. All four players will be leaving St Andrews this summer and so will not be playing for the team next year, and winning this title is a fitting end to their time here.
Next week, the men’s 1st team will be competing against Manchester in the BUCS Cup, and the women’s 1st team, who did well to come 3rd in their inaugural season in BUCS 1A, will play against Aberdeen. Leelayudth, Hahn and Modder will travel to Nottingham on Friday, alongside women’s team players Chenyuan Xiang and Chan (Paisley) Tsz Huen, to compete in the British National Universities’ Championships, which features some of the top players in Britain.
The Table Tennis Club practices on Monday evenings from 9-10:30pm, Wednesdays from 2-5pm and Sundays at 3-6pm. Come in, say hi and try out a few sessions for free!