Welsh squad have busy start to 2012
Gary Baker on 26/03/2012
It has been an extremely busy start to 2012 for Welsh table tennis players with the young guns, who will be representing the Principality in two years time at the Commonwealth Games, reaping rich rewards.
Already, the squad, under the guidance of national coach Ryan Jenkins, have become British junior league champions and have taken other scalps in England and Scandinavia.
There was also history made by Jenkins at the Welsh National Championships this month in Cardiff.
"It was a decision by us to be busy for the girls, boys and the player development in the squad this year," said Jenkins, about the work-rate the squad has been through in 2012..
The Junior British League series was excellent for the teenagers, as both the girls and boys teams took their respective crowns.
Charlotte Carey is one of Wales' golden hopes for the future but she was only able to look on from the side last month due to a leg injury as her colleagues took up the challenge to land the Junior League Series title.
Angharad Phillips, Megan Phillips and Chloe Thomas brought home the gold medal as they delivered a 4-2 win against the Bridge team, 5-1 win against Ireland and had a 3-3 draw against London Progress.
There were two losses against Burton, by 4-2 and Ormesby 5-1 but they had the advantage in match wins over other rivals.
Jenkins said: "It seems the players, both the boys and girls, are at the top end of the British standings. We are now putting the plans in place for the next four years towards the Rio 2016 Olympics.
"I have said to five players now that the time is right to leave school and go abroad and play there. Next year, they will be based abroad and deal with me from there (via Skype, e-mail, etc.). They will always be back here to play but I am national coaching manager and have a lot to do on my own so going abroad will help them with training partners and step up to the next level.
"I did it as a player myself and know the situation."
A second gold in the British League series came for Wales' boys as they won Division 2B with a final win against Crusaders 4-2.
Conor Edwards was undefeated all season and his team-mates Alex Prosser, Chris Griffiths and Ryan Oyler did their jobs to complete the proceedings.
Other good results saw Ael-y-Bryn girls, of Wales, win Division Two, with Bridgend finishing as runners-up. Ael-y-Bryn boys finished second in Division 4A with a great stand-in performance from Liam Winder.
Lewis Williams competed for Burton Uxbridge and had a good weekend with a nice win against Jared Patel.
The Welsh invasion, which took place in Ireland last December at the Munster Open, continued at the West of Scotland Open.
Naomi Owen defended her title at the Open with a fine win against her French opponent Aurelie Bernadet in the final. Naomi beat Gillian Edwards in the semi-final.
Commonwealth Games ace Jenkins picked up his bat again, instead of coaching the team, to breeze into the final where he faced Scottish number four Niall Cameron and took the victory 4-1 with some fantastic play from both sides of the table. It was the eighth time that Jenkins has won the event.
Daniel O'Connell lost out to Stewart Crawford in the last 16 of the singles but had a top win against Chris Main in the previous round.
O'Connell also had a nice win in the Band One event, beating Sunderland's Anthony Barella 3-2 in the final.
Youngster Jac Jenkins reached the Band Two quarter-finals but that is where it ended for the 12-year-old who continues to impress and gain experience and should be ready for serious senior competition at the 2018 Commonwealth Games on Australia's Gold Coast.
O'Connell went onto win the Under-21 singles where he beat Scottish number one junior Scott Barton in the final by 3-0. Dean Cundy lost out in the quarter-final to Daniel Swiatek 2-3.
Jenkins made it to both the Cadets and Under-13 as well. He was pushed into second place both times but he only conceded the titles to the best player in the country, Chris Wheeler, who is the British number one.
And the Glamorgan junior team won the Division One title and will play in the Premier League next season.
Now the Welsh players are building towards the World Senior Championships in Dortmund, Germany, with 123 different countries playing along with with Carey, Naomi Owen and Phillips plus Jenkins himself, his brother, Steve, Adam Robertson and Dan O'Connell.
Meanwhile, Owen had a wonderful weekend at the Welsh Institute of Sport this month as she took the women's title at the Welsh Championships.
She scored a big victory over Carey in the semi-finals before beating Nicole Hall in the final.
Jenkins secured a record 11th national men's singles title, beating the previous best of Alan Griffiths, when he beat O'Connell 3-0 in their final.
Carey made up for her senior women's loss by taking the Under-21 women's crown, and O'Connell did the same in the men's Under-21 competition with victory over Conor Edwards.
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