Just twenty-one days after the competition’s last outing, the Dragon roared again on the weekend as some of Wales’ top junior players took on the monthly competition at the club. Due to a lack of entries into the under 11s event there were only three categories to be contested on Sunday, with twenty-four young players in action throughout the day.
The day began with a stunning performance by Dragon debutant Finn Whitton in the under 9s. Finn held off previous Dragon winners Ojas Shanhbag and Lucas Perez to claim the category’s top spot on his very first attempt. The on-form Finn and returning champion Ojas Shanhbag pushed club members Lucas Perez and Toby Harwood- first and second from last month’s event- into third and fourth for the May edition.
There was a new champion for the under 13s too as Kyle Day went one better than his second-place finish in February to claim this month’s crown. Kyle’s title charge left May’s runner-up spot to another high-flying Dragon newcomer; David Avery, while club member Tom Lam completed the top three.
In the under 15s Dan Jones added a fourth title to his prolific record in the competition. After winning his first under 13s event late last year, Dan began 2015 with simultaneous victories in both the under 13s and under 15s categories in January. Now fourteen, Dan’s triumph on Sunday will mark the player’s final appearance in the competition as tournament rules exclude competitors from any age category that they have already won twice. Two titles in both the under 13s and under 15s age groups mean that Dan has now successfully slayed the Dragon for good, and the all-conquering champion can begin his search for a fresh quest.
Cardiff City Coach Patrick Thomas has recently been working with May’s under 15s winner during ‘1-on-1’ coaching sessions at the club. Dan’s coach later attributed the successful development of the young player to a focused, professional mind-set. “I think Dan’s improvement is down to his attitude”, said Patrick. “Every time he trains he shows progression from the last session and that’s really promising. Other players have 1-on-1 coaching and sometimes they don’t improve so much because their attitude’s not quite right, but Dan’s really nailed his attitude now and since then he’s been improving all the time.”
“I think he’s got a bright future ahead of him. He’ll be getting a bit of confidence from winning these Dragons that he can now take into bigger tournaments. He’ll have to go further afield to find some tougher competition, maybe into England. He should keep on playing the ones in Wales though and concentrating on the Welsh league as much as possible. Hopefully he could be one for Junior British League qualifiers next season, and maybe even the club team.”
Elsewhere in the under 15s, David Avery was runner-up once again as the Dragon newcomer demonstrated his abilities in the tournament’s oldest age category. In the same category, Wales international Lara Whitton returned to the competition after victory in the under 11s last November. Now competing in the under 15s, eleven year old Lara came third on Sunday, forcing two-time runner-up Tom Lam into fourth.
The next Dragon Tournament will be held at the club on Sunday 14th June, with categories open for under 9s, 11s, 13s and 15s. Entry forms are already available in the club or on the Table Tennis Wales website, which you can access by clicking here.
The full results from the May Dragon Tournament are displayed below.