The Sunderland and District Table Tennis league season is finally underway with hopes and expectations running high.
Thompson Insurance A, the winners of division one for the past seven seasons, are looking for a straight eighth title.
They have started the season in excellent form after winning their first three matches.
Thompson could again draw upon former England Junior Andrew Wilkinson, who missed the vast majority of last season due to a serious knee injury.
Wilkinson joins a strong squad containing County players Darren McVitie, Chris Blake, Marc Cotton and Allan Thompson, plus the new addition of Diane Cartmell.
St Chads, who fought valiantly last season for the runners-up spot, before finally having to settle for third, have started the season in excellent form.
They have won their first four matches, including a fine 6–4 victory over last year’s runners-up Silksworth IM.
Anthony Barella was unbeaten for Silksworth and combined with Bernie Morris to win the doubles set to ensure that his team gained a point for their defeat.
St Chads have a strong squad which boasts Keith Weatherby, Jimmy Scope, Steve Penman, Dave Bissett and Barry Cuthbertson and will put in a strong challenge for league title.
Newly-promoted Sacriston St Bede’s A and Mortimer CA have started the season well and have given a good account of themselves – most notably some excellent individual performances from Ian McAllister (Sacriston) and Dave Cutler (Mortimer).
In division two, the early pace setters are newly promoted NE Bedding Centre and Sacriston St Bedes B.
Both sides have had an excellent start to the season and remain unbeaten.
Both teams have strength in depth and will be looking to mount a sustained challenge to gain promotion.
They are joined by Redby CA A, who were relegated last year, but are more than capable of pushing for promotion back into the top division.
Division three is again wide open with any one of three teams more than capable of pushing for promotion.
Redby CA B, West CA B and Sacriston St Bede’s D have all started the season particularly well.
Redby have won all of their matches and they may be the the team to beat.