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Player Spotlight – Ian Macpherson

This week we have a Q&A with Ian Macpherson who’s been involved in table tennis for 45+ years and has been at our club since day one. Ian has been involved in coaching all the players that come through our doors and has played a huge part in the development of the club and players associated with it.

Over the years Ian has represented NATTC in the British League, West of Scotland league and Scottish National league. He continues to captain our WoS Division 1 team and all of our top players owe Ian a huge thanks with the time and effort he has given them. Read the Q&A below about Ian’s playing career, influences, what keeps him motivated and the changes to the game over the years.

What age were you when you first won the Ayrshire Singles?

I won the Ayrshire 1st division singles title when I was 14. When I was 16 I won the Ayrshire senior singles, junior singles and both the junior and senior double titles. At that time Ayrshire table tennis was very healthy in both quality and numbers of players with 3 divisions of 12 teams.

Other than your dad, who else influenced your table tennis career?

My dad was obviously my biggest influence, but we didn’t always agree. He was a defender and I always wanted to beat him by being a better attacking player than he was a defender. One day that happened in a tournament and strangely enough after wanting to beat him for so long, it actually didn’t feel that good.

From an early age I often heard the phrase ‘Spin to Win’. This was the biggest influence on my table tennis style as I wanted to be the ‘spiniest’ player in Ayrshire. I often watched Douglas Anderson when I was very young. ‘Dougie’ played in the same team (Kilwinning TTC) as my dad, he was left handed and his forehand topspin was the best I had seen. The third player in that team was Norman Kowalski who I later played with in both Ayrshire and West of Scotland league teams for over 20 years. They were all positive influences for me.

Over the ye
ars you have never bothered too much about what bat you use, do you think the new rubbers are really a big help for modern players?

You are right, I have never placed a lot of importance on rubber types. In fact even when playing at a high level the huge variety of rubber types and bat makes described in catalogues actually bored me. It’s the player that makes the shot, not the rubber or bat.  I always simply chose something with good control and lots of grip.

I have also only played with a total of 5 different blades from the age of 9 to now. My first blade was a Butterfly ‘Kenny’ with blue tempest rubbers. Rubbers are now high quality and very fast, but I don’t think they differ that much across the ranges available.

You’ve coached, played in teams with some of the best junior / senior players to come through from NATTC, what’s the best part of playing alongside and coaching these players ? 

I have always loved coaching and seeing players of all ages and abilities develop. But playing alongside and coaching some of our younger players has been a really enjoyable experience for me. I believe that the development of our younger players is about more than their table tennis. The life experience and example they are given helps to develop their views and behaviour in a wider context.

The most rewarding period in my career was after dislocating my knee the first time. I stopped playing competitively and concentrated more on coaching. Some of the youngsters I started coaching you might know – Chris Barclay, Jamie Skelton and a certain Andrew Macpherson. James Kennedy joined the team a few years later. These players achieved something remarkable. Aged 8 to 10, they entered their first competitive league, (WOS Junior League) for experience. This was a steep learning curve, but they won this league in their second season. They progressed to the senior WOS 4th Division and challenged themselves not to come last. They succeeded by coming 2nd bottom and the following season they won the 4th Division. The following year they won the 3rd Division which was followed by winning the second Division. I have never heard of such an incredible progression through the leagues with the same squad of young players.

Driving these players for all these years to league matches and tournaments all over Scotland and never hitting a ball was strange. But it gave me the most laughs, made me the most nervous and I experienced the best highs of my career.

You were due to represent the WoS in the Inter League, sitting 3rd in WoS SL Div 1 and were involved in the promotion in Scottish National League. What keeps you motivated to keep playing and keep winning?

I love the competition, gamesmanship and the psychology of matches. I was lucky in my career to beat many better players due to my overall approach to a match and was mentally better than others who had more talent.  The match starts before you take your tracksuit off! And every single point counts no matter the score.

But my biggest motivation now is playing in part of a team. I enjoy winning as a team and the feeling you get from that which is much more satisfying than individual competitions in which I no longer play.

I have been so lucky to play with some amazing individuals over the years and have learned so much from them. My current team of Jamie and Ryan has been really enjoyable. My drive is trying to stay good enough to earn a place in the team when all our players are improving so fast.

My most enjoyable season since I started playing competitively again was my first year back, playing in WOS Division Two with Jamie Johnson and Jill Taylor in 2017/18. A really diverse team, the old guy, the up and coming youngster and a young female player.

You’ve been invovled in TT for 47 years. and seen the game evolve. What sort of big changes have came about in table tennis ?

The biggest changes since I have been involved in TT was the huge advancements in TT rubbers, speed, grip and increase in sponge thickness which increased the speed of the game significantly. But this led to much tighter controls of equipment such as a maximum sponge thickness then, ‘glueing up’ then being banned.

The ball has obviously changed a lot. Some of our more mature players will remember the Barna Dunlop Super Crown which was made in England. This was a heavy plastic ball which is more like a pool cue ball compared to the celluloid balls of today.

Playing wise, players are much more professional now but not any more dedicated in my view. Training at club level across Scotland has improved enormously. This is due to better qualified coaches, more tables/equipment, more table time and better facilities. When I played as a junior in clubs at Ravenspark Academy in Irvine, Dirrans Youth Club and Blacklands Primary School in Kilwinning they had 3 or 4 tables for over 30 players. You were lucky to get 3 x 15 minute sessions a night.

Due to improved coaching, players’ techniques have improved but we have also lost some of the individuality of styles such as defenders, all-rounders etc. The tactics have moved with the advancement of the game.

For past couple of years, you have been chairman of Irvine TT Club which is now a popular weekly club. What’s the plans for the future for ITTC? 

The future is looking good. We have a very good and talented committee in place led by John Smith and Graeme Stevenson. Chris Main is the club coach who has been committed to developing our new younger players and our new and returning adults along with other projects in the community.

The plan is to build and sustain the positive start we have enjoyed and to encourage more new and returning players to the club. The club benefits from a range of abilities, ages and dedicated volunteers. We will continue to attract new members targeting young people and adults over 50 to the club.

Players Equipment – Who plays with what?

Table Tennis is a sport where the set up of a players bat can differ hugely and plays a great part in how much spin, speed and control they can generate and impart on the ball. Table tennis bats can range from £5 beginners bat to a top of range £300 bat and its important to know what sort of bat you should get depending on your ability.

As most of you will know, a TT bat must have a black sheet of rubber, a red sheet of rubber and blade. Players tend to play with a faster blade / rubbers as their technique and ball control improves. However, with so many different companies and editions of rubbers it his still leaves the player with several decisions to make.

What thickness of rubber do i play with ?
Is it 1.8mm, 2.0mm or max ?
What handle do I select for the blade?
Straight, flared or anatomic?
What version of the blade do I go for?
Allround or Offensive?
Do i want to play with a faster rubber on my forehand, backhand or both the same?

To all the above questions, there really is no specific correct answer. Its a matter of speaking to players and coaches at your club, trying out a variety of bats and selecting the one that suits your style the best. We have asked some of our players and members to send in what blade and rubbers they play with and their thoughts on them, plus why they changed to their current set up compared to their last.

Chris Main

Blade – Joola TPE Fight
Rubbers – FH Tibhar MXP, BH Joola Rhyzm

“Played with Joola TPE Fight blade for more than 6 seasons now, great balance with it being fast enough for topspin rallies but slow enough to be able to feel the ball when serving and receiving. Changed to Tibhar MXP on my forehand at the start of the 2018 season, felt it was slightly faster than Joola Rhyzm and i got a higher arch on the ball which suits my FH more. I always want to gain advantage off my serve so its difficult finding the balance between speed and control”

Holly McNamara
Blade – Joola TPE Nature
Rubbers – FH Rhyzer 48, BH Rhyzm

“I changed to TPE Nature blade at start of the season, slightly lighter than my previous blade and feels more free flowing. Its more comfortable playing shots over the table and suits the rubbers better. Joola Rhyzer 48 feels faster on my forehand and has more control when I’m spinning the ball against backspin.”

Kevin Morrison
Blade – Joola TPE Fight
Rubbers – FH Victas V15 extra, BH Joola Rhyzm

“The new victas rubber is perfect on my forehand, it gives me more control knowing that I’m a very fast playing player. With this rubber and its grippy surface its easier for me to really spin it up slow against backspin which I want to do as much as possible. Joola Rhyzm is a safe rubber which a lot of people use at the club, good for blocking and attacking and lasts a while.”

Jamie Johnson
Blade – Joola Zelebro ProC
Rubbers – Joola Rhyzm both sides

“I moved from Joola Wing Medium blade to the faster Zelebro Pro a couple of years ago, much faster, little bit lighter and comfortable to hold. Would recommend it to anyone wanting a faster blade. I have been using Joola equipment since I started and using Joola Rhyzm rubbers both sides for the past 3 or 4 seasons. I liked them but maybe going to try something faster for next season.”

Graeme Stevenston
Blade – TSP Balsa OFF
Rubbers – FH Tibhar MXP, BH Joola Rhyzer

“When I returned to TT in 2018 I was using a 30 year old bat. The blade was a Stiga Ulf Bengtsson Offensive with Mark V on the forehand side and Sriver on the backhand. I tried a few players bats and decided I needed to upgrade.  As I like a lightweight blade I decided on a TSP Balsa 6.5 Offensive with Tibhar MX-P on the FH and Joola Rhyzer on the BH. The difference was amazing and in particular it was the catapult effect of the rubber which I was most pleased about. In some instances it enabled me to play shots I didn’t think were possible for someone of my standard.”

For any bat advise speak to our club sponsors and one of the UK’s biggest table tennis shops, Bribar TT. There website can be found

British League / Scottish League – Info

With the uncertainly of the COVID-19 situation, we are aware that the up and coming season will look different to any other. However, we will be planning as best we can regardless and hoping for the best.

British League Dates 2020 – 2021
26th – 27th Sept
12th Dec
30th – 31st Jan 2021
10th – 11th Apr

Scottish League Dates 2020 -2021
10th Oct
28th Nov
7th Feb


British League Div C
We have two teams competing in the C division of British League and with the season cut short by 1 weekend, we could not finish the fixtures. Ethan, Charlie, Jamie, Ryan & Chad had played 10 matches in the league with a 100% record and were 6 points clear of their nearest rivals going into the last weekend. However, BSL decided that there would be no league winners and no promotion / relegation. We recognise the team as league winners and we and BSL are hopeful that they deservingly get promoted to a higher division.

In that league, NA C of Nathan Hogg, David Hay, Holly & Martin Krus competed brilliantly in all their first seasons of British League. The team finished mid table and could’ve easily been higher if a few 5-4 losses went their way. It is hoped we can have two teams competing again this year and if geographically possibly at the same venue too.

This week, British League have released the entry form and information for the coming season. You can read all the info here –

Scottish National League
For the 2020 – 2021 season we will once again have two teams in the top Division of SNL. North Ayrshire B team of Jamie, Ryan and Ian have been promoted from Division 2 and will compete in Division 1 alongside last years winners North Ayrshire A.

North Ayrshire C of Gordon Provan, Nathan Hogg and Chad Duncan finished in 3rd place on 9 points, 2 points behind both 2nd place Stirling and first place Glasgow South. Nice season for them with 4 wins and 1 draw and they will be hoping to get in the top 2 next year. North Ayrshire D struggled for player availability and finished in 8th place in Div 4. Relegation looks likely as the new format of the league takes shape with Div 5 and Div 6 now involved.

For last seasons results, fixtures and table see SNL website –

Club Update – June 8th

Venue Secured
We have spoke to committee who run the Ardrossan Scout Hut and have agreed terms to use of both halls from whenever TTS and govt say we can go back to play. Possibly 2nd week in July. They have all relevant equipment but we will be moving our own equipment down there.

KA Leisure could possibly open the Portal when phase 3 of the lockdown is in place, July 9th. We think that St Matthews could remain shut with the Portal being the first KA Leisure facility to open. It could be the gym first however and then the main sports hall later.

We will be sending out a survey to all members, asking their thoughts on what they like about the club and what needs improved. Will be done on survey monkey and completely anonymous so please fill that in and tell us your thoughts when Jordan sends that out.

Club Quiz
We held our our 2nd quiz of the lockdown, another good turnout with James & Will Kennedy winning it with 15 points. Billy 2nd and McNamaras 3rd. We will be holding one again next week, Wednesday 17th June 7pm. Graeme and Jordan take it and usually is on for around an hour, so get involved if you haven’t already.

Bonus Ball
Week 8 Winner was Diane Hogg with No45
Week 9 Winner was Ann Alcock with No33
Prizes have been allocated to the winners

COVID Policy & Procedures
Graeme Stevenston and John Smith currently writing up advice and guidelines for our club to return to table tennis and what procedures players will be expecting to meet when arriving at the club. Info will be taken from ITTF and governing bodies and will amend accordingly with how our tt sessions will operate post lockdown.

Player Spotlight
We continue to do our player spotlight which focuses on individuals who play for the club or help out. Last week we done a Q&A with Phil Greenham who spends countless Friday nights coaching and organising West Kilbride TT Club –

This week we have a great Q&A with Ian Macpherson, who has been involved in table tennis for over 45 years and has been at NATTC since day 1. Read below about Ian’s playing career, influences, what keeps him motivated and his thoughts on the changes the to game over the years.