With Alex Abbott, the men’s singles champion for the last two years, not defending his title, Steve Joslin is the top seed in the 2014 M&G Investments Chelmsford & District Table Tennis League Closed Championships.

The tournament takes place this weekend at Hylands School, Sports Hall, Hatfield Grove, off Forest Drive, Chelmsford.

Joslin – champion in 1995 and 1996 but runner-up for the past three years, will certainly hope to go one better this time.

Other players who will be out to make their mark are the second seed – 2013 Colchester Men’s Singles Champion Keiran Lally, who was Chelmsford Champion in 2003 and the joint third seeds – Dave Cole (champion four times – in 1986, 2005, 2006 and 2009) and the highly-rated Tony Halling.

The joint fifth seeds – James Denyer, Peter Hayden, Paul Davison and Gary Young – will also be out to make their presence felt while players of the calibre of Rik James, Michael Andrews, Mindaugas Sinkas, Ben Warner, George Reeeves and Brandon Crouchman are among those seeded in the nine to 16 range.

If all goes to plan, Steve Joslin will play Tony Halling and Keiran Lally will oppose Dave Cole in the staged semi-finals on Finals Night on Monday, February 17, at Old Chelmsfordians Association, Lawford Lane, Chelmsford.

Every year the Men’s Singles manages to produce one group which is particularly strong. This year, group seven takes on this mantle. The seeded Ben Warner will face John Cleasby, Terry Dowsett and Paul Nicol.

Julie Johnson will be attempting to win the Ladies Singles for an amazing 21st time and she is seeded to meet Linda Attridge in the final.

Dawn Baldry, who played so well in last year’s Ladies Singles Final, will be out to prevent this.

James Denyer could be one of the stars of the tournament. Not only does he have a high seeding in the Men’s Singles and Men’s Doubles, but he is also top seed in the Junior Boys Singles and second seed, behind the holder – Robert Shrimpton in the Under 21 Singles.

Daniel Berry, Ryan Gooday and Chris Denyer (no relation) are among the players who should oppose James in the later rounds of the Junior Boys Singles.

The Under 21 Singles is by no means a two-horse race and Brandon Crouchman, Scott Dowsett and Chris Denyer will all be out to progress to a Finals Night outing.

The Men’s Doubles is often one of the most fiercely contested events.

Top seeds Steve Joslin / Michael Andrews (champions in 2011 and 2012) are due to face a new pairing – Dave Cole and Peter Hayden in the final.

Other pairings who cannot be discounted are Keiran Lally / James Denyer, Kevin Gowlett / Paul Davison, George Reeves / Paul Cuming and Alistair Hill / Rik James.