Katz: Brit pack will do the business
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On the ball: Eli Baraty will lead Team GB’s medal charge in the Open competition at the European Maccabi Games
Dov Katz is confident that the Team GB table tennis squad will turn on the style at next month's European Maccabi Games.
Team manager to a group of players, including several who are nationally ranked, Katz believes that his troops have what it takes to go all the way in Vienna.
"We are sending arguably the strongest ever GB table tennis squad to a European Games," Katz said.
The men's team includes three-time consecutive national MGB champion Ashley Stokes, 21, currently rated No. 61 on the national men's list and singles quarter-finalist at the Maccabiah 2009. Eli Baraty, aged 29 and rated 55, has represented GB at two EMG's and is a Maccabiah medallist.
Young gun: Zak Zilesnik
Scottish-born Brian Wright, who has won a plethora of medals spanning three decades, and Robin Ashleigh complete a powerful four-man squad.
The junior boys squad also comprises four players and includes England international star and current junior England No. 5 Zak Zilesnick, who will be looking to add a singles gold medal to his impressive national medal haul.
Jack Josephs, winner of the Yoram and Sylvia Katz award for the most promising young sportsman at last year's national championships, Zac Mandel and the much-improved Ben Raine are the other juniors.
Maccabiah bronze medallists Jeremy Banks and Ian Mablin spearhead the Masters squad which is strengthened by the addition of England veteran No. 54 Ivan Lewis from Leeds who won last year's Maccabi GB championships. James Swede and Oskar Mencer make up the balance of the five-man squad.
Katz said: "Table tennis is one of the few sports that Jewish players truly excel at on the national stage and we are privileged to have a squad which includes top 100 England men's ranked players and a twice national cadet champion.
"With the likes of Ashley Stokes and Eli Baraty in the men's team, supported by the strength of Brian Wright and Robin Ashleigh, we have every chance of winning medals.
"In the junior team, Zak Zilesnick is firm favourite to win a singles gold and he will be very well supported in the team event by up-and-coming stars. I'm confident our Masters squad will be the envy of every European nation as they has trained hard over the last nine months.
"Our squad is terrific in terms of ability and I'm confident that each player will act in the spirit of the Games, wearing the Maccabi badge at all times with pride.
"Making Jewish friends from all over Europe will be the defining legacy of this squad. Having been involved with MGB table tennis for over 30 years, this squad is up there with the best and I am proud to be leading them with the support of my junior manager Steve Gooblar and co-chair Lee Vandermolen.
"I would like to thank everyone for helping us get this far including Mel Davidson, chairman of our national committee, whose assistance and advice has been invaluable."
Men's: Ashley Stokes, Eli Baraty, Brian Wright, Robin Ashleigh
Juniors: Zak Zilesnick, Jack Josephs, Zachary Mandel, Ben Raine
Masters: Ivan Lewis, Jeremy Banks, Ian Mablin, James Swede, Oskar Mencer
Managers: Dov Katz (overall team), Stephen Gooblar (Juniors)
International table tennis co-chairs: Dov Katz and Lee Vandermolen,
Adviser: Mel Davidson