Coach Corner


Published in Munster Newsletter. (Jan 2003)

Bertie Levinge has been playing table tennis since he was 10yrs of age and ever since, almost 70 years! He lists his major influences as Cyril Kemp (Dublin) Ireland No.1 in 1930'2 & 40's and Victor Barna who was well known for the "Barna Flick."

Amongst his major achievements both here and abroad Bertie listed, being Munster Champion and Munster No.1 from 1940-46 and in reaching the 1944 Irish Open Doubles Final with David Marcus against Johnny Leach and Roberts (Belfast). In 1945 he was Winner of Irish Open Doubles with David Marcus also from Cork. He was also Finalist in Irish Open against Harry Thallier, having beaten Cyril Kemp in Semi Final, he was the first person to beat Kemp up to then and had photo in Irish Times as a result. More recently he was Munster Open Vets Winner 1986 & 1987 and Munster Veterans No.1 from 1985-1992.

Abroad Bertie has one of the best records of any Irish player becoming the 1995 Over 70 European Champion in Vienna against Osterholm (Sweden), who is currently, over 70 World Champion. He also reached the final in the World Over 70 in Manchester 1998. he reached yet another final in 2001 in the Over 75 Europeans in 2001 in Denmark against Etheridge (Eng) beating Osterholm in semis.

Bertie has witnessed a number of changes in the sport over the years and saw the introduction of Sponge Rubber and in later years long pimples, short pimples, anti loop etc. The comparatively recent introduction of Veterans, which currently has the largest number of players in U.K. in any age group.

My father often mentioned some of the greats of his playing days and I asked Bertie if he had any memories of the likes of Johnny Leach and Jack Carrington.
"As I already mentioned I played against Johnny Leach in 1944 Irish Open Doubles Final. While he was stationed in Northern Ireland at the end of the war. I played him in Open tournaments in England a few times during the early 50's. I beat Jack Carrington in a match in the late 50's. I played an exhibition in Ilford for charity against Richard Bergman in 1947 AND played against Victor Barna in Open tournament a few times and all the well known English top players of the day.

With all his experience I asked him if he would have any advice for the younger player and how he had managed to remain so fit and active in the sport? He simply replied "Practice makes perfect. Keep practising. I never smoked and a minimum amount of alcohol along with regular exercise."

Finally I asked him why, in his opinion was table tennis so popular he puts that down to the speed of the modern game coupled with a level of fitness, its also relatively inexpensive to play.

2003: Bertie currently lives in Kinsale, West Cork, Ireland and is an active member of Harlequins TTC.