Sports Listings: Plan Ahead: European Table Tennis Championships in Birmingham

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AN entry of 47 countries makes this year's European Table Tennis Championships in Birmingham the biggest, and not since England staged the World Championships in 1977 will so many top-class players be gathered under the roof of the National Indoor Arena. The 11-day tournament opens with the team event on 5 March, concluding with the individual finals on Easter Monday, 4 April.

The majority of the world's leading players come from Europe and competing in Birmingham at the biennial tournament will be Jean- Philippe Gatien, the men's individual world champion from France, the European Champion, Jorg Rosskopf, of Germany, and Bettine Vriesekoop, the women's champion from the Netherlands.

Chen Xinhua, Carl Prean and Desmond Douglas, the local player from Walsall still performing at 38, lead the England men's squad of eight, while Lisa Lomas, the European silver medallist, and Alison Holt head the women's squad.

International Tournament Services of Kingsbury, near Tamworth, West Midlands, are the official tour operator to the Championships and will provide hotel accommodation ranging from budget to superior, with transport to and from the National Indoor Arena.

The accommodation section of the Birmingham Convention and Visitor Bureau at the National Exhibition Centre provides a free booking service, which includes several hotels in the city centre.

European Table Tennis Championships, Birmingham, 25 March to 4 April.

General information line: 021-644 6464.

National Indoor Arena, King Edward's Road, Birmingham. Junction 6 of M6 and the Arena is signposted from the A38(M). Fifteen-minute walk from Birmingham New Street railway station. (Ticket hotline: 021-200 2222).

Tickets (team event 25-30 March, individual 1-4 April, qualifying 31 March): 25 March to 1 April pounds 7 adults, pounds 4.50 children daily; 2-4 April pounds 12 lower tier, pounds 9 upper tier adults, pounds 8, pounds 6 children.

International Tournament Services, 67 Sorrel Drive, Kingsbury, near Tamworth, B78 2PE (Tel: 0827-872005; fax 0827- 874410).

Birmingham Convention and Visitor Bureau, National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham B40 1NT (Tel: 021-780 4321).