Table tennis: Cooke in pursuit of Syed

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The Independent Online
In the fourth round of the Yasaka Grand Prix in Stratford-upon-Avon this weekend, Alan Cooke, the England champion, is aiming to catch the competition leader, Matthew Syed

Cooke, the topspin expert, is seeded No 1 to meet either Nicky Mason of Sussex or the Scottish champion Ewen Walker in the final tomorrow night.

If Cooke can win, he will join Syed, the England No 1, at the top of the table with one further round left at Sunderland on 13 April before the finals in Bath on 10 May.

Nicola Deaton is also seeking to consolidate her new England ranking of No 3 in the elite squad. Two of her rivals, Helen Lower (Wolverhampton) and Gemma Schwartz (Berkshire), seem almost certain to reach the semi-finals of the women's singles at Stratford.

There are two foreign international players at Stratford - Lizbet Poulson (Denmark) and Anga Heijnen (the Netherlands) - who are both strong enough to reach at least the quarter-finals.

YASUKA GRAND PRIX (Stratford-upon-Avon, today and tomorrow) Fourth-round seeds: Men: 1 A Cooke (Derbys); 2 N Mason (Sussex); 3 E Walker (Sco); 4 T Young (Berks); 5 C Oldfield (Yorks); 6 P Giles (Devon). Women: 1 N Deaton (Derbys); 2 H Lower (Staffs); 3 L Poulson (Denmark); 4 G Schwartz (Berks); 5 K Owalabi (Middlesex); 6 S Collier (Berks).