THIS year's Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA) Table Tennis Competition starts today with play in the Urban Section of the competition. Play in the Rural Section begins next Tuesday. As usual, Urban and Rural champions will be crowned in four categories — Under-19 boys and girls and Under-16 boys and girls — and these will then face off to decide All-Island champions. Defending All-Island champions are Kingston College boys and Ardenne girls in Under-19; and Titchfield boys and Manchester girls in Under-16. Manchester High boys and Glenmuir girls were Rural Under-19 champions last year, while St Jago High boys and Wolmer's Girls were Urban Under-16 champions.
As always, home and away format will be used in the preliminary rounds this year, and these will be completed in the third week of February for the Rural Section and at the end of the first week of March for the Urban Section. This year the competition has attracted a total of 32 schools, one more than last year, comprising 17 Urban and 15 Rural schools. The list includes Guys Hill, who are returning after a few years' absence, and five newcomers in St Andrew High, Bridgeport, St Hilda's, Old Harbour, and Green Pond.
Three Under-16 boys matches are scheduled on the Opening day today, at 2:30 pm. They are St Jago at home to St Catherine, St George's entertaining Jamaica College and Campion hosting Bridgeport.
Breakdown for the Urban Section is as follows
Under-19 Girls: Six teams divided into two groups with the top two finishers from each group qualifying for semi-finals. Group One has Ardenne, Wolmer's and St Catherine, while Group Two contains Hillel, Meadowbrook and St Andrew.
Under-19 Boys: Four teams — Kingston College, Wolmer's Boys, Hillel and Jamaica College — with the top two finishers qualifying for the final.
Under-16 Boys: Eleven teams divided into three groups, the top two from each group advancing to semi-finals. Group One is comprised of St Jago, JC, St George's, and St Catherine. Group Two has Kingston College, Norman Manley and Gaynstead, and Group Three contains Hillel, Wolmer's Boys Campion, and Bridgeport.
Under-16 Girls — Nine teams divided into two groups, the top two from each group progressing to semi-finals. Group One contains Ardenne, Wolmer's, St Catherine, and Merl Grove, while Group Two contains Hillel, Campion, Immaculate, Norman Manley, and St Andrew.
The Rural Section
In the rural section, schools are divided into geographical zones and zone winners in each category will advance to the Rural Round Robin finals. Second-placed teams will qualify for round robin semi-finals, from which the top performers will advance to join the finalists.
The rural zones this years are Western zone, Central Zone One, Central Zone Two, North Eastern Zone and Eastern Zone.
The Western Zone contains Cornwall and Green Pond, both playing boys Under-19 and boys Under-16.
Central Zone One contains Manchester, Glenmuir, Clarendon and Old Harbour. All four are contesting boys Under-19 and boys Under-16, all except Old Harbour are competing in girls Under-19; with only Glenmuir and Clarendon College playing in girls Under-16.
Central Zone Two contains deCarteret College, Belair, Cross Keys and Munro. All are competing in boys Under-19 and boys Under-16, all except Munro in girls Under-19, with only deCarteret and Cross Keys in girls Under-16.
The North Eastern Zone is comprised of St Mary High, Dinthill, Guy's Hill and St Hilda's. The first three named teams are playing in both boys Under-19 and boys Under-16, while St Mary High, Dinthill and St Hilda's will contest girls Under-16 — no Under-19 girl teams in this zone.
The Eastern Zone contains Titchfield only, entered in all four categories. All teams are seeded and will advance to the Round Robin finals.