DEFENDING champion Martin Lowe is aiming for a magnificent seven at this weekend’s York & District Table Tennis Closed Championship.

The perennial number one seed took his sixth title 12 months ago and is the favourite again to prevail in the men’s singles – the main event in the tournament at York RI’s Queen Street gym.

A field of 65 players will be competing for 18 trophies in two days of hectic competition on Saturday and Sunday but Lowe heads the field in both the singles and veterans’ events.

His biggest threat could come from 14-year-old James Rule, who has been installed as the number two seed for the singles.

The Ryedale School pupil, who plays for Coneysthorpe, recently stormed into the English Schools’ Table Tennis Year 10 National finals after qualifying success in Harrogate and he is rated ahead of last year’s beaten finalist Filip Wojtkowiak (York RI), who is the number three seed.

Aidan Ranftler (Holgate) is seeded fourth with Mick Wilcockson fifth and Jon Wooldridge and Richard Crowther sixth and seventh respectively. That latter pair are the top rated duo in the veterans’ doubles, which has attracted 13 entries.

Rule, meanwhile, is the highest seed in both the junior and cadet events and also the division one singles.

Jane Cohen (York RI) is favourite to retain three titles. She goes for her fourth ladies’ singles title and she also teams up with Anne Barnard in the ladies’ doubles and with Wilcockson in the mixed doubles.

Alan Balmforth is favoured to win the division three singles, while Terry Ruane tops the list in the division four competition.