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Table tennis: the rules and the Scottish contenders

During the 2014 Commonwealth Games, table tennis will be showcased at the Scotstoun Sports Campus in Glasgow's west end.

Although it remains a relatively new event to the Games, after making its official debut in 2002, don't underestimate the control, precision and focus in the sport.

Table tennis will take place over four different competition formats - team event, singles, doubles and mixed doubles.

Despite often seeming to be a game of miniature proportions based on its much larger predecessor of tennis, table tennis has its own individual principles which define the sport entirely. These are established under five key rules of play -

Rule 1: Players must allow the ball to bounce once on their side of the table before returning it.

Rule 2: Points are scored for the opponent when a player fails to return the ball correctly. It is an automatic point to the opponent if a player fails to serve the ball adequately, fails to make a suitable return, strikes the ball twice or moves the playing surface.

Rule 3: All singles matches are best of seven games, while doubles and team competitions are best of five.

Rule 4: A game is won by the first player to score 11 points or more, with a clear lead of at least two consecutive points.

Rule 5: Each player is entitled to a time out of up to one minute during the match.

These rules form the essential foundations of the sport. Once grasped, the world of table tennis, with its endless tactics and quirky terminology (sandwich rubber, anyone?) becomes expansive.

So who could be home favourites?

Gavin Rumgay is Scotland's number one ranked player with a total of nine national titles to his name. For many, he is perceived as the Andy Murray of the table tennis world as he formerly competed and won against Murray in junior tennis championships.

He is currently one of the most prominent Scottish table tennis athletes, particularly due to the recognition he has received from international sponsors. However, as a result of the lack of Scottish table tennis funding in comparison to other sports, he has also turned to entrepreneurial works such as launching his own racket business and coaching.

Another primary contender for a possible Scottish medal is Craig Howieson. Craig is currently ranked number two in Scotland and competed in the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games. While there, he helped Scotland gain a respectable ninth place in the men's team event. The 23 year-old PE teacher from Broughton High School in Edinburgh is confident that Scotland can replicate the same success in Glasgow. He says: "Everyone ups their game for a Commonwealth Games, but we believe that if we keep improving, we have a chance of challenging for medals...I'm training and playing much better now than I have for the last couple of years, so things are looking up."

And in the women's events?

Gillian Edwards is Scotland's number one ranked player, hailing from Merseyside-based club Halton. She is well-known for her powerful topspin and is expected to be the best bet for a Glasgow 2014 medal.

Glasgow university student and current Scottish number two Lynda Flaws rose to prominence after appearances at World team and European Champions in October ast year. With a series of titles to her name, Lynda is a strong Scottish medal hopeful for Glasgow 2014 at only 19 years old.

Nevertheless, Scotland has a very long way to go before any major breakthrough may be achieved in the sport. With the world rankings dominated by Chinese players, and other seemingly unstoppable players from the likes of Singapore and India, the current Scottish champion ranks only 266th in the world. Intense competition from overseas countries continues to heighten as table tennis becomes a widespread sport.

Over the next few weeks, I'll investigate the influence and scale of table tennis in Scotland. Is there genuine enthusiasm and devotion to the sport or is it simply perceived as a game of little substance?

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