Championships Review Part One - Saturday

The Championships were held over the weekend of March 18/19 and featured plenty of great table tennis and some surprising results. For you stats-lovers, we had 90 players competing in 18 events over 22 hours on 8 tables totalling 441 matches, and 883 pounds was raised from the combined efforts of the cafeteria and raffle (the funds of which help support the league and tournament costs) - thank you everybody for your support. The tournament was run very successfully which is down to a lot of hard work and careful planning, so I will begin with the thank yous (or you could think of them as movie credits).

Alan Dadswell - The man of the hour, who sat on the control table all weekend, not forgetting that he also managed the entries, scheduling AND paperwork

Alan Dadswell, Peter Ballard, Dan Richardson, Dan Anderson, Lee McHugh - For doing the draw

Dan Anderson - Microphone announcements for most of the weekend, and assisting on the control table

Peter Ballard, Dave Goody, Brian Ellis - For general assistance

Val Board - For organising the raffle and selling tickets

Jan Dadswell - For running the cafeteria all weekend which were very long days, with assistance from Elise Ballard on Saturday

Rose Goody, June Knights, Michelle Hancox, Jan Dadswell, Emma Dadswell and Jean of Brian & Jean - For their delicious baking

Scott Perry - Nominated Volunteer Umpire of the Tournament who did about fifteen matches on Sunday, and for generally being helpful and always smiling - and thank you also to all other volunteer umpires

Kevin Briggs - For providing the speakers and microphone equipment

Tim Huxtable - And any others who helped keep the wall scoreboards updated

The guys from Topspin Sports - For being as usual extremely cooperative with delivery/assembling/collection of equipment

Everyone who helped set up/pack away - Chris Hancox, Neil Want, Cameron Gray, Brian Ellis, Dave Goody, Tim Huxtable, Peter Ballard, Keith Adams, Scott Perry, Alan Dadswell, Dan Anderson, Val Board, Lee McHugh

I sincerely apologise if I’ve forgotten anyone.

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So what happened? I will do this chronologically.

Saturday

The sun is up. Bread is being sliced in the Dadswell Household. Players are awakening. Some are leaping out of their beds into their ping pong shorts, others mill around their houses rethinking if they really want to be chasing after a little white ball at this time of morning.  The clock strikes half past eight. The Fambridge Trophy event (Division 3 players only) first round is called. It begins. The juniors show morning vigour with Thomas Page sneaking past Sam Mortimer-Ford -15, 10, 9, 9. Philip West battles past U3A teammate 8, 4, -8, -2, 7. In Round Two Thomas Page challenges third seed Peter Mortensen, going down -3, -13, -8, while Tom Butcher of Woodham almost mounts the first upset of the day and narrowly succumbs 10-12 in the fifth end to second seed Louis Gunn. At the Quarter-Finals stage the seedings are finally upset, with newcomer Conor Hall getting the better of fourth seed Vince Gurney 9, -11, 8, 8, and league stalwart Mike Burton defeated first seed, title holder (and clubmate) Mitch Davies 6, 7, -5, -10, 8. In the other Quarters the second and third seeds Louis Gunn and Peter Mortensen used their guile and experience to down the challenges of Will Moore and Ewan Hynd respectively. And so to the Semi-Finals and two exceedingly close matches, Mike Burton beating Conor Hall 7, -9, -10, 7, 8 and Peter Mortensen beating West Maldon teammate Louis Gunn 10, 1, -11, 14 (what happened in the second game Louis?!). The Final between Burton and Mortensen swung this way and that with nothing between the players the first three ends 12-10, 9-11, 12-10 to give Peter a two-one lead, then in the fourth 2012 Champion Burton gained some momentum striking fear into the heart of Mortensen 11-6, but the python that is Peter Mortensen (and the press’s tip for this event, may I add) raced home 11-2 in the fifth and final end before cracking open the champagne and spraying it all over the control table.

 

The Cadet Singles (Under 15s) gets underway with group stages and the top two players from each progressing to the knockout rounds. In Group One Luca Bailey progresses winner as expected followed by Will Moore as runner-up. Group Two sees Ewan Hynd continue his good form from the Fambridge Trophy to take top spot while second place goes to Toby Hawkes, and it was hard-earned for Toby with a -10, 10, -13, 13, 7 victory over Blaydon Farmer. There is no stopping Conor Hall in Group Three while Noah Sage is runner-up only losing to Conor, and Group Four sees Thomas Page and Sam Mortimer-Ford progress. The Quarter-Finals see some close matches with Thomas Page defeating Noah Sage 11-8 in the fifth while Conor Hall gets past Sam Mortimer-Ford also in the fifth end. The Semi-Finals are fought out between Luca Bailey and Thomas Page, and Conor Hall and Ewan Hynd; Bailey’s experience cleanly sees him through and Hynd does very well to beat Hall in an incredibly close contest -13, 10, 10, -10, 5. In the Final Bailey had a little too much for Hynd and ran out a comfortable winner 6, 3, 4. Congratulations Luca!

 

The coveted (who doesn’t want to win it, really?) Restricted Singles (Division 2 & 3 players only) commences with group stages and went pretty much with the seedings, although there are a few scorelines worth mentioning: Group Seven sees an upset of sorts with Fambridge Trophy victor Peter Mortensen beating dark horse George Ashley (see you later, dark horse)  15-13 in the fifth; Group Six is an all-Woodham affair and sees close matches with Luca Bailey getting past Vince Gurney in the fifth and Allan Steel defeating Bailey by the same margin; Group Four sees a corking 9, 16, -5, 9 win for Tom Butcher over Brian Ellis; Group Two sees John Knights push Tim Huxtable all the way and in Group One after four competitive ends Dave Goody rather bizarrely “donuted” Louis Gunn in the fifth (I’ll have sprinkles on mine, Louis). So onwards to the knockout stages when things get serious (well, more serious than usual): Nick Duce fights back from a two-game deficit to beat Colin Barham and the unseeded Peter Mortensen impressively despatches eighth seed Rod Maclennan 9, 12, 6. In the Quarter-Finals Nick Duce anti-spins his way past The Man of Steel (Allan) and Victor Chan sweeps aside Mortensen, while third seed Roger Hance is knocked out by David Hancox. The Semi-Finals are fought between Victor Chan and David Hancox, and David Gatheral and Nick Duce, and so it went with the seedings to line up a No.1 Gatheral vs No.2 Chan grand finale. David Gatheral harnessing the true power of pimples beats Victor Chan 8, 7, 4 to collect his trophy (which I do believe was filled with fine whisky that very evening), much to the frustration of Chan.

 

The Junior Singles (Under 18s) involves many of the same players from the Cadets event and the group stages went mostly with the formbook, the exception perhaps being Sam Mortimer-Ford’s fine five-game victory over Conor Hall in Group Two. Group Three sees a hard-fought win for Jack Wood over Charlie Hawkes 5, -7, -7, 10, 9. The Quarter-Finals sees Ewan Hynd get past Sam Mortimer-Ford and Noah Page beat Jack Wood, while the seeds Luca Bailey and 2016 Cadets winner Kieran Stanley progress past Fin Wheeler and Thomas Page respectively. In the Semi-Finals Bailey and Stanley have a little too much for their opponents Hynd and Sage to set up a Final meeting, so the Junior Singles Final will be contested on Finals Night between Luca Bailey and Kieran Stanley. The Junior Doubles (Under 18s) was truly unpredictable and was going to come down to the partnerships that gelled best. Played as a straight knockout in Round One Sam Mortimer-Ford/Noah Sage do well to beat Luca Bailey/Alex Wilson by a tight scoreline 9, -9, 9, 9 and the Hawkes brothers Charlie/Toby fight past Will Ratcliffe/Ewan Hynd winning 11-9 in the fifth. In the Semi-Finals Mortimer-Ford/Sage display their strength and teamwork by defeating the Hawkes brothers, and Will Moore/Blaydon Farmer beat Conor Hall/Fin Wheeler 6, 9, -7, 9. The Junior Doubles 2017 Champions are Sam Mortimer-Ford/Noah Sage who in the Final defeated Moore/Farmer 8, 6, 9.

 

The third and final divisional event – The Mixed Open – is next, which is unseeded with a random draw and straight knockout, so can spring plenty of strong match-ups in the early rounds making it important for any player hoping to win this event to hit the ground running. In the opening rounds of the top half of the draw Lee McHugh and Cameron Gray have a nervy encounter which McHugh wins over four ends, and Sam Lowman impressively despatches Chris Hancox in straight sets. Probably the highest quality Round One match (which was an unlucky draw for both players, really) sees two-time champion Peter Mynard beat Steve Maltby -13, 1, 8, -8, 4, and then two rounds later Mynard rises to the challenge of 2016 finalist Steve Whiteley winning -6, 6, 2, 3 to set up a Quarter-Final meeting with Sam Lowman, who knocked out Lee McHugh the previous round. Elsewhere in the top half, Rod Maclennan beats Kieran Stanley 6, -8, 10, -10, 8 to set up a Quarter-Final meeting with Neil Want; Want had needed five ends to get past both Brian Ellis and Nick Duce, and then beat Tim Huxtable 6, 9, 9. In the bottom half of the draw, there is a very close Round Three battle of the combination bats between Eric Green and David Gatheral, which Green wins 6, -4, -9, 7, 9 to set up a Quarter-Final meeting with Richard Storey; Storey had beaten Tom Elder 3, 9, -8, 5 the previous round. Elsewhere in the bottom half, the Return of the Dark Horse George Ashley is neighing away with a win over Dawn Baldry -11, 9, 8, -5, 5, and then the equine leads Barrie Delf by two games before The Delf fights back to win 11-7 in the fifth to set up a Quarter-Final meeting with Glenn Johnson; Johnson had beaten the leftie hook-spinner Ciaran Whelan 7, 9, 8 in the previous round. So on to the Quarters when Want and Green ease past Maclennan and Storey respectively in straight sets; a much closer encounter sees Johnson beat Delf -8, 6, 9, -10, 6; and most impressively Lowman gets the better of Mynard -8, 8, 6, 10. The Semi-Final between Eric Green and Glenn Johnson is an excellent match with a tense finish, which Johnson wins -7, 10, 9, -6, 10 to book his place in the Final. Sam Lowman had had a difficult run in this event thus far (all Division One players, in fact), having shown consistency to progress past Chris Hancox, Lee McHugh and Peter Mynard, and he continues on this path with an impressive straight sets dismissal of Neil Want 7, 7, 7 in the Semi-Final to book his meeting with Johnson. The Final between Sam Lowman and Glenn Johnson was a worthy one, Lowman exhibiting a patient strategy with carefully chosen powerful attacks, and there is little to choose between the two after the first two ends which were shared 11-8, 8-11; in the third end Johnson increases his aggression - aware that Lowman is making few unforced errors - and starts to take on some winning hits with his forehand to shade the third end 11-9. So Johnson leads two-one and with all his experience at this point one would expect him to come through as a victor, and so it proved as he won the fourth end 11-7, giving Glenn Johnson his first (somewhat surprisingly) Mixed Open title.

 

The day rounds off with the Handicap events, where the players' starting point handicaps are predetermined and range from +15 all the way to -20. These matches are played in the old format of ‘Best of 3 games up to 21 points’ and aim to level the playing field to give every player an equal chance regardless of ability. Handicap Singles Round One throws together some interesting match-ups. Lee McHugh (-14) and Jean Chasmer (+4) have a marathon which features many long rallies in the later stages, McHugh just pulling away at the end to win 18, -18, 19. Luca Bailey scores an excellent 13, 16 win over Colin Napper from a +6 handicap. An encounter between Brian Ellis and Thomas Page sees Page start on +9 and impressively race home in the second end to win 18, 12. David Hancox from +3 does well to get past Lin Roff 14, -16, 12. Another close match between clubmates sees Mike Burton (+4) beat George Ashley (-4) 15, -17, 18. Neil Want (-11) is in good form to win 21-9 in the first end against Reece Seddon (-18) and then when Seddon turns up the heat Want manages to win a very tight second set 22-20. As the Burnham Tournament fates often see repeat match-ups, so it is the case with a repeat of the Mixed Open Round One match between Peter Mynard and Steve Maltby, once again playing off scratch (on -14 a piece) and Mynard again victorious 11, 18. The heaviest handicapped player Gary Young (-20) has a couple of tough challenges early on, beating John Knights (+3) and Vince Gurney (+2). However the match with the biggest starting point difference from the whole event is the Round Two match between Ciaran Whelan (-14) and Philip West (+14), and no offence to Ciaran but had I not been shoving one of Jan’s sausage rolls (sausages in a roll) down my gullet I would have been down the bookies putting everything I had (not a lot admittedly) on a result for West, but Whelan showed true patience and consistency to win 18, 20. Poor Ciaran receives rotten luck in the following round when he is despatched by Thomas Page (+12) with a rather telling story of a scoreline: -20, 13, 5. In Round Two Allan Steel (-4) does well to beat Luca Bailey (-1) 11, 14, as does Mervyn Perryman (-1) to get the better of Dan Anderson (-10) 17, 9. An exceptionally close match sees Victor Chan (-6) best Chris Hancox (-9) 20, 20, and Sam Lowman (-11) kicks Lee McHugh (-14) in the teeth (not literally) by repeating his Mixed Open success, 14, 16, but Lowman’s time runs out in the following round when he is downed by the steady Mervyn Perryman (-1) 17, 11. A very topsy-turvy match sees Rod Maclennan (-4) beat Mitch Davies (+2) 10, -16, 20. In Round Three Victor Chan (-6) impressively defeats Peter Mynard (-14) -18, 18, 10, and Colin Barham (-1) shows determination to beat Rod Maclennan (-4) 19, 22. I would have fancied the chances of Peter Mortensen playing off +2 following his Fambridge Trophy success, but his Handicap Singles dreams did not come to fruition which leads me to my nomination for the best performer in this event (aside from the eventual Finalists, of course) – The Barrie that is Delf. Playing off -14, Barrie first very impressively beats Mortensen 11, 12, then even more impressively beats Gary Young (-20) 17, 15, then arguably even more impressively in the Quarter-Final beats Thomas Page (+12) (coming back from losing the first end -12) 21, 18. The Delf’s reign of awesomeness finally comes to an end at the Semi-Final stage – and what an end, I mean, it really came crashing down – and the crasher with crushing forehands is young Kieran Stanley (-1) who beats Delf -13, 8, 2. Stanley had impressively defeated Allan Steel -17, 18, 11 in Round Three, and then David Gatheral 21, 16 in their Quarter-Final. In the other Quarter-Finals Mervyn Perryman (-1) proves a tad too steady for Victor Chan (-6) winning out 14, 16, and David Hancox (-4) beats Colin Barham (-1) 16, -17, 17. In Hancox’s and Perryman’s Semi-Final meeting it is Perryman who comes out on top 17, 15. So finally we get to the Final, the experienced Mervyn Perryman versus the audacious Kieran Stanley, both playing off -1 so in a fitting end to the Handicap Singles the Final was to be played off scratch. With powerful, consistent forehand winners Stanley wins the first end comprehensively 21-15, but Perryman’s plan is not to be deterred as he takes the second end just as convincingly 21-17. In third and final end and a true testament to Perryman’s performance given how well Stanley had been playing throughout the day, Perryman raced home to win 21-12 and capture the Handicap Singles title.

 

The Handicap Doubles with partners drawn from a hat is like a big mixing bowl where table tennis is the dough and the tournament is the spoon. There are tons of partnerships which you would look at and think “they look tasty”, so it is interesting to see the event transpire and it is closely fought matches galore, with perhaps the exception in a Round One match when Tim Huxtable/John Knights (+2) pummel Gary Young/Cameron Gray (-13) 21-5, 21-5! Most of the matches are down to fine margins and a few points here or there. In Round One Richard Storey/Dan Anderson (-10) beat Peter Mortensen/Vince Gurney (+2) 22-20 in the third, and the steady pair of Mervyn Perryman/David Gatheral (-5) are knocked out by Woodham power Mitch Davies/Allan Steel (-1). Round Two sees Val Board/Lee McHugh (-5) take out Colin Barham/Barrie Delf (-8) 21-23, 21-17, 21-19, and Mike Burton/Peter Mynard (-5) get past Steve Maltby/Sam Lowman (-12) 21-18, 25-27, 21-15. The explosive pair of Dawn Baldry/Chris Hancox (-8) beat Philip West/David Hancox (+5) 21-19, 22-20, and Alan Mills/Jean Chasmer (+6) battle their way past Tom Elder/Roger Warren (-2) 23-21, 21-18. In a match where one player spends an ample amount of time on the floor Scott Perry/Louis Gunn (-1) defeat Storey/Anderson (-10) 21-17, 21-18, and the encounter between Huxtable/Knights (+2) and the hard-hitting Reece Seddon/Rod Maclennan combo (-12) could scarcely have been closer with Huxtable/Knights winning 22-20, 18-21, 22-20. Control table master Alan Dadswell steps up to the plate for his first match of the tournament to fill in as Neil Want’s partner (what greater challenge is there?) and playing off a minus 6 handicap their run to victory was short-lived as they were beaten 16-21, 17-21 by Kieran Stanley/Lin Roff (-3). By the Quarter-Finals stage Stanley/Roff have found their groove, comfortably sweeping aside Board/McHugh 21-12, 21-14, and the same goes for both Burton/Mynard and Davies/Steel who both score wins over Baldry/Hancox and Mills/Chasmer respectively, 21-11, 21-11 and 21-12, 21-16. The other Quarter is a bit closer in which Huxtable/Knights beat Perry/Gunn 21-11, 17-21, 21-14. The Semi-Finals both go to three ends, Stanley/Roff (-3) getting the better of Davies/Steel (-1) 21-18, 14-21, 21-17 to book their place in the Final, and in the other Semi Burton/Mynard (-5) regain their composure after dropping the first end 15-21 to the fearsome Huxtable/Knights (+2) to come back and win the next two ends 21-16, 21-15. So, finally there is the Final with Stanley/Roff (-3) versus Burton/Mynard (-5). The first end is very competitive with many long rallies covering all the angles of a table tennis table and Burton/Mynard edge it 22-10. In the second end, despite Roff retrieving well and Stanley hitting some good winners, the Mynard/Burton pair settle into a winning strategy with Burton’s chops frequently setting up Mynard’s put-aways, and so it proved as they raced home 21-14 to win the title. As an added bonus for Peter Mynard he becomes the first player to win this event three times (with three different partners), toppling the two-time records held by John Knights, Neil Want and Tony Reece-Ford.

 

Part Two to follow.

Lee McHugh - Press & Publicity Officer - Burnham Table Tennis League

 

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