2018 Championships Finals

The Finals' Night of the 2018 Closed Championships took place on Friday, 16th March.

First up, to whet the appetite, were the two Open Singles semi-finals. The first featured reigning champion, Mike Boardman, who had won four of the previous five title, playing Ken Stonebridge, whose win in 2015 has stopped Mike winning five in a row! Mike was fast out of the blocks and quickly took the first leg, 11-5, then following it up, 11-7, in the next. Ken fought back, though, grabbing the third leg 11-9, but Mike was not to be denied, and upped his game again, riding a bit of luck, to take the fourth leg 11-8. Next up it was the Crown & Sceptre 1st battle, as Gary Keers took on John McCance, and it was Gary who drew first blood, with an 11-6 win in the opener. John battled back, taking the next, 11-8, to draw level. Gary then seemed to take control, with his 11-2 win in the third, but again the fortunes switched, as John hit back to win the next 11-4, forcing a decider. However, Gary seized the initiative early in the fifth leg, and never looked back, going on to win 11-4.

The Division 2 Singles final was next up, and Xin Jun Wang was a comfortable winner of the fist leg, 11-5, versus Bob Sapuan, whose hitting was a bit wild, at times. Bob waited for his chances better in the second and third legs, but in both, despite edging ahead at times, was just denied by some good hitting of his own by Xin Jun, and more misses from Bob, to leave Xin Jun as the Division 2 champion, winning legs 2 / 3, 11-9, 12-10, and adding a new name to the League's roll of honour.

The Veteran Singles brought Mike Boardman and John McCance back to the table, and it gave us two nail-biting opening legs, with Mike taking both at deuce, 13-11 and 15-13. Going two nil up seemed to give Mike renewed confidence, and he powered through the third leg, as John's standard dropped a tad, to win 11-5, and that makes it three Veteran Singles titles in a row for Mike, and still the chance to make it a double triple, if he could add the Open Singles, later.

The age group moved up a notch, with the SuperVet Singles on next, as Gary Keers played Ken Stonebridge. Gary was very sharp, throughout, and used his big 'leftie' forehand to great effect, and despite some great returning from Ken, Gary came through comfortably, 11-8, 11-5, 11-7, to retain the SuperVets title he won at the first time of asking, last season!

Match six of the night was the Handicap Singles, with Les Leech (-2) taking on the new Division 2 Singles champion, Xin Jun Wang (0). Xin Jun took the first comfortably, 11-4, as Les made mistakes, but Les dug in and steadied his game, taking the next two legs, 11-8, 11-2, and seemed to be well in control. However, Xin Jun hit back with some fine hitting, mixed with his awkward spin, taking the fourth leg 11-8, to force a decider. Not much in it in the fifth, but Les was always just ahead, and finally ran out 11-7 winner in the final leg, and so take the Handicap Singles title for the third time.

The Open Singles final was Mike Boardman versus Gary Keers. Mike was top seed / eleven times champion, top of the Averages, and having already bagged his third consecutive Veteran Singles title, aiming to also do the treble, here. Gary was second seed / four times champion, third in the Averages, and although 2-1 down against Mike in the League, this season, had won last time out, and looked in good form, and had already collected his second SuperVet Singles title in a row, in fine fashion. A close opening leg saw Gary's blocking good enough to take it 11-8, and then at 10-4 up in the second, appeared to be on the way to a routine victory? Mike gritted his teeth and took seven points in a row, to go 11-10 up, but, Gary stemmed the flow, to edge it 13-11 and go two nil up. Gary again kept his nose in front in the third leg, but with Gary 10-8 up, Mike once again fought back to deuce, and this time managed to snatch the leg, 13-11. Undaunted, Gary forged ahead, yet again, in the fourth leg, backing himself to play on Mike's forehand and be able to control the big shots, and so it proved, as this time there was no way back for Mike, try as he might, and Gary took the leg, 11-4, and thus the 2018 Open Singles title, to make it a fifth such triumph for Gary.  

Author: via Hemel Hempstead Table Tennis League
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