The Closed Championships qualifying continued, with two new champions crowned, plus the finalists (or semi-finalists, in Open Singles) decided in four more events, although the scheduled Open Doubles at St. George's Hall on Friday, 2nd March, had to be postponed (to a date to be advised), due to snow!! It did leave Jackie Channell to claim the Ladies' Singles, though, as the only entry.
[ Stop Press: The Open Doubles is to be played on 2nd May, at the Crown & Sceptre venue! ]
Tuesday, 6th March saw three events contested. The UltraVet (80+) Singles featured just two entrants, this season, reigning champion, Tom Masters, and one challenger, Terry Marsh, however it was youth that won through, as Tom had to withdraw after starting the knock-up, leaving Terry to claim a 2nd title of the Championships. The Division 2 Singles featured two players each from McAlpine - Youguang Pan & Xin Jun Wang, and from Adeyfield B - Trevor McFarlane & Mariusz Puczynski, plus Bon Sapuan from St. George's 1st. The draw pitted the two McAlpine players against each other in a 'group' of 2, won by Xin Jun, whilst the others played out a group of three, topped by Bob, with Trevor beating Mariusz to runners-up spot, to give semi-finals of Xin Jun v Trevor, won in four close games by Xin Jun, whilst Bob comfortably beat Younguang in the other, to leave the final as Xin Jun v Bob. The final event of the night was the Handicap Singles, and four groups of three yielded the four semi-finalists. In one group, Youguang Pan won on countback as he, Terry Marsh & Niko Ferdinandov had won one apiece. Bob Sapuan won his group, with the draw having *again* put him in with both Trevor McFarlane & Mariusz Puczynski, although for the record, Mariusz evened up the score with Trevor! Xin Jun Wang was a comfortbale winner of his group, against Bob Andrews & John Stock, whilst the remaining group saw Les Leech just see off John Figg (close in five) & Nigel Finn. In the semi-finals. Xin Jun beat Bob in four games, whilst Les beat Youguang, also in four games, to leave a final to be played between Xin Jun Wang, on zero, and Les Leech, on -2.
Friday, 9th March was the last qualifying night (bar the postponed Doubles), so was to decide the four Open Singles semi-finalists and the two SuperVet Singles finalists. The SuperVet Singles was played as three groups of three (group winner, plus best runner-up to go through), and the group winners were Alan Thomas (ahead of Nigel Finn & John Stock), Ken Stonebridge (ahead of Jackie Channell & Colin Tibbles) and Gary Keers (ahead of Dave Wackrill & Bob Andrews), with Dave the best runner-up, on points countback. In the semi-finals, Gary defeated Dave in three close games, whilst Ken had to come from two games to one down, to defeat Alan in five games, leaving Gary and Ken to contest the final. The Open Singles saw the largest entry, with 15 on the night (though as with some of the other events, the weather probably a meant a few who had entered did not turn up), and so was arranged as five group of three, with group winners plus the three best runners-up to go into the quarter-finals. Groups went largely with seeding, with Ken Stonebridge winning his group against Alan Thomas & Colin Tibbles, and Angela Smith winning her group ahead of Bob Andrews & John Stock (Bob taking 2nd place). John McCance won a tighter group against Dave Wackrill & Toofan Khalili, with all matches going to four legs, whilst another group saw Gary Keers defeat Nigel Finn & Jackie Channell, with Nigel taking one leg off Gary. The closest group of all, perhaps surprisingly, was the one featuring the top seed, Mike Boardman. Mike dropped the opening leg against Bob Sapuan, but rallied to win well in four legs. Bob bounced back to edge out Bruce Ghaemi in five very close legs, but then Mike found himself having to go to a deciding leg against Bruce, before finally winning through in the fifth. Unlucky, Bruce! The three best runners-up were Nigel, Alan and Dave. In the quarter-finals, Mike beat Dave in four legs, as did Gary against Alan, whilst John won in straight games against Nigel. The most anticipated quarter-final was, perhaps not unexpectedly, the closest, as Ken took on Angela. Angela took the first at deuce, and blitzed Ken in game two, to go two legs up, however Ken hit back to take next three close legs, to just win through, 11-8, in the decider. This left the semi-final line-up as Mike v Ken and Gary v John.
Finals Night on Friday, 16th March at Adeyfield Hall - start at around 7:45pm.