ISLAND SENIOR CHAMPIONSHIPS 2012
At the end of a competitive but very enjoyable season Centre 21 was the venue for the Island’s top table tennis players to battle it out for this coveted award.
The line-up was impressive. The defending champion 15 year old Ronan McDonnell suffered only one defeat all season at the hands of Liam Chan while Mark Johnson played very few matches but is always a formidable opponent. Last year’s runner up Steve O’Hare relished the prospect of taking this title before he and his family head off to Australia while John Magnall, Julian Briercliffe and Paul Corran amongst others were all in it to win it.
In Group 1 McDonnell was quickly into his stride and secured first place without dropping a set. The battle for second place was much closer with three wins apiece for Briercliffe, Haydn McLarney and Darren Smethurst. This meant a count back was required which went in favour of Briercliffe who joined McDonnell in the knock out stages.
Group 2 was turned on its head by the late withdrawal of Malcolm Cummings and the recurrence of a knee injury to Mason McLarney. This left the way clear for Mike Tamarov to win the group with Becky Bayley in second place. Chris Holmes, who topped the averages in Division 3, also showed his continued improvement by picking up two good wins.
Group 3 was dominated by O’Hare and Chan. These two produced some excellent table tennis in their match to determine who would take first place. After sharing the first four games O’Hare took the honours 11/8.
Group 4 was the closest of all with a number of matches going the full 5 games. Corran narrowly missed out after winning three of his matches but Magnall and Johnson both won four a piece to go through to the knock out stages with Magnall in first place by virtue of his win over Johnson.
In the quarter finals the defending champion was again dominant and raced to a 3-0 win over Becky Bayley. The Briercliffe versus Tamarov contest was not so straight forward. They shared the first four games before Briercliffe triumphed 11/8 in the fifth. The defensive prowess of Johnson saw off the attacking flair of O’Hare 3-1 in their match but it was a reversal of those styles that prevailed in the other quarter final with the attacking style of Liam Chan getting the better of the defensive technique of John Magnall by 3-1.
The first semi final was an all out attacking game between McDonnell and Chan. There were some great rallies but the younger player showed greater control on his way to a second consecutive final with a 3-0 win.
The second semi final between the hard bat champion Johnson and Briercliffe was a much tighter affair with both players showing their tactical playing ability. Johnson made it through to the final after a close fought 3-1 win.
The final saw a contrast of both age and style as McDonnell’s attacking style was tested by the wily defensive play of Johnson. Attacking play took the first game 11/4 but Johnson levelled the match with a comfortable 11/2 win. The next two ends were much tighter but, with a great combination of attacking play and control, McDonnell was able to take them 11/8 11/9 to successfully defend his title.
This was played as a round robin with four ladies taking part. Jane Coulthurst started off by pipping Ruth Bailey to win the first match 11/5 in the fifth game. Rebecca Bayley was also able to beat Ruth in a close game 3-1.
All three players managed to overcome Maggie Mulhern which led to a final battle between Jane and Becky to take the honours. Becky was in good form and her attacking play showed no signs of relenting as she raced to a three straight win to secure her first senior ladies title.
The men’s doubles was also played as a round robin with five pairs taking part. Sean Cassidy and Chris Holmes secured a win against Ben Christian and Sam Callister but both of these duos lost to Sean Drewry and Ewan Watterson.
This, however, was not enough to get them through as the combinations of Steve O’Hare with Paul Corran and John Magnall partnered by Liam Chan both remained undefeated until the final match saw them competing against each other for the title. Corran and O’Hare ran out comfortable 3-0 winners and secured the title for 2012.
With only two pairs entered this was a straight final with Maggie Mulhern and Jane Coulthurst facing Ruth Bailey and Becky Bayley. The first four games were shared but Ruth and Becky took the decider 11/4 giving them the ladies doubles title.
With four pairs involved this was another round robin event. Maggie Mulhern and Steve O’Hare got off to a winning start against Ewan Watterson and Jane Coulthurst 3-1 while Ruth Bailey and Nigel Beattie also showed they were a force to be reckoned with by beating Becky Bayley and Liam Chan 3-2.
With Maggie and Steve and Ruth and Nigel winning all their matches the title was to be decided when they played each other. The first two games were shared but then Maggie and Steve took control to take the final two games 11/7 11/8 which gave them the mixed doubles title for 2012.
Thanks to Andy McLarney and Maggie Mulhern for organizing this event.