A quality field contested this year’s annual Kettering and District League’s closed tournament with a total of 53 players entered across the various events on offer. The Men’s single title remains the one that everyone wants to win and 39 players competed to show that they could become the main man.
There were no major shocks from the initial groups stages with all the seeds getting through their groups very comfortably. The most competitive group was group 13 which saw Dan Smalley emerge from the “group of death” following wins over Barry Thompson and Antonio Jaraices. Shock results failed to materialise at the first knockout stage either as all of the top 8 seeds emerged victorious.
At the quarter final stage, Dawid Przybysz (seeded 1) defeated Kevin Bird (6), John Fuller (2) knocked out Chris Haynes (8), Steve Silk (3) beat Roumen Stefanov (7) as the tournament continued to go the way of the seeds. However, Richard Elliott (5) ruined the run of the top 4 seeds when he saw off the number four seeded Chris Ross.
The semi-finals produced two absolute classic encounters with the clash between Silk and Przybysz the highlight. An exciting clash between the two players eventually saw Silk’s outstanding blocking and counterpunching game finally emerge successful over Przybysz’s dynamic attacking matchplay. The match could not have been any closer with Silk finally winning through to the final 17-15 in the deciding end.
Meeting Silk in the final was John Fuller in a repeat of last year’s final as his sturdy defence eventually wore down Elliott in the other semi final match.
In recent encounters, Fuller has had the better of the meetings, but it was Silk who made the stronger start as he established a 2-0 lead (15-13, 11-5). Fuller clawed his way back into the final with an 11-9 win and turned the match around with 11-5, 11-8 wins to take the title for the fourth time.
In last year’s event, Fuller had become the first player to win the Men’s Singles title, the Over 40’s title and the Over 50’s title in the same year and many people were wondering if he could repeat that achievement again this year. In the Over 40’s event, he made his way to the final but had to survive a scare against Elliott. Fuller found himself 2-1 behind and facing a match point in the fourth end. Sadly for Elliott, he could not convert this opportunity and Fuller eased through in five ends.
In the final, Fuller again found himself up against Silk again but this time Fuller dominated the match to win 11-7, 13-11, 11-4 to claim a sixth title in this age group.
Fuller and Silk continued to display their dominance of the tournament as they each made their way to the final of the Over 50 event. In a repeat of the Men’s singles final, Silk established a 2-0 lead. Fuller is known for his outstanding fitness levels though, and again wore down his rival to win 10-12, 11-13, 11-6, 11-8, 11-4 to repeat his hat-trick of title wins that he had achieved the previous year, with Silk again runner-up in all three finals.
Ray Kingston took the Over 60’s crown with an 11-3, 11-9, 11-6 win over Ian Baldock.
There were just three entrants in the Ladies singles event and so it was played on a round robin basis. Nicole Bird again proved to be the top lady in the league, winning the title for the fourth time with Helen Watts the runner-up. Bird and Watts then teamed up to take the corresponding doubles title with victory over Lauren Ainsworth and Lucy Haynes.
Shocks may have been in short supply in the singles events, but Aaron Moore and Guy Sparrow produced shock after shock in the Men’s doubles competition. Going into the event they were unseeded but this did not deter them. They put out the number six seeds Fuller and Gerald Henson before seeing off Matt Horrocks and Sam Wildman at the quarter final stage.
At the semi final stage they produced a masterful performance to knock out the top seeded Przybysz and Ross to make the final against Bird and Stefanov. However, the second seeds proved one challenge too many as Bird and Stefanov claimed an 11-6, 10-12, 11-7, 11-3 victory to retain their title.
The pairing of Bird and Stefanov would also retain their Over 40’s double crown after recovering from 2-1 down to defeat Elliott and Silk and achieve a “double, double”.
Silk, in partnership with Ray Kinsgton proceeded to the final of the Over 50’s doubles only to taste final agony for the fourth time when he again fell victim to Fuller and his partner Gerald Henson.
After four runners-up positions, Silk would eventually claim a title when he partnered Helen Watts to Mixed doubles success over Nicole Bird and Henry Arthur.
After two consecutive runners-up finishes in the Over 30/Under 40 event, Chris Haynes finally became the champion with success over 2013 winner Dariusz Gulbicki.
The Under 30’s event was an excellent competition with no fewer than six players having a realistic chance of emerging as champion. In the end though it was the top seeded Miss Bird who took the title in a one sided match against third seed Guy Sparrow.
Bird would add the Under 18 title to her list of successes but Ross Campbell pushed her to the limit before succumbing in five ends.
The Under 18 doubles title went to Nathan Brown and Dan Bottrill courtesy of a 3-1 win over Harry Lade and Jacob Tattersall with the vanquished duo going on to take the under 16 title, defeating Ben Freeman and Patryk Jakubas. Lade also won the Under 16 singles event with a win over Freeman.
Nathan Thompson became the latest player to win the Class One event with Tom Ravenscroft a surprise winner in the Class Two event.
Thompson (+8) then picked up his second title when he won the Premier Division Handicap event with a 21-14, 21-14 win over Alex Aston (+4).
The Division One Handicap final was a close match between Liam Burnham (+1) and Steve Crook (+7) which Burnham won 16-21, 21-13, 21-19.
Martin Watts became the Division Two Handicap champion when, playing off scratch, he defeated Tattersall (+13) 21-15, 21-18.
Finally, Aaron Moore and Ross Campbell were to take the Mystery Doubles title with a 6-11, 11-9, 11-8, 3-11, 11-9 success over Matt Rushton and Chris Agg.
Many thanks go to Phil Slade, Mike Wildman, Dennis Millman and the volunteers from Westfield Table Tennis Club for their efforts to ensure another hugely successful event.