The final of the Northumberland County Table Tennis KO Handicap Cup was played this week at Mount’s new summer league venue in Dunston. A Mount line-up of David Cutler, Rodney Roberts and Jamie Dent triumphed over Ouston B’s Neil Wilkinson, Tom Fowle and Jeff McKenna in a brilliant spectacle of table tennis.
Ouston’s route to the final included beating Cramlington Reivers in the quarter-finals and then Byker B in the semi-finals. Mount beat Birtley in the quarter-finals and then Newton B in the semis. In the Winter league, the teams play in separate divisions – Mount in Division 1 and Ouston B in Division 2, so Mount were prepared to deal with giving Ouston some decent-sized head-starts as part of the Handicap format.
Ouston started comfortably as Tom Fowle beat David Cutler in 2 ends. Cutler being the higher-graded player had to give Fowle a 7-point start and couldn’t quite overcome it, Fowle winning 21-18 and 21-15.
Mount bounced back quickly and took three matches in a row. Jamie Dent was responsible for 2 of these wins as he beat Neil Wilkinson 21-13 and 21-19 then Tom Fowle 21-10 and 21-10 again, both with Dent having a 2-point deficit to overcome. In-between these results, Rodney Roberts and Jeff McKenna battled for three close sets in the best display of the evening. Roberts gave McKenna a 9-point start and couldn’t prevail over this in the first end, losing 21-18. In the second end Roberts found form and won by the same score, 21-18. The deciding third end was even tighter still but McKenna eventually lost out 22-20, giving Roberts and Mount a 2-1 win.
At 3-1 down, times looked tough for Ouston. To get them back in the running, Jeff McKenna stepped up and played well to beat David Cutler in two quick sets after his disappointment of losing out in such a close match to Rod Roberts. Teammate Neil Wilkinson then backed him up with a consecutive win against Rodney Roberts with a 7-point start which put the match score at 3-3.
Mount halted Ouston’s momentum when Jamie Dent then faced Jeff McKenna and overcame a 6-point deficit to win in 2 sets 21-13 and 22-20 which meant Mount just needed one more win to take the Cup.
The eighth match of the contest, Mount winning 4-3, was between Rodney Roberts and Tom Fowle. Fowle had a 7-point start but narrowly lost the first set 21-19. The second set was absolutely mammoth and Fowle really proved his resilience and nerve by winning 29-27. Eventually however Roberts dug in and battled to give his team the match and win them the Handicap Cup as he beat Fowle 21-19, Mount winning 5-3 overall.
Roberts’ nerve was key to winning the match for his team and as such he deserves a mention for Player of the Match. Jamie Dent however barely dropped a match all the way to the final and can consider himself Player of the Season in the Handicap Cup competition.