ROMFORD CLOSED TOURNAMENT 2016: Sunday 20th March saw the Romford League holding its Closed Tournament at the Coopers Co. & Coborn School. A very busy day saw players taking part in 5 events and the standard of table tennis was commented by many as being the highest for many years.
The first event (Men's Singles) saw an enthralling final between Josh Dye (seeded 2) and current holder of the title Richard Jermyn (seeded 1). The match saw some brilliant hitting by both players with Josh having to play away from the table to produce many deep defensive lobs to return the hitting of Richard. Despite nursing an injury Richard was able to dictate a lot of the close table play, so it came as no surprise that the match went to a 5th end. Some big forehands from Josh which had paid dividends throughout the match failed to go on and the steadier Richard delivered an 11-8 final score and so secured the title once again for an unprecedented 4th season. This has never been done before. Scores (7-11,11-8,5-11,11-8,11-8).
The Men's Doubles saw the holders Richard Jermyn and Cliff Carder having to withdraw due to recurring injury problems, so the stage was set for a new combination to take their place. This gave Josh Dye/Peter Norcott and Jamie Bond/Robert Kemp the opportunity to play their way to the final. A tight final saw Josh/Peter winning in 4 sets but they didn't have it all their own way with the last 3 ends going to 8's and 9's. (11-5,11-8,9-11,11-8).
The Minor Singles had a entry of 5 players with the players ending in a final group of 3 to decide the overall winner and runner up positions. The winner of the event was Riad Daher with Andy Clarke as runner up.
The anticipated Handicap Event saw a number of early exits with the holder (Chris Herbert)for the past 2 years going out in the group stage. Simon Penrose made good use of his handicap points to get to the semi-final stage but the final was to be a real nail biter between Jack Stockdale (+3) and Richard Thorne (+10). The match was played up to 31 points and throughout the match Jack slowly managed to reduce Richards handicap lead of 7 points. Terrific backhand and forehand exchanges at the table took place with every point being tightly contested. Consistent forehand blocks and returns from Richard always meant Jack had to wait for the right time to put any ball away. As both players worked their way through the 20's, Jack was reducing the lead and it resulted in both players being tied at 30-30 (deuce). It was to Jack's advantage that he had the serve. A deuce in the Handicap is won on the next point (not by 2 clear points). Jack served and Richards return went long over the end of the table, 31-30 to Jack. And a solid all round applause from the audience who had thoroughly enjoyed the match from both players.
The last event of the day was the Div 2 (Restricted singles). A very strong entry of players was always going to provide some exciting match ups and so it proved with the juniors producing some shocks as they progressed through the Group stages. So it was that the semi-finals were contested between 4 juniors Jack Stockdale and Dan Wills, Andrew Dukes and Abdullah Ubaidullah. Both Jack and Abdullah won their semi's in 3 sets to meet in the final. Again we were treated to an impressive match of attacking play with both juniors not wanting to give an inch. Forehands and backhands all came into play as both sought to take control of the final. It was however the slightly more consistent play from Abdullah that saw him take the title in the 4th end. A long day for both juniors who had progressed through all their events to the latter stages. Again those watching showed their appreciation for a really good final. Scores (13-11,11-7,5-11,11-8)
As always the Committee wishes to show its appreciation for the work done before and during the Tournament by John Mansfield. John does the scheduling of events for the day, as well as pulling together the event groupings and the order of play. In addition keeping Denis O'Riordan and myself on our toes to keep the events moving along. John had scheduled the Div 2 final to commence at 6:15 and we hit it right on the button. Many thanks John.
The Tournament doesn't become a success without the participation of the League players and all those that entered I am sure had a great time, be they winners or 'not winners'. It is our Romford Tournament and to all those who took part, many thanks. This year saw many juniors entering and making themselves felt with an extremely high standard of play which is good to see and rewarding for those who have taken the time to coach and encourage at the Maylands Juniors Club and at the Havering TTC. I feel the senior players will need to be looking over their shoulders even more next year!