Report from Paul Strutt

Prior to the start of the season we commenced our second Closed Championships the knockout rounds being played over a couple of weeks culminating with our finals night. In terms of numbers there were 30 entrants for the singles and 32 for the doubles representing approximately 75% of eligible members. A very satisfying response.

Social singles. For the first time we held a separate competition for social members only and this was won by the pre-tournament favourite Barbara Boshell who beat Colin Wark in the final having only lost one set throughout.

Junior singles. The winner of this competition was always going to come from the ‘Big Three’ of Liam Squirrell, Matt Stringer and Matt Nariel and that was how it proved. Last year’s winner Liam had the slightly easier draw and progressed to the final without losing a set, but in the other half of the draw the two Matt’s came head to head in the semi-final and it turned out to be one of the closest and best matches of all the competitions. In a tight first set Matt N came out on top 16-14 but Matt S fought back in the second to win it 18-16. Both players were not afraid to go out and hit the ball and there were some great rallies and shots by both players. The 3rd and 4th sets saw a different pattern of play as each player took it in turn to dominate the set both winning 11-4 to take it to the final set. Tied at 4-4 in the fifth Matt N led 5-4 as they changed ends but then forged ahead to close out the match 11-6. A great match and a great win for Matt N who would have been regarded as a slight underdog before the game. The final itself was more straightforward as despite losing the first set Liam came out on top and retained his title with a 10-12 11-6 11-5 11-5 victory.

Junior singles plate. The runners up in the groups from the Junior singles went into the plate competition and two of our younger players (both under 12) fought their way through to the final where the more experienced Liam Adshead overcame Archie Brace 11-4 11-7 13-11. Both players showed plenty of promise and should develop into good, young players.

Doubles. This competition was seeded to pair better players with the less experienced and it produced some interesting combinations. The winners of the 4 groups were Tim Pang and Roger Sherman, Ashley Seymour and Ron Rogerson, Paul Strutt and John Jolley and Dennis Squirrell and Jason Stringer. In the quarter finals Neal Klyman and David Cross provided the first upset beating Tim and Roger 3-1, then Ashley and Ron came back from 2 sets down to beat Alan Tideswell and Claire Stringer. Paul and John also came back from 2 sets down to beat Josh Copeland and Barbara Boshell but the emerging favourites Dennis and Jason went through without any problems beating Matt Stringer and Paul Seymour 3-0. In the semis Ashley and Ron went through 3-0 against Neal and David and in the other Dennis and Jason won 3-1 against our oldest pairing Paul and John. Dennis and Jason were favourites for the final being last year’s singles champion and last year’s doubles winner respectively, but they were upset by the excellent team play of Ashley and Ron who won comparatively easily 11-6 11-9 11-8

Singles. This year’s competition was eagerly awaited as it pitched Alan Tideswell and Tony Vassallo (both entering for the first time), against the likes of last year’s winner Dennis Squirrell and runner up Keith Abbott, plus the emerging young talent of Liam Squirrell, Matt Stringer and Matt Nariel. On league form alone Alan and Tony would have been favourites to meet in the final. The quarter finals saw Tony dispose of Josh Copeland 3-0 and Alan prove too strong for Liam winning 3-1. Dennis met Keith in a repeat of last year’s final and came out on top again 3-1 and in the remaining match Paul Strutt and Paul Henlen went the distance with Paul S eventually emerging as the winner 11-9 in the fifth set .In the semi final Alan predictably overcame Paul despite losing the first set but in the other Dennis provided the major upset of the night overcoming Tony’s awkward style to win 3-1, the last two sets being 11-9 15-13. In the final Dennis was unable to retain his title going down 11-5 11-9 11-7 to Alan whose forehand proved the difference between them.

All in all a very successful tournament enjoyed by all. Prize giving took place at our AGM on the 25th September

Paul Strutt

Author: via Southend Table Tennis League
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