SDTTL CLOSED CHAMPIONSHIPS  2015 - Report from Ken Field

‘Juniors shine at the Southend & DTTL’s 2015 Closed Championships’

The Southend & District Table Tennis League held their 2014-5 Closed Championships Finals last night at the Hullbridge Sports Association.

We thank the Hullbridge Chairman, Danny Gatehouse, for allowing us to use their superb facilities. The Room was set up by Hullbridge’s Howard Grant and Stuart Gibbs and our thanks go to them as well and we thank the Hullbridge Table Tennis Chairman, Jayne Johnson and her colleagues for all the help they have given on this occasion and many others.

1.    The evening got under way with first of the 2 Under 21s Semi FinalsKieran Skeggs, Thorpe Bay, met Rawreth’s Ben Matthews. Ben controlled the first 2 sets, with good defending and counter hitting and looked on his way to the Final with 2 set lead. At that point, Kieran, guided by his Coach & Father, Paul Skeggs, switched his all out attack to a much slower game, with several long rallies and gradually he gained control to win the match 13-15, 8-11, 11-6, 11-8, 11-7. Jason Stringer of the Hockley Table Tennis Club Umpired.

2.    The next Under 21s Semi Final , saw Saturday’s Premier Division Restricted Champion, Hullbridge’s 14 year old Sam Hume (Sam being the only junior to reach the Under 21 Semis) face fast improving Rawreth Premier player Reece Seddon. All sets were very close; 2 at Deuce and the other at 10-9.  Sam just held on to take all three and progress to the Final. Clearly both of these players are going to be at the top in the years ahead. Sam winning 12-10, 11-9, 12-10. Tim Pang, Hockley’s Coach, umpired.

3.    Onto the the first of the 2 Men’s Singles Semi Finals. With Kevin Caldon, Hullbridge. With Kevin top of the Premier averages and with a number of successes in National Over 50s Events, it was no surprise when Kevin beat Rayleigh Mill’s Duncan Taylor in 3 straight sets. Duncan is the league’s best defensive player, but just couldn’t handle Kevin’s powerful, nonstop attack: Kevin winning 11-8, 11-9, 11-2. Hullbridge’s Richard Brown umpired this match

4.    The second Semi Final saw Tony Halling, Rawreth, No, 2 Seed, comfortably beat Lentern’s Wale Bada; Wale having had 2 excellent wins in the previous rounds: taking the scalps of Rawreth’s Kevin Read & Keith Adams. Tony winning 11-5, 11-4, 11-3 Maldon TTC’s Chairman John Cleasby Umpired this one.

5.    Next was the Vet’s Singles Final, a repeat of the first Men’s Semi. Duncan Taylor again faced Kevin Caldon. With Duncan’s inability to stop Kevin attacking 20 minutes earlier and with the guidance of his ‘on the day, man in his Corner’, George Reeves, Duncan changed his game completely. He still defended well, but repeatedly came up to the table and struck very strong forehand and backhand winners: running out a comfortable winner; which is rarely seen in our League when Kevin is at the table. Duncan winning 11-9, 11-8, 13-11. Lentern’s Premier Divisional Captain, Paul Brown, Umpired this one.

6.    The Under 21s Final was always going to be a close call and so it proved. Kieran Skeggs took the first game fairly comfortably 11-7 and looked in control. But back came young Sam Hume to take the next two sets 11-6, 11-7 with some superb hitting from both sides. But Kieran steadied himself and took the fourth game 11-7 and at that point Kieran looked the likely winner. But Sam had other ideas and started the final set with some powerful attacking shots to open up a 4 point lead at change of ends and didn’t ease up to take the Title 7-11, 11-6, 11-7, 7-11, 11-4. Castle Point’s Premier Player, Barrie Delf umpired this match.

7.    The Mixed Doubles Final then followed and this was a very interesting match between 4 players who have won many titles between them, each winning the Southend Singles in recent years. Our President Stuart Gibbs was partnered by Maxine Abbott, both former English Internationals and their opponents were George Reeves & Caroline Cole, who have both won the Southend Singles in recent years. As it turned out on this occasion, Stuart & Maxine were a little too strong, but clearly their Meetings will always be close. Stuart and Maxine winning 11-6, 11-3, 11-5 with Hullbridge’s ‘Hard Bat Championships Guru’ Bill Smith umpiring.

8.    The Men’s Doubles Final was another difficult one to call, Hullbridge’s Kevin Caldon & Richard Brown are former winners of this event and they were up against the younger Rawreth pairing of Tony Halling and Charles Sweeny. Tony’s powerful hitting dominated this match and he and Charles ran out comfortable winners 11-8, 11-7, 11-5 with Castle Point Chairman, Chris Jacob umpiring.

9.    The Ladies Final was next on court, where Maxine Abbott & Caroline Cole met. Both have won this Event, in the last 3 years, but on current form, Maxine started strong favourite. The first 2 sets were very close with Maxine taking the first and Caroline the second. Maxine then began to control the table and with her stronger attacking shots she took the Title and the next 2 Sets 11-8, 10-12, 11-4, 11-3. Hullbridge Coach Howard Grant umpired this match.

10. And to the last match of a very enjoyable Closed Championships, our biggest in 20 years. The Men’s Singles Final saw our 2 leading Premier Div. Players Hullbridge’s Kevin Caldon and Rawreth’s Tony Halling meet. Kevin took the first leg as Tony attacked heavily, but wasn’t picking up the points. However, from that point on, Tony was in scintillating form wining 8-11, 11-5, 11-8, 11-8. The Final match was umpired by Essex & Southend President, former English International star Stuart Gibbs.

My earlier Report on the previous matches and our Thank yous:-

The Sdttl Championships were held over the past week and amazingly, on Saturday, all 4 Divisional Restricted Titles went to Juniors: probably for the first time ever. This demonstrates the growing strength of our Junior Clubs and Coaches. Players from our 3 main Junior Coaching Clubs: Hockley, Hullbridge and Rawreth Juniors, played superb Table Tennis to take the 4 Titles. First up was 14 year old Sam Hume (Hullbridge), who beat highly ranked Minda Sinkus (Rayleigh Mill) on the way to the Final where he beat experienced and successful Hullbridge Club mate, Gary Young. Next, in Div 1, 15 year old Justin Jeffery (Rawreth Juniors), who recently made the Essex County Team, beat experienced Jim Stait (Warehouse) to take the Div 1 Title. The Div 2 Title went to Hockley’s 15 year old Matthew Stringer who beat No.1 Seed Dmitri Kisil (Runnymede) and last, but not least, another of the Hockley players and another 15 year old, Matthew Nariel, beat Tamas Mezo (Warehouse) to take the Div. 3 Title. A massive statement of the high standard that the 3 Sdttl Junior Clubs have attained. A big thank you to their coaches, Howard Grant, Matt Rolfe, Tim Pang, Andy Nunn, Mel Jones and Jason Clark and not forgetting the good work also being done at the Canvey Table Tennis Club, under the guidance of Geoff Banthorpe. And all included in the Essex County Junior Coaching Programme run by its President, Stuart Gibbs.

·     At the time of this Report, our thoughts are with Laurie Neville and his family. Laurie is quite poorly at present. His love for Table Tennis saw Laurie recently contribute towards the cost of training new Coaches at Rawreth Juniors. They are part of the current UK CC course being run by Table Tennis England at the Hullbridge Table Tennis Club, organised by Hullbridge Chairman, Jayne Johnson. Laurie has devoted his life to our sport and much of it to the Southend League. We  are all thinking of you Laurie.

These Championships are our largest for 25 years, with 142 Entrants. Over the 5 days and 40 playing hours, 20 different Events were run and in all 968 individual matches were played. The Rayleigh Leisure Centre Venue was in action until closing time each night, but miraculously all matches were played: the final match finishing at 8.00 pm on Sunday. The whole Event was made so much easier by John Dennison, Topspin, supplying and setting up the 11 Tables, all Dividers, Nets, Scoring Machines and Tables; John did a sterling job.

The week commenced with the Under 21s, which were held on Tuesday 19th at the Warehouse TTC venue. 32 youngsters competed and they were split into 2 levels. Level 1 comprised Premier, Div 1 and Div 2 players and Level 2 comprised 3rd Division players: each having 16 players. The matches were played over 7 tables and a big thanks to the Warehouse TTC Chairman, Graham Back, for setting up the 2 Rooms. Level 1 saw some exciting matches to reach the last 4. Premier players Sam Hume, Ben Matthews, Kieran Skeggs and Reece Sedden make up the Semi Final line up. In Level 2 Hockley's Matthew Nariel narrowly took the title, beating Hullbridge’s Adam Jackman in a nail biting contest, going to 9 all in the deciding Set. A great evening.

On Wednesday 20th, we enjoyed watching the other end of the spectrum, when the Over 70s was played at the Rawreth TTC. 7 highly experienced Players had a great 5 hours with some 21 competitive matches played. Favourite for the Event was former England top 100 player, John Tendler. Sadly, John arrived nursing a broken toe and this opened the way for Division 1 players: Mike Worship, Dave Kirston and Peter Pond (all good Premier players in Seasons past). They lost 1 match each, with Mike taking the Title on Sets won, followed by Dave then Peter. Thanks were expressed to the Rawreth Table Tennis Club and to Jayne and myself for running the day; which had a good competitive and social side to it.

The Very busy weekend was played at the highly popular Rayleigh Leisure Centre starting on Friday 20th, with the Vets being played over an Afternoon and an Evening Session. 3 Events were played. The Vet's Singles saw some great matches, with the 2 Semi Finals being very close. In the first, last year's Champion Steve Tilson lost in straight sets, each by a single point to new 'Vet' and 2013 Basildon Men's Champion, Duncan Taylor. In the other Semi, another new Vet, Southend 2013 Men's Champion, Kevin Read lost in 5 nail biting Sets to top England Vet, Kevin Caldon. The Vet’s Doubles was played to the Final, which saw Kevin Caldon & Richard Brown take the Title in a very close 5 Setter against Kevin Read & Duncan Taylor. Also played during the afternoon was the Over 60s where Premier player Chris Jacobhad a straight set victory over Steve Buer to take the Title. 2 Plate events were also run.

Saturday 21st, was '15 Point Set Day’. All Matches played up to 15, best of 3 Sets, with no Deuces: the format necessitated by the very large entry. The morning Session comprised the Premier and 1st Divisions and the Afternoon the 2nd and 3rd Divisions. Each Session comprising of a Divisional Restricted Singles, a combined Divisions Handicap Singles and a combined Divisions 2 player drawn Team Event of 2 Singles and a Doubles. The day was very enjoyable; and as already said: the Juniors ran away with the Restricted Titles.

Sunday 22nd, was back to the ‘Normal 11 Point Scoring System’ for the Blue Ribbon Events. The Men's Singles opened the day with some 93 entrants' playing in 28 Groups, with 8 Seeds enjoying byes to Round 2. Several close encounters were fought out, with Seeded Kevin Caldon, Tony Halling and Duncan Taylor reaching the Semi Finals, together with unseeded Wale Bada, who had a great win over the No.3 Seed Kevin Read, in the last 8 and then continued his form by taking the scalp of No. 6 Seed Keith Adams, in the Quarter Finals.

The final match on Sunday, the Div.2 & Div 3, Team Event, saw a Father and Son confrontation, when father Dave Zeffie narrowly beat his son Daniel, to help Dave and his Partner, Matthew Nariel, take the Title.

Other Results were:-

·         Under 21s Singles Level 2                     Matthew Nariel (Hockley) beat Adam Jackman (Hullbridge) 6-11, 8-11, 11-6, 11-3, 11-9

·         Vets Singles Plate 1                             Steve Maltby (Rayleigh Mill) beat Simon Neale (Rawreth) 15-6. 11-15, 15-14

          Vets Singles Plate 2                              Richard Jackman (Castle Point) won this won, when Jim

Stait had to withdraw due to back troubles.

·         Prem/Div 1 Handicap Singles               Liam Squirrell (Hockley) beat Reece Seddon (Rawreth) 15-4, 13-15, 15-14

·         Div 2 & Div 3 Handicap Singles              Matthew Nariel (Hockley) beat Reece Harris Griffiths (Hullbridge) 15-12, 11-15, 15-14

·         Prem/Div 1 Team Event                       Charles Sweeny (Rawreth) & Tim Pang (Hockley) beat Reece Seddon (Rawreth) & Tarun Goel (Warehouse) 11-15, 15-7, 15-9

·         Div 2 & Div 3 Team Event                      Matthew Nariel (Hockley) & David Zeffie (Hullbridge) beat Adam Hill (Rawreth) & Daniel Zeffie (Hullbridge) 15-11, 15-6

·         Sunday Singles Plate                                  Justin Jeffery (Rawreth) beat Paul Brown (Lentern) 11-5, 9-11, 11-8, 11-9

Thank yous:-

·         For Finals Night, we thank the Hullbridge Sports Association for allowing us to use their lovely Hall and to their Chairman, Danny Gatehouse and the Table Tennis Section’s Chairman, Jayne Johnson and her long term (always helping) Colleagues, Howard Grant, Bill Smith & Glenn Johnson and their Hullbridge Members.

·         Thank you to our Photographer, Berti Makolli, always looking to take a great shot

·         To the staff at Rayleigh Leisure Centre and the Megazone Centre (Warehouse TTC)

·         To John Denison, Topspin Sports, for supplying the Tables, Surrounds, Scoring Tables and Scoring equipment and the Nets, they worked so hard at the beginning and end of the Championships.

·         Thank you to Paul Reed for organising yet another Raffle to raise funds that go towards the cost of running these Championships and on Saturday raised £130. Paul bought prizes, sold all the tickets and then distributed the Prizes. Over the past 5 years, Paul has run Raffles at each of our Closed Championships and at our Presentation Day and must have raised over £2,000. This money has been allocated to our Junior Championships, our main Championships and to various Charities. We also thank the Clubs and Members who donated prizes

·         A mention of the massive help that was received with Umpiring, with our President Stuart Gibbs making sure all Tables were covered. And with Jayne Johnson’s encouragement for us to get our Youngsters Umpiring, our youngest Umpires were Ethan Nunn and Olivia Jones, both 9 years old & both of Rawreth Juniors. A big thank you to all our Umpires.

·         A special mention of:- Anthon Ranjit-Singh, who was always on hand to help, as was Barrie Delf, Stuart Gibbs, Tony Millward, Paul Jeffreys, Mel Jones and several others, who helped in various ways

·         To John Poysden, Charles Sweeny, Kevin Read & George Reed (our Seeding's Committee)

·         To Dave Zeffie for running the Under 21s Level 2 Competition

·         To our Treasurer, Lou Hopkins who diligently, collected the Fees throughout the Weekend

·         To Glenn Johnson for loaning us and bringing the Sound System down.

·         Thank you all and a special thank you to all those who plied Jayne & I with drinks throughout the weekend

·         Well done to all of the Players, Coaches, Parents, Supporters, and; and anyone who I haven’t mentioned who helped in anyway; so much appreciated and all contributing to a great Championships...

·         My final thanks is to Hullbridge Chairman, Jayne Johnson, who manned the Control Desk throughout these Championship and oversaw an incredible 968 matches: Jayne’s contribution was immense, thank you.

Jayne & I found these Championships very enjoyable: not easy, but made all the easier by the attitude of our Members, always looking to help and in addition to some great Table Tennis, there was a great atmosphere around throughout these Championships.

Thank you all


Photo Gallery - Championships Day 1

Photo Gallery  - Championships Day 2

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