News Release - BSMTTC News 83
Dateline: 06 September 2018
A New Champion!
The Club now has a new champion and holder of the Ron Georgeson Memorial Handicap Singles Shield, and he is only 14 years old! After a great Saturday afternoon of table tennis at Crosby High School the Finals of the Club 2018 Tournament were held on Wednesday 5 September at Marine. And what a feast of table tennis it proved to be for the 30 members who came to watch. Seven matches were on offer, with several involving either newcomers to the Club or people appearing in Finals Night for the first time.
What's more, as is fitting for the club, a feast of table tennis was followed by a feast of food, and the presentation of the trophies by Club President Billy Clayton. At 86+ it is tremendous that Billy is still able to participate in such a showcase event.
The Club Tournament was started in 2013 to the memory of former Club Secretary, Ron Georgeson, and has been won by someone different each year since! The main event is The Ron Georgeson Memorial Handicap Singles for which the Memorial Shield shown above is presented.
First up were the 2 semi-finals of the consolation singles, an event for those who didn't get past the 1st round of the Main Event. It's never easy to be first on, and this year it was a rather reluctant participant, Tournament Director Lesley Blanchard, who opened proceedings facing the up and coming 14 year old Euan Mason, one of our most improved juniors. Even with a handicap advantage of 10 points and large support from the crowd Lesley would have her work cut out to keep Euan in check. It has to be said though, that Euan played like a perfect gentleman and sportingly held back a little from his full range of shots. Lesley however brought the crowd to their feet a few times with some well timed winners, but overall Euan simply had too much in reserve taking all 5 games and his place in the final by 55 points to 39. A great start to the evening.
The second semi-final involved two players appearing on Finals Night for the first time. And, soon to be team mates for the forthcoming league season. The fast improving Mark Benson against newcomer to the club Sunil Sapre. With just 2 points separating the two players in favour of Mark the handicap alone suggested this would be a very close match. And so it proved, with 3 of the games being decided by just a single point. The other two games were equally close, one finishing 11:8 in favour of Mark and the other 11:9 in favour of Sunil. In the end it was unforced errors that really decided the match. On more than one occasion Sunil gave away significant leads by errors, especially errors on service. Mark stuck to his task and fought for every point, doing his best to get away from Sunil's much stronger backhand shots. The persistence paid off, Mark coming through 3 games to 2 and winning by just 4 points 54:50.
The four semi-finalists in the Consolation Plate; Euan Mason, Lesley Blanchard, Mark Benson & Sunil Sapre. All 4 appearing on Finals Night for the first time. Euan narrowly missed out in the Main Event so it was particularly good to see him taking a place at the semi-final stage of the consolation event.
The Handicap Trophy - Semi-Finals
Next on were the two semi-finals of the Main Event. The first was arguably the best match of table tennis of the night. It featured the current holder of the trophy and No.1 seed for this year's tournament, Colin Turner, against Josh Taylor. Josh returning to the Club, after a short break, for the forthcoming league season. With Josh having a 13 point handicap advantage Colin had a big task on his hands if he was to retain the crown. Colin started off like a steam train blasting his way through the first game 11:3. Josh fought back, some blistering backhand strokes from both players and a little carelessness from Colin gave Josh the 2nd end, 5:11. Games 3 and 4 followed a similar pattern Colin taking 3 and Josh stealing 4. Colin would need an 11:0 win in the 5th to overcome the handicap. It wasn't to be, more breathtaking table tennis followed with each player contributing equally to some tremendous play, Colin eventually winning the game by just a single point. 3 games to 2 to Colin but once the points were totalled and the handicap taken into account it was Josh who moved through to the final 54:43.
Above the 4 participants in the semi-finals of the Main Event. Colin Turner, Nathan Jago, Josh Taylor and Graham Turner.
The second semi-final featured a former winner of the trophy, Club Secretary Graham Turner, against fast improving junior Nathan Jago, aged just 14. The two had met twice in competition recently, in the Liverpool Summer League with Graham narrowly winning out on both occasions, so this game was going to be close, or so it seemed. Added pressure on Graham from the 6 point handicap advantage in favour of Nathan. Displaying an absolutely fearless approach and really going for his shots Nathan pulled out all the stops snatching the 1st game 11:9. Graham responded fighting to contain Nathan and took the 2nd 8:11. Not to be put off Nathan upped his game once more bringing out some brilliant clean forehand winners and some very positive backhand play which Graham simply couldn't counter, 11:5 to Nathan. Once again Graham fought back taking the 4th 11:4. Graham would need to win the 5th by 5 points to progress. No chance! Some brilliant play by Nathan and uncharacteristic errors by Graham saw Nathan fly through 11:6 giving him the match 51:42. Last year Nathan reached the semi-finals of the Plate competition. This year he would feature in the final of the Main Event, that's real progress, a great achievement.
The stage was set for the 3 Finals. First, the Fun Doubles. This is a great competition and very popular as it puts together players of very different abilities, and in doubles you always have to play with your partner in mind. Having just come off the table from the singles semi-final Nathan Jago was back in action. This time with his partner John Donnelly who was playing in the club tournament for the first time and making an appearance on Finals Night for the first time. They were up against last years losing finalists, Colin Turner and Mary Sefton. This event would be decided by a straightforward best of 3 sets, exactly the same format as used for the earlier rounds of the event on Saturday. Nathan and John made a really positive start making the most of the order of play taking the first end 11:5. The appreciative crowd encouraging on all 4 players. At the turn round, Colin took the initiative, with Mary following team orders to just keep the ball on the table. It worked 6:11 to Colin & Mary. What a game followed as all 4 players contributed to keep the crowd guessing. With the change round at 4:5 there was nothing in it. The game ebbed and flowed reaching 10:10. Somehow at this point for the first time on the night Nathan missed a chance for a big forehand winner at match point. Colin & Mary took the chance and somehow pulled out the next two points to give last years losing finalists the win 11:13. A great match and brilliant entertainment for the crowd who really applauded the efforts of both pairs.
The 4 finalists in the Fun doubles; Colin Turner & Mary Sefton,who reached the final of this event last year and Nathan Jago and John Donnelly; John appearing on Finals Night for the first time.
And so to the first of the singles finals, the Consolation Plate, featuring Euan Mason against Mark Benson, Mark taking a 3 point handicap advantage into the final. This was another very good match with positive open play and both players showing real fight and determination. Both players have shown tremendous improvement over the last year but it was 14 year old Euan who was able to show the marginally greater range of shots. In particular Euan has developed a very strong forehand which he was able to use to good effect, Mark fought tooth and nail for every point and produced some very good winners on the forehand and some excellent returning on the backhand. Every game was close, but every game went to Euan, so that in the end once all the points were added it was Euan who was the clear winner by 55 points to 43. What a night for the club's juniors.
Club President Billy Clayton presents the Consolation Singles Winner Award to 14 year old Euan Mason.
It could not have been expected that the Final of the Main Event would feature a 'newcomer' to the club and a 14 year old! Josh Taylor against Nathan Jago. What was certain was that there would be a new name on the trophy again this year. A 12 point handicap advantage in favour of Nathan meant that Josh would have to bring out every ounce of skill and experience if he wished to lift the trophy. Nathan simply had nothing to lose, and could just go for it! And go for it he did, racing through the first game 2:11. A tremendous start from the young boy, showing absolutely no nerves and getting straight into his stride. Josh must have been stunned, and although he fared a little better in game 2, Nathan took that too, 8:11. Josh had a mountain to climb. Josh fought back, just snatching the third game 11:10. This meant Josh would need two 11:0 wins to secure the title. There was no way Nathan was letting go at this stage. Pulling out some incredible shots far beyond his experience he fought out the 4th game to take it 8:11. In effect the game was up for Josh, and although he took the final end 11:8 it was too late, the younger man had won the crown. Victory for Nathan 40:63. A brilliant effort by the youngster and a well deserved win, and what was really appreciated by the crowd was the character, behavior and positive attitude he had shown throughout the evening. Not often can you congratulate a 14 year old on exemplary conduct in a match. It seems certain Nathan's handicap will go down dramatically if he returns next year!
At the end of the evening, Chairman Ian McElwee in announcing the presentations and inviting all to stay for refreshments said he felt it had been one of the best Finals Night's the club had staged. There was no doubt the appreciative crowd agreed. Light refreshments had been arranged by Social Secretary Keith Hardman and his team and the trophies were presented by Club President Billy Clayton. A great night of high quality table tennis played in an excellent spirit throughout.