News Release - BSMTTC News 160
Dateline: 16 September 2023
Top Day Out!
An exhilarating day of fun, enthusiastic, and competitive table tennis in the excellent setting of the Anfield Sports & Community Centre was what club members experienced on Saturday at the annual Club Tournament. A whole day of highly competitive action with players of every standard taking part across 4 events. The Main Event, the handicap singles for the Ron Georgeson Memorial Shield, a consolation singles for those knocked out of the main event in the first round, a Fun Doubles, where the only handicap is your partner, and a separate Junior Singles for the newly presented William Clayton trophy. The control table was ably run by our very own Keith Hardman, assisted by Mike Taylor, the grandparent of one of our juniors playing in the tournament. An excellent team they made, helping tournament organiser, Graham Turner, ensure the tournament ran as smoothly as possible and kept to time.
Unfortunately on the day 3 participants pulled out, but one extra entrant arrived, meaning that a little bit of hasty adjustment had to be made, especially to the scheduled doubles pairs! But the last minute changes didn't stop all of the entrants from having a great day out.
The Ron Georgeson Memorial Shield is the main trophy played for at the Club Tournament. And this year we added the new William Clayton trophy for a separate junior singles event.
Above some of the doubles groups. There seem to be two pairs missing! And below the 4 finalists. There were some great matches in the doubles, and some great fun! More pictures will appear in a separate tournament in pictures film show!
The Junior Singles
Once again, we were able to hold a separate Junior Singles event as part of the tournament. This time playing for the brand-new William Clayton Trophy – newly named after our late President for this year’s tournament. With 9 juniors available the competition was ideally placed for 3 groups of three, with the winner of each group playing a round robin for the title.
Group 1 featured three newcomers to the club, Shamal Harave, Hayden Thompson and James Gillbanks. Each set was the best of 3 games and two out of the three sets required the third game decider. There were some excellent and very close games with Shamal just coming out on top, although he needed all three games against both James and Hayden.
Group 2 featured three 14-year-olds, Kai Morgan, Myles Ambrose and Ellis Haskell. All three games in this group were decisive with Kai being the clearcut winner with his two 2:0 wins.
Group 3 included the No.1 seed Scott French facing the challenge of Eva Abernethy and club newcomer Keshav Harave. In the opening set Scott saw off the challenge of Keshav with a 2:0 win. Then, Eva narrowly got the better of Keshav, but only after Keshav had put up a real fight in going down 1:2. The group decider between Sott and Eva couldn’t have been closer, Scott just squeezing through 12:10, 11:9.
In the final round robin between Shamal, Kai and Scott, all 3 sets went the distance. Some really good quality table tennis from all three juniors. In the opening set Scott took a decisive win in the third game against Kai to chalk up first blood. In the second set Shamal somehow seemed to pull the phoenix from the ashes by sneaking the second and third games 11:9 and 13:11 after loosing the first end. Then in the group decider Shamal went all out to try and topple the top seed, but Scott proved just how much he has improved by keeping his nerve and bringing out some of his best play to take the title 4:11, 11:7, 11:8. The No.1 seed coming through as the new junior champion.
The day began with the ‘Fun Doubles’. The ‘fun’ is finding out who you are playing with! And then trying to play with a partner you have probably never played with before. With 4 doubles groups and 8 tables, it was possible for every player in the tournament to be on the tables playing right from the start. As a result of the last moment withdrawals and the new entrant a few hasty changes had to be made to the doubles pairs, but in no time at all play was under way. There were 3 groups of 4 pairs and one group of 3 pairs.
Group 1 surprisingly gave six very clear cut 2:0 results in the best of 3 game sets. The group included 3 players playing in a club tournament for the first time, and it was one of those, Billy Smith, who proved to be the difference between the teams. So much so, that it was two non-league table tennis players, Billy with his partner Mark Evans, who prevailed, sailing through their 3 matches seemingly with room to spare! Second division player, Dave McMahon, with his partner, junior, Ellis Haskell – also playing in his first club tournament, took second spot in the group with 2 wins. This left Bobby Vint & Rick Peak and Bob Wolstenholme & Stephen Riley to fight it out for the group wooden spoon! One thing is for certain there was some great entertainment in this group!
Group 2 contained the reigning doubles champions, Julian Quirk with his partner Sue Kirkwood. Very surprisingly this group also gave six very clear cut 2:0 results! Perhaps not so surprising as Julian & Sue were the only pair who had ever played together before! The group also had 3 players playing in a club tournament for the first time, and it was two of those players, James Haskell and his partner, junior Keshav Harave, who took the second spot with two wins. Scott French & Tony Mitchell and Ian Brownrigg and Hayden Thompson had to be content with fighting it out to avoid the bottom spot!
Group 3 probably had some of the closest matches in this first round of doubles with 4 out of the 6 sets needing the third game decider. It is still not clear now which team actually won the group! But somehow Marcin Bytnar with his partner Eva Abernethy were awarded top spot with their 2 wins. It has been suggested that it was Marcin who was working out the group placings! In the head-to-head with Kai Morgan & Sue Young it was Kai & Sue who narrowly prevailed 11:9 in the third, so arguably they had a good claim for a recount on the top spot! Also with 2 wins was Dave Aimson & Myles Ambrose. Each of their 3 sets was a 2:1 leaving them by just 1 game in third spot. Club Secretary, Graham Turner, with his partner Doreen Smith – also playing her first tournament – were left to hold up the group but still gave a very good account of themselves and won 1 game. It was great to see 3 junior players, Eva, Kai & Myles, performing particularly well in this group.
The final group, Group 4, was just 3 pairs but laden with quality and two juniors playing their first club tournament and boy, did they contribute to some excellent matches. The first set saw the No.1 seed in the singles, Colin Turner, join forces with new junior member 16-year-old James Gillbanks. They faced Keith Dudley with his 16-year-old partner, another newcomer to the club, Shamal Harave. The surprise here was how well Shamal played supporting Keith to give his team a clear 2:0 win. Colin & James returned to the table for set two this time taking on Mark Benson & Jenny Givens. And what a set this proved to be, with Colin & James just edging 13:11 in the third. And so, to the group decider. On paper this should have been a very even encounter, but Shamal again produced an excellent performance to give Keith and himself a clear 2:0 win and the group top spot.
The first semi-final, played later in the afternoon, saw reigning doubles champions Julian & Sue face the outsiders Mark Evans & Billy Smith. Two amazing games followed, and how Mark & Billy won them I still don’t know! But win them they did, with both games being a deuce finish. It couldn’t have been closer, some amazing and fearless ‘go for broke’ play from Billy saw them over the line and the reigning champions out.
The second semi-final featured what seemed two very evenly matched pairs. Marcin & 16-year-old Eva, facing Keith & Shamal. But the result was decisive. Keith & Shamal continuing their unbeaten run with a straight 2:0 victory even though the margin between the two teams was very narrow. Shamal seemed to be on fire!
What a match the Final was! Played as the very last set of the day with a good and appreciative crowd of spectators still at the arena. This one needed all three sets to decide the outcome. Keith & Shamal made a racing start, taking the first end 2:11. Mark & Billy fought back taking game two 11:8. Every point was keenly contested in the first half of the third game, but the change at 5 seemed to favour Keith & Shamal who forged ahead to take the game 7:11 and thus the set and match! New champions for the Fun Doubles, Keith Dudley & Shamal Harave.
The three junior singles finalists: Shamal Harave, Scott French and Kai Morgan.
And below right the groups for the Main Event Singles, apart from Group 4 for some reason!
The Main Event
After the first round of the doubles everyone was back on the tables for the first round of the main event, The Ron Georgeson Memorial Shield Handicap Singles. All 8 tables were used with a group of either 3 or 4 players on each table. All five games were played in every set with the winner decided on points scored taking into account the difference in handicap between the two players. Each group had at least one seeded player, so that players of every level competed in each group.
In Group 1, junior Kai Morgan became the seeded player following the withdrawal of Lawrence Kenwright, who would have been the top seed in the tournament. Kai faced really tough opposition from Bob Wolstenholme, Sue Young and Doreen Smith having to give away points in every set. In a nail biting finale Kai just got the better of Bob Wolstenholme, for although Bob won the set 47pts to 44 to bring him even with Kai on 154 points Kai had overall the much bigger difference in total points won and lost to give him the top spot by the narrowest of margins.
In Group 2, as the seeded player, James Haskell sailed through against Steve Riley and Sue Kirkwood to take an emphatic 15-point group win in this three person group.
In Group 3, two senior players, Graham Turner and Keith Dudley, faced two juniors Shamal Harave and Eva Abernethy. The surprise package in this group was Shamal who made very good use of his handicap advantage to beat Keith but couldn’t repeat his performance when he faced Graham. With Graham winning 14 out of his 15 games, Keith being the only player to take a game from him, he was just able to edge the top spot by 3 points over Shamal.
Group 4 provided the biggest surprise of the first round when the 4th seed, Dave McMahon, was knocked out by junior Scott French. In their head-to-head group decider Dave won by 3 games to 2, but those two games plus Scott’s 14-point handicap advantage were enough to give him top spot by 8 points after he took all 5 games against each of the other two players in the group, Tony Mitchell and Ellis Haskell. A fabulously competitive group.
In the second half of the draw, Group 5 featured the No.3 seed Julian Quirk. He faced strong opposition and a big handicap difference from Bobby Vint, Rick Peak and James Gillbanks. But in the end had just too much ammunition taking the group by a 26-point margin.
Mark Benson was the seeded player in Group 6, where he faced Ian Brownrigg and Jenny Givens. In both sets Mark was able to overcome the handicap disadvantage to nudge ahead of his opponents, ending the group 10 points clear.
In Group 7, the seeded Dave Aimson faced fierce opposition from Marcin Bytnar, Myles Ambrose and Hayden Thompson. It was the head-to-head between Dave and Marcin though that decided the group. Dave winning that by just 4 points in a 2:3 thriller that Marcin won on games but lost on points! It was those 4 points that were enough to secure top spot for Dave.
In the final group, Group 8, the new top seed, Colin Turner faced a significant handicap disadvantage and tough opposition from Mark Evans, Billy Smith and Keshav Harave. But they simply didn’t have enough even with the handicaps to put the seed at risk. Colin taking the group by 24 points.
The first of the Quarter Finals was the closest of them all. The underdog Kai Morgan facing his coach James Haskell. With the handicap in his favour Kai put up a tremendous fight, but in the end fell just 3 points short. Lapses in games 3 and 4 allowed James to recover the handicap disadvantage.
The second quarter final also saw upcoming junior Scott French facing coach Graham Turner. Scott was able to take one game by a single point but fell fowl to errors in returning basic back spin chop in other games to allow Graham through by 14 points.
The No.3 seed, Julian Quirk, continued his march in the third quarter final disposing of Mark Benson with some margin to spare by 18 points.
In the fourth quarter final, Dave Aimson proved no match for Colin Turner even with a 15-point handicap advantage, the quality of the higher ranked player shining through.
In the first semi-final two very evenly matched players James Haskell and Graham Turner faced each other. Surprisingly in this, James simply couldn’t get his more attack minded game going allowing Graham to take all five games and so the set. An unexpected finalist.
The second semi-final would have made a worthy final, with the No.3 seed Julian Quirk facing the No.2 seed Colin Turner. Just 2 points separated them on handicap. Just 1 point was the difference between them in the first two games, but somehow Colin lost his way in sets 3 and 4. The final game was neck and neck, but Colin simply couldn’t pull back the points lost in the previous two games. Julian taking the match 4 games to 1, and 56 points to 43.
Compared to the second semi-final, the actual final was a slight anti-climax, Graham simply didn’t have the power or consistency to match his higher ranked opponent. Graham’s handicap advantage did place Julian under a little pressure, but not enough. Julian running out winner by 8 points. A new club champion was crowned.
Consolation Singles (Plate)
All of the players knocked out in Round 1 of the Main Event went through to a consolation singles – The Plate. Played under exactly the same terms as the Main Event, there were again 8 groups in the first round, mostly of 3 players playing a round robin. It was great to see 6 junior players taking part in this. It was a very full day for all of our junior players. A great opportunity to learn and to play against all different styles of player.
There was more excellent table tennis in this event. Shamal Harave again caught the eye making his way through to the semi-final with some very adventurous play. But there he came up against Dave McMahon, who really ought to have been in the latter stages of the Main Event. Shamal got within 3 points of Dave, but the fairy tale had to end somewhere!
In the other half of the draw, Marcin Bytnar was the outstanding player. Having narrowly missed out in the Main Event, he made no mistake disposing of Sue Young in the quarter finals and Mark Evans in the semi-final to secure a match up with Dave in the final.
And what a match the final was. Dave took the first two games but only removing 3 points from Marcin’s handicap advantage of 6. After that, it seemed like Marcin was on rocket fuel. He powered through the next 3 games with some lightning play leaving Dave totally dazzled. A tremendous win by Marcin 58 points to 38. The second time Marcin has won the Plate. Maybe next year he will make it through in the Main Event!
Above - The Groups from the Consolation Singles. It was Group 4 and Group 6 that produced the two finalists. Fitting as they were the two highest ranked players in the consolation event.
The final act of the day was the presentations, organised by Club Committee member Jenny Givens and assisted by Sue Young and Doreen Smith. Trophies were awarded to the winners and runners-up of the Fun Doubles, the Junior Singles, The Consolation Plate and finally the main trophy, The Ron Georgeson Memorial Shield.
It had been a terrific day of very competitive table tennis with everyone able to join in a significant number of games, no one played less than 30 games in the day!
One member said at the end of the day, “I’ve got to say what a great day, I’m gobsmacked at the talent our young players are producing, brilliant” and first-time entrant Doreen Smith chipped in with “a long but really great day. So well organised so thanks to all involved. And very well done to all the worthy winners. Some really good young players”.
I think we could all echo those sentiments. Book the date for next year!