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Winchester Table Tennis League: Finals Night 2016
Pictures (by Tim Humphrey) and Report (by Martin Healey)



Slideshows
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Watch Ed Slot play Paul May in the Singles Final
Winners and Runners Up
Table tennis means everything!
Finals Night pictures by Tim Humphrey
Barry Dobson , Div 3 Winner
Cameron Brealey , O40 Veterans
Ed Slot /Cameron Brealey , Doubles Winners
Patrick Garlick , Handicap Winner
Paul May /Patrick Garlick , Doubles
Paul May , Singles, Veterans O40 Winner
Ed Slot , Singles Winner
Ed Robertson , U15
Jared Schaller , U15 Winner
Martin Healey , Div 3
Harry Gavins , U18
Jared Schaller , U18 Winner
Geoff Pavey , Div 2
Antony Moore , Div 2 Winner

Winchester Table Tennis League: Finals Night 2016

Report by Martin Healey

Judging by the comments I heard, this Finals Night was just as enjoyable as all the others we've seen in recent years. Plenty of hard-fought battles in the playing arena, and an audience eager for thrills, spills and laughs. The biggest laugh went to a ping-pong ball which whizzed up into the rafters and then landed cleanly several seconds later in a half-filled wineglass. The wineglass swallowed the ball as neatly as a performing seal.

Last year we wondered whether Ben Cawston would complete a 140-mile drive from Tipton in time for a very late Singles Final; this time it was Ed Slot who had us wondering, but as he was only coming from the Basingstoke Closed Heats, things weren't too desperate. He went on to win the Singles at their Finals Night in the following week - you can find that on YouTube, too.

Event Match
Sandpaper Bat Paddy Shephard beat Martin Goldstein in 3 15-up sets
This competition was played through to a conclusion at the Heats on Sunday 17th April, mainly to avoid the problem of players possibly having to play with two different kinds of bat on the same night, and also to save time at Finals Night.
Martin had astonishingly beaten Paul May in the Semis - that was about as amazing as Leicester City winning the Premier League, if not more so. Martin, an above-average Division 3 player, had never seen a sandpaper bat until the day of the Heats. In the Final he came up against one of last year's Finalists, and Paddy demonstrated just what a technically strong and versatile player he is. Martin played well, but he couldn't make any headway against a man holding all the best cards.
Under 15 Singles Jared Schaller beat Ed Robertson 11-8,11-5, 8-11, 11-4
Jared won the Under 18s in straight sets last year, so on the face of it this wasn't going to be much of a challenge for him. As it turned out, Ed at the other end of the table proved to be a tough proposition, with some very comfortable attacking shots on both wings, and sound defence against Jared's topspin. Maybe it was Jared's greater experience that told in the end, but Ed did extremely well for someone who's only been playing for a few months
Division 3 Singles Barry Dobson beat Martin Healey 11-5, 11-5, 8-11, 11-6
Barry had a very successful season in Division 3, so he wasn't likely to find Martin posing a serious threat. Martin's strategy, if that's the word for it, was to try to pat the ball high up in the air and hope Barry might make a few errors in going for some glory shots; or better still, a lot of errors. It wasn't likely to happen, and it didn't happen.
Under 18 Singles Jared Schaller beat Harry Gavins 11-5, 11-6, 11-5
We know Harry is a good player - he played in almost all of South Wonston B's matches in Division 2, helping them to a 2nd-place finish and averaging 73%. Unfortunately he never really got going against Jared, who perhaps was feeling more relaxed after his earlier win, while Harry was probably finding the frenetic Finals Night atmosphere a bit of a shock in his first Final. You don't get much chance to find your feet in this kind of event!
Division 2 Singles Antony Moore beat Geoff Pavey 7-11, 11-6, 11-7, 11-7
Anyone who has seen Antony play will have been hoping he'd be able to unleash his famous swinging forehand now and then. He was, but this was serious stuff and not the time to think too much about pleasing the crowd. Both players worked hard and there really wasn't a great deal to choose between them. In the end Antony's overall better playing record this season probably gave him the feeling he only had to keep going to come out on top, which is what happened.
Doubles Ed Slot and Cameron Brealey beat Paul May and Patrick Garlick 9-11, 10-12, 11-9, 11-8, 11-8
The night's only 5-setter, and something of a classic. Paul and Patrick nicked the first two sets, with Paul exceptionally strong on the backhand and Patrick on the forehand. Then Ed and Cameron found a bit more rhythm and coaxed a few more errors. This was a fascinating contest, but somehow the capturing of the 3rd set seemed to take the match inevitably towards a 5th, with the momentum favouring Ed and Cameron.
Veterans (over 40) Singles Paul May beat Cameron Brealey 11-2, 11-9, 11-8
Two opposing Doubles players opposed each other in this event. Paul, making it look easy, was particularly brutal with flat hits that Cameron found difficult to chop against, even though he's one of the best defenders in the League. Cameron of course just kept going, trying not to offer anything tempting on the backhand and putting aside any distracting thoughts that Tournament Organisers may have as the evening unfolds!
Handicap Singles Handicap Singles: Patrick Garlick (+0) beat Barry Dobson (+9) 21-18, 21-14
Barry's initial lead of 9 in these 21-up Handicap games looked reasonable enough, but it's hard to gauge someone who only played against top Division 1 teams against a very successful Division 3 player. Barry played his usual tenacious game, defending and moving quickly as well as ever, but when Patrick spotted an opening he hit far too hard to give Barry a chance to lay bat on ball.
Singles Ed Slot beat Paul May 11-8, 11-8, 11-7
You can watch the whole of this match here. 10 minutes of pure gold!
Earlier in the evening Paul had been able to thrill us all with his big flat-hit backhands, but you can only hit a backhand if it's there to be hit, and Ed successfully denied Paul the chance to feel better about himself by forcing him to use his forehand, which was not quite reliable enough on the night. Very frustrating - and of course frustration rarely improves performance! Ed was a worthy winner of a match did which didn't quite reach the heights of last year's Final (Panjun Li against Ben Cawston , who umpired this Final), and Ed against Brian Hayes in 2014.


Presentations

These were made by Mick Bryant, who has made a big contribution to the League by reviving the Winnall club and then helping to start up the Kings club, where he's President and still plays on Mondays.

Division Awards
 ChampionsRunners-Up
Division 1 IBM A Kings A
Division 2 Five Tees B South Wonston B
Division 3 Hursley Swanmore B


Team Competitions
 ChampionsRunners-Up
Team Eliminator IBM AKings A
Hursley Shield ('Division 2/3 Championship')Five Tees BSwanmore A
Conder-Winnall (handicap) Kings A Kings C


Individual Awards
Arthur Richards Cup ('outstanding achievement') Jill Wilson
As League Secretary for the past few years Jill has applied her exceptional qualities of tact, patience, persuasiveness and reasonableness to the job of making sure the League has run smoothly and fairly. That's not easy when team captains sometimes feel sore about injustices and lack of responsivess (real or imagined) from other teams. As an example, this season absolutely all matches got played, and that hasn't happened for at least 10 years!
Owen Booker Cup (top average in any Division, and played at least 75% of matches) Julian Walton 95% after 40 individual legs
Colin Sly Giantkiller Cup (most surprising win by an underdog) Allan Bransgrove With a 26% average, beat someone on 87%!


As ever, the organisation and running of Finals Night was highly polished and efficient, and thanks are due to Cameron Brealey (the Organiser) and his team of merry helpers - Antony Moore , Barry Ross , Chris Sabourin , Andy and Suzanne Prince behind the bar, the umpires, and finally Tim Humphrey for his wonderful pictures.