This competition was played through to a conclusion at the Heats on Sunday 23rd 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.
Paddy eased his way through the rounds, beating John McBeath and never looking in any serious difficulty against Cameron in the Final. He dominated throughout, hitting strongly on both wings.
Blake has been playing in Division 1 and getting some encouraging results. Anyone who saw him hitting strongly against Ed Slot in the Handicap heats will know he's got a good temperament as well as a deadly forehand. Harry will be less
familiar to most, though he has been impressive at Paddy Shephard's coaching sessions for a couple of years now. He can handle topspin well, not just blocking but returning aggressively. Two well-matched players
gave the crowd a great introduction to the style of play that Paddy encourages - firm, positive, determined - and the result was always in doubt until the end.
Another close match - it could so easily have been a 5-setter. Both players are easy, fluent hitters of a table tennis ball who've registered good wins in the League this season. Ed proved marginally stronger, but they provided an entertaining
match with exciting rallies.
It often seems there's a bigger proportion of nets and edges in handicapped matches than in matches played off scratch, especially when one player is given a big start. The luck was shared pretty evenly between the two, but when one player has to score twice as many as the other
then the chaser is hurt twice as much by the unlucky bits that the Handicapping Committee couldn't possibly have foreseen. Having said that, the match was played in a great spirit with both players taking the outrageous incidents
very cheerfully. Not that they weren't trying hard, but the Handicap match is designed to be a toss-up, and no matter how calmly or boldly you play, the gods are likely to have the last laugh. Morgan showed in the Heats that he's approaching
Ed Slot's skill levels nowadays, so the handicapping was reasonable and both players showed impressive skills.
This was Hugo's first appearance at Finals Night, though he's been performing well in Division 1 for a couple of seasons. Jared, as the current Holder, had to start as favourite, but perhaps the
weight of his own expectations caused him to take a while to get settled. Meanwhile Hugo attacked powerfully and accurately, and snatched the first set. Jared found his composure at last and proved to be just that
little bit more consistent and controlled, though every bit as able to lay on the spectacular winner to keep the crowd purring and entertained.
As in last year's Final, which they also won, Ed and Cameron needed 5 sets to get there. John McBeath was the unknown factor at the other end of the table, at least as far as our Tournament is concerned.
He has a better record than any other Winchester League player in the Southampton League, but could he reproduce that form under the special conditions of Finals Night?
He's a very tall man, and although he was unlikely to scrape his head against the ceiling he could have found the lateral floorspace a problem for sideways leaps and lunges.
As it was, there wasn't much of that and Ed and Cameron took the first two sets fairly comfortably. John and Paul fought back to take the next two (just), but that drained most of the steam out of them
and they had little left for the 5th.
Tony and Chris have occasional friendly knocks in Chris's garden shed, but evidently not enough for Tony to have mastered Chris's playing style! Chris uses a hard bat, which is unusual nowadays, and though
Tony treated Chris and his bat with caution, that caution meant that Chris was left free to hit brave winners from time to time. Only about 10 of the 1500 singles matches played in the League this season was
longer in terms of points, so it was a bit of marathon, but Chris's concentration and determination are legendary and he won after deuce in the 5th.
Kevin loves to play entertaining table tennis, and we love to watch him when it works! Finals Night is his ideal setting. Glenn by contrast is prepared to bide his time and then strike.
Kevin came out with all guns blazing, but the scoreline suggests that the closer he got to winning, the doubts started to creep in and the shoulders weren't quite so loose. Losing the 3rd set might have
opened the door a chink to Glenn, but Kevin was heard to mutter "no glory" to himself and he tiptoed over the finishing line with a certain amount of care.
Paul and Cameron met in last year's Final, and this one followed last year's pattern. Cameron is a great defender, one of the best in the League, but he was unable to frustrate Paul, who was consistently able to hit backhands
so hard that Cameron was forced further and further back from the table. Unless Paul's arm came out of its socket or he lost concentration, it was hard to see Cameron reeling him in.
It's been 10 years since Ed first won an event at Finals Night (against Mark Knowles in the Handicap), and he's been undefeated in three Singles Finals at the Itchen Abbas Village Hall in recent years, so he's pretty much at home there.
John would have to be at the top of his game to overcome Ed's 'home advantage', no matter what history may say about their head-to-heads in the Southampton Premier. John got away to a great start but his serves started going into the net and
pushes going off the end of the table. Both players produced some great shots, but John produced slightly more errors that appeared to be the product of trying to force the pace. The match was always enthralling to watch
because you could never be sure John wasn't going to click into gear and finish strongly.
Arthur Richards Cup
Cliff Chevis won the Arthur Richards Cup for 'best achievement'
Cliff Chevis has been unwell for much of the past year but he was determined to play at least one more season - his 60th! He's played in every one of those seasons without exception. Cliff is well known throughout the League for his jokes and songs, bringing laughter and fun to a sport that can sometimes get a bit serious and glum - not the Winchester League, usually. Cliff's memories of Winchester table tennis go back to the early 50s when Arthur Richards was responsible for bringing international table tennis matches and some of the historic greats of the game such as Viktor Barna and Johnny Leach to Winchester Guildhall. The Arthur Richards Cup is particularly appropriate for Cliff because he remembers playing the great man himself!
These were made by Cliff Chevis. See the 'Individual Awards' section later.
Colin Sly Giantkiller Cup (most surprising win by an underdog)
With a 14% winning average, Dave beat someone on 72%! It's the second time he's won the award - the last time was in 2011.
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