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Winchester Table Tennis League: Finals Night 2018

Pictures (by Tim Humphrey) and Report (by Martin Healey)

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Finals Night matches

Event Match
Sandpaper Bat Jill Wilson beat Andy Prince in 2 15-up sets
As last year, this competition was played through to a conclusion at the Heats on Sunday 22nd April, mainly to avoid the problem of players possibly having to play with two different kinds of bat on the same night.
Jill set out to play calmly and with concentration, avoiding any inclination to hit out even in the most tempting situations, and as if by magic, it worked. Nick Webb fell in the Semis, and then Andy in the Final. If you're an attacking Division 1 player used to giving a slow spinless ball a good whack, and being 99% sure it must go on, it's bad for the morale to see it crash into the base of the net or fly into the rafters. Jill just needed to keep the ball in play and wait. Not as easy as it sounds, of course!
Under 15 Singles Blake Sanderson beat Ethan Cheung 11-9, 9-11, 11-8, 11-8
Ethan has been on South Wonston's books for the past 3 seasons, but only played once in Winchester League, though he has been a part of the Winchester team that's been doing well in the National Cadet (U14) League. Easy to think he might be an easy victim for Blake, who's played over 30 times in Winchester League, mostly in Division 1, and was third on the list of Improvers for the whole League this season. Ethan showed excellent control and some fine attacking shots to both wings, forcing Blake to tangle with the surrounds on a couple of occasions. Maybe it was Blake's greater experience of matchplay that made him seem the more likely winner most of the time, but Ethan played strongly thoughout and, with Blake, helped to get Finals Night away to a rousing start!
Under 18 Singles Jared Schaller beat Dom Goddard 11-4, 11-6, 11-9
Jared recently became the Hampshire Junior Champion, and is ranked 4th in the county, so Dom would have a mountain to climb if he was to win. As the score suggests, Dom's confidence grew as the match went on and he showed he could hit a big winner as well as anyone, but Jared seemed to know that all he had to do was concentrate on his own game and all would be well.
Division 2 Singles Andrew Bawden beat Kevin Muldowney 12-10, 11-8, 11-9
Andrew has made a big impact in his first season in the League, winning the Owen Booker Cup for the highest average. You can't achieve that without a high level of consistency, and that certainly helped him against Kevin, who was the current Holder. Kevin plays a spectacular game of table tennis, often sprinting up to the net from the back of the hall to put away the winners with his famous backhand. It looks great, but it takes its toll! Andrew had played Kevin a couple of times previously, so he would have known he could expect a storm of big hits early on - and that if he weathered the storm, he'd most likely finish ahead. We'd have liked a 5-setter, but Andrew had done enough after 3 to show he had a bit in hand.
Doubles Ed Slot and Cameron Brealey beat Barry Ross and John McBeath 11-9, 11-7, 7-11, 11-4
Could Ed and Cameron win the Doubles three times in a row? Answer: yes. The difference this time was that they did it in 4 sets rather than the usual 5. John McBeath at the other end can always shake things up with his uncannily speedy forehands and backhands - they seem to flash past the opponent long before he has started to raise his bat in self-defence. Ed is good at defence (as well as attack), while for Cameron it's a way of life. "They shall not pass (except when they're going off the end of the table)" seemed to be their motto.
Division 3 Singles Barry Dobson beat Iliya Dimitrov 11-4, 11-5, 12-10
Iliya had a good season in Division 3, including a win over Barry, but this was his first appearance at Finals Night. That can be quite an intimidating experience, even though the crowd are out to enjoy themselves and mainly want to see both players doing well. Barry hustled and bustled, as you'd expect, and this didn't allow Iliya the freedom to successfully deliver his loop, which can be quite a weapon in Division 3.
Handicap Singles Barry Ross (+10) beat Ed Slot 21-11, 15-21, 21-18
It looked at first glance that the handicappers were harsh on Ed when they gave Barry starts of +10. He does have a Div 1 average of 81%, after all! However, Ed won the second set by a reasonable margin and you realised what a curious event the Handicap is. Nets and edges seem to crop up all the time, and neither side ever has any real opportunity to relax. Barry is a high-quality hitter and he threatened to blow Ed completely away in the first set. Ed knows all about the mental as well as the technical aspects of the game, though, and he steadied the ship enough to make the deciding set anyone's. Barry made it, but only just! Three cheers for the handicappers for setting up an enthralling match.
Veterans (over 40) Singles Andrew Bawden beat Cameron Brealey 11-5, 11-8, 11-4
Andrew followed up his Division 2 win with success in the Veterans. The event has been held ever since 1973, and it's almost certainly the first time it's been won by a Division 2 player. Cameron built his customary defensive barrier, but Andrew was able to vary his direction and speed enough to thwart Cameron much of the time. Andrew's going to be a serious force in Division 1 next season!
Open Singles Ed Slot beat Paul May 12-10, 11-8, 11-7
Paul played and lost to Ed a couple of years ago, and was determined to give it everything he'd got this time. It was very impressive, with big booming backhands crashing deep into Ed's backhand corner. The only trouble was, Ed picked most of them up as if it was all in a day's work. He just seems to have time on his hands - no fuss, no scrabbling. He's nimble on his feet, so he can make the shot look exactly right for the situation. Paul was never far behind in terms of points, but it was hard to imagine him actually ending in front - though of course things can always change direction in a close-scoring match . This was Ed's 5th win in 6 years, interrupted only by Ben Cawston in 2015.

Watch the YouTube video of the first two sets here
Arthur Richards Cup Allan Bransgrove won the Arthur Richards Cup for 'best achievement'
Allan has been playing in the League since the 1980s, and has been an enthusiastic Committee member and Vice-Chair in recent years. He's a popular figure wherever he plays and, like last year's winner, Cliff Chevis, he makes everyone happy they're out playing table tennis on a winter's evening rather than doing something else.


These were made by Terry Russell.

Division Awards
Division 1 Kings A IBM A
Division 2 Medstead A Swanmore A
Division 3 Five Tees C IBM B

Team Competitions
Team Eliminator Kings A IBM A
Hursley Shield ('Division 2/3 Championship') Medstead A IBM B
Conder-Winnall (handicap) Medstead AFive Tees C

Individual Awards
Arthur Richards Cup ('outstanding achievement') Allan Bransgrove
Owen Booker Cup (top average in any Division, and played at least 75% of matches) Andrew Bawden 94% after 51 individual legs
Colin Sly Giantkiller Cup (most surprising win by an underdog) Martyn Davey With a 22% 'Wins' average, Martyn beat someone on 79%!

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 - Allan Bransgrove ,Antony Moore , Barry Ross , Chris Sabourin , Andy and Suzanne Prince behind the bar, the umpires, and finally Tim Humphrey for his wonderful pictures.