A beautiful Spring evening and an excellent turnout for Finals Night! Humour, tragedy, pathos, heroism, anticlimax, good sportsmanship, despair, triumph - it was all there for our entertainment and instruction. The Itchen Abbas Hall really is perfect for such an event, with enough room to allow everyone to have a front-row seat while keeping an intimate atmosphere, and plenty of room for athletically-inclined players to run way back and maybe even dive to retrieve shots that looked gone for ever. Nice high ceiling, too, for lobs launched from those distant corners.
Sara Lunn, the Table Tennis Development Officer for Sports Hampshire & IOW, watched all of the Finals with great enjoyment and kindly presented the trophies at the end of the evening.
Study the photos (taken by the Reeves family) closely and you'll see Antony Moore in the background quietly planning the next move, working levers, pulling
strings, stage-managing the whole event. His planning in the previous weeks was just as thorough. Superb as ever, Antony!
|Division 2 Singles||Andy Prince (Hursley) Vs. Ed Slot (Kings)||Full Division 2 heats results|
Andy and Ed set the tone for most of the evening's matches with a really hard-fought scrap. Andy had won 3 of their 4 meetings during the League season,
but Ed is clearly on an upward trajectory and not too bothered by past results. Andy understands his own bat rubbers really well, and doesn't often
meet a Division 2 player who copes well with them, but Ed was mostly able to neutralise their effect. He defended sternly, mixing that with a
very unpleasant looping sidespin forehand whenever he got the chance. He also attacked Andy's serves with brave topspin, which landed often enough to get Andy worried.
Ed led 9-6 in the 5th and appeared to be on the brink of a surprise win, but maybe it was Andy's many extra years of experience that finally got him home.
Result: Andy won 8-11, 11-5, 11-9, 10-12, 11-9
Christos Hannides and Glenn Wilshere (both Hursley) |
Paul May (Hursley) and Steve Robinson (IBM)
|Full Doubles heats results|
The scratch pairing of Paul and Steve snatched the first game 13-11 against their perhaps slightly more illustrious opponents,
Steve cramping Glenn's free-flowing attack with his dogged blocks and drop-shots, while Paul was always ready to pounce on
the occasional loose ball. Christos and Glenn worked their way steadily to victory thereafter, though many of the rallies were
extended and very hard-fought, and a swing to the underdogs was always possible.
Result: Christos and Glenn won 11-13, 13-11, 12-10, 11-7
|Handicap Singles||Chris Prince (IBM) Vs. Ed Slot (Kings)||Full Handicap heats results|
This match was good to watch, but Chris was unable to reap the rich harvest from his devilish serves that might normally be
expected when a good Division 1 player
meets a good but relatively inexperienced Division 2 player. Nasty spins hold few fears for Ed, and his defence away from the
table was as impressive as always, turning, as it often does, to topspin attack.
Result: Ed won 21-18, 21-18 with a +7 start.
|Division 3 Singles||Barry Dobson (Hursley) Vs. Allan Bransgrove (Castle)||Full Division 3 heats results|
Allan coaches, cajoles, comforts and castigates himself very openly during matches. Basically, it's a combination of 'attack', 'concentrate',
'stay calm' and 'focus'. I'd have to give him 8 out of 10 for the stategy, but the execution fluctuates wildly. Never mind, Allan is
always fun to watch (or play against), with usually a good ratio of fine hits to appalling air-shots. Unfortunately for him last night,
Barry was far too steady and determined to capsize in the face of such an onslaught, and though the scores were close Barry generally
looked to be in command.
Result: Barry won 13-15, 11-7, 11-9, 11-9
|Junior Singles||Ed Slot (Kings) Vs. Lewis Creighton (South Wonston)||Full Juniors heats results|
There are, and have been for several years, some very fine Juniors playing in the Winchester League. Before this Final began
it was announced that Tressa Armitage (South Wonston) is now ranked 5 in the England Under 14s, while Chrissie Slot is ranked
number 2 in the England Under 12s! Both girls were present and got a warm round of applause for their dedication and
achievement. Lewis played and beat Chrissie in last year's Junior final; this time he met Ed, playing in his 3rd Final of the evening.
This was close-run, but Lewis is very quick and athletic, hitting too hard and wide to allow Ed to reach the ball with
much real chance of getting it back with anything dangerous on it.
Result: Lewis won 13-11, 11-8, 14-12
|Veterans Singles||Steve Robinson (IBM) Vs. Paul May (Hursley)||Full Veteran heats results|
As Steve said ruefully afterwards, this was only the third time in ten years that Paul had beaten him, but this was one that
mattered! No-one beats Steve easily in our League - you have to work at it and not worry too much when he gets your best shots back.
Sometimes (I'm told) you can get him out of position. Paul knew that, stayed relaxed and manged to finish in front in
three close but straight games.
Result: Paul won 11-8,17-15, 13-11
|Open Singles||Dave Menzel (IBM) Vs. Christos Hannides (Hursley)||Full Open Singles heats results|
Was the difference here that Christos had already played a Final that evening, whereas Dave came to it cold? He'd certainly had a
long wait, but in the warm-up he looked fine, hitting deep and smooth as we know he can. Then the match itself began and
the rhythm was gone. Everyone wished it would come back - even Christos, maybe! - so we could all enjoy something special.
Unpredictability may be what makes sport alluring, but it can be very frustrating too!
Result: Christos won 11-3, 12-10, 11-9
|Division 1||Hursley A||IBM A|
|Division 2||Hursley C||Hursley B|
|Division 3||Swanmore A||Hursley E|
|Division 4||Hursley F||South Wonston C|
|Team Eliminator||IBM A||Hursley B|
|Hursley Shield ('Plate')||Hursley D||Kings A|
|Conder-Winnall||IBM A||Hursley D|
|Arthur Richards ('outstanding achievement')||Nigel Lodder|
|Owen Booker (top averages across Divisions)||Christos Hannides and Martyn Isherwood|