Finals were once again held on a perfect Spring evening, in one of Hampshire's prettiest villages, and in the handsome surroundings of Itchen Abbas & Avington Village Hall . Could the players do justice to the conditions? They could! The matches were of as uniformly a high standard as I've seen in a large number of years of Finals-watching, and were enjoyed by a boisterous (but well behaved!) crowd of over 60 people.
During the evening a silence was observed for Colin Sly and Mary, Dennis Thomson's wife, who have both passed away in recent months. Colin's wife has presented a new cup in Colin's memory, for which we're very grateful. Known as the ' Colin Sly Giantkiller Cup', it will be awarded each year to the player who snatches the most surprising win of the season in a League match, as measured by the players' respective averages in the same Division. Only a handful of underdogs beat anyone with an average 50 percentage points above their own, but Terry Russell, the first holder of the new Cup, beat someone with an average 69.6 percentage points higher than himself! He gives all of us other underdogs new hope - hopes which we know are bound to be dashed most of the time. That's because we're underdogs. Anyway, I've heard that luck played no part in Terry's case; he just played unbelievable table tennis. You can see the list of the League's underdogs' happiest, tail-waggingest moments here .
Martin Goldstein was announced as the winner of the Arthur Richards Cup, which is awarded to the greatest contributor to the League in the past season or past seasons. Martin has served enthusiastically on the Committee over a long period as Chairman and currently as Treasurer; people like him are key to the League's continued existence and success. 2010 marks the 75th anniversary of the League's founding, by the way! Martin was unavailable to receive the Cup last night, so it will be presented to him at the AGM, which will take place at the Castle Club, Chilcomb, on Thursday 13th May at 8:00 pm. All clubs are required to have at least one representative present at the AGM!
During the evening it was mentioned that Nigel Lodder, our League Secretary, is giving up playing. Shame! He has thrown himself around so fearlessly and consistently over the years that his broken old body can take it no longer (he says). Nigel is thought to be the only person to have won all 4 senior Tournament titles - The Open Singles, the Veterans, the Doubles and the Mixed Doubles, a record that will be hard to beat since we no longer have a Mixed Doubles event. The only consolation for us is that Nigel has indicated he's happy to continue on the Committee, if elected!
As usual, the people behind the scenes deserve as much mention as the players. Adrian Reeves has taken over from the excellent Antony Moore as the general Tournament Organiser, and the baton has been passed without a fumble. Antony is still closely involved, as are a good number of other essential but uncredited stalwarts! Thanks to Martyn Reeves (in his new capacity as ETTA SW (North) Region Disability, Club Support and Coaching Officer) for presenting the awards. Indeed, thanks to all of you!
Finally, thanks to the Naked Grape at Alresford for providing a very pleasant bar, and to the Management Committee of the 'IS & A' Village Hall for letting us
use their beautiful premises again!
|Junior Singles||Matt Byers walked over|
Julian Walton and Nick Webb (IBM) |
Paul May and Steve Robinson (Hursley)
11-7, 11-4, 8-11, 14-12
|Full Doubles heats results|
|Muscles were taut and nerves on edge as the leisurely and relaxed warmup gave way to the serious stuff. Serves went into the net instead of just sneaking over, and feet moved uncertainly - it was as if the players and the ball were wading and wobbling in a force-field of tension of the players' own making. Is that over-dramatising things? Of course! Julian and Nick were the first to find some composure, and just managed to force a win when it seemed certain that Paul and Steve would take us to a 5th game, and the jangling of nerves could have become deafening.|
|Division 2/Division 3 Singles||
Sasi Anandraj (IBM) beat Andy Prince (Hursley)|
9-11, 11-6, 22-20, 11-5
|Full Division 2/Division 3 heats results|
Sasi Anandraj is one of three very welcome newcomers to the League who were performing last night. His opponent Andy Prince
has appeared in many Finals and knows what to expect. Sasi had beaten Andy twice in the League, but this was a totally different
experience and in the first game his usual assured stroke-making sputtered and misfired. Andy meanwhile was scoring useful points with his serve
and handling most of what Sasi could throw at him with relative ease. Sasi got going in game 2, with his silky forehand skimming the
table at lightning speed much of the time. Game 3 was a monster, very exciting and impossible to predict; Sasi finally got there at 22-20.
If you want to know what a game that long looks like, see a video clip (from 18-18!) here
Sasi then went on to win the 4th fairly comfortably, with Andy understandably feeling a sense of anti-climax after the marathon 3rd.
|Division 4 Singles||
Raja Basak (IBM) beat Glenn Phur (Castle)|
11-6, 4-11, 11-8,11-8
|Full Division 4 heats results|
Raj, who is based in Bristol but works for IBM at Hursley during the week, had brought his wife Moumi and 5-year-old son Dev up to see him take on
Glenn Phur. Division 4 has seen several good quality players this season, and it was great to see these two playing with as much freedom
and skill as they did in League matches. Raj has a useful selection of forehand and backhand top-spin shots of a quality not
usually seen in Division 4, but Glenn was fully equal to
smothering the spin when he could lay bat on ball. As an aside, if you Google ' Glenn Phur' you'll find some very interesting
examples of his work as a portrait painter! Anyway, Raj buckled down to steady and consistent attacking play and came out on top.
See a video clip here .
Paul May (Hursley) beat Andy Prince (Hursley)|
11-8, 11-1, 11-6
|Full Veteran heats results|
|Paul May came to this match as the Holder and showed that the passing of another year hasn't dimmed his eye or his will to win! He made it obvious in Game 2 that he was in no mood for going easy on anyone, and Andy found it very hard to make any real impression. Being Andy, he didn't give up, but Paul was hitting backhands of immense power and the final outcome appeared inevitable.|
Jenny Dobson (Scratch) (Hursley) beat Barry Dobson (Scratch) (Hursley)|
|Full Handicap heats results|
|What a great match this was! Father Barry playing Daughter Jenny, both of them off Scratch. Jenny said afterwards that it all went by in a blur, but the rest of us saw some excellent struggles for points as well as a good number of sweetly-hit winners. Dave Williams, the man operating the Official Clapometer, said the players took his machine off the scale as nets and edges contributed to the mayhem. The scoreline may suggest that the Handicappers got it wrong, but the only real difference between the two was that Jenny's big hits went on a little bit more often. Barry showed that he's still one of the League's greatest scramblers and hustlers.|
Julian Walton (IBM) beat Chris Prince (IBM)|
|Full Open Singles heats results|
Chris has played in Finals before, but this one had a bit more meaning for him than usual: he's emigrating to
Australia in June, after playing in our League for 25 years or so (and yet not quite qualifed for the Veterans this year)!
Julian started off with great aggression and intent, and although Chris seemed able to read Julian's
mystifying-looking serves well, he wasn't generally quite able to develop his own attack. Never mind, this was
a top-quality match with plenty of brave hitting, against balls that you knew were positively throbbing and writhing
with unpleasant spins. Julian kept the pressure up superbly right through to the end and richly deserved his
first Winchester League title.
See a video clip of the opening points here
|Division 1||IBM A||Hursley A|
|Division 2||IBM B||South Wonston A|
|Division 3||IBM B||Five Tees A|
|Division 4||Kings B||Castle B|
|Team Eliminator||Hursley A||Hursley C|
|Hursley Shield ('Plate')||Hursley F||Castle B|
|Conder-Winnall||IBM B||South Wonston A|
|Arthur Richards ('outstanding achievement')||Martin Goldstein (Hursley)|
|Owen Booker (top averages across Divisions)||Roy Bright (Kings)|
|Colin Sly Giantkiller (most surprising win by an underdog)||Terry Russell ( Owslebury)|