The Southend & District Table Tennis League

 

The 78th Annual Closed Championships

 

 

Held at the Hullbridge Sports & Social Club and the Warehouse Centre and dedicated to the memory of the late Brench Moon

 

 

The 78th Closed Championships were dedicated to Brench Moon, who for many years played a major part in the running of our League, together with his wife Shirley. Sadly Brench passed away in January 2005, aged 67. We have no doubt that Brench and Shirley would have been very pleased at the way this year’s championships went.

 

The Closed Committee consisted of Lou Hopkins, Jayne Johnson, Janet Finch, Bob Shingleton-Smith and Ken Field on the administration side and Dave Calleja, Andrew Halling and George Reeves as the Seeding / Disputes Committee. Initially all entries were sent to Lou, who then made sure there were stamped addressed envelopes for all entries; Lou then sorted out these entries into a series of sheets for each event plus an overall one: this involved a great deal of work. Janet Finch then took over and checked that all entry details were correct and finalized the Event Lists, again much work. Jayne Johnson and Ken Field then prepared the different events and made sure that the timetable was correct for the 4 days involved. Next stop, the Seedings Committee of Dave, Andrew and George who made their important decisions and finally Janet, Jayne, Lou and Bob Shingleton-Smith made sure that all the copy entry forms had the correct times on, which were returned to the entrants. Altogether a large amount of work was involved. The key to what we attempt is that “all players have at least 3 matches on any day they attend”. We achieved this target and the feed back was that the Championships had been extremely well run.

 


The first day (Monday 13th February) concerned only the Vets doubles. This popular event was held at the Hullbridge Sports and Social Club and was a great success. There was a good entry, with the Thorpe Bay pairings of Jamie Willson & Spud Saunders and John Monk and John Poysden expected to compete in the final. However, Dave Calleja and Keith Phillips had other ideas and despite losing to Peter Saunders  (Brentwood) and Colin Chatfield in their group, Dave and Keith improved as the night went on and beat Number 1 Seeds, Jamie and Spud in the second round and then went on to meet Number 2 Seeds, John Monk and John Poysden in the final. The final was a close fought affair, but Dave and Keith still ran out winners at 3 sets to 1. On the same night we also ran a plate event which was won by Howard Grant and Chris Gregory, with Gordon Swan and Brian Cooper taking second place.


 



Next event was the Men’s vet Singles, which was held at the Warehouse Centre on Friday night, as were the Saturday and Sunday Events. Favourite for the Vets was always going to be former England Number 1, Stuart Gibbs. Stuart cruised to the final, where he met George Reeves, who had a major fright in the Semis, being 7-9 down to Django Fung in the fifth game, before George dispatched 4 outright winners to win 11-9. On this evidence, one would have thought that Stuart would take the title comfortably, but George played to his highest level and ran out a surprise, but worthy, winner.




Again we ran a plate tournament, which was won by
Ken Field who, defeated Lou Hopkins in the final – “clearly a case of medals for the boys” – but bearing in mind all the work they had both done towards these championships, everyone was very happy with the outcome; although needless to say, Ken was subject to a fair amount of leg pulling.


Saturday was always going to be a very busy day from an organization viewpoint. The first events were the over 60s / 70s. The final of the over 60s saw George Pavitt beat old adversary Les Tayler to take the title, whilst in the over 70s, a remarkably fit Bill Chester surprisingly beat 1st Division’s Talbot Wiseman.

 

The Ladies events followed and as was always to be, Linda Murray scoped all the titles, taking the Ladies Singles with a win over Carolyn Cole 14-12, 11-6, 11-5; the Vets Singles beating Janet Finch 11-9, 11-5, 14-12 and the Ladies Doubles, together with Ann Lane, beating last years title holders Janet Finch & Shelley Woolley 11-8, 11-9, 11-7. Finally, Linda won the Mixed Doubles, partnering the impressive Kevin Read, but not before a titanic battle against Premier star Paul Grant and club mate Ann Lane, taking the title 11-9, 12-14, 11-4, 14-16, 11-6.




 

After the Ladies, followed the Restricted Events. First off was the Premier Restricted which saw a magnificent final between Essex junior Josh Lovett and another former leading Essex Junior Jamie Willson, now a successful Vet. Josh unleashed attack after attack; coupled with an array of difficult serves. Jamie, however, stuck to his task of accurate blocking plus his own brand of strong attack. The match was a closely fought match with Jamie winning in the fourth, 7-11, 12-10, 11-4, 13-11, a worthy and popular winner and bearing in mind that the following day, Josh won the Men’s title, this was an excellent performance, as Jamie only came back to the game last season after being out of the game for a number of years..

 

In the Division 1 Restricted, Richard Hiskey repeated his 2005 win against former Premier player Chris Simmons, who had returned to the game after many years. After a close opening two games, won one apiece, Richard’s tight game saw him take the title 13-11, 4-11, 11-3, 11-5.

 

The Division 2 Restricted saw the highly rated Craig Harris, who is undefeated this season in the League play the impressive Steve Munday. As a junior, Craig was ranked in England in both Table Tennis and Tennis and once played Stephan Egberg at Junior Wimbledon. In recent years Craig has returned to table tennis to help out his father in-law, Dick Mann at Whittingham. No one really troubled Craig and he beat Steve, 11-4, 11-5, 5-11, 11-7, to take the title.

 

In the Division 3 Restricted, no one stood out as favourite. The final was contested by 2 of the Divisions better players, Paul D’allesandri and Paul Lawrence. Paul Lawrence ran out a fairly comfortable winner 11-9, 11-7, 11-9. This was a well earned title for Paul who in recent seasons has played above his level in Division 1, won few but never complained.

 

Finally, we had the Division 4 Restricted, a Division full of up and coming juniors. It was the old man himself, Bill Chester, fresh from winning the over 70s, who showed them all that they still have a bit to learn by beating up and coming youngster Andrew Seabrook 11-13, 11-6, 11-8, 11-8, Bill had actually been there from 9 in the morning to 10 in the evening, great stamina and always an example to all, on how to play the game in a competitive but always friendly and sporting manner: Well done Bill.

 

The final events of the day concerned our growing band of juniors, Last year we had 5 entrants but, this year, we had some 25 players. They were split into 4 Groups playing round robin matches; the winner of Level 1 to play Josh Lovett for the Junior Title. We compliment Josh for waiting some 6 hours before playing this match. The title winners were Junior Boys Champion Josh Lovett, Runnymede, Junior Girls Champion Kerri-Lee Webb, Hullbridge, Level 1 Juniors Andrew Seabrook, Hullbridge, Level 2 Juniors George Drumm Hullbridge, Level 1, Novices Oliver Wiltshire, Rawreth Juniors and finally Level 2 Novices Sam Cooke, Rawreth Juniors.

The Novice levels, as a mark of respect, were dedicated to the late Bryan Watts, who tragically passed away at a match just before the Championships began. Bryan ran the successful Thorpe Bay Table Tennis Club and he had personally developed a strong Premier side, a good Division 2 side and a promising junior side in Division 4; Bryan’s efforts will be remembered for many years to come.


For further pictures of Saturdays winners, see Championship photo galleries.

 

 



Sunday is the day of our largest events, the Men’s Singles and the Men’s doubles. In the Men’s Singles, the Seedings Committee were unanimous in ranking Tony Halling to beat Stuart Gibbs in the final, with the other 6 seeds being George Reeves, John Monk, Duncan Tayler, Keith Phillips, Kevin Read and Lee Prentice. Whilst on one side of the draw, the seedings went more or less as planned with Stuart Gibbs reaching the final, the other half  saw unseeded 15 year old, Josh Lovett, set about destroying the seeds. In round 2 he met John Monk and to everyone’s surprise, Josh won in 3 straight sets; then in the quarter finals he did exactly the same to Duncan Taylor. In the semi final Josh faced favourite and current champion, Senior Essex Representative Tony Halling. Josh hardly missed a hit throughout the match and gradually wore Tony down to edge away in the fifth. In the final, Josh played Runnymede teammate, Stuart Gibbs and again the match went to 5 sets with Stuart moving into a 2-1 lead. But Stuart tired considerably in the final 2 sets and Josh became one of the youngest ever winners of the  Men’s Title taking the title  8-11, 11-9, 7-11, 11-5, 11-4. Josh’s win, puts him up with former juniors who have won this title: Andrew Bawden, Steve Tilson, Cris Sladden and Tony Halling: exalted company to say the least.

 

The final event of the Championships, was the Men’s Doubles and the final was between the Men’s finalists, Stuart Gibbs and Josh Lovett, against the Halling father and son combination of Andrew and Tony; the current champions. Again form was upstaged: we all thought that Stuart and Josh would take this title. However with Andrew keeping one side very tight, Tony produced his top form and dominated a final that they comfortably won 11-7, 11-8, 11-6.




 

Everyone agreed that the Championships were a great success. It was our largest entry for several years with over 120 players taking part. The Championship Committee did an excellent job in organizing the event and Jayne produced her usual top dollar effort in running the control Desk. We also thank David Nunn and Howard Grant for running the junior events on Saturday

 

Both before and after, we had an amazing amount of help in putting up the tables and taking them down, scoring and any other job that needed help, for example, both Andy Nunn and Kevin Read turned up on Vets night to help get the room ready even though they were not playing that night. However there are many others we thank and won’t mention them all for fear of missing someone out.

 

Our thanks go to the Hullbridge Sports and Social Club and the Warehouse Centre for their help in staging these events; particularly, Jayne Johnson, Glen Johnson and Bill Smith of the Hullbridge Sports and Social Club and Graham Back of the Warehouse Centre

 

Finally, everything done, the Championship Committee popped down the A127 for a well deserved Pizza.

 

Report prepared by the Closed Championship Committee

of the Southend & District Table Tennis League

 

10th March 2006