The Southend & District Table Tennis League
2008 Closed Championships
Held at the Hullbridge Sports Association and the Warehouse Centre
Monday 11th February to Sunday 17th February
Well, February arrived and once again it was the week of the Southend & District Table Tennis Championships. Again the first day was held at the Hullbridge Sports Association, with the other days held at the Warehouse Centre. Nearly 100 players entered the Championship and we all looked forward to an exciting week; the chance to watch many good matches, some humorous moments and a chance to meet up with old friends: all was set for a great Championship and we weren’t disappointed.
The Championships commenced on Monday at the Hullbridge Sports Association.
Vets Doubles. As usual this Event started the week’s proceedings and we had a good turnout. All went according to the form book until the Semi Finals, when the number 3 Seeds, Spud Saunders and Dave Bowles, beat the number 2 Seeds George Reeves and Andrew Halling in 5 sets, 7-11, 11-7, 11-7, 8-11, 11-8. In the other Semi Final, Stuart Gibbs and Dave Calleja beat Paul and Richard Brown in straight sets. The Final was a lot closer than the scores suggest, with Spud and Dave beating Stuart and Dave in 4 sets, to take the title, 11-9, 11-13, 11-8, 11-9.
Vets Doubles Plate. This event is for those who are eliminated at the Group stage and was played in a party like atmosphere, on a round robin basis. The 8 players involved had a fun time out in the match room, while the better players contested the more serious side of the game in the main hall. Eventually stalwarts, Gordon Swan and Bob Shingleton-Smith took the title, with Lawrie Neville and Chris Gregory taking the runners up spot.
On Friday the Championships continued at the Warehouse Centre.
Vets Singles This was the second event of the week and it had a good entry of 39 players. Most matches went to form. There was a titanic battle in the 2nd round between Babul McLeod and John Cleasby, with John winning late in the 5th set, 7-11, 11-8, 7-11, 11-5, 14-12. In the Semi Finals, George Reeves beat John Poysden 11-7, 8-11, 11-7, 11-3 and Stuart Gibbs beat Spud Saunders 12-10, 11-6, 11-6. In the Final Stuart Gibbs took the title with a comfortable win over George Reeves 11-9, 11-3, 11-7
Vets Singles Plate. Having taken the Plate Doubles between them, Gordon Swan and Bob Shingleton-Smith grabbed a second medal each, Gordon edging out Bob, 11-9, 8-11, 11-7, 11-3 in the Final.
Premier Restricted. The standard of this event is always high and this year was no exception. In Group 1, teammates Babul McLeod and Dave Calleja had a close five setter, with Dave winning on this occasion 11-9 in the decider; Babul had another really close game against Colin Chatfield, where Babul recovered from 2 sets down to take the match 9-11, 9-11, 11-6, 15-13, 11-8. In Group 2, the only 5 setter was between Malcolm Henstock and John Cleasby, with Malcolm winning in the fifth 12-10, 8-11, 4-11, 11-7, 11-8: a fine win for Malcolm against a much higher ranked Premier Player. The first Semi Final was between Richard Brown (Last year’s runner up) and John Poysden (last year’s winner). This time Richard gained his revenge, winning in five tight sets 8-11, 8-11, 13-11, 11-6. 11-7. In the other Semi Final, Andrew Halling won in 3 straight sets against teammate and close friend Dave Calleja 11-8, 11-8, 11-6; the sets much closer than the scores suggest. The Final was a close fought affair, with Andrew taking the first game, only for a determined Richard to take the next 2 and look the likely winner. However, Andrew had other ideas and regained the initiative to take the final 2 sets, winning 11-9, 8-11, 7-11, 11-6, 11-5; a very good title for Andrew in a quality field.
1st Division Restricted. This event proved to be one of the most surprising of the day. In the Quarters, Gus Heath beat Graham Farmer in 4 close sets; then Peter Chasmer had a very close game with Steve Munday, recovering from 2 sets down to take the tie 9-11, 8-11, 11-7, 11-7, 12-10. A surprise was Vince Gurney beating the No. 4 Seed Linda Murray in 4 sets: a big improvement in Vince’s game this season. But in the last tie of the Quarters, a major upset occurred when Gary Hartgrove beat No. 2 Seed Richard Hiskey in 5 sets 10-12, 11-9, 9-11, 12-10, 13-11: The first Semi proved just as close when Gary best Vince in 5, 11-6, 12-10, 8-11, 5-11,11-8. In the other Semi, No. 1 seed, Gus Heath, went through 3 straight. The Final looked a foregone conclusion with the No. 1 Seed playing unseeded Gary Hargrove, but the form book was torn up when Gary won in 4 sets, 11-8, 11-8, 4-11, 11-4. After his win, Gary said that he had never been past the first round in this event before: well done Gary.
2nd Division Restricted. Paul Reed and Dave Woolmer proved far too strong for this event and clearly they are of Division 1 standard. Paul Reed beat Janet Finch 3 straight in the Semis and David did likewise to Peter Cray. In the final Dave proved far too steady for Paul and ran out a comfortable winner 11-7, 11-9, 11-4 to take the title.
3rd Division Restricted. 2 new faces to our Championships, Oliver Podd and Alex Leigh, reached the Final of this event. This Division had an amazing 28 entries for the restricted, the highest for many years. In the first Semi Final, Alex had an excellent win over the talented Andrea Alleyne (enjoying her first season in the Southend League). The match went all the way, with Alex finally pulling away to take the match 11-7, 11-9, 7-11, 2-11, 11-6. In the other Semi, Oliver Podd played another new comer Ian Tuckey and he won in 4 sets, 7-11, 11-4, 11-9, 11-9. The Final saw a comfortable win for Oliver, who took the title 11-6, 11-5, 11-6. Well done Oliver and well done to junior Alex who has shown steady improvement over the past 2 years.
Mixed Doubles. Current Champions George Reeves and Linda Murray proved far too strong for this year’s competition dropping only 1 set throughout the event to Stuart Gibbs and Sarah Mapes in the Final, which they won 11-5, 11-8, 7-11, 11-6.
Over 60s. This year’s Over 60s did not have the likes of Ray Murray, George Pavitt or Les Taylor; the only Premier Player being John Lott who as expected didn’t drop a game in taking the title; winning the final against Rob McDonald, 12-10, 11-9, 11-7. John has always been a good supporter of our Championships and he was a popular winner.
Over 70s. This event is usually won by Lou Hopkins and he was clearly the favourite. With only 5 participants, Lou was straight through to the Semi finals where he met long term adversary and close friend, Lawrie Neville. The match was very close with Lou talking the match in 11-8, 4-11, 12-10, 14-12. In the Final Lou met Ray Balchin, who had struggled to beat stalwart Brian Cooper 11-9, 7-11, 14-12, 11-9. The Final was even closer and to everyone’s surprise, Ray took the title in 5 sets, 11-5, 3-11, 11-8, 9-11, 11-5. One shouldn’t forget the 5th member of this event, Maureen Cooper, who made sure the others, behaved themselves, in addition to going close to Lawrie Neville in the first round.
Drawn doubles. This was a new event, created to provide more than just singles matches on Saturday and proved a great success. There were many good games and it was particularly pleasing to see the competitive nature and fine play of a number of our juniors: Sam and Ben Langton, Mitchell and Taylor Nunn, (Rawreth) Alex Leigh and David Jellett (Hullbridge) and Jimmy Readon, Charlie Lamy and Leon Smart (Canvey). The Semi Finals saw 4 of these youngsters involved. Sam Langton partnering Tony Wright faced Jimmy Readon and John Lott. The games were close, but eventually John and Jimmy won 11-7, 11-7, 12-10. The other Semi Final provided a fabulous match, which saw Charlie Lamy and Jim Stait beat Ben Langton and Graham Back 8-11,11-5,8-11,11-5,12-7. In the Semis and Final, the more experienced players stood back and allowed the youngsters to play and play they did, with a steam of winning backhands and forehands. The Final was really close with Jimmy Readon and John Lott winning in 5 pulsating games 11-7, 6-11, 11-9, 4-11, 7-11.
Sunday saw the main Singles and Doubles events for both Men and Ladies.
Men’s Singles. Commenced at 9.00 and there were many exciting games throughout the day; some of which were, Colin Chatfield’s win over 5th Seed, Spud Saunders in the first round, 3 straight 11-8, 11-6, 11-7, also falling in the first round was one of the favourites, Hamish Innes, who lost 11-7, 12-14, 11-5, 11-7 to John Cleasby. There were no major surprises in the second round, but there was a very close game between John Poysden and DJango Fung, with Django just edging it in the 5t, 11-3, 8-11, 11-9, 6-11, 11-8. The Quarter Finals saw some great table tennis with Babul McLeod taking Duncan Taylor to 5 sets, having led by 2 sets and 6-2. Duncan fought his way back to win 11-9 in the fifth after being 7-3 down in that set. An even closer match (the Match of the Championships) saw the number 3 seed Kevin Read save 3 match points, before winning 11-7, 7-11, 13-11, 8-11, 16-14. The other 2 quarters saw George Reeves come through in 4 against DJango Fung and Stuart Gibbs also winning in 4, against Charles Sweeny. The Semi finals were viewed by all as 2 great matches. Both being played at the same time, both 6 all in the fifth sets; a spectacle of table tennis as it should be played. Eventually Duncan Taylor had a fine win over holder George Reeves and Stuart Gibbs likewise over Kevin Read. The Final saw some fine attacking play from Stuart, countered by the amazing defence of Duncan: Stuart eventually taking the title in four sets 9-11, 11-6, 11-6, 11-7. This is a fantastic achievement in that Stuart has now won the Men’s Title in 4 different decades; but then that’s not so surprising as Stuart Gibbs is one of England's finest players ever produced; playing for his country at Junior, Senior and Veterans level; always in the top 3 rankings.
Ladies Singles. As expected, Linda Murray proved far too strong for the others in this event. Players ranked 2-9 played in 2 groups, in order to ensure that all players had a reasonable number of games. The top 7 players then joined Linda to form the first round, which were actually the quarter finals. There were no surprises and Linda faced Sarah Mapes in the first Semi Final, duly winning 3 straight 11-7, 11-9, and 11-7. The other Semi Final, in contrast, produced a fantastic match with Janet Finch beating Mel Jones 11-9, 9-11, 6-11, 11-7, 11-8. The Final was closely fought, with Linda getting the better of Janet, taking the title in 4 sets, 11-7, 11-6, 8-11, 11-3.
The Men’s Doubles was the first to finish, the only real surprise being the defeat of Hamish Innes and Duncan Taylor by Dave Calleja and Babul McLeod in 3 straight sets. The Semis were both good contests, with Andrew Halling and Charles Sweeny, losing to Spud Saunders and John Poysden in 4 sets 6-11, 16-14, 11-7, 11-7, whilst in the other Semi, George Reeves and Kevin Read beat Dave Calleja and Babul McLeod in straight sets. The Final was won in 4 sets by the Number 1 Seeds, George Reeves and Kevin Read, beating Spud Saunders and John Poysden 11-5, 11-7, 9-11. 11-4.
Ladies Doubles. The final event of this year’s Competition, was an enthralling match, it went the distance, first one way, then the other. Both pairings had match points, before Janet Finch and Shelley Woolley (the 2006 Champions) beat Pam Swan and daughter Sarah Mapes (the 2007 Champions) 6-11, 13-11, 12-14, 6-11, 12-10. A fine match to conclude our Championship
Another good Championship.
Everybody agreed that the Championships had been very successful. Most went to plan, but we did run later than planned on Saturday and Sunday, due to the large entry we had this year. We can’t be totally accurate on times in advance; it depends on the size of the entry and the duration of games. Fortunately, as always, players understood and our Championships ended in fine style, with the Ladies Doubles Final at 7.15 on Sunday, watched by some 30 players who had stayed to the end and made the clearing up process so much easier, thank you.
Clearly, a Championship with 100 players on 4 different days can only be a success, if a number of members play their very important part and I will do my best to thank them all for their valuable contribution.
Thanks go to the Hullbridge Sports Association for allowing us to use their premises on the first day of our Championships and to Jayne Johnson for organising the night there.
Thanks go to The Warehouse Centre for the use of their premises over the weekend and to Graham Back for the vast amount of work he did to ensure everything went well and to the guys who ran the Canteen.
Thanks go to Jayne Johnson who ran the control desk on every day so well and to her able assistant, Janet Finch.
Thanks go to Lou Hopkins who organised the receipt of the Entry Forms and put them into their respective events and to his assistants Janet Finch, Jayne Johnson and Bob Shingleton-Smith.
Thanks to Bob Shingleton-Smith, Vince Gurney, Brian and Maureen Cooper, Andy Nunn and Sandy Field, for all their help at various times during the week.
Thanks go to Andrew Halling, Dave Calleja and George Reeves, our Seeding Committee, who as usual, didn’t get too much wrong.
Thanks go to Berti Makolli our resident photographer, who once again has produced many great pictures that will appear on our Web Site Gallery.
Thanks go to our Championship Committee for all their hard work before and throughout the Championships: namely Lou Hopkins (Chairman), Jayne Johnson, Bob Shingleton-Smith and myself.
Thanks go to our President Stuart Gibbs, who apart from appearing in 4 Finals, was always there to give encouragement: a much loved and respected ambassador of our sport.
Finally a thank you to all of you who attended (some 100 players) and for the help you all gave with umpiring, support and playing your individual parts in making this another Southend & District Table Tennis League’s Closed Championship to remember.
If I have missed out anyone, I apologise but I can assure you that every contribution is much appreciated
On behalf of the 2008 Closed Championship Committee
For the Southend & District Table Tennis League
22nd February 2008