Burnham Tournament Review 2022

Taylor Made For Glory


Burnham Finals Night 2022

This week saw the conclusion of the annual Burnham & District Table Tennis League Championship Tournament at its prestigious Finals Night held at Champions Manor Hall in South Woodham Ferrers. The evening was dominated by one player as he reached all of the gold ribbon event Finals, barring the Ladies Final, which this year he failed to enter. Stand up Mr Duncan ‘duracell’ Taylor who not only came runner up in both the Men’s and Veteran’s Doubles Finals with his partner Kevin Read, but also won the Mixed Doubles event with partner Andrea Alleyne and then went on to win the Veterans Singles (Over 40s), and then late into the evening when his stamina was being fully tested and questioned he was crowned the Men’s Singles Champion for the 4th time, but the first since 2018. 

This one was a hotly contested affair with two pairings very well known to each other with every player in the top 8 seedings of the Men’s Singles event. The Fambridge duo of Keith Adams and Gary Young got off to a flying start as they romped the opening leg in record time. After that the game was a bit tighter with some fantastic doubles play that saw the full use of the playing area – something the crowd loved and this got the support levels up very early on. The Cold Norton pairing of Kevin Read and Duncan Taylor had a long night ahead of them but they couldn’t quite muster the tactics and execution to see off the hitting and defensive tactics of Adams and Young. So in 4 excellent sets the title went to Keith Adams and Gary Young.


The Mixed Doubles Final saw Lee McHugh and Ella Sach up against the current holders Duncan Taylor and Andrea Alleyne. A cagey first two sets saw the game even at 1-1 but then Taylor and Alleyne began a tactical assault on the McHugh and Sach positioning and began to pull clear. Some great rallies in this one as both Sach and Alleyne showed their defensive and attacking skills to both save and win unexpected points. The last two sets went the way of the current holders for a 3-1 victory, and Duncan Taylor and Andrea Alleyne were duly crowned the king and queen of the Mixed Doubles event.


The Ladies Final was a repeat of the last event in 2019 as the holder Dawn Baldry from Maldon TTC took on the ever improving Andrea Alleyne from West Maldon TTC. Baldry is usually an all-out attack flare player and these tactics served her well as she took the opening set with some wonderful winners. But Alleyne tightened things up in the second leg and reduced her opponents hitting opportunities and just about squeezed out a win 12-10 to square the match up. Baldry then started to create her own opportunities with good use of serve and follow up third ball hitting that Alleyne struggled to contain. So much so that the next two sets went by quite quickly and Dawn Baldry held onto her crown as she retained her Ladies Singles Title. 

Well this was the best contest of the night. The match had everything before it started; top players, experience vs youth, defence against attack styles, plus two fresh players against two players who had been hard at it all evening. This year the final was between perennial table hoggers Duncan Taylor and Kevin Read, and the new youthful pairing of Daniel Young and Sam Lowman. Young and Lowman got off to a great start as their opposition failed to control the awesome backhand hitting of Young, with every rally seemingly finishing one way or another off of a Young backhand – clearly he got more on than he missed as the youthful pairing swept to a 2-0 lead. Some tactical discussions in the break and a more determined approach saw Taylor and Read back in contention as they took the next two legs, and so we were into a deciding set for the only time of the evening. The tension was palpable. Youth got off to a winning start but experience responded to take the decider to 6-6, but from then on the it was youth all the way as Daniel Young and Sam Lowman only dropped one more point to win the coveted Men’s Doubles title – how many more times will this pairing appear on this historic trophy. 

The pipe and slippers Final for the over 40s saw Duncan Taylor pitted against his doubles partner Kevin Read. It’s fair to say these two know each other’s game back to front. In the first leg Read attacked relentlessly and Taylor seemed out of sorts for an unexpected straightforward 1-0 start for Read. But after this the expected pattern emerged and Taylor’s war of attrition kicked in as he returned everything Read could throw at him from every angle and corner of the playing area, and by the end of the 4th set the attrition had worked and Read had very little left to offer and went down 3-1. Duncan Taylor was yet again the proud owner of the Keith Pitt Cup as the Veterans Singles Champion.


In the Blue Ribbon Event, the first semi-final saw Duncan Taylor overcome the very talented Keith Adams in 4 pulsating attack v defence exhibition style ends to make it through to the Final. In the other semi-final it was Taylor’s doubles partner Kevin Read up against Lee McHugh who had already defeated the top seed Daniel Young in earlier rounds. Read took an early 1-0 lead as McHugh got to grips with his nerves, but once McHugh got into his stride his accuracy became too much for Read, and McHugh took the next 3 sets and booked himself into the Men’s Final for the first time.

The Final itself was played late in the evening and Taylor had clearly already expended a ton of energy on his previous 4 finals plus the semi-final, so the crowd were a bit hesitant of what type of game they would witness. The first set was close and McHugh probably should have won it but hit too many off the end as he had to contend with the varying spin from the Taylor returns. The second set saw Taylor at his consistent best as returned everything and waited for the mistakes from his opponent. So 2-0 to Taylor and we went into a 3rd set that McHugh needed to win to keep his chances alive. Not such a good start saw Taylor take a 5-0 lead off off a stream of unforced errors from McHugh. Things were looking dire for McHugh but to his enormous credit he didn’t give up and began to force his way back into the leg. So as the roles switched and Taylor began to make more errors and McHugh took on the Mr Reliable tag it was soon 6-6 in what was become compulsive watching. 6-6 soon became 10-10 with McHugh saving Taylor’s first championship point. But serving at 10-11 down there was no saving a second match point as a long rally ended when a McHugh smash was a little too long and the very tired but elated Duncan Taylor was crowned the Champion.


Take a bow Mr Taylor - what a champion he is!

All the Matches are available to watch on our Facebook pages (https://www.facebook.com/BurnhamTT), and the winner will be available for autographs and photographs at the Presentation Evening on Friday 13th May.

No Tournament can run without a huge input from the organisers - so on behalf of all the competitors can I please give a big shout out to Alan Dadswell and his team(s) for everything they do for the Burnham League and especially this fine tournament.


Burnham Closed Tournament 2022 - Day 2 Review

Lots of competitions to get through today and as always some delays at the end as many of the same players reached the final stages of multiple events.

Before I start can I thank Alan Dadswell for all his organisation over the weekend - tremendous effort yet again. Also many thanks to Jan Dadswell who manned and controlled the refreshments all weekend, and to Gordon POTTNVOTY Gatheral for all his running around and herding up 'volunteer' umpires! And of course to everyone else who helped with setting up and taking down.

Finals Night is this Thursday - Line Up and start time to be announced later today, but likely to be a bit earlier than usual. If you like watching Duncan Taylor play you're in for a treat!!

Ladies Singles - Final to be played on Finals Night.

This year the final will be contested by Dawn Baldry (Maldon)(1) and Andrea Alleyne (West Maldon)(2) - a repeat of the last final way back in 2019 when the world was a different place! Both players came through their groups unscathed and then Dawn beat Val Board in the first semi-final, and Andrea had a tougher time of it but came through in 4 sets against the Star of Saturday Karen Braney.

Ladies Doubles

Winners - Dawn Baldry (Maldon) / Jo Hart (South Woodham)

Runners-Up – Ella Sach (Maldon) / Andrea Alleyne (West Maldon)

This year this event was played as a round robin between the 4 pairings.  Dawn & Jo remained unbeaten throughout, and Ella and Andrea won all their games other than being beaten in straight sets by the deserved champions.

Mixed Doubles - Final to be played on Finals Night

Final -  Lee McHugh (Fambridge) & Ella Sach (Maldon) (unseeded) Versus Duncan Taylor (Cold Norton) & Andrea Alleyne (West Maldon) (1)

With 8 pairs competing the initial group stages gave the teams plenty of opportunity to get the rhythm going.  In Group 2 the experienced pairing of Colin Napper & Dawn Baldry (2) came out on top winning all 3 games and only dropping a single set.  Group 2 runners-up were the unseeded St Lawrence pairing of Steve King and Karen Braney.  Group 1 saw 3 pairings with Men’s seeds so it was always going to be a bit tough for the Woodham duo of Mike Burton and Val Board – tough draw guys!  In this one it was a surprising victory for the unseeded Lee McHugh and Ella Sach – clearly the handicap doubles practice had honed their modus operandi.  Runners-up in the Group were Duncan Taylor & Andrea Alleyne (1).  In the semis Andrea & Duncan overcame Colin and Dawn in 4 hard sets, and Lee & Ella had to come back from 0-2 down to eventually defeat Steve and Karen 11-4 in the fifth end.  So an all Group 1 Final – in the group match Ella & Lee won in straight sets but I don’t think it will be as straightforward come Finals Night.

Men’s Singles - Final to be played on Finals Night.

Well no-one can ever complain about the BDTTL seedings committee again.  In a field of 38 the Committee got it spot on as all 8 seeds made it through to the Quarter-Final stage.  To keep the seedings committee happy Duncan Taylor (2) beat Gary Young (7) in a tense 5 set encounter, Keith Adams (3) knocked out Ian Wall in 4 sets (6), and Kevin Read (4) just squeaked passed John Poysden (5) in a roller-coaster of a 5 set battle.  But then came what should have been the most straightforward match as top seed took on eighth seed.  Daniel Young (1) set out at a tremendous speed and quality and was soon 2-0 up against a startled Lee McHugh (8).  McHugh to his credit was keeping his cool despite the demons in his head nattering away, and he knuckled down and clearly changed tactics to stop feeding the Young backhand.  So in the blink of an eye it was 2-2 and we were deep into the decider.  The final set was much more even with Young firing some tremendous winners past the desperate defence of McHugh.  But McHugh was firing his own winners and took the game to 8-8.  McHugh went 10-8 up and Young had the serve.  Young’s first serve had a viscous kick and popped up off the edge of his opponents bat, and at match point 2 down McHugh was unable to control the Young power – so of course we went to deuce in the fifth.  A shout of ‘Focus Lee’ from the crowd! McHugh serves and follows up with a deceptive 3rd ball winner – ‘what a shot’ he calls.  At match point 3 Young serves on to his own edge and the ball flies high over the net, and it is almost Baywatch style slo-mo as the spinning orb arcs towards the opposite edge – yes we were all thinking it – but no edge this time, no choking, and a place in the semi-finals for McHugh.  Congratulations to all our semi-finalists – a quality line-up for sure.

Semi-final 1 – Lee McHugh (Fambridge) (8)  V  Kevin Read (Cold Norton) (4)

Semi-final 2 – Duncan Taylor (Cold Norton (2) V Keith Adams (Fambridge) (3)


Men’s Doubles - Final to be played on Finals Night

Another coup for the seedings committee as 3 of the 4 seeds made it to the semi-final.  The only faller was the 3rd seed Fambridge pairing of Lee McHugh and John Poysden who lost out to the experienced duo of Eric Green and Bruce Kettle in the round of 16.  I do remember the younger member of the fallen seeds complaining about not being given a mention in the pre-tournament predictions – touché.  The first semi saw the battle of the Youngs as father and son were pitted against each other.  4th seeds Sam Lowman & Dan Young got off to a great start as both players were able to move their opponents around and hit winners when they presented themselves – they were 2-0 up in quick time.  Top seeds Gary Young and Keith Adams fought back hard to make a game of it winning the 3rd leg 11-9, but the lower seeds were not to be out thought on this day and against traditional wisdom youth overcame experience for a seeding upset.  The second semi was a lot more straightforward as second seeds Duncan Taylor & Kevin Read provided a professional 7,7,7 straight sets victory over the excellent Green & Kettle who just couldn’t quite get going in this one.

Final - Sam Lowman (Cold Norton) & Dan Young (Fambridge) (4) V Duncan Taylor (Cold Norton) & Kevin Read (Cold Norton) (2)


Vet’s Singles - Final to be played on Finals Night.

Another plus for the seedings committee as 7 of the 8 seeds made it through to the quarter-finals.  Chris Ballard and his booming backhands had the cheek to take second seed Keith Adams to deuce in the fifth and then only went and beat him 13-11.  Great scalp for Chris and the only seedings upset.   The quarter-finals went to seedings order and in the semi-finals Duncan Taylor (1) once again got the better of the hard-working Gary Young (5), and Kevin Read (3) beat Eric Green (7).  So an all Cold Norton Final – and could be a forerunner with the same contenders to the main event on Finals Night.

Final - Duncan Taylor (Cold Norton) (1) V Kevin Read (Cold Norton) (3)


Vets Doubles - Final to be played on Finals Night

This one went long into the evening and once you see the main contenders you will see that they were largely involved in the latter stages of every event – the ‘Bitterenders Club’.  Again seedings went to plan and in the first semi-final Duncan Taylor & Kevin Read (2) breezed passed Paul Brown & John Poysden (4) in straight sets.  In the top half  Eric Green & Bruce Kettle (4) put up a fight against top seeds Gary Young & Keith Adams (1) but couldn’t do enough to win the match, going down in 4 sets.

Final - Gary Young (Fambridge) & Keith Adams (Fambridge) (1) V Duncan Taylor (Cold Norton) & Kevin Read (Cold Norton) (2)


Over 60s Singles


Winner Eric Green (1) - Cold Norton

Runner-Up - Brice Kettle (3) - Fambridge

A couple of upsets along the way in this event before the coronation of the top seed Eric Green.  Tim Cramphorn knocked out Steve Whiteley in round 2, and Barrie Delf beat fourth seed George Reeves in 5 sets in the quarter-finals.  Bruce Kettle (3) played very consistently to beat John Poysden (2) in the first semi-final, and Eric Green (1) was able to get passed the giant killing Barrie Delf to make it to another Burnham Final.


Plate Competition

For those players who get knocked out in the early rounds of the Men’s Singles.  Always throws up great results this event and this year was no different.  Sam Phillips beat 3 Division 1 players on his way to the semi-final with Arron Chandler, where Chandler went through in 4 sets.  The other semi-final saw Maldon’s Colin Napper pitted against Chris Ballard with Ballard progressing to the final.  The Final went to Ballard in straight sets as Chandler struggled to get his attacking game going against the rangey Ballard.

Winner – Chris Ballard (Cold Norton)

Runner-Up – Arron Chandler (Stow Maries)


Burnham Closed Tournament 2022 - Day 1

Well the curtain falls on the first day of the Burnham Closed Tournament 2022.

Here are the early winners :-


Fambridge Trophy

Winner - Karen Braney (St Lawrence)

Runner-Up - Mike Burton (Woodham)

A tough one to call before start of play as it was likely to be one of the inform players to take the crown.  Steve King started very well including a group stage tight 5 set win over his St Lawrence compatriot and eventual winner Karen Braney.  Val Board also started well winning her Group including another 5 set long 'un against ace defender and bookies favourite Mike Burton.  in the quarters Braney played superbly to defeat the perennial 'dark horse' and previous 2-time Fambridge winner Mitch Davies.  Board's early good form seem to have peaked as she lost out in a deuce fifth set shoot out with Blackwaters Phil West despite having had the first match point.  In the semis Mike Burton somewhat surprisingly triumphed in straight sets against Steve King, and Karen Braney needed just four sets to get the better of Phil West.  The Final went all the way and Mike Burton had one match point in the 4th set before losing that one 12-14 and that seemed to knock the stuffing out of him and Karen Braney took full control of the deciding leg to record an unexpected but joyful championship victory (-4, 5, -8, 12, 3). 


Dan Richardson Trophy

Winner - Tony Bonnici (Woodham)

Runner-up - Daniel Piggott (Woodham)

It’s always good when the Dan Richardson Trophy goes to Dan’s home club. A tense final that went to deuce in the fifth!  

This was a very well supported competition this year with well over 40 entrants.  An early shock was the departure of top seed Barrie Delf who lost to Eamonn Hall in the group stages and was then eliminated by Ken Sheard in the round of 32.  in the round of 16 there were a few upsets with Dave Hancox beating David Gatheral, and Luca Bailey providing an early bath for Colin Napper.  In the quarter-finals Dawn Baldry starred with an excellent win over championship favourite and not so sensational Sanjay Saptarshi.  The first semi between Neil Freeman and Tony Bonnici went all the way to a deciding leg with Bonnici coming out on top 11-4.  In the other semi Dan Piggott was just too strong for Dawn Baldry and he went through in 4 sets to set up the all Woodham A final with two long-time club mates who had never actually faced each other in competition.  Bonnici started by far the better in the Final as the occasion seemed to impact Piggott's normal game, and he was soon 2-0 t the good.  But to Piggott's credit he fought back and evened things up at 2-2.  Of course we went to deuce in the fifth before Bonnici rounded things off for a fifth set 12-10 victory.


Handicap Doubles

Winners - Sanjay Saptarshi (Woodham) / Sam Lowman (Cold Norton) [-10]

Runners-Up - Lee McHugh (Fambridge) / Ella Sach (Maldon) (0)

Another final that went to a decider! After a long day of playing it was the fittest teams that made it through to the final. Despite the head start it was difficult for McHugh & Sach to continually thwart the attacking ability of their opponents. Saptarshi completed the victory with a delicious South Woodham special net drop….

The Handicapping team had fun with this one - the strongest team seemed to be Arron Chandler and Colin Chatfield and they did make it all the way to the semi-finals where their handicap was just too much as they lost out to eventual winners Lowman and Saptarshi.  In the other semi McHugh and Sach had to overcome the good pairing of Ken Sheard and Neil Want.  The combination of McHugh's accurate hitting and Sach's handicap advantage were just too much for the Ken & Neil show.


To complete the Saturday events we had two held-over Finals played on Sunday


Mixed Open Final - all bar top 8 Mens seeds

Winner - Sam Lowman (Cold Norton)

Runner-Up - Eric Green (Cold Norton)

A proper battle of styles this one, with Sam just having that extra kick in his forehands on the day. Eric battled hard all the way through and retrieved many a lost cause but Sam remained focussed for this one!

In the early rounds the only real shock was Peter Chastin knocking out Dawn Baldry, and even in the last 16 the only game that went against the bookies was probably David Gatheral beating Tim Pang.  The quarters were well contested with Sam Lowman playing well to get the better of Colin Chatfield to set up his semi-final with Arron Chandler.  Eric Green maintained his march to the Final with a quarter-final win over Richard Storey and then had to face Tony Bonnici in his semi-final.  Eric came through unscathed and Sam beat Arron in a tight 4 setter.  In the final Eric struggled to get his normal game into action and Sam took all his opportunities as they were presented to record a straight sets victory and the right to keep this trophy in his bedroom where its been for the last few years!


Handicap Singles Final

Winner - Lee McHugh (Fambridge) [-17]

Runner-Up - Ella Sach (Maldon) [+12]

It was quite the weekend for these two protagonists - finals a-plenty for them both. Ella had been the star of the show from the off dispatching many good players with a combination of tight low serves, great returns and occasional unreturnable smashes. Lee was in good form and even seemed focus but how would he fare against such a huge handicap of 29 points, plus playing against his double doubles partner? Lee was the model of concentration and served, spun and hit his way to an amazing 21-17 first leg win. Ella stormed the second leg as Lee lost focus with a couple of foul serves and bad misses and Ella hit some fantastic winners - that's all it takes! Lee regrouped and the deciding set was much closer and even at 17-17 you might have thought it was done and dusted but then Ella won two points on the bounce and the McChokey hecklers were out in full voice - but Lee donned his imaginary earplugs, got back in the zone and completed the job in hand.



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