The Clacton and District League’s Closed Championships, once again sponsored by Paul Newbould Planning and Building Design Services, take place this weekend (Saturday 22nd and Sunday 23rd April) at the Clacton Coastal Academy Sports Hall. Seventy-eight players will be competing for twelve titles.
There's a strong entry in the Mens Singles where any one of nine players has the pedigree to take the title.
Reigning champion Colin Stallwood starts as favourite to make it three titles in a row but sixteen-year old Sam Hume, beaten finalist for the last two years, is undefeated in the League this season. Could 2017 be his year?
2014 champion James Denyer is another exceptional talent and he, along with Paul Hume, will be the fourth of Clacton's home-grown players aiming for the title.
But two newcomers to the Clacton Tournament, Ipswich-based Andy Warner and Bulgarian star Kris Stefanov, are both experienced, gifted players and either could feature on the winner's rostrum.
Add to the mix former champions Gary Young, Greg Green and Kevin Gowlett - and the event promises to be one of the best for many years.
Greg Green and Colin Stallwood have dominated the Mens Doubles for the past three years and are rightly seeded number one, with Paul Hume and Sam Hume, the 2015 and 2016 runners-up, seeded to meet them again in the final.
But once again there will tough competition with three other combinations taking the eye - James Denyer and Felipe Rodriguez, Andy Warner and Gary Young, and the scratch pairing of Kris Stefanov and John Cleasby.
Fifteen-year old Gracie Edwards is hot favourite to take a third Ladies Singles title.
There's no Gill Locke or Sue Welham, both past winners of this event, and so Annabelle Rodriguez, twice a past Ladies' champion who's featured in nine of the last eleven finals, is the likeliest of the challengers. Isabel Barton and Tricia are the expected semi-finalists.
The grand-mother/grand-daughter combination of Cris Edwards and Gracie Edwards will be aiming to retain their Ladies Doubles title with last season's runners-up, Annabelle Rodriguez and Kayley Rodriguez, seeded to meet them in the final. Jenny Higgins and Isabel Barton, surprise winners two years ago, are the best of the rest.
There are three outstanding pairings in the Mixed Doubles and it would be a major shock if the winners did not come from one of these.
Colin Stallwood and Annabelle Rodriguez, title-holders for the past two years, are seeded to meet Andy Warner and Gracie Edwards in what would be a repeat of this year's Colchester Closed final. But 2013 and 2014 champions, James Denyer and Gill Locke, will feel they have the ability to take the title for a third time.
With Gracie Edwards unavailable for the Junior Singles, Sam Hume is poised to make it a hat-trick of titles. Ethan Lloyd is seeded number two but any one of Scott Campbell, Jared Chelski, Woody Fitzpatrick and Daniel Young have the ability to spring a surprise.
Sam Hume and Woody Fitzpatrick start as favourites for the Junior Doubles but it will be no gimme, with the pairings of Ethan Lloyd and Scott Campbell, and Jared Chelski and Daniel Young both competitive.
There is strength in depth in the Veterans Singles where several of the Mens Singles' favourites will again be in competition. So look no further for a winner than among the top four seeds - Colin Stallwood, Andy Warner, Kevin Gowlett and Gary Young.
The Super-Veterans Singles is another event which defies prediction so perm any two out of six for the final, with former champions Derek Willis, Alan Burgess and Colin Dearman in the mix alongside John Cleasby, Colin Webber and Phil Smith.
Russell Hillier has lost only twice all season and has deservedly been made top seed in the Division Two Singles. But this event has often proved unkind for number one seeds in previous seasons which may provide encouragement for the other three seeded players, Jason Lloyd, Ethan Lloyd and Grant Sharpe, and the two dangerous outsiders, Lee Harvey and Mark Ratcliffe.
However, it would be a major surprise if the Division Three Singles was not a shoot-out between Walton D youngsters Jared Chelski and Daniel Young, with Chelski starting as favourite. Nomads Caracals' veterans, Denise Thompson and Chris Jones, are the expected semi-finalists.
There are no seedings in the Restricted Singles where either Oli Reynolds and Gavin Price are the most likely of the twenty-nine entrants to take the title. Colin Dearman in one half of the draw, and either Jason Lloyd or John Harvey in the other half, could find a place in the last four.
With 293 matches scheduled to be played over the two days, the Tournament Committee has brought forward the starting time of play to 9.00 am on both Saturday and Sunday.
The finals of the seven minor events are scheduled to take place from about 4.00 pm on Saturday, with the finals of the five major events starting at the same time on Sunday.
Admission to the Championships is free and spectators are welcome. Light refreshments will be available as usual. There will also be a raffle and any donations of prizes would be welcome.
* Details of check-in times have been sent to all competitors. Any player who has not received this information should contact Tony Oswick or Peter White without delay.