Junior Masters - Hussain Takes Maiden Masters Crown

Amir Hussain made an instant impact in the Halifax Junior Masters as he won the competition at his first attempt.

The prize, coveted and desired by the Juniors who enter the event, came to Hussain comfortably, winning both his semi-final and final 3-0.

Victory over top seed Sam Clayton was a gritty affair, but ultimately Hussain's consistency on both wings proved to be the difference.

In what was a typically exciting event, the 16 juniors that took part all gave their all before just Clayton and Hussasin were left standing.

Leading up to the final, Both Hussain's and Clayton's biggest scares came in the group stages, with the pair beating Jonny Heslop and Alex Shaw respectively in the fifth. Ironically, neither progressed through the groups following defeats to Jake Clarke and Lewis Palmer.

Ultimately, the top eight seeds made the quarter-finals, with the only shock on the rankings being Jake Clarke's victory over Ollie Hill.

Clayton disposed of Hill by a comfortable 3-0 scoreline whilst Hussain impressively dispatched of Ben Fillingham 3-0, with Fillingham's highest score being just five points in a single game, an impressive stat given his superb first year in Halifax Division 1.

The other two quarter-finals were closer affairs. Third seed Fraser Riley prevailed in an entertaining game with Waqas Ahmad, eventually winning 3-1.

However, the game of the night, and ultimately, game of the tournament, was between Clarke and Palmer. The two battled out an epic five-end thriller, with very little between the two players. After twists and turns aplenty, Palmer saved five match points to take it 16-14 in the fifth, and book his place in his first ever Masters semi-final.

Palmer couldn't replicate that performance in the semi-final as he was defeated 3-0 by Sam Clayton. Nerves were evident within the youngster, with the more experienced Clayton playing an efficient game to progress to the showpiece.

Meanwhile, Hussain was still going about his business quietly as he comfortably moved past Fraser Riley. Despite Riley taking part in a number of entertaining exchanges, he was drawn into playing away from the court, as a result playing into Hussain's hands.

That paved the way for the final that, unquestionably, was desired by most of the crowd. 

That thought was evident as the first end reached deuce, with the whole crowd, and those playing on tables around the middle table at the center, coming to a standstill. They were treated to an enthralling displa, with both players raising the stakes in a number of long rallies. Crucially, Hussain took it 18-16, with Clayton faulting to hand the game to Amir.

From there on Hussain looked in control as errors crept into Clayton's game. Meanwhile Hussain, who comes to the Friday night class from Oldham, looked calm and composed, his experience of playing in National finals, and winning some on the way, ultimately proving to be the difference. 

Author: via Halifax Table Tennis League
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