AS it was half-term there were no league table tennis matches at the NSC, so IOMTTA Treasurer Mike Bayley kindly organised a handicap competition for the 27 players who decided to brave the elements and give Real Madrid v Manchester United a miss.

Handicaps ranged from top seed Paul Corran’s (0) to young Alex Buck’s (25). There were seven rounds and the entrants drawn to play each other competed to see who could get to 31 first, with the start point being the difference between their handicaps. As there were an odd number of competitors some players missed a round, therefore, the contest was based on each competitor’s best or only six scores.

Four players finished the evening with the maximum score of 186 (6 x 31) and three others reached 185, so the handicaps seemed to be reasonably fair. Dave Callow (18), representing Tower C in the second division, was adjudged the winner as he had the highest handicap. His results included a couple of ‘nail biters’ and a discarded loss to young Nathan Evans (24) who played brilliantly to beat him 31/26. Pedro Cardoso (23) from Copy Shop C in the third division started 5/0 up and stayed ahead until the last few shots. At 29/29 it looked like he might hang on but Callow edged him out 31/29.

Surprise entrant and recent island returnee, Rhys Yardley (10), will rue knocking-up on the table closest to the tournament organiser as he had initially been given a handicap of (15), but his impressive efforts got him cut to (10) before the competition actually started. Those five lost shots proved crucial as Yardley had to give Callow eight points rather than the original three. Their fast flowing encounter finished 31/28 in favour of the overall winner Callow.

It was a similar situation when Yardley played the tournament runner-up, and past winner, Graham McFarlane (12). Being former Malew and Tower team-mates they knew each other’s game well, and they enjoyed some cracking rallies. In the end McFarlane proved just too consistent for Yardley and so won 31/26; those illusive five shots again proving critical.

McFarlane won five other encounters but was able to discard his 28/31 defeat to Paul Corran who in turn failed to overturn Malc Lewis’ 11/0 start. Lewis (11) looked set to end the evening undefeated until he met young Matty  Evans (19) who, rather than protect his 8/0 lead, went for his shots and triumphed 31/30. Lewis was even more unlucky as he was not drawn to compete in one of the rounds and so could not jettison that one narrow defeat.

Gary Shilling (6) was placed third with six wins and a 29/31 loss to John Magnall (2) who was placed fourth. That was not Shilling’s closest game, he and Marc Townsend (6) had to start at 0/0 and they eventually finished 31/30 which qualified as the longest game of the evening. That lost point left Townsend on 185 but he inflicted the same fate on Malcolm Lambert (18) by beating him 31/30. Lambert could not abandon that result as he had earlier lost to the defensive and then attacking artistry of Magnall 24/31.

In a light hearted and lucrative interlude Breakaway’s Paul Corran deservedly, but perhaps not unexpectedly, picked-up the £20 prize for being the last player standing in an exciting one point sudden death knock-out competition. Traveller’s Gary Shilling was short-changed in that final. Young Nathan Evans deserves a mention as he exceeded expectation by reaching the semi-final and managed to return a number of Corran’s hardest looping forehands. Evans, along with Juan Moore, George Melvin and Harry Walters, who all enjoyed the evening’s competition, will be representing the Island in the forthcoming British Primary Schools championships in Dublin.  

It is back to normal league matches next week and of course we won’t be playing for £20 a point!


Author: via Isle Of Man Table Tennis Association
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