ONCE a year we dust down our old box of hard bats to play the popular Harold Wilcock tournament where ear defenders are optional but a sense of humour is definitely useful.


Initially, the players were split into four groups playing on a round robin basis over the best of five games with the winners and runners up progressing to the knockout stages. Some of the competitors were quicker than others to adapt so many points ended with wild whacks rather than classic attacks.


Group One comprised of hard bat specialist John Magnall, this year’s eventual winner, Will Bayley, plus Colin Barron, Dave Callow and Maurice Campbell. They finished in that order with past trophy holder Magnall winning all his matches. Callow’s consistent counter-attack overcame the early erratic efforts of Bayley who also lost to Magnall. Barron beat both Callow and Campbell but was the countback casualty as Bayley beat him12/10 in the final frame. Campbell had lost to Bayley so had to be content with a last gasp win 11/9 over Callow.


Group Two finished with Liam Chan undefeated, dropping just one set to Malc Lewis who was placed second with wins over Ruth Bailey, Rhys Yardley and Nathan Evans. Bailey beat Yardley but was surprisingly beaten by an ebullient Evans 8/11, 11/3, 11/4, 8/11, 11/9. Yardley picked-up his paltry point against Evans in four fast sets.


Group three was mastered by Mason McLarney after beating Becky Bayley in straight sets. They were both unbeaten up to that stage. Graham McFarlane narrowly lost 13/11, 6/11, 12/14, 14/12, 7/11 to McLarney and in straight sets to Bayley but, with three wins, was placed ahead of Matty Evans. Young Harry Walters pipped Pat Halliwell to avoid the wooden spoon.


Tim Baker took top place in the last group dropping just two sets in five matches. Marc Townsend was the runner-up with four wins and Paul Nelson beat Keeran Chan, Malcolm Lambert and Juan Moore to finish third. Lambert beat Moore but was edged out 9/11 in his fifth set with Chan and had two tie-breakers against Townsend.


Knockout Rounds


The first quarter final pitted former finalist Malc Lewis against ‘Ming’ Magnall who once retained the trophy for four consecutive years. Magnall started slowly and nearly overturned a two sets deficit, but fell just short losing to Lewis 11/2, 11/9, 12/14, 8/11, 12/10. Will Bayley lost two tie-breakers but defended well to wear down the more attacking play of Liam Chan and take their final set 11/7.


It couldn’t have be closer in the humdinger between McLarney and Townsend which went to the latter 9/11, 13/11, 13/11, 12/10. By contrast the last quarter final was a somewhat languid affair between Becky Bayley and Baker, Neither player was prepared to attack and their ping-pong prods were eventually settled 12/10 in favour of Bayley.


The semi finals matched Malc Lewis against Becky Bayley who rallied well but capitulated 9/11, 5/11, 5/11. In the other semi Will Bayley played the odd attacking shot but relied on defiant defence to frustrate Marc Townsend who went out in style 8/11, 12/10, 11/9, 5/11, 5/11.


The final featured a fascinating tactical tussle with Will Bayley standing well back to chop and chip the flowing forehands of Malc Lewis. The first two sets went to Bayley 11/9, 11/8 but Lewis found his line and length to take the third11/5 and then impressively battled back from 4/10 down to snatch the fourth set 13/11. Lewis was hoping for a repeat performance in the final frame but 16 year old Bayley blocked him out 11/4 to lift the trophy for the first time.


Maggie Mulhern organised the event and all the players who stayed to watch the final agreed that it had been an enjoyable evening and thanked Maggie for her excellent efforts on our behalf.



Author: via Isle Of Man Table Tennis Association
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