Copy Shop’s Adam Davies and Traveller’s Maurice Campbell were crowned the fun doubles table tennis champions 2014 at the NSC last week. This event is traditionally staged during the half-term break from league matches. Unfortunately, the Island Champion Ronan McDonnell was busy studying so he was unavailable to defend the title which he had held for the past two years. However, his winning partner from last year, Margaret Forsyth, was present but history did not repeat itself.
34 players from all the divisions were seeded on their league rankings, with the highest seeded player partnering the lowest and each subsequent pairing being the next highest and lowest ranked player. There were some anomalies as late substitutes willingly replaced a few ‘no shows’. Two groups had been drawn and the games were played over three sets on a round robin basis with the top two teams from each group due to compete in the semi-finals.
Group A was dominated by two teams comprised of experienced division two players so the outcome could probably have been predicted. On paper Campbell and Davies were definitely the favourites and they sailed through all their group matches without losing a set. Second placed Jackie Gill and Malcolm Lambert lost 5/11, 7/11 to Campbell and Davies but won the remainder of their group matches. However, they had a couple of close calls. Their 11/6, 2/11, 15/13 victory against Gary Shilling and Nathan Evans pushed that pairing back into 3rd with five wins out of seven.
In turn, Shilling and Evans had another 13/11 final frame thriller beating 5th placed Paul Corran and young Dylan Yardley who trains with his father, Rhys, at Ramsey Grammar School. Pedro Cardoso was paired with Citywing’s MD David Buck. They were flying high but had a turbulent time against the top three teams and finished 4th after a near miss 4/11, 12/10, 9/11 against Gill and Lambert.
Matty Evans and the competition’s oldest player, Pat Halliwell, finished 6th with wins over Jason Quirk and Surestrike’s Alex Yardley as well as the pairing of Steve Curtis and John Atherton who unfortunately finished with the wooden spoon.
In Group B there were nine teams and consequently their group matches took longer to complete. It was almost as hard to decide the group winner because three teams all finished with seven wins each.
Top place eventually went to Travellers B player Colin Brown and Steve Walters who has made one appearance for Breakaway B in division three. Their only loss was 13/11, 5/11, 10/12 to Peel’s Malc Lewis and Copy Shop’s Kitty Thomas who came 3rd because they in turn lost 8/11, 8/11 to Copy Shop A’s Jane Kneale and Breakaway’s Joe Walters who had earlier been comprehensively beaten 4/11, 4/11 by Brown and Walters Snr.
Three teams finished with four wins each but Adrian Tinkler and Harry Walters were awarded 4th place courtesy of their 11/3, 11/8 win over last year’s title holder, Margaret Forsyth from Tower, who was teamed up with young Alex Buck who plays for Travellers D. Former IOMTTA chairman David Stevenson partnered Frank Feeney who tops the averages in division three. They were placed 6th on countback having narrowly lost 11/8, 10/12, 9/11 to Forsyth and Buck.
Rhys Yardley and Kyle Dodd met Graham McFarlane and Geoff Tinkler to decide 7th and 8th place as they had both beaten Maggie Mulhern and Copy Shop’s Sophie Sheard. Yardley and Dodd took 7th by the narrowest of margins: 9/11, 11/8, 12/10.
Regrettably, there was insufficient time to have semi-finals so the crowd gathered round to watch the two group winners met to decide the title. It was a tactical treat. There were plenty of attacking shots, not always accurate! However, try as they might, Colin Brown and Steve Walters couldn’t breakdown the steady play and stalwart defence of Adam Davies and Maurice Campbell who won in straight sets 11/5, 11/8, 11/7.
All agreed it had been an enjoyable evening, well organised by IOMTTA Chairman Maggie Mulhern. Numbers were up again this year and it was encouraging to see the more senior players coaching the youngsters and adapting their games helping to make the tournament to live up to its name, the Fun Doubles.