JOHNSON SHINES AGAIN
The annual Howard Wilcock Hard Bat tournament took place during half term instead of the normal Fun 88 sponsored league fixtures. It consisted of eight groups of four players with the winner of each group progressing to the quarter final knock-out round.
As there was a high proportion of juniors the tournament organiser, Malcolm Lambert, introduced some rudimentary handicapping based on a player’s division. Hence, Division Four players received a four point a game start and this reduced to just one point for competitors near the top of Division Two. Each match was the best of three sets other than the two groups of three players who competed over five sets.
The ranking and handicap process seemed to work as two Division Two players and one Division Three player made it to the quarter-finals and the top four seeds met in the semi-finals.
Group One - Top seed island champion Liam Chan overcame both Fraser Dametto and Lauren Allwright to take top spot. Dametto clinched second leaving Allwright in third. Unfortunately, the fourth player had been frightened off by fears of storm Doris.
Group Two – As expected, hard bat specialist Mark Johnson topped his group followed by Wendy Hogan in second. William Dalugdugan capitalised on his two point head start to earn third place from Frank Feeney in fourth.
Group Three – Malcolm Cummings prevailed in his group, however Margaret Forsyth of Division Three and young Leo Doyle both gained a win off Division Two’s Alex Buck leaving him fourth.
Forsyth, who has always used a hard bat, beat Doyle to second spot.
Group Four – As the seeding suggested, Khayee Vinas snatched top spot followed by Paul Mathieson-Nelson in second. Sally Green took third leaving Pat Halliwell winless but happy to have taken part in fourth place.
Group Five – In the other three player group Matty Evans edged top spot ahead of favourite Adam Davies.
Occasional player Neil Dudley was left with third but later helped keep all the juniors entertained by kindly overseeing the ‘hit to win the Cadbury’s mini eggs’ consolation competition.
Group Six – Juan Moore, Sasha Thomas and his sister Kitty all took a point from Josh Dudley, then one off each other leaving them all on two wins. After a complicated countback Sasha, who had picked up the most games in the group, was awarded first place.
Group Seven – Malcolm Lambert stepped in to help make up the numbers and claimed first place after a tight tussle with the seeded Steve Curtis of Division One team Tower. Curtis also lost to Libby Quaggin who took second, leaving him in third with late recruit Joey Doyle back in fourth place.
Group Eight – Graham McFarlane topped his group followed by Stu Douglas. Callan Reed finished third over rival Louis Faragher who came fourth.
Quarter Finals (played over five sets)
QF 1 – Liam Chan faced Graham McFarlane and beat him in three sets to pick up the important win to progress to the next round.
QF 2 – Mark Johnson came up against Malcolm Lambert and the former cup winner easily beat Lambert in straight sets to join Chan in the semis.
QF 3 – Malcolm Cummings joined his Travellers teammates in the third semi-final place after he secured a win against Sasha Thomas.
QF 4 – Khayee Vinas brushed past Matty Evans to earn the last space in the semi-finals.
Semi Final 1 – Travellers A players Liam Chan and Malcolm Cummings came head to head in a very close game however Chan secured the fifth set 11/9 to book his place in the final.
Semi Final 2 – Mark Johnson faced Khayee Vinas and beat her in three sets to take the remaining spot for the final.
The top two seeds, both of Travellers A met in the final where they had some good rallies however Mark Johnson the number two seed, based on league percentages, dominated the match to win in straight sets against Liam Chan and once again was crowned the Harold Wilcock hard bat champion.
Thanks go to Colin Brown for acting as match referee and to Malcolm Lambert who organised the event.
Photos: Malcolm Lambert