Hard Bat Competition Report 2019-20
It’s that festive time of year again which means only one thing for the North Devon table tennis community and that’s the return of the annual hard bat competition which helped raise money for the Children’s Hospice.
On what was an entertaining night, David Ewen took the title after a spirited performance saw him win a tough five-set match against the other finalist Martyn Beer, a previous winner.
Fourteen players entered, allowing for two groups of seven and with the winner of the first one by a quite a distance being Nathan Jukes. He was in imperious form throughout the group stages, winning all six of his matches with some great hitting under pressure, winning four of them by only two points. His ability to grind out wins appeared to work wonders for his confidence though, as he subjected Mike Hill who finished fourth in the group with three wins to a whitewash in his final game.
The runner-up in that group and also making his way through to the semi-final was Tim Cooke after a solid four wins was just enough to secure his progression. Tim actually finished level on points with Peter Kneil, but due to the former winning their group encounter he went through on the head to head rule.
This meant the final order below the top two was as follows: Peter Kneil in third with four points, Mike Hill in fourth as stated earlier, Sue Jackson in fifth level on two points with Bill who finished sixth, due to the head to head rule. Whilst Ernie Maud completed the list after a tough night saw him fail to win a single point.
Group two was won by the eventual winner David Ewen, but behind that victory contained some very competitive matches. David won all six of his, beating Martyn in his final match to top the group but was pushed all the way by third placed Rob Herman, squeezing out an 11-9 victory that meant Rob, who won four just miss out on a semi-final place.
The runner-up was thus claimed by Martyn Beer whose five victories was achieved, in no small part, by an impressive backhand throughout which was enough to get him over the line.
With those two advancing on, it meant as stated earlier that Rob finished third with four points, Alan Briggs in fourth with 3 points, Steve Richardson sat fifth with two points, whilst Christine Isaac claimed sixth with one point. Ike Aviston much like Ernie in group one had to settle for last after failing to secure a single point.
The first semi-final saw the winner of group one Nathan Jukes face the prospect of group two runner-up Martyn Beer. In what was a best of three encounter, you felt that if Nathan were to have any chance he’d need to utilise that deadly hitting game. However despite some excellent multiple shot rallies, a clearly hesitant Nathan relented on his attacking game and allowed Martyn with that quality backhand drive to secure a comfortable 2-0 victory and reach the final.
The other semi-final however was a very different tale that could have gone either way but it was David Ewen who eventually held his nerve in the third and final set against Tim Cooke. The first set saw David show the form he’d been displaying all night, winning it comfortably 11-6 and you’d of been forgiven for thinking he’d stroll to victory. However you would of thought wrong as Tim took the next game 11-9, before suffering an agonising 12-10 loss in the third to fall just short of a place in the final.
After a somewhat easier semi-final encounter Martyn Beer started the final in a more lively fashion, forcing David into a string of errors as he took the first set 11-6. David though quickly rallied as some excellent attack play, along with some brilliant retrieving from Martyn’s imperious backhand saw him take the second 11-8. That said in what was to be a rollercoaster of a match Martyn hit back again in the third, winning 11-9 after five straight backhands of the highest order.
Despite those first three sets suggesting Martyn had the answers, you just never felt, as Mr Steve Richardson said on the night, which he’d so love me to point out that David never looked like he was going to lose. How right he was, as David secured the fourth and fifth games with some unbelievable shots that simply had Martyn beaten all ends up in a final set score line of 11-3.
That saw David not just take the crown but boast a 100% win record on the night, so congratulations to him on a simply faultless performance and this means a new name will appear on the trophy.
Compiled by Rob Herman.