The annual Tony Whatley Memorial Shield Up and Down Doubles event was held on Thursday 2nd January at Tarka Tennis Centre in Barnstaple. It is played in memory of Tony who was league secretary and player in the NDTTL for many years.
Twenty Four North Devon Table Tennis League players attended and were paired based on their rankings on the TT365 website for our league. The highest ranked being paired with the lowest, second highest with second lowest and so on.
The twelve pairs then played in three groups of four teams. The top two from each group and best performing third placed pairs progressed to the quarter finals.
The first quarter final saw last years winner Save Cragg (with then partner Ernie Maud who’s partner in life ironically is Steve’s partner this year) paired with Christine Isaac taking on Gerald Luscombe and Jill Knightley. It was a very close run match with Luscombe and Knightley coming out winners 11-7, 4-11, 11-9, 8-11 and 11-8 to progress to the semi final.
Quarter final two was Rob Gale and Nathan Jukes vs Ian Rice and Barry Stearman. A very close fought match which was decided on the very last point (as the format is handicapped based sudden death at 10-10 was used instead of the usual 2 clear points needed). Gale and Jukes progressed 7-11, 11-4, 11-7, 8-11 and 11-10.
Quarter three was Peter Hedge and Mike Fawcett vs Ben Taylor and Sue Jackson - another nail biter decided on the last point of the match this Hedge and Fawcett victorious - 11-6, 11-10, 8-11, 10-11 & 11-10.
The last quarter was Tim Cook and his league team-mate Steve Richardson vs Bill Tregellas and Mike Hill. Despite some good rallies and two close legs Tregellas and Hill’s attacking style proved too much and they won out 11-10, 11-8 & 11-3 to make up the final team in the semi’s.
Semi final one was Bill Tregellas & Mike Hill vs Peter Hedge and Mike Fawcett. Again, Tregellas and Hill were too much for Hedge and Fawcett and they moved into the final - 11-9, 11-8 & 11-6.
The other semi was decided in four games and was much closer. Rob Gale and Nathan Jukes edged through 11-6, 9-11, 11-10 & 11-9 against Gerald Luscome and Jill Knightley.
This set up a final of Rob Gale and Nathan Jukes vs Bill Tregellas and Mike Hill. As pointed out by Gale, both he and Hill were team-mates of Tony Whatley who is remembered by this competition. As they are on opposing sides in the final, there is a guaranteed win for one of the ‘Herons’.
Despite some excellent performances along the way Tregellas and Hill did not start well being whitewashed the first game 0-11. The next two games were neck and neck but both were won by Gale and Jukes 11-10 & 11-9 so it is Rob Gale and Nathan Jukes who are this years winners - congratulations to them!.
The attached photo shows the finalists (from L-R) Nathan Jukes, Rob Gale, Mike Hill and Bill Tregellas. If you look closely you may be able to see Rob and Mike sporting their Herons team shirts.