North Devon Table Tennis Championships 2019-20 Report
On Sunday 23rd of February we saw yet another successful North Devon Championships at the Tarka Tennis centre. This year’s competition contained 25 players playing across seven different events, all of which provided quality table tennis throughout. The finals of each event are set to be played at a later date apart from the junior and ladies singles which were both played on the day.
The first event of the championships was the Handicap Singles where 22 of the 25 entrants competed in four groups with two advancing from each. After some hard-fought games Robert Herman advanced top of Group A, followed by runner up Barry Stearman who sneaked through above David Ewen on countback. Group B required less mathematics with Doug Genini advancing top, winning nine of the ten points on offer, whilst youngster Thomas Venn who would go on to have quite the day finished second.
Group C much like the one before, was clear cut with Michael Ware being victorious and Jonathan Taylor joining him in the next round after an important win against Owen Salisbury made sure of his progression. The final group was won by Sue Jackson, a great achievement going through ahead of last year’s handicap winner David Sillifant.
The quarter final stage would first see the end of Sue Jackson’s run in the competition after losing 2-0 in a close fought contest with Barry Stearman. Barry’s semi-final opponent would then would be Thomas Venn after the youngest player in this year’s competition bested Michael Ware across two sets.
Robert Herman would play Jonathan Taylor in the 3rd quarter final with the latter winning both sets after some strong play saw Rob unable to overcome the handicap. Doug Genini would then be his semi-final matchup after he knocked out defending champion David Sillifant in rather comfortable fashion.
Into the semi-finals and the format was back to the familiar best of three but neither match would go the full distance. Thomas was dominant in the first match, dispatching of Barry comfortably, despite a seven-point deficit to ease into the final. In the other match Doug was equally as impressive beating Jon by a big margin in both sets to reach that final matchup.
With only two of the 25 players being eligible for the Junior Singles, it saw a straight shootout between Owen Salisbury and Thomas Venn for the title. It was a final that didn’t disappoint as it went down to a fifth set that Owen eventually won 11-8, having initially battled back from 2-1 down. Congratulations to him, just the Cornwall title to win as well now.
It was very much a similar story in the Ladies Singles, with only Christine Isaac and Sue Jackson entering the competition. This match, however would not go the full distance and despite Sue’s best efforts, Christine was too strong on the day and claimed the title in emphatic fashion, winning in straight sets.
After a long morning for many playing in the handicap singles, it was time for the signature event the Open Singles. Group one played host to top seed Kevin Taylor who as expected breezed through, facing very little trouble as he won five out of five matches. The surprise result came in the form of the ever present Thomas Venn who put in some quite brilliant performances to sneak through as runner-up via countback, to pip both Jonathan Taylor and Kevin Davies at the post.
The second group again was won as expected by the highest ranked player Wim Faassen. However he didn’t have it all his own way, being beaten by David Ewen in three sets on his way to the quarter final. In terms of the runner-up it yet again proved to be a day for the youngsters as Owen Salisbury’s three victories secured his progression, finishing only second due to his one defeat coming at the hands of Wim.
The mouth-watering clash of the group stage no doubt came in group three with Bridgerule’s top two players Steve Cragg and David Streak going head to head. It was David who would walk away with the bragging rights though, as he beat his league teammate in three sets. That result meant with both players winning all their other matches that David would top the group, whilst Steve occupied the runner-up spot.
The last group was won by the ever consistent Matthew Thomas whose forehand was looking in imperious form as he went through without dropping a set. The runner-up positon wasn’t as easily decided with Dave Salisbury and Mike Ware both finishing on two points but due to Dave’s victory over Mike he went through on the head to head rule.
After some table tennis of the highest order in the group stages it was quarter final time and Kevin Taylor was first up against Dave Salisbury. Kevin reigned victorious, despatching of his opponent in four sets on his way to the semi-final. The second quarter hosted Wim Faassen and Steve Cragg and they didn’t disappoint as the five set match had everything you could want. After set one, Wim looked to have no answer for Steve’s attacking game but how wrong was that assumption as he quickly found himself 2-1 up. Unfortunately Steve never gives up and found something in his reserves to turn it round and take the next semi-final spot.
In the other two match-ups the fun was finally up for the youngsters as David Streak and Matthew Thomas made sure there were no more marathons. Both despatching of the two junior finalists earlier in the day Owen Salisbury and Thomas Venn in straight sets. The semi-finals will be played on finals night.
The final singles event of the Championships would be the Veteran Singles, as 16 players went head to head for a chance at winning the title. After 12 long matches we were left with the quartet of David Streak, Steve Cragg, Wim Faassen and Matthew Thomas. David renewed his rivalry with teammate Steve and this time it would be the latter who came out on top to reach the final. In the other semi, an out of sorts Wim was easily defeated by Matthew who’s final with Steve is sure to be an intriguing one.
The day would then be wrapped up by the Open Doubles Event, a competition where the individual brilliance much admired throughout the day, took a back seat with teamwork coming to the fore. After two groups of high quality doubles we would be left with only four teams. Kevin Taylor and Wim Faassen would take on the young team of David Sillifant and Ashley Taylor, whilst the other semi-final saw Bridgerule players David Streak and Steve Cragg face Herons partners Robin Gale and Robert Herman.
Kevin and Wim emerged victorious in their matchup winning a tight three-setter, using their extra experience and quality too get them over the line. It would then be Steve and David joining them in final because despite flashes of brilliance from the Heron’s pair, they didn’t have enough to overcome their opponents and suffered defeat in two straight sets.
That doubles matchup is just another of the great finals (to be held at Instow on the 31st March 2020) we now look forward to, so on that note good luck to all those involved and congratulations on a great championships thus far.