Inter-Regional Qualifiers (South)
Cippenham, Sunday, 2nd April, 2017
Five of our young players, Cooper Whitford, Jamie McNeil, Rafe Fleming, Todd Stanmore and Pelin Karabulut carried the flag for Oxfordshire in this competition, meeting the best young players from Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. All gave a good account of themselves, but it was a special day to remember for both Todd (11) and Pelin (12), who not only qualified to represent the South of England team at Kettering in the Inter-Regional Championships in June but also emerged as the outright winners of their respective Under 13 events.
Todd, Rafe, Jamie and Cooper began their Under 15 campaign at 9 am and their “double group” matches lasted for the whole morning and beyond. Cooper found it hard going but played with great application and persistence, undaunted by numerous reverses and finally taking 16th place in the field of 18. Jamie had a succession of close matches with strong opponents, finishing 9th, a great effort, showing just how far he has raised his game since the turn of the year. Rafe came 7th, showing glimpses of his top form but not with any consistency: he has come a long way in a short time, but this was not a peak performance. Todd was well beaten by Felix Thomis (Berks) but threatened to upset top seeded Shae Thakker (Bucks); he had a chance of 3rd place, but went down in a close encounter with short pimple counter-hitter Jack Trafford (Hants).
In the Girls’ events, Pelin took 3rd place in Under 15s behind Katie Holt and Habina Seo (both Hants), but in the Under 15s she had an easy victory over Anna Piercey (Bucks) before playing an excellent match against Sofia Pittortou (Hants) to take the top prize, winning 11-4 in the 3rd against a player ranked one place above her.
It was relatively late in the day when the 17 contenders in Under 13 Boys embarked on their initial groups. Todd came through unscathed, saving his best efforts to get past the talented Pranav Gudipati (Bucks). As in the earlier event, that put him in an elite top group of six, with four further matches to play. Sonny Dalston (Bucks) and Blake Sanderson (Hants) posed few problems, but the crunch matches came against William Fricker (Bucks) and Ben Poulter (Hants), both of whom he had already beaten in the Under 15s. William took the first at deuce, but Todd fought back to equalise, then, from 4-8 down in the 3rd, he grasped the initiative and ran out a 3-1 winner. Against Ben, Todd stole the first game and dominated after that. It was a high spot in Todd’s career to come out on top in this strong field, just prevailing against three equally gifted opponents by dint of sustained energy and sheer motivation after over eight hours of play, imposing his solid all-round game, with some flashes of brilliance from his BH counter-hit and a developing FH top-spin.The three qualifiers in Under 13 Boys, William Fricker (Bucks), Todd Stanmore (Oxon) and Pranav Gudipati (Bucks)