On 6 March, 2016 a very strong field of players took part in our annual table tennis championships: updated for Cadet's results
Players competed for the titles of Junior, Open Singles, Veterans, Over 60's, Handicap Singles, and Doubles, with events being staggered throughout the day. With many players taking part in more than one event this meant that for some it was a long hard but ultimately rewarding day where stamina and match toughness become just as important as raw ability.
Winner: Kieron Beswick - Open Singles Winner for the second year running - a rare feat for any player and particularly impressive given the strength of this years field. Kieron defeated team mate Tony Kendall in his semi-final coming from behind in a tight deciding game.
Runner-up: Majid Tubasum who had an excellent victory over Andy Michnoweic in his semi-final before losing to Keiron 3:2.
Winner: Andy Clark - the quiet gentleman of table tennis - who won 4 open singles titles between 2007 and 2012 won his first Veterans title in a close encounter with defending champion Andy Michnowiec, probably the most consistent player ever to play in our league - check out our Honours Board to see just how many titles Andy Michnowiec has won - it's a lot!
If you ever wonder why we play this game, you should take time out to watch our winner play - Ronnie Bennett. Always with a smile on his face and a ferocious forehand, Ronnie Bennett always brings an air of fun and laughter to proceedings. In a repeat of the Premier Division Singles final held in November, Ronnie managed to get the better of Billy Russell.
With our younger players involved in Town Team competitions in the North West Junior League, a small but quality field entered this event. Making the final were Astra C team mates, Nathan Nickeas and Josh Lumb with Nathan claiming bragging rights with a fine victory. Both players have clearly benefited from having the experience of Tony Rigby supporting them in their league campaign and for anyone currently playing in the Premier Division, you'd better watch out. These players might be young, but they're already quality players and will only get better. Take them lightly at your peril.
Using a similar format to our team handicap competition a large field entered this event. It's always difficult for higher rated players when giving away large starts - do I play safe and hope my opponent will make more mistakes than me, or do I play my natural game? It's easy to fall in to no-mans land and end up doing nothing and losing. For anyone unsure about entering the Championships, this is the event for you. Matches will be tight and with the experience of the last couple of years of our new handicapping system ensures everyone has a chance to win this event.
Winner: Oliver Garmston. A member of our victorious Junior City Team in this years North West England Premier Division, Olliver beat Tony Kendall in the final. Unfortunately for Tony, he had no time to recover from his semi-final defeat to Keiron Beswick in the Open Singles before playing Oliver. But that takes nothing away from a confident Oliver who, when it mattered most, turned in a consistent, controlled and aggressive display of top spin attacking. With Oliver's backhand and forehand working well, and factoring in Oliver's handicap, Tony was always going to be in for a tough time and so it proved.
Winners: Keiron Beswick and Andy Michnowiec. A scratch pairing, both Keiron and Andy were back at it again reaching the final of the doubles after a quality 3:2 see-saw victory over Majid Tubasum and Charles Musa in their semi-final. Their opponents in this years final were Asta A team mates, Paul Robinson and Dean Walmsley who'd earlier beaten defending champions Andea Harrison and Ian Felton in their semi-final. To win one final is something to be proud of, but to back it up with another title is a tremendous achievement and capped off a fine day for Keiron. For Andy, it was his first doubles title since 2010 when he won with Martin Ireland.
With many of our younger players unavailable to take part in this event due to the fixture clash with the North West Cadet League's Town Team fixtures, the decision was taken to postpone this event until Monday 21st March. Anyone interested in seeing just how bright the future of table tennis is in Preston should come down and watch that nights events. Chances are that unless you play in Division 2 you won't know many of these players yet. Chances are that in a couple of years time, some of these players will be competing for your place in Division 1 and the Premier Division.
Update: On 21 March the Cadet Singles competition took place and was won for the first time by Alex Shuttleworth who beat Anupam Tripathi 3:0 in the final. Both players were part of this years successful NW England Cadet Prem Division Championship winning side.
As usual, a small group of members once again helped out organise, prepare and run events on the day. Special thanks must go to Tony Rigby, match referee and man who organises it all, Andrew White for ably helping Tony prepare for the event and John Irving, Geoff Pickles and Bryan Walker for helping run events on the day - and to everyone who took part and helped set up and take down equipment.