The 2017/18 season ended with the annual Scarborough Closed tournament. The day saw some excellent finals and the emergence of at least one future star. Both the Division One and Division Two/Three categories saw one dominant player emerge, Simon James and John Warburton respectively.
In the Division One final, last year’s runner-up, Simon James, went one better. The semi-finals saw Lennart Lukosch depose last year’s winner, and Rolo teammate, Martin Lowe 2-1 in a best of three. The other semi-final was just as tight with James getting the better of Glenn Hodgson 9-11, 11-9, 11-6. The final lived up to expectations. In five seesaw sets of outstanding table tennis James overcame German youngster Lukosch 9-11, 11-9, 11-9, 7-11, 11-8.
Simon James’ dominance extended to the Division One hardbat contest. Having beaten Lukosch in an earlier round, and Glenn Hodgson again in the semi-finals, he faced Moke Warburton in the final. Warburton’s technique was too consistent for Gary Connolly in the semi-final. In a best of three final James’ experience proved key and he ran out the 21-11, 21-15 winner.
In a day that saw more than its share of gripping finals, the Division One handicap final was among the most exciting. Division One newcomer Matthew Rutt lined up in the final having beaten Stuart Robinson by the narrowest of margins in the semi-final. Gary Connolly awaited in the final having seen off Rutt’s teammate Matty Whilde to advance from the semi-final. The final was a contrast of styles that saw the attacking Connolly taking the game to the more languid and defensive Rutt. The handicap format meant that Rutt started each set with a three point start. Into the business end of the final set there was still little to separate them with Connolly finally taking it 13-11.
The Division One vintage final featured another battle of attack versus defence and also went to five sets. Like the handicap final the more attacking player, Mike Wheatley, eventually triumphed over the more defensive, Mike Fenby, 9-11, 11-7, 8-11, 11-5, 12-10. The best of three semi-finals saw Wheatley edge out Noel Seery 11-8 in the third while Fenby knocked out Julian James.
Veteran John Warburton was the outstanding player in the Division Two/Three category and dominated three of the four events.
The route to the Division Two/Three singles final was relatively straightforward for Warburton and his opponent Guy Whiting. Warburton beat Nigel Escreet 11-9, 11-4 while Whiting triumphed 11-4, 11-4 against Richard Lloyd. Warburton’s unorthodox style served him well in the final against Whiting, winning in three straight sets, 11-7, 11-8, 11-7.
The final of the Division Two/Three vintage was finished in similar fashion by Warburton. The opponent was different - Richard Lloyd - but the outcome was almost identical - an 11-8, 11-7, 11-6 win for Warburton. Earlier in the semis Warburton had beaten Division Three stalwart Brian Goodliffe 11-4, 11-4 while Lloyd beat John Farrell 12-10, 2-11, 11-3.
The semi-finals of Division Two/Three hardbat were both settled at 21-19 in a one set shoot-out. Youngster Mia Longman edged out Nigel Escreet while Karl Cousins came from behind to beat James Biggs. In the best of three final Cousins beat rising star Longman. Longman played fantastically well to reach the final in her first appearance at the tournament and displayed exceptional technique in losing 21-16, 21-17. The 9 year old is likely to go on to enormous success in the future.
The Division Two/Three handicap final saw normal service resumed with another John Warburton title. In the semi-final he overcame a 4 point per game handicap deficit to defeat Steve Miller. The other semi-final was a tense affair with Karl Cousins also overcoming a handicap deficit to snatch victory over Richard Lear at 11-10 in the final set. Despite a handicap advantage Cousins was unable to get to grips with Warburton’s game in a one-side final settled in three straight sets.
The pairs for the Select doubles competition were picked via seedings to give each partnership a chance. This allowed for a competition that featured competitive matches throughout with no outright favourite for the title. The results from the best of three semi-finals were relatively straightforward. The pairing of Simon James and Tony Craven beat Matty Whilde and Richard Lear 11-8, 11-9, while Sam Lowe and John Farrell defeated the team of Richard Lloyd and Julian James 11-6, 11-9. The final featured two pairings comprised of a division One and a Divsion Three player and turned out to be another thrilling contest. Lowe and Farrell took the first two sets in a best of five contest but the pairing of James and Craven eventually found their rhythm to win the next three and give James his third title of the day.
The credit for a successful tournament goes to Ann Seery, in her first year running it, ably assisted by Tom Byrne, Noel Seery and Stuart Robinson. Thanks also to Lester Smith who brought his umpiring expertise to all of the finals.