The league's 2016 Annual Closed Tournament was again organised by Ian Brown and played at Bugbrooke Club over three evenings, culminating with finals on Monday 25th April.
The Open Singles saw a couple of first round tussles requiring deciding ends, as Clive Appleton overcame Ray Wood 10-12, 11-6, 11-5, 6-11, 11-3 and Suraj Ajit defeated Kal Singh 6-11, 11-7, 11-8, 13-15, 11-6. Thereafter, proceedings continued without drama and the top four seeds made their way to the semi finals. Gayton’s Andy Wood confirmed his top billing with an 11-8, 12-10, 11-7 win over Tony Woodward whilst Towcester’s second seed Nick Howard, although initially shocked by the veteran Ian Lindsay, then booked his own final place 3-11, 11-5, 11-7, 11-6. The final was eagerly awaited as Andy, undefeated all season in league play, undoubtedly faced his sternest test versus Nick and so it proved as Nick snatched the first two games 12-10, 12-10. Andy responded 11-9, 14-12 to set up a tense decider which eventually went Nick’s way 11-9 to hand him his second Open Singles crown.
The Junior Singles was a contest between two Daventry teammates, though Josh Adams had a league record twice that of Jack King and this was confirmed as Josh eased to the title in straight games.
The Open Doubles provided a shock first round result as former winners Andy Wood and Suraj Ajit were beaten in straight games 11-4, 12-10, 11-4 by Jim Brogan and David Howard. Unfortunately for the winners, they could not replicate this versus the champions and regular Towcester pairing of Iain Lindsay and Ian Brown who eased into the final to face Tony Woodward and Paul Nichols who had fought past Nick Howard and Richard Pringuer in four games. The final result was a repeat of last year although somewhat easier as Iain and Ian prevailed comfortably in straight games to retain the title.
The Veterans (Over 40’s) Singles produced no major upsets, though a semi final match between Iain Lindsay and Tony Woodward saw the former secure an impressive result 12-14, 11-6, 11-5, 11-7 to beat last year’s champion and progress to the final to meet two-time runner up Andy Wood who had beaten Ian Brown in four games. The final saw Andy in control as he took his first Veterans title 11-7, 11-3, 11-4.
The entries for the Over 50’s and Over 60’s Singles looked similar if not identical and the more junior event saw a good tussle early on between Paul Nichols and David Howard which Paul finally won 11-5 in the decider. The semi finals saw comfortable wins for Greg Norden over Robert George and Iain Lindsay over Paul Nichols. The finalists repeated their successes in the Over 60’s, beating Jim Brogan and Alan Creed respectively. And so to the finals and the third time in the tournament that Iain and Greg had met. The result(s) were the same each time – Iain coming out on top with Greg just a couple of points short.
With champion Fred Wakefield absent for the Over 70’s, top seed Jim Brogan faced Mike Chambers in the final and Jim duly secured his third title in straight games.
The Division Two Singles semi final pitted Nathan Ogden against Kal Singh and their previous league meeting had resulted in a 12-10 11-9 10-12 15-17 12-10 victory for Kal. However the rankings were not overturned as Nathan won in four to progress to an all Towcester final versus Frank Whiteley. Once more, seedings were justified as Frank prevailed in four close games.
The Division Three Singles was notable for many close matches and the improving junior Josh Adams beat Clive Appleton and then Allen Dale, the latter having squeaked through versus Gareth Clarke. Mike Chambers also required a deciding end to account for Ray Wood 13-11, 10-12, 11-6, 10-12, 11-7. The final between Josh and Mike was a triumph for youth over experience because although Mike had won both league meetings, Josh’s keenness to attack secured him the title 11-3, 11-4, 11-9.
And finally, the Plate Competition saw a final between Robert George and David Howard. The first game was snatched by David 15-13 before Robert’s tricky defence eased him to victory 11-5, 11-4, 11-5.
The 2015 Annual Tournament reverted to three consecutive Mondays at Bugbrooke Club and more than 30 players entered a variety of events organised by Ian Brown.
The Open Singles progressed without surprises until Round Two when John McMahon overturned the seedings to get the better of Alan Creed 11-5, 11-5, 8-11, 12-10. Unfortunately for John, he was brought down to earth in the next round and was beaten 11-2, 11-7, 11-7 by last year’s runner up Tony Woodward. Andy Wood had to overcome a two game deficit in his quarter final versus Robert George before getting home 9-11, 8-11, 11-7, 11-9, 11-6 and this was perhaps an omen for the reigning champion because in the semi final versus the evergreen Iain Lindsay, Andy could not raise his game to attack consistently enough and fell to a disappointing defeat 8-11, 11-8, 9-11, 5-11. The other semi final saw Tony Woodward win three straight versus Ian Brown 11-3, 11-8, 11-8. Both finalists had enjoyed success against the other over the last few seasons’ league matches and Iain started the brightest with a reliable looping attack. He took the first 11-6 and came tantalisingly close in the second, just losing out 9-11. This spurred Tony on and he confidently won the third 11-4 only to see Iain snatch the fourth 11-9. An intriguing decider reached 9-all before Tony bagged the next two points and the title.
The Ladies Singles saw holder Liz Davison safely into the final to play the winner of Veronica Downing v Shirley Brogan. The latter proved the seedings correct with a victory but then found Liz too strong and lost out 2-11, 13-11, 3-11, 8-11.
Round Two of the Open Doubles produced a couple of close matches, Bugbrooke’s Greg Norden and Glen Davison edging past Towcester’s Dave Howard and John McMahon 12-10, 10-12, 11-9, 11-9. An all Gayton affair then saw doubles champions Andy Wood and Suraj Ajit squeak past Jim and Shirley Brogan 12-10, 9-11, 11-9, 13-11 and progress to a semi final versus Iain Lindsay and Ian Brown. This was the first doubles match to go the full distance and Andy lost another title as the Towcester pairing triumphed 11-5, 8-11, 6-11, 11-8, 11-7. Tony Woodward and Paul Nichols took the remaining final place, beating Greg and Glen 11-4, 11-6, 11-7. The Roade pairing had won their league match doubles encounter with Towcester 11-3 in the decider but in the final soon slipped behind 6-11, 9-11. They rallied with an 11-5 third end result but fell just short of forcing a decider as Iain and Ian secured the title 12-10 in the fourth.
The Veterans (Over 40’s) Singles went calmly according to seedings up to semi final stage where Tony Woodward comprehensively accounted for teammate Paul Nichols 11-5, 11-1, 11-4. In the other semi Iain Lindsay could not muster his earlier intensity and consistency and Andy Wood wreaked revenge for his Open Singles loss with a 11-7, 11-6, 11-3 scoreline. The finalists replayed last season’s tussle and a similar topsy turvy affair ensued, Andy taking the lead with an 11-7, 4-11, 11-7 sequence only for Tony to recover and secure his third Vets title 11-7, 11-8.
Round Two of the Over 50’s Singles saw a remarkable result in a husband and wife tie, Shirley Brogan edging out Jim 10-12, 9-11, 11-6, 11-6, 12-10. Terry Brennan had a great battle against John McMahon but eventually lost out 5-11, 7-11, 11-9, 11-9, 7-11. John then did the double over Alan Creed, winning 11-8, 11-9, 5-11, 12-10. Greg Norden got off to a shaky start versus Dave Howard, losing 11-2 before winning the next three and then bagging a place in the final with a straight games win over Paul Nichols. His opponent was Iain Lindsay who had eased past John McMahon. Greg had won this title twice before but despite being in five more recent and consecutive finals, Iain never had. However, he firmly remedied this with a commanding 11-9, 11-5, 11-4 victory.
Over 70’s title holder Jim Brogan faced wife Shirley for the second time and was perhaps employing some brinkmanship as he squeezed into the final 15-13, 16-14, 12-10. Fred Wakefield awaited him there in his fifth consecutive appearance and hoping to overturn a two-time loss. This he did in some style, winning 11-4, 13-11, 11-9 to secure the title for the third time.
The Restricted Division Two Singles saw some great tussles, Richard Pringuer and Dave Allen requiring four ends to get past Frank Whiteley and Fred Wakefield respectively. Liz Davison then had to go the full distance to get a result against Dave Howard 11-9, 11-9, 11-13, 3-11, 11-7. The final between Dave Allen and John McMahon also required a decider, John relinquishing a two games lead to lose 14-12, 11-9, 6-11, 7-11, 8-11.
The Restricted Divison Three Singles also had a sprinkling of deciding end matches, Yardley’s Les Freeland beating Rothersthorpe’s Gareth Clarke before losing to clubmate Ray Wood. Veronica Downing and Mike Chambers played out a marvellously competitive match which eventually went Veronica’s way 13-15, 11-3, 9-11, 11-6, 12-10 although this success foundered in the semi final as she lost in straight games to champion Clive Appleton. Ray Wood beat Shirley Brogan in four ends in the other semi but in the final was unable to make much headway against three-time winner Clive who retained the title 11-9, 11-7, 11-7.
An additional Singles Plate event was staged this year which also saw some highly competitive matches and the final brought together Division One players Alan Creed and Glen Davison. Alan had the higher ranking and his tricky style could have been expected to cause Glen some problems, but the latter shrugged this aside, attacked at every opportunity and won convincingly 11-5, 11-8, 11-6.
Venue unavailability forced the 2014 Annual Closed Tournament to a Sunday date at Bugbrooke Club with Finals Night on Monday 31st March and perhaps because of this we experienced a very disappointing turnout of only 20 players, less than half the previous year. Ian Brown did a sterling job again as organiser.
Round One of the Open Singles saw an expected tussle between Liz Davison and Mike Perry with the former just prevailing 8-11, 11-9, 14-12, 12-10. Ian Brown was surprisingly forced to a deciding end by Frank Whiteley before asserting himself to win 11-5, 11-9, 5-11, 12-14, 11-5 and then progress to a Semi Final versus defending champion Andy Wood. This also needed a 5th game to separate them and at 2 games all they were even level on points, but Andy eventually pulled ahead to secure his Final place 6-11, 11-6, 7-11, 11-7, 11-5. His opponent there was Tony Woodward who had eased past Paul Nichols in 4 games. The Final was incredibly close, tense and sometimes confusing as no-one could be sure who would prevail. As in his previous match, Andy found himself behind 11-7, 9-11, 14-16 but then remarkably defended his title with an 11-8, 11-9 sequence.
Liz Davison won the Ladies Singles title for the third time (after a 12 year break) beating clubmate Sue Gibbons in straight games.
The Open Doubles saw Gayton pair Andy Wood and Suraj Ajit progress comfortably to the Final, but likely opponents Tony Woodward and Paul Nichols were amazingly edged out of their Semi Final by another Gayton pairing – the super Vets Jim Brogan and Fred Wakefield. Despite winning two games easily 11-6 and 11-5, Tony and Paul were pegged back and lost three games 11-13, 10-12, 12-14. The Final saw Andy’s and Suraj’s attacking just enough to keep them ahead of their venerable opponents and they captured the title 11-8, 11-8, 11-9.
The Veterans Singles started with a cracker of a match, Kal Singh versus Frank Whiteley, with the latter eventually getting the verdict 14-12, 9-11, 12-14, 11-4, 11-8. His prize was a second round tilt at Andy Wood and he commendably snatched a game before losing 3-1. For the second time Andy had a Semi Final tussle with Ian Brown but, thankfully for him, despite losing one game 12-14, he progressed comfortably to the Final. Waiting for him there was Tony Woodward who once more had to get past Paul Nichols and this he did in straight games 20-18, 11-5, 11-2. The Final saw both players end up with 56 points each and was as nervy and topsy-turvy as anyone could imagine - games that should have been won were lost and inevitably a deciding end turned into a deuce battle. Tony eventually prevailed to secure his second Vets title 13-11, 13-11, 7-11, 9-11, 14-12.
The finalists from the last four years were absent from the Over 50’s Singles and Frank Whiteley grabbed his chance of a Final spot with a battling display against Jim Brogan 9-11, 11-7, 7-11, 11-9, 11-6. However the combination play of Paul Nichols proved just too awkward and he captured the title 11-5, 11-9, 14-12.
Defending champion Fred Wakefield reached the Over 70’s Singles Final for the fourth consecutive year and there met Jim Brogan, renewing their rivalry for the first time since 2011. Fred narrowly lost the first game 10-12 and that seemed to set the pattern as Jim took the next two and the title 11-8, 11-7.
Fred’s disappointment was doubled in the Division Two Singles Final as he found Frank Whiteley just too strong and lost in four ends 7-11, 5-11, 11-9, 9-11.
It was also a case of déjà vu for Liz Davison in the Division Three Singles. As last year, Liz had topped the playing averages and beaten her final opponent each time, but Clive Appleton stubbornly refused to capitulate and attacked strongly at every opportunity. The match ended with one player having won just a single point more and it was second time unlucky for Liz and a third title for Clive as he edged the contest 11-9, 11-9, 7-11, 9-11, 11-8.
More than 40 players from all divisions entered the 2013 Annual Closed Tournament which was held at Bugbrooke Club on Monday 15th & Tuesday 16th April. More than 100 matches across 9 events were completed and the Finals were played on Monday 22nd April. Special thanks are due to Organiser Ian Brown, to Bev Hyde & Jane Hobson for running the Tournament Desk and to venue host Dave Hyde.
The Open Singles early rounds progressed without major incident, although Frank Whiteley and Fred Wakefield put on a good show in their five-setter which Frank eventually won 9-11, 10-12, 11-7, 12-10, 11-8. John McMahon might also have raised a few eyebrows by persevering to a winning result over Paul Nichols 8-11, 14-12, 11-4, 10-12, 11-7 but Adam Corbett sprang perhaps the biggest early surprise as he edged past Jim Brogan 12-10, 7-11, 11-7, 8-11, 12-10. However the Semi Finals saw much greater drama as the top two seeds and last year's finalists Brian Wooding and Tony Woodward both crashed out in five-setters after seemingly holding winning positions. Brian lost to Iain Lindsay 12-10, 11-6, 7-11, 10-12, 7-11 and Tony to Andy Wood 5-11, 11-7, 11-5, 13-15, 6-11. The Final promised to be a close affair as a recent league match between the combatants had gone to a 12-10 score in the deciding end, but alas Iain could not wind up his loop attack sufficiently to trouble Andy who in straight games took the title of league champion at his first attempt.
The Ladies Singles saw two competitive Semi Finals as Anna Hobson first squeaked through in three tight and quite frantic games against Liz Davison, Anna's quick and relentless attacking just shading Liz' resolute blocks for a 12-10, 11-8, 13-11 result. Pauline Hart secured the other Final place with a 4-set win over Veronica Downing. The first two games of the Final were shared as Anna found her attacking game not always quite crisp or consistent enough, but she continued in positive vein and snatched the next two 13-11 to secure the title and repeat her 2005 success.
If the result of any Final was impossible to call as it unfolded, it was the Junior Singles with Reece Hobson taking on Matt Woollard. Reece was the higher seed but a mis-firing attack saw him lose the first game 5-11, but then take the lead with an 11-6, 11-9 sequence. Matt fought back 11-8 to take it to a decider which eventually went to Reece 11-9.
Ricky Bastin and Glen Davison were just edged out early in the Open Doubles 9-11, 9-11, 10-12 by Andy Wood and Paul Nichols, who then grew in confidence to reach the Final by beating Iain Lindsay and Ian Brown 10-12, 11-7, 11-6, 11-5. Their opponents were the 'lefty' combination of Brian Wooding and Tony Woodward. Everyone was backing a really close Final and they were correct - Andy & Paul grabbed the first 12-10 after great play by Andy. Brian & Tony responded with a 11-7, 11-8 sequence only to lose the next 7-11. Something special was needed in the decider to rise above the close and highly tactical battle ensuing and perhaps it was some extra venom in Brian's attacking shots that stood out and helped the top seeds to the title with an 11-7 result.
Round Two of the Veterans Singles saw a good win for Aled Roberts over Jim Brogan 12-10, 11-8, 11-4 and in the next round Greg Norden fought to a five-set win over Dave Ewen 11-9, 5-11, 11-9, 8-11, 11-9 whilst Paul Nichols comfortably claimed the scalp of Ian Brown 11-7, 11-3, 11-6. The Semi Finals saw seedings restored as Brian Wooding eased past Paul and Tony Woodward past Iain Lindsay to produce the same Final line up as last year. The battle of 'lefty' team mates was an intriguing prospect but Brian reversed the previous result as he fought to a straight games victory 11-8, 11-9, 11-6.
The Over 50's Singles saw Bugbrooke clubmates Aled Roberts and Fred Wakefield engaged in a topsy-turvy encounter, won eventually by the younger Aled 15-13, 7-11, 11-8, 5-11, 14-12. Sue Gibbons and Len Schofield, boasting a combined age to marvel at, enjoyed a friendly 4-setter won by the more experienced Sue 11-7, 11-9, 9-11, 11-8. In the later rounds, Iain Lindsay secured a regulation win over Dave Ewen, storming to an 11-2 first end score but the next two were highly competitive, 13-11 and 14-12 perhaps being an omen for tough times ahead. The Semi Finals saw Brian Wooding blast past an improving Greg Norden 11-5, 11-8, 12-10, but Iain had to battle even harder versus Paul Nichols before getting an 11-9, 9-11, 11-8, 11-9 verdict. Previous matches had been nail-bitingly close between these two and Iain had earlier ousted Brian from the Open Singles, but there was to be no repeat in this Final as Brian's game dominated in a 11-5, 11-7, 11-7 result - his fourth consecutive over 50's title against Iain.
Over 70's champion Fred Wakefield secured his third consecutive Final appearance with wins over Len Schofield and Trevor Ore. After the withdrawal of Jim Brogan, his opponent was Bob Cattell. A good match developed in the Final although Fred appeared to be shading most of the exchanges and took a two game lead 11-8, 11-8. However as the prospect of retaining the title loomed, the third started to get somewhat nervy and Bob had a good chance to extend the battle, only just losing out 10-12.
The Division Two Singles saw a great 5-setter between Pauline Hart and Frank Whiteley, won eventually by Frank 7-11, 4-11, 12-10, 11-3, 14-12 and having progressed to the Semi Finals, he then had to endure another marathon against Matthew Woollard, before just getting the verdict 12-10, 13-15, 11-5, 9-11, 11-7. Vying with him for the trophy was his son Cadoc, who squeezed past Adam Corbett 11-9, 12-10, 11-9. The Final was surprisingly one-sided as Frank's often crisp attacks and counter-hitting were only occasionally seen and Cadoc eased to the title with a comfortable 11-5, 11-6, 11-7 scoreline.
And finally, the Division Three Singles Final was contested between Mike Perry, runner up for the last two years, and Liz Davison (recipient-elect of the Division Three President's Cup for the highest league averages) but who had to battle past Veronica Downing in five sets to earn her tilt at another title. Liz had beaten Mike twice in league matches (once 12-10 in the 5th) but super steady play from him in the Final was just enough to stop Liz asserting her game and Mike was 'third time lucky' and took the title 11-7, 11-9, 11-9.