Classic Table Tennis at the Trafford Closed Championships
A great turnout for table tennis battle on Sunday 4th & Monday 5th March, for the Trafford League Closed Championships held at Kings Road Primary School, Stretford.
Many congratulations to all the winners (& runners-ups) who made it to the finals.
Jordan Potts 4 – 1 Phil Bowen
The entry for this year’s Open Singles competition was the highest calibre seen in a long time. The seeding of four players led to excellent match ups from the start of the competition. The first game on the show court on Sunday morning involved Adam Thompson and Keith Dale, with Adam winning 2-0. The last 32 included Premier league player Michael Siu being defeated by Division One veteran Des Baker. Baker used his experience to vary the spin, Siu, returning from a period of inaction succumbed to Des’ defensive play.
The last 16 saw previous league and cup winner, Adam Thompson lose to Steve Scowcroft. This round also included the mouth-watering match-up of veteran doubles champions Phils’ Biggs and Bowen. On this occasion Phil Bowen overcame Phil Biggs, meaning that both Thompson and Biggs had fallen before the quarter finals.
Darren Morgan met 3rd seed Tony Worthington in the quarter finals, Morgan losing 2-0 despite having 4 opportunities to close out the first game. This round also saw the experienced Tony Vaughan lose 2-0 to Steve Scowcroft.
This brings us up to two very exciting semi-finals, both of which were held the following night as part of Finals Night.
The first semi-final saw Flixton team mates and former national top 12 players Steve Scowcroft and Phil Bowen pitted against each other, Bowen playing the part of the classy and smooth Rolls Royce and Scowcroft playing the part of the quick, attacking Lamborghini.
The first game went the way of the Rolls Royce after the Lamborghini had started strongly by roaring to a 4-0 and 5-1 lead. Rolls Royce Phil fought back with well-timed backhands, countering the ferocious forehand spin from Lamborghini Scowcroft. Bowen was clearly trying to serve short, focus on his opponent’s backhand and pick his attacks, Scowcroft on the other hand using his second weapon of his snappy backhand to support his strong forehand loop.
Game 2 went to Scowcroft. This included an excellent rally with Steve pinning Phil to the back of the court. The two left handers continued to battle over the next couple of games, both demonstrating well-timed, strong attacking play and exercising periodic dominance over their opponent.
The match was then poised at 2-2 and in the end Phil Bowen took control of the 5th and deciding game, winning 11-7.
A wonderful start to the semi-finals!
The second semi-final pitted a Bentley against a Ferrari, Jordan Potts playing the role of the Bentley with his smooth and powerful strategy, with all round and nimble Tony Worthington playing the part of the Ferrari.
Again this would be a 5 game nail-biter. The Bentley cruised to a 2-0 lead with a wonderful display of precise and well-chosen attacking shots and the Ferrari’s acceleration at this point being slightly under-controlled with mistimed loops falling long off the table.
Things were about to change. Tony fought back to make it 2-2, his lightning fast footwork supporting his strong loops both at and away from the table. However, Tony, the third southpaw semi-finalist eventually lost out to Jordan’s consistency.
The last game of the evening pitted the Bentley Jordan Potts against the Rolls Royce Phil Bowen. The first game included Bowen carefully varying the length of his replies and serves in order to attack at the time that would gain him the best advantage. Regardless, Jordan controlled the opening exchanges of the match. After falling way behind, Bowen quietly clawed his way back into it, winning the first game 13-11. Would this be a 7 set thriller?
Jordan, utilising his no-look forehand topspin loop won the second and then the third game, taking a 2-1 lead. Phil came out fighting in the fourth game, forcing Jordan away from the table with a combination of powerful forehand loops and hits. However, in a reversal of the first game, Jordan hung on and eventually claimed the game to extend his lead to 3-1. Bowen could now not afford to lose another game.
The fifth game remained a close affair with Jordan eventually winning by stepping into his strong forehands and the Bentley claiming the victory 4-1.
In addition to the standard of play for both semi-finals was the flawless conduct of all four players. Without compromising their furious and competitive desire to win they all accepted both defeat and victory with the dignity and class that matched their talent.
Steve Scowcroft & Jordan Potts 3 – 2 Tony Vaughan & Tony Worthington.
The doubles tournament was loaded with strong partnerships; including Phil Bowen/Darren Morgan, Mike Siu/Keith Dale, Phil Biggs/Adam Thompson as well as the two finalist pairings. Dale and Siu were defeated in the quarter finals by Biggs and Thompson. Morgan and Bowen were defeated at the same stage by Worthington and Vaughan. Steve Stoddard and Pete Chastin defeated ‘Fred’ Taback and Patrick Kinsella to earn a place in the strong semi-final line up. They were then defeated by Scowcroft & Potts. The second semi-final saw the two Tony's, Vaughan & Worthington, defeat last year’s champions Phil Biggs & Adam Thompson..
The final turned out to be another first-rate game.
The very strong attacking, looping play of Scowcroft and Potts was neutralised by the nifty footwork and varied spin offered by Tony Vaughan and Tony Worthington. Mirroring Tony Worthington’s singles semi-final against Jordan, the former and his partner fell to a 2-0 losing position. Jordan, carefully tempted Worthington to loop his shots by dropping the ball just off the end of the table, thus allowing Scowcroft to capitalise on the slightly compromised return of serve.
The Tony’s fought back well to bring the game to 2-2. They exhibited an excellent mix of defensive play, complimenting their different styles and timing their attacks to perfection. Vaughan showed his class by carefully varying the length, width and spin of his returns.
Scowcroft and Potts came out strong in the deciding game, leading 4-0 and then 5-1. This lead proved unassailable and they were crowned champions.
Pete Chastin 3 – 2 John Eardley
Pete and John defeated the Flixton pairing of Henry Catterall and Des Baker respectfully in the semi-finals in order to set up this potentially mouth-watering clash on Finals Night.
The final proved to be a classic example of attack verses defence with Pete offering most of the attacking options. The game swayed back and forth until Gentleman John finally succumbed to Perfect Pete’s attacking play 11-8 in the fifth and deciding game.
Howard Garner 3 – 0 Steve Stoddart
Gardner defeated Patrick Kinsella in the semi-finals, who had in turn defeated Jean Morgan to get to that stage. Steve Stoddart beat ‘Fred’ Taback to earn his place in finals night.
Howard Gardner’s well executed attacking shots took him to the Division Two Singles Championship.
Other results played to a finish on Sunday
Drawn Doubles -------- Darren Morgan & Steve Scowcroft 3 – 0 Adam Thompson & Keith Dale
Restricted Doubles --- John Eardley & Howard Gardner 3 – 0 Henry Catterall and Des Baker
Handicap Singles ------ Jean Morgan defeated Phil Bowen
Veterans ------------------ Steve Scowcroft 3 – 0 Phil Bowen
Thank you to all players for their conduct on both tournament days. We all win and we all lose – it’s life. We must win with humility and lose with dignity; which all duly did!
Thank you to Keith Dale for help with umpiring on Finals Night.
Thank you to Paul Wadsworth who, despite injury attended on both days in order to help.
Thank you to Ron Buckley for helping with the organisation on the day of the tournament and umpiring on Finals Night.
Last and most certainly not least, thank you to Darren Morgan for organising the Championships and for the use of his fantastic school to play at.
See you next year.....