The Essex Junior Closed was held at BATTS Harlow on Saturday 11 January 2014. At the Closing Date there were 62 entries (the reverse numerals figure at the same stage last year) and with the acceptance of late entries the final entry figure was 73 entries as against last year’s 37, ie just on double. It was great to have this number of entrants, the downside being that most events had to start with Groups of three players instead of the four to six range of last year to avoid a late evening finish.
The opening events were the Under 13 Boys and Under 15 Girls events. In the Boys event the only seed in the eight Groups not to win his Group was Eastbury’s Rokas Dedinas, defeated by Havering’s Oscar Terrell, and Rokas then found he had to play the number one seed Rahul Jindal (Mossford) in the first round of the knockout stage, losing 6, 10, 7 to him. Oscar, however, went on to reach the final defeating number 2 seed Morgan Harvey (Clacton) 9, 8, 5 in the quarter final and number three seed Casey Mansfield (BATTS) 5, -8, 5, 9 in the semi. Rahul dropped games in his quarter and semi-finals against Louis Jones and Ali Cangir (both Eastbury) and went on to take the title with an 11, 7, 9 win over Oscar. Only one Group match needed a deciding game, Syed Hussain (Eastbury) clinging on to his seeded position with a 11-6 win after the opening two games with Sean Miley (BATTS) were shared.
The surprise in the U15 Girls event was Zoe Davies (Southend) loss in Group 2 to Rebecca Lowman (Burnham) 6, -10, 4, -9, 13 in her first match, perhaps a 0910 start was too early for her. Rebecca went on to win the Group with Zoe the runner up. In the other Group match number one seed Gracie Edwards (Clacton) woke up a little quicker after losing her first game to Emily Smith (Southend) to take the next three 6, 10, 6. Emily also lost narrowly 10, 6, 11 to runner up Sarah James. Thus the expected final became the semi final with a rejuvenated Zoe winning a tremendous battle 10, -9, 3, -10, 8. In the other semi Sarah James (Eastbury) beat Rebecca 16-14 in the fourth game to reach the final but lost to Gracie 2, 9, 7.
There were 13 Groups in the U15 Boys event and the top four seeds all reached the semi finals. Of the top seeds in each Group only Louis Jones (Eastbury) failed to win his Group, losing to Alexander Terrell (Havering).Alexander went on to reach the quarter finals where he lost to top seed James Knudsen (BATTS) 6, 7, 5. However, in a tight match, James then lost to third seed Dylan Dixon (Mossford), Dylan coming back from 2-0 down to win the deciding game 11-7. Dylan had also won the decider in the previous round 11-7 against Southend’s Daniel Payne. In the other half of the draw Sam Hume (Clacton) reached the final without dropping a game and continued this form in the final winning 5, 10, 7. The fourth seed was Numayr Malik (Eastbury) who came back from 2-0 down to beat Casey Mansfield in Round 2 and Jack Stockdale 3-1 in the quarter final.
In the U18 Girls event with the withdrawal of one girl on the day I changed the three Groups of three players to two Groups of four. Top seed Emily Wood had a disastrous day in her Group and will quickly want to forget it. This left the way open for Zoe Davies to reach the final but only after a last gasp 14-12 deciding game with Emily in the Group. Zoe’s semi final victim was Lauren James (Colchester) 7, 6, 9. who had finished runner up to Gracie Edwards in the other Group after two 3-2 wins over Shannon Conway (Eastbury) and league compatriot Chloe Andrews. The final was another titanic battle only this time Gracie gained revenge for her earlier defeat to Zoe 8, 9, -8, -10, 8.
For the U18 Boys event there were six Groups. Only seed not to win his Group was Luke Jones (BATTS) defeated by the ever improving Dylan Dixon. Of the four first round matches three of them went the full distance, Sam Hume 7, 8, -8, -11, 5 over Luke including a saved match point, Dylan 5, -8, -5, 9, 10 over Joshua Poland (BATTS) and Daniel Payne (Southend) over Tharujan Sivarajah -4, 10, -9, 6, 9. Three of the four top seeds all reached the semi finals but James Knudsen again lost to Dylan, this time 3-0. Patrick Gilbert (NETTS), who had beaten Sam 9, 7, 11 in the quarters, defeated top seed Livingstone Nadarajah (Eastbury) 11, 5, 9 whilst player of the day Dylan defeated defensive clubmate Navdeep Panesar 6, -8, 6, -8, 8. In the final both players had game points in the first game but thereafter Dylan just kept his nose in front to win 15, 9, 7.
Meanwhile on the other tables the U13 Girls and U18 Girls Restricted Girls events were being played. The U13 was a round robin of four players, Gracie Edwards, Emily Smith, Alana Mansfield (BATTS) and Mia Charles (NETTS). All matches were won 3-0 except for the match between Emily and Gracie which decided the top two positions in the Group, Gracie winning -8, 10, 5, -11, 5. In the Restricted event Emily Wood had to concede her semi final to Rebecca Lowman due to a prior commitment after the earlier Girls events overran their allocated times and in the other Semi Shannon Conway just sneaked past Lauren James -7, 5, -9, 7, 9. The final also went to five games with Shannon just getting home after a fight back for Rebecca 9, 5, -7, -9, 8.
The last event of the day was the U18 Boys Restricted Singles and three groups. Luke Jones, Patrick Gilbert (a deciding game over Numayr Malik) and Tharujan Sivarajah (a deciding game over James Ashley (Mossford) were the three Group winners. In the final Patrick beat Luke 6, 10, 9
My thanks to Umpires John Jennings and Tom Jones for their stalwart duties and Alan Wood for obtaining such nice trophies. A joy to see so many more entries than the last two years and I think a good day was enjoyed by all. Finishing Group positions and Knockout Stage scores and Results for every event are on the Essex website.
Arthur C. Clark
Junior Match Secretary and Tournament Organiser.