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Bobby Stevens Obituary

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Robert James ‘Bobby’ Stevens
1933-2015

A personal reflection from Stuart Gibbs.

I first came into contact with Bobby Stevens in 1957, when, as an impressionable ten year old, I was taken to watch a county table tennis match between Essex and Middlesex. Little did I know at that time, the impact that this man would have on the future direction of table tennis in Essex, serving as a catalyst for the development of juniors into players of international standard.

Bobby took up the sport of table tennis at the age of sixteen as a hard bat player. Having already established himself as a footballer and cricketer of the highest quality, it came as little surprise that he was able to apply his skills to a new sport. His commitment to table tennis, together with the introduction of modern day sponge bat technology, enabled him to become a real force within the sport. Bobby was quick to acquire an exemplary technique, making him one the finest players to watch. His poise, balance and footwork were the envy of teammates and opponents alike. Bobby’s exemplary standards were not limited to his considerable playing abilities. He was fastidious with regard to his personal appearance and was without doubt, the smartest player ever to have walked onto a table tennis court.

Bobby’s many successes in table tennis are too numerous to list although the two that define the pinnacles of his achievement in the sport came in the English Closed Championships of 1962 and the Middlesex Open Men’s Singles event of 1965. In winning the English Closed Men’s Singles , Bobby became the first unseeded player to win the title. This achievement included a semi-final win against then England No.1 Ian Harrison, a game that was televised by the BBC and which depicted table tennis at its finest.

I was not present to see Bobby win his national title in 1962 although it was my privilege to be present to share in his success at the 1965 Middlesex Open Championships. The Swedish national team were touring at the time of the event and fielded a strong contingent, including European No.1 Kjell Johansson and Swedish No.3 Karl Bernhardt. Johansson’s defeat in an earlier round took nothing away from Bobby’s performance as he defeated Bernhardt in the final to take the title.

During his lifetime, Bobby epitomised everything that was good about the sport of table tennis. He remained passionate about the development of junior players, giving freely of his time of his time and effort to challenge and inspire them. Bobby’s individual contribution to the promotion and development of table tennis in the county of Essex was without equal. His commitment to the sport, together with his tactical and technical knowledge, enabled him to lead the county to their first national title in 1965, playing alongside three junior players whom he nurtured from an early age.

In closing and by way of personal tribute to Bobby, there are perhaps many things that I could and should have said about this great man but from the time he signed my autograph book at the age of ten until the sad day when he passed away, I know that I could never have had a better mentor. Bobby guided me through my playing career and more importantly, he taught me how to conduct and present myself both on and off the table. I shall always remember with gratitude, the words of advice that he offered to me as a young and developing player; “Be polite to those who you pass on the way to the top as you will pass them again on the way down.” How true these words were.

Rest in peace Bobby. You will never be forgotten.

Stuart Gibbs (President, Essex County Table Tennis Association)

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Bobby Stevens

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It is with deep regret that we report the passing of Bobby Stevens, who passed away peacefully  Monday evening, 13th April 2015.

The Funeral Service is at 10.30 am on Friday 1st May

At the Forest Park Cemetery & Crematorium
Forest Road, Hainault, Essex, IG6 3HP

After the Service, there will be Refreshments at
The Moby Dick Public House
Whalebone Lane North, Chadwell Heath, Romford, RM6 6QU

Many of you knew Bobby very well, a real stalwart of Essex Table Tennis and also a most charming man.

Bobby was a former England Men’s Singles Champion, just prior to the Chester Barnes / Stuart Gibbs era and maintained a close contact with all Essex and National activities throughout his life.

We will provide a more detailed account of his life of dedication to Table Tennis in due course.

Bats on Table

Essex regain over-60s-County Premier Championship

Bats on Table

Barry Snowden (County Championships press officer reports)

Former winners Essex regained the over-60s County Championship Premier Division after two exciting weekends’ play at Milton Keynes saw them complete the season unbeaten – winning six and drawing one of their matches. It meant they finished four points clear of Yorkshire, who were runners-up for the second successive season.

The second weekend began in a three-way tie as Cheshire, Yorkshire and Essex all started on five match points, but due to injury Cheshire arrived with only two men and from the outset they looked to be the county who were going to struggle.

So it proved as whilst Essex were beating Hertfordshire 9-1 and Yorkshire just getting the better of Gloucestershire 6-4, Cheshire were being thumped 8-2 by reigning champions Lancashire.

Cheshire fared a little better in the second round of fixtures with a draw against Hertfordshire but with Essex beating Gloucestershire 7-3 and Yorkshire likewise against Lincolnshire the Sunday morning showdown between Essex and Yorkshire was looming as a vital clash.

Essex took the lead in the opening set as Peter Radford beat Steve Kosmowsky, coming from behind to record a five-game win (6-11, 7-11, 11-9, 11-8, 11-5). Yorkshire hit back as Nicky Davies fought back after a first-game reversal to beat Dave Bowles 3-1 (8-11, 11-9, 11-9, 15-13), only for Essex to take the lead once more as Stuart Gibbs beat Steve Morris in three.

Yorkshire levelled by taking the first mixed doubles as Kosmowsky and Linda Simpson took a five-game win over Gibbs and Marjorie Dawson (11-4, 6-11, 8-11, 11-6, 11-8). Once again, Essex hit the front as Radford beat Davies 3-0 (11-3, 11-6, 11-9), at which point the White Rose county levelled again as Simpson just took the ladies’ singles against Dawson 3-2 (13-11, 11-6, 10-12, 6-11, 11-7).

The vital men’s doubles was next up and saw Essex retake the lead as Radford and Bowles beat Kosmowsky and Morris in five (11-8, 12-14, 6-11, 11-8, 11-5) and moved two sets ahead for the first time in the match as Bowles then beat Morris 3-1 (11-3, 9-11, 11-3, 11-6) as Essex now lead 5-3.

The penultimate set of the match saw Kosmowsky take the battle of the top players as he beat Gibbs 3-2 (11-9, 7-11, 4-11, 11-7, 11-4) to bring the sides to within a set at 5-4 in favour of Essex. It looked as if Yorkshire were going to snatch a draw as Davies and Simpson took the opening two games of the final mixed against Radford and Dawson, but the Essex pair turned the match around and took the next three sets, winning 3-2 (6-11, 10-12, 11-8, 11-7, 11-6) and with it the match, putting themselves in the driving seat for the title.

The final round of matches proved to be an anti-climax as a resurgent Lancashire thumped Yorkshire 8-2 and with Essex beating Cheshire 6-4 it was Essex who claimed the title with points to spare.

Lincolnshire and Hertfordshire were relegated and will be replaced in next season’s Premier Division by Kent, who took the Southern Division One by four points over Hampshire, and Oxfordshire, who finished runners-up to Yorkshire No 2 in the northern second tier, but with Yorkshire being unable to go up it is Oxfordshire who move up.

- See more at: http://tabletennisengland.co.uk/news/over-60s-county-championship-essex-find-the-way-to-win/#sthash.fDJTcCCC.dpuf

 

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REPORT ON THE JUNIOR DIVISION 2D MATCHES PLAYED ON SATURDAY 7 FEBRUARY 2015

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A CLOSE END FOR THE DIVISION TITLE

 

The final round of Junior Division 2D matches were played at BATTS Harlow on 7 February 2015. At the start of the day the top three teams were equal on points although Berkshire had played one match more with Essex 2 and Bedfordshire a point behind the leaders. With Berkshire having played their boys in an incorrect order in the first two matches they were penalised four sets whilst Surrey 2 and Bedfordshire both gained a point when Sussex 3 were penalised for playing an ineligible player. With Sidney Dorn unavailable Daniel Berry was brought into the team.

 

In the first round of matches the Essex team, Ryan Gooday, Justin Jeffery, Daniel Berry, Zoe Davies and Gracie Edwards played Surrey 2. Any chance of honours quickly disappeared when they were soundly beaten 8-2 by the Surrey team. The boys lost all their matches to Jake Mitchell, Marley Cross and Richard Pelc and it was Zoe Davies who gained the two Essex wins, both 3-0 over Medha Verma and Federica Tazartes. Gracie lost 11-8 in the decider with Federica and, having won the first game lost the next three to Medha.

 

In the second round of matches Essex played joint leaders Berkshire. Once again the team had to rely on the girls for their wins. Zoe and Gracie each beat Katie Shepherd 3-0 and both beat Scarlet Jones 3-1. Justin and Daniel both lost their deciding games with Gus Thomis and Joshua Gallen respectively but the rest of the boys matches were lost 3-0.

 

The Essex team had a bye in the third round and in the last round of matches played bottom of the Table Wiltshire. Each of the boys won one match and Ryan, after going 2-0 up in his match with Shrey Bhardwaj, lost the decider 12-10 but went on to beat their number one Tom Barnett 3-0. For Justin and Daniel they both beat Scott Marshall 3-0. Zoe and Gracie had four easy wins over Constance Hung and Andrea Chan.

 

The Essex team thus finished fourth of the seven teams. Berks will rue the fact that they played their boys in the wrong order in the first two matches on Day 1, this robbing them of the title. For the Boys Berks Gus Thomis was unbeaten in the five matches he played in whilst Surrey’s Richard Pelc and Sussex’s Dexter Sherin only lost two of the twelve matches they each played. For the Girls Essex’s Zoe Davies and Oxon’s Kristelle Brook, a former Peniel schoolgirl, shared top spot, each winning nine of the eleven matches they played.

 

Over the two rounds of matches Sidney Dorn 1 win out of 6 matches, Ryan 4 out of 12, Daniel 1 out of 6, Justin 2 out of 12, Daniel 1 out of 6, Stephanie Cross 5 out of 5, Zoe 9 out of 11 and Gracie 4 out of 6.

 

Final Table

 

                                    P          W         D         L          F          A          Pts

Oxfordshire                 6          5          0          1          39        21        10

Berkshire                     6          5          0          1          37        23        10

Surrey 2                      6          4          0          2          41        19          8

Essex 2                       6          2          1          3          29        31          5

Sussex 3                     6          2          0          4          28        31          4

Bedfordshire               6          1          2          3          22        37          4

Wiltshire                      6          0          1          5          13        47          1

Arthur C. Clark

Essex Junior Match Secretary and

Junior Division 2D Organiser.

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ESSEX ARE THE DIVISION 1B CHAMPIONS Essex on The Rise Again

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CADET COUNTY CHAMPIONSHIPS

DIVISION 1B, 21 MARCH 2015

 

ESSEX ARE THE DIVISION 1B CHAMPIONS

 

The final round of County Cadet Division 1B matches were played at the Ellenborough Table Tennis Club, Enfield on Saturday 21 March 2015 with three rounds of matches to be played. After the first round of matches at Cippenham only one point separated the top four teams. No team had won all of its matches so Buckinghamshire 1 and Essex led the Table with 7 points each, Bucks with the better sets difference, closely followed by Surrey 2 and Norfolk with 6 points.

 

In the opening round of matches Bucks 1 and Essex had to play one another and the result of this match would go a long way to determining final table positions. Bucks were without their number one player, Ben Naylor-Smith, and Essex were without Zoe Davies who was playing in the Burnham Closed Tournament but had number 9 Cadet ranked Tiana Dennison available. All matches were played on two tables and Essex made a good start with Sam Hume defeating Sam Cartwright 3-0 and Syed beating James Perks -10, 7, 13, 7 in the opening two matches. Gracie Edwards (ranked 35) then had a good win over Shristi Ghosh (20) and with Tiana Dennison and Jack Stockdale (56) having to take five games each to beat Jemma Walker (22) and Shae Thakker (96) respectively the Team raced into a 5-0 lead. Bucks won the next two, Jemma Walker just getting the better of Gracie at 9 in the deciding game and Sam Cartwright (88) defeating Syed Hussain (167) at 8 in their deciding game after Syed had won the fourth game 18-16. Sam Hume beat Shae 3-0, but was four points down at one stage midway in the third game before winning it 13-11. Tiana and Jack won the remaining two matches for an 8-2 win. With matches to come against the bottom two teams Essex were in the driving seat. Surrey 2 and Norfolk both won their matches to stay a point behind.

 

For the second round of matches Essex played Bucks 2 and Joe Walker came in to replace Syed, where they strengthened their leading position with a 10-0 win, Joe winning his matches in the fourth game whereas all the other matches were won 3-0. In the battle for the runners up position Surrey 2 beat rivals Norfolk 6-4 to stay a point behind the Essex team.

 

In the last round of matches Essex played bottom of the Table Bedfordshire and Syed came back into the team to replace Jack. Essex quickly secured the Division title when Gracie beat Rebekah Barry. Syed and Joe both needed four games to beat Kieran Harris, for Syed 15-13 after two match points at 10-8, as Essex went on to win 10-0.. Surrey 2 gained a narrow 6-4 win over Bucks 1 to take the runners up position.

 

Over the two rounds of matches Sam Hume 11 wins out of 12, (only losing to Norfolk’s Louis Moyes who had remained unbeaten), Jack Stockdale 8 out of 10, Syed Hussain 5 out of 10 and Joe Walker 7 out of 10. For the girls Gracie Edwards 9 wins out of 11, Zoe Davies 5 out of 7 and Tiana Dennison 4 out of 4.

 

Mine, and the player’s thanks, to John Dennison for coaching the Team in the Bucks 1 match and to Stuart Gibbs for racing across Essex for coaching the team in the remaining two matches.

 

FINAL TABLE

 

                        P          W         D          L          F          A          Pts

Essex               7          6          1          0          56         14         13

Surrey 2            7          6          0          1          49         21         12

Norfolk             7          4          2          1          43         27         10

Suffolk             7          4          0          3          46         24           8

Bucks 1                        7          3          1          3          45         25           7

Kent 2               7          2          0          5          18         50           4

Bucks 2                        7          1          0          6          19         50           2

Beds                7          0          0          7          2          67           0

 

Arthur C. Clark

Essex Junior Match Secretary and Cadet Division 1B Organiser.

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REPORT ON THE JUNIOR DIVISION 1B MATCHES PLAYED ON SATURDAY 7 MARCH 2015

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HAMPSHIRE TAKE THE JUNIOR DIVISION 1B TITLE

 

The final round of Junior County Championship Division matches was played at Cippenham on Saturday 7 March. After the first round of matches Essex 1 were in the middle of the Table with two points from two matches with Hampshire leading the Table on six points from three matches. Having played Sussex 2 and Kent back in November they now had to play Dorset 1, Cornwall 1, Devon 2 and Hampshire

 

 

In the first round of matches Essex 1 beat Dorset 1 8-2, the Essex team of Ryan Williams, Sam Hume, Luke Jones, Jane Li and Tiana Dennison the only unchanged team from the first round, but Dorset had to replace their top two players, Hugo Pang and Finn Morgan-Bayliss with Jacob Elliott and Sam Perez-Haynes. Ryan and Luke both won their opening matches in five games, Ryan 11, -6, -7, 6, 6 over Jacob and Luke a much closer 10, 9, -1, -12, 7 over Sam to give the Essex team an encouraging start. Jane and Tiana carried on winning all four of their matches against Lily Cherry and Emma Blatchford comfortably. Zac Dowling (ranked 51) was responsible for Dorset’s wins over Sam (213) 9, 9, -10, 7 and Ryan (63) 3-1.

 

In Round 2 Essex 1 and Cornwall 1 drew their match, Harry Nicholls (100) and Carl Baldry (72) unbeaten for Cornwall, Carl only just in defeating Sam Hume 11-9 in the decider and Ryan 11-8 in their decider from being 2-0 down. The match result determined by Dominique Wiilliam’s (50) matches, a 9 in the fifth win over Tiana (27) and an 8 in the decider loss to Jane (22). Both girls beat Paige Baker 3-0. Sam clinched the draw in the last match when defeating Dylan Tynan 3-0 easily. Luke had also beaten Dylan 3-0 but had lost to Harry 11-6 in the decider.

 

For the penultimate round of matches Essex played bottom of the Table Devon 2 and emerged with an 8-2 win. Ryan lost both his matches, three very close games with Joshua Millman and 9-11 in the fifth game with Jordon Bone (70). Sam also went to five games with Jordan but everything went right for him in the 11-4 decider. Luke also had a good win over the much higher ranked Joshua winning it 15-13 in the fifth game. This result meant that both Devon 2 and Cornwall1 were relegated and enabled the Essex team to draw level on points with Kent in second place. With the other two results these also ensured that Hants had won the Division with a match in hand.

 

That match in hand was against the Essex team. With Hants playing three of the top five ranked boy players in the Division (Ben Cawston, Jimmy Yeung and Arthur Caltabiano) and the top ranked girl it was unrealistic to think that Essex could finish runners up. This proved to be the case with a 9-1 defeat. However the Essex players played well with Hants only winning two matches 3-0. Jane was the Essex winner defeating Katie Holt -6, 4, 14, 10. Against Amy Blagbrough (15) Tiana went 2-0 up with most of her attacking shots on the table but sadly unable to maintain the momentum.

 

Ryan 1 out of 8 and not having played much since Xmas due to exams, Sam 4 out of 8, Luke 5 out of 8, Jane 7 out of 8 (second highest girl) and Tiana 5 out of 8.

 

Final Table

                                    P          W         D         L          F          A          Pts

Hampshire                  6          6          0          0          51          9        12

Kent                             6          4          1          1          41        19          9

Essex 1                       6          3          1          2          32        28          7

Sussex 2                     6          3          0          3          29        31          6

Dorset 1                      6          2          0          4          23        37          4

Cornwall 1                   6          0          3          3          20        40          3

Devon 2                      6          0          1          5          14        46          1

Arthur C. Clark

Essex Junior Match Secretary and

Junior Division 1B Organiser.

General Action Shot 6

Essex Schools Spectacular

ESSEX SCHOOLS TOURNAMENT 16 JANUARY 2015

Batts held the Essex Schools Tournament  on the 16Th January and there were some fantastic games and a great atmosphere in the hall .

Many thanks to Arthur ,Neil and the Batts team ,  and the Volunteers who made it run so smoothly .

Here are the results from the day .

LIST OF WINNERS

UNDER 11 GIRLS

 

3          JESS BAXTER (Alleyn Court)

2          LOIS PAGE (Cann Hall)

1          ALANA MANSFIELD (Freshwaters)

 

UNDER 11 BOYS

 

3          CONNER HALL (St. Johns)

2          ALEXANDER BETTLEY (Holmwood House)

1          WILLIAM BETTLEY (Holmwood House)

 

UNDER 13 GIRLS

 

3          DEVISHI METHUR (Chelmsford County High)

2          ELEANOR WHITE (Chelmsford County High)

1          GRACIE FIRKINS (Tendring Technology)

 

UNDER 13 BOYS

 

3          GEORGE CAMPBELL (St. Nicholas)

2          DANIEL ZEFFIE (Greensward)

1          CASEY MANSFIELD (Burnt Mills)

 

UNDER 16 GIRLS

 

3          LARA ESQUIVEL (Trinity)

2          REBECCA LOWMAN (Ormiston Rivers)

1          STEPHANIE CROSS (Trinity)

 

UNDER !6 BOYS

 

3          BENJAMIN HOLLAND (Trinity)

2          CHRISTIAN GIBSON (Trinity)

1          SAM HUME (Tendring Technology)

 

UNDER 19 GIRLS

 

3          REKEKAH WHEALY (Trinity)

2          SARAH HARRIS (Chelmsford County High)

1          EMILY WOOD (Chelmsford County High).

 

UNDER 19 BOYS

 

3          ENIEKAN AKPAN (Trinity)

2          CHRIS DENYER (Moulsham)

1          ALEXANDER HOLLAND (Trinity)

 

ETTA Championships

Great day , at Essex Junior Closed

ESSEX JUNIOR CLOSED 2014 – 2015

 The Essex Junior Closed was held at BATTS Harlow on Saturday 10 January 2015. At the Closing Date there were 53 entries and with the acceptance of late entries the final entry figure was 57 as against last year’s 73, with one more accepted on the day. Groups of three players in in most events and even with this we overran by just over an hour.

The opening event was the Under 13 Boys but with only two Girls entering their event they were transferred to the Boys event which thus became on Open event. There were eight Groups (two having four players). One player did not turn up so the only player looking for a scratch entry could be accommodated. Two seeds failed to win their Group, Alexander Bettley (Bra) defeating Daniel Zeffie (Sou) 3-0 and Alana Mansfield defeating William Bettley (Bra), also 3-0, to set up a first round match between the brothers which William won 3-0. Only one match went to a fifth game decider, Zak Norman squeezing through 12-10 over Reece Harris-Griffiths (Sou) to go through to the KO Stage. The top four seeds all got through to the semi finals, Casey Mansfield having the toughest match to overcome Gracie Edwards (Cla) 10, 8, 7.In the semi he met No. 1 seed Rahul Jindal (Mossford). Saving two match points in the third game he went on to a narrow -3, -10, 10, 6, 9 win. In the other semi No. 2 seed Ray Yan (BATTS) met Jaden Aulakh (Mossford) and after a gripping match just managed a -9, 3, -9, 9, 9 win. The final also went the full distance with fortunes going one way, then the other before Ray eventually won 7, -4, 6, -4, 8.

Ray U13 Junoir closed winner

At this stage Gracie withdrew from the U15 and U18 Girls events leaving us with just three girls in the U15 event (Zoe Davies (Sou) first, Alana the runner up and Jaz Harvey third) and Zoe defeating Lauren James (Col) 3, 3, 7 in the U18 event.

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There were 9 Groups in the U15 Boys event (7 of three players and 2 of four) but No. 2 seed Jack Stockdale(Havering) failed to arrive (more later). The remaining eight seeds all won their Groups although for Xudong Wang (Eastbury) it was on countback as the players all beat one another and he was the only casualty of round one losing to Jamie Morgan (Col) 9, -11, 7, 11. With some quarter finals having started Jack Stockdale arrived and it transpired that I had given him the same start time for both U15 and U18 events in error (first time that I can remember that I have done this). After discussions and after all it is a closed event and the mistake was mine it was agreed that Jack would be fitted in in his No. 2 position and the event proceed accordingly. In the top half No. 1 seed Sam Hume (Cla) had a 3-0 win over Jamie Morgan with Syed Hussain (Eastbury) defeating Casey Mansfield 10, 3, 4. The semi went to five games with Sam winning –6, 5, -8, 6, 4. Catching up with matches in the bottom half Jack defeated Matthew Stringer (Sou), Ray Yan and Ali Cangir (Eastbury) 3-1 each time to reach the final. In the final, which was played after the Groups of the U18 event were played, Jack won 10, 8, 7.

When Daniel Young failed to qualify from his U15 Group the U11 Open event was commenced earlier than scheduled with two Groups of three in play. William Bettley gained his revenge for his earlier defeat by Alana with a 3-0 win in his Group and with Alexander losing a five game thriller to Daniel Young 9, -10, -9, 6, 7, in the other Group the brothers met again in the semi final, William again the winner, this time 3-1, to reach the final. In the other semi Alana beat Daniel 8, 3, 11. The final was thus a repeat of the Group match and this time William had to come back from 2-1 down to take the U11 title.

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For the U18 Boys event there were five Groups and as she only played one match in her U18 event Zoe Davies replaced the absent Adam Hill. Only seed not to win his Group was Jack Stockdale, defeated by Zoe Davies -8, 12, 8, 7 but in the quarter final she lost to Jonathan Ma (Col) 7, 8, 9. The other three quarters were all close, No. 2 seed Luke Jones defeating Matthew Nariel (Sou) 14, 12, 11, Jack defeating Justin Jeffrey (Sou) -3, -4, 10, 3, 8 and saving two match points in the third game, and Sam Hume struggling to beat Casey Mansfield -7, 4, 5, -13, 5. In the semis Sam gained his revenge for his previous defeat by Jack by winning 11, 4, 10 whilst Luke beat Jonathan 4, 10, 9. In the final Luke won 11, 5, 9.

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The last event of the day was the U18 Boys Restricted Singles and seven groups of three. In the semis Casey beat Matthew Stringer (Sou) -9, 8, 9, 7 while in the other semi Louis Jones (Eastbury) beat Daniel Payne (Sou) -5, 9, 5, 6. In the final Louis beat a tired Casey 7, 9, 9

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My thanks to Umpire John Jennings for his stalwart duties and Alan Wood for obtaining such nice trophies and Chairman Ken Field presenting the trophies. I think a good day was enjoyed by all

 

Arthur C. Clark
Junior Match Secretary and Tournament Organiser.

 

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A GREAT DAY FOR THE ESSEX COUNTY CADET TEAM

CADET COUNTY CHAMPIONSHIPS
DIVISION 1B, 29 NOVEMBER 2014

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The first round of County Cadet Division 1B matches were played at Cippenham on Saturday 29 November 2014. The Division originally consisted of ten teams but Herts and then Middlesex 2 withdrew. To avoid two teams sitting out on each round of matches and adjacent Counties arranging one match between themselves the Fixture List for the Division matches was completely reconstituted (by me) so that there would be four matches to be played each round and original home and away fixtures maintained. It was agreed that four rounds of matches would be played on the first day. All matches would be played on two tables.

The selected team squad for the day was Sam Hume, Jack Stockdale, Joe Walker, Syed Hussain, Tiana Dennison, Zoe Davies and Gracie Edwards. Tania had to withdraw two days beforehand when she had no transport as dad John was competing in a Vets Tournament at Norwich. Stuart Gibbs was also there and he had persuaded Howard Grant to coach the team.

In the opening round of matches Essex had to play neighbours Suffolk. Jack had to play opposition No. 1 Kian Burgess ranked 68 places above him. They traded the first four games but Kian got off to a good start in the decider to win it 11-3.On the other table Joe played Alex King and won 6, 4, 12. Zoe and Gracie then played Hannah Page and Holly McGerty respectively. It took Gracie a game to wake up and both matches were then won comfortably. Sam then beat Daniel Shelley 3-0 but Jack struggled against Alex before finally winning 4, -8, 9, -9, 5 to put the Essex team 5-1 up. The two girls were then on, Gracie having no troubles against Hannah (3-0) but Zoe never really got going and lost three straight to Holly, who is ranked 66 places below her, a girl she beat 3-1 in the Regional Trials two months ago. In the battle of the number ones Sam, ranked 19 places below Kian, won 11, -6, 3, 9 whilst on the other table Joe lost to Daniel, ranked 179 places above him, 8, -8, -8, 5, -5. A 7-3 win was a good start for the team.

In the next round the East Anglian battle continued with a match against Norfolk. Syed, in his first match for the County, beat Cameron Verney in a very close match 10,6,12 whilst on the other table Jack lost to the Norfolk number one, Louis Moyes, ranked 22, 3-1. The girls matches were also shared, Zoe comfortably over Georgina Sunter 3-0 whilst Gracie had England No. 12 cadet Mollie Patterson to play. She did, however, take a game off her. Essex went 4-2 up when Sam beat Thomas Connelly 3-0 and Jack a comfortable victory against Cameron. With Gracie’s win over Georgina 10, 4, 8 Essex were assured a draw. Zoe had a very close match with Mollie, losing -9, 7, 9, 9. In the last two matches Sam lost 11, 6, -9, 6 to Louis and Syed to Thomas, ranked 53, by a similar 7, 8, -10, 9 games scoreline. Thus a draw it was and both teams dropped to equal third place in the Table

For round three Essex had to play early leaders Surrey 2. With Syed and Joe losing their opening matches 3-1 and 3-0 respectively to Kishal Patel and Matthew Hazell this was not a good start although both opponents were higher ranked. Once again the cavalry girls came to the rescue with easy wins over Federica Tazartes and Medha Verma and did so again later on in their reverse singles. In between Sam won his match with Ajithan Amurtherajan but Syed, after winning the first game, lost to Matthew. Sam gave Essex the win three straight against Kushal but after being 2-1 up Joe lost 11-8 to Ajithan. So the 6-4 win put the Essex team back equal top with three teams one point behind.

For the last round match Essex had to play Kent 2 who had only one girl and thus had to concede two matches to Essex.With it being Sam’s turn to rest and Jack to take on the number one position. In his opening mach he was taken all the way by Hammad Ansari and finally squeezed the last three points to win 11, -7, 7, -6, 8. Joe beat Mahmood Kelani 3-0 after a tight first game 13-11and Gracie, having surprisingly lost the first game to Scarlett O’Neil 11-9, heeded the pep talk and sailed through the next three. Syed although only losing his first game 13-11 with rising star Chamika Weerasinghe, younger brother of Helshan, was no match for him in the next two games. When Joe won his match against Hammad on four 8’s the match was won and with three 3-1 wins for Zoe, Jack over Chamika 10, 9, -5, 9 and Syed 11-9 the 9-1 win would help the sets difference.

Although equal top with Bucks 1 the Essex team are still behind on sets difference. However they still have Beds and Bucks 2 to play where on the evidence of the first day’s play they should achieve good wins. Before these two matches however they have the crunch match with Bucks 1 to play as the opener to Day 2 at the Ellenborough Table Tennis Club, Enfield on Saturday 21 March.

A great day for the Essex team and many thanks from us all to coach Howard Grant standing in for Stuart Gibbs.

Current Table

P W D L F A Pts
Bucks 1 4 3 1 0 31 9 7
Essex 2 4 3 1 0 27 13 7
Surrey 2 4 3 0 1 28 12 6
Norfolk 4 2 2 0 23 17 5
Suffolk 4 2 0 2 23 17 4
Bucks 2 4 1 0 3 15 25 2
Kent 2 4 0 0 4 12 28 0
Beds 4 0 0 4 1 39 0

Arthur C. Clark
Essex Junior Match Secretary and Cadet Division 1B Organiser.