TOP 8 COMPETITIONS
My report as I know it.
This week saw the culmination of the final tournaments for the season in the Challenge Cup (see separate report) and the Top 8 Competitions for each of the Divisions.
Monday was the evening for the Premier and Divisions 1 and 2. The Premier final was an all Milton Keynes affair with Alan Cherry coming out on top against Peter Bannister. This was a welcome win for Alan who has not had great success over the last few years.
Division 1 turned out to be a tussle between the ‘old and the young’ when Dave Wackrill and Jamie Hendy made it through to the final. The wily Wackrill was up against the power hitting Hendy and it was youth that prevailed as Jamie won his fourth successive Top 8 trophy, having already won Divisions 7, 4 and 2 in consecutive years.
It was Division 2 that produced what may be called a shock result (his words not mine!) when Patrick Wong overcame Marco Hahn in the final. However, on looking at the league results over the last five weeks, Patrick competed in four matches and of his twelve singles he won ten, including one over Bub Burman, so he was in a rich vein of form coming into this competition. Incidentally, one of his two defeats was against Marco.
Tuesday night had only two competitions for Divisions 3 and 4. In Division 3 there was a fairly strong favourite in Ollie Horswell and he didn’t disappoint. He went comfortably through the group stage and then beat Sue Lewis in three in the semi-final. In the other semi-final, Charity Wong beat David Bartlett in five but there was to be no double victory celebration as she went down to Ollie in the final in three sets.
Division 4 was an intriguing competition in that most of the players were evenly matched. Paul Rickard won two matches going down to Peter Bruguier in five sets, which was an excellent result for the Eagles man. Paul did later beat Andy King to leave them both on two wins and one loss but Paul won the group on countback. In the other group there was Mervyn Phillips, a newcomer to the League, and he won all three of his matches including inflicting defeat on Dave Holley, who went through as runner up. In the semi-final, Paul beat Dave in three but on the next table Andy took a two sets lead over Mervyn but could not hold it as Mervyn reeled off three sets against his teammate to go through. Paul seemed a bit subdued in the final (or perhaps Mervyn put him under too much pressure) as he eased past Paul in three to take the trophy.
Wednesday brought the finals for Divisions 5, 6 and 7 and in the first the bookies had long since stopped taking bets on Romuald Baucherel to win. Although he won all of his matches in three, he still found some stubborn resistance along the way. In his group, the runner up spot was decided in the match between James and Colin Beckett which was a continual assault on the ball with a barrage of hitting and it was no surprise that it went to five sets with, eventually, James squeezing through. In the other group, John Willcocks won his three matches although he had to do it in five against Orrin Edwards. He did beat David Fletcher though which relegated the latter to runner up place. That meant that he faced Romuald in the semi-final and he gave a good account of himself but was, in the end, overpowered by the eventual champion. The second semi-final put John against James and at one stage it was one all but John’s steadiness saw him though in four. The final was a contrast of styles between mainly attacking against mainly defending but again Romuald’s greater fire power saw him to the title.
Division 6 also had a strong favourite in Ian Warner and he duly won his group with Gerry Houghton being runner up on countback. There was a strange incident in the other group which Mark Cowdrey comfortably won, in that the other three players all finished with one win. On countback, Roger Yates had the best score but he had already left as he thought that one win would not be enough. This meant that Mick Miles then progressed into the semi-final to play Ian who moved into the final in three straight. The other semi-final was between Mark and Gerry and although Gerry held a two sets to one lead, he could not maintain this and Mark edged it in five. Mark started well in the final taking the first set but Ian picked up his game and won in four sets.
The final Division was 7 which contained a number of relatively new players to the League. The group matches were fairly defensive and resulted in Mahmut Dervish winning one group on countback over Ryan Lightfoot, having beaten him in their group match. The other group was clearer cut with Dave Donavan winning all his matches and Anas Achouri being runner up after only losing to Dave. In the semi-final, Dave could not seem to hit through the defensive style of Ryan and lost in three. The other semi-final went to five with Mahmut having a two sets lead over Anas but he had to take the fifth in deuce to progress to the final. In the final Ryan again put Mahmut under pressure going two sets up but like in the semi-final he dug deep and managed to get it back to all square but Ryan held his nerve to get the decider and win the trophy as well as avenging his earlier defeat.
With Ian and Ryan of Padbury winning two trophies and Padbury Night Owls winning the Challenge Cup, it has been a very good week for that club.
Can I thank all of the players who attended on the nights to make this a suitable signing off event to the season and congratulate those who became Divisional Champions. Also, many thanks to the organisers who helped to run the various tournaments.