Published 26/04/2022 at 13:13:18 by David Wackrill; edited 2 times, last on 05/05/2022 at 21:04:06 by David Wackrill.


VERSION 1 (courtesy of Nick Howard)

Howard wins back to back Top 8’s on an entertaining evening!
A long season had been played out, and thankfully the deserving top 8 in the Premier Division could all make the showpiece event of the year.
Group 1 consisted of:
Alan Cherry
Tomek Nowakowski
Tim Cheek
Nicholas Wong
Group 2 had:
Nick Howard
Ricky Taiwo
Jecu Aurelian
Biao Wang
The 6 matches in Group 1 were over in a flash, with 5 of them only lasting 3 games.
Alan beat Tomek and Tim joined his Spinner teammate with a fine victory over the ever improving Nicholas Wong.
Alan then beat Tim in 3 before Tomek did the same to Nicholas.
The only match that made it out of the first 3 games was Nicholas vs Alan, with the youngster powering to an 11-8 first leg. But Wong’s dreams of reaching the semi finals were over, when Alan took the next 3, dropping just 8 points along the way.
The crunch match was last up, with both Tim and Tomek having one win a piece, it was winner takes all game to go through to the semi finals.
The wily old spinner that is Tim Cheek used all of his experience to dominate from start to finish, overcoming a little wobble at the end when Tomek almost came back from a 9-2 deficit!
Winner of Group 1 - Alan Cherry
Runner Up - Tim Cheek
Group 2 was a little more open than Group 1!
Nick faced off against Ricky to kick things off, and Ricky’s woeful record against Howard didn’t improve, as Nick ran out a 3-0 victor.
After dropping the first end to Biao, Jecu dropped just 10 points in the next 3 games to get his name on the board.
Sadly, Jecu could only manage 13 points across the 3 games with Nick, succumbing to a 3-0 loss and putting Howard within touching distance of the semis.
Tricky Ricky took the first against Biao, before losing the next 3, with Biao never really in trouble.
Which meant that Nick just had to get 1 game against Biao - A player who he hasn’t beaten in post Covid times (with 2 losses already this season).
Luckily, Howard got that 1 game in the first, as he had no answer to the pen hold Van Hire player, who ran out a 3-1 winner.
Which left it in the hands of Jecu. A 3-1 win or better against Ricky, and it was him who advanced.
If Ricky managed 2 games, it would be Biao in place of Jecu in the semi finals.
Ricky did more than get 2 games though, he managed all 3 to notch up his first win of the night.
Jecu with chances, especially at 1-0 up, but it wasn’t to be this year!
Winner of Group 2 - Nick Howard
Runner Up - Biao Wang
Semi Final 1 - Alan Cherry vs Biao Wang.
Alan had lost 3 matches this year, and his first loss was to Biao.
It was almost deja vu in this semi final, as Biao stormed into a 2-1 lead, and was leading for most of the 4th!
But when can you rule out the MK Open Champion? Not yet anyway, as Cherry clawed his way back to a miraculous win in game 4 to take it to a decider.
Now, everyone loves an underdog, and Biao Wang who was the number 8 seed on the night, likely had the support of the entire room….. Except for his earlier opponent, Nick Howard, who was willing and praying for a Cherry victory, just in case Howard himself made it through his semi final.
I can’t imagine there are many players who would rather play Alan over….. Anyone? but in Howard’s case, it was “anyone but Biao!”.
Biao was incredibly close to what would have been a huge upset on the night. It looked done and dusted at one point, but yet again, Cherry finds a way to make you play an extra shot when you really don’t want to, and unfortunately for Biao, he couldn’t quite get over the line, in a cracking match.
Semi Final 2 - Nick Howard vs Tim Cheek
This one was significantly less interesting (to watch, and to write about!)
Howard managing to do just enough to take it in 3, and a chance to sit down and pray to the heavens that Biao wasn’t waiting for him in the final (sorry Biao!)
Final - Nick Howard vs Alan Cherry
So the number 1 and number 2 seeds made it through to the final, and the first time Howard and Cherry have met in a non league environment (excluding Summer League!)
Mike Howard made a special guest appearance as the umpire for the showpiece final, but declined generous offers from both players to tip the scales in their favour……
Nick got off to the perfect start when he reeled together 6 points in a row to take it from 5-5 to win the opening game.
But no one will be shocked to hear that Alan came roaring back with his own gritty performance in the 2nd end, to win it comfortably 11-6, as the weapons from Howard started misfiring.
The third end was similar to the first, with Howard being aggressive enough to control the play, and Cherry not managing to dictate as he usually does.
The 4th end was a classic nail biter from the off. Howard managed to edge a 2 point lead, which he kept for most of the game. But every time these 2 meet, there is always an epic rally towards the tail end of the match, and without fail….. Cherry wins the point. No change here, as the two played out some magical rallies with Cherry defending multiple match points to stay alive.
It wasn’t to be for the MK Open Champion, as Howard finally got over the line in 4, in a pulsating match from the off.
So, Howard defends the title he’s held since the 2018/19 season (with a 2 year hiatus due to Covid), with a special thanks to his surgeon who managed to get him upright, just in time to play enough games to qualify for the top 8!
Thank you to all of the organisers throughout the year, without you these events wouldn’t be possible.
Thank you to all of the players who stayed to watch (and even those who had to leave!)
And if you’ve got this far…. Thank you to you… For reading!
I’ll see you all next season!

VERSION 2 (courtesy of Tim Cheek)
Nick Howard beat Alan Cherry to win the Prem top 8, by 3 legs to one.  Final was a cagey affair with Howard always ahead, but never able to quite shake off Cherry. Booming winners from Howard had to be balanced with patience and picking the right opportunity. Many points seemed to be going to one player, only for brilliant retrieving to see it go to the other. Trademark Cherry resistance can never be counted out. With Howard 2-1 up and close to the line in the 4th, it seemed over but Cherry resisted and had a point to make it 2-2, before Howard redoubled his efforts to win the 4th set and the match.
Match of the night was the semi final between Cherry and Biao Wang. Biao had a 2-1 lead and was 3 points ahead in the 4th and playing brilliantly, but all those watching knew this was when Cherry was at his most dangerous. He clawed it back to make it 2-2, but again Wang had the lead in the decider as the match reached its conclusion. Cherry was not to be denied and he turned to round to win 3-2.
In the other semi-final, Howard was too strong for Tim Cheek, finding winning forehands with fantastic accuracy and power, into gaps that didn’t seem to exist! Howard had a wonderful knack of playing his best on the big points.
Group A was won comfortably by Alan Cherry, with only the flashing forehand of Nicolas Wong able to trouble him by taking a leg. Tim Cheek and Tomek Nowakowski both beat Nicolas, meaning the final group A match was a straight shootout between them for 2nd place.  After a tight 1st leg, Tim got the upper hand and moved 2-0 and 9-1 up before Tomek staged a mighty come back, taking 7 points in a row before Tim was able to refocus and grab the 2 points he needed to win the match.  
Group B was a much closer affair  Nick Howard came out all guns blazing to beat Ricky Taiwo, and then Jecu Aurelian continued his winning run against beat Biao wang. Nick then beat Jecu to pretty much wrap up his qualification. This meant that the Biao v Ricky match was crucial with the loser having little chance of going through.  It was Biao who came out on top with some fine play.  He then followed this up with a great victory against Nick (not for the first time either).  This meant that Ricky was eliminated, and Nick had won the group. However, the final game was still critical, as Jecu could still get through at Biao’s expense if he beat Ricky 3-0 or 3-1.  At 1-1 and deuce if was on, but Ricky took the 3rd leg and guaranteed Biao’s passage to the semi-final. Ricky went on to beat Jecu 3-1.  

DIVISIION 1 (courtesy of Mervyn Phillips)

As the winner of this prestigious event, I'll try and make this report as unbiased as possible.............. no chance! 
A strong line up looked to make this a close fought battle, and could be anyone's victory. 
In Group A was No 1 in the averages Alan Bolding, or better known as the Postman, "he always delivers". Others in the group the two young guns Andy Tan and Alex Du Noyer and the "tough nut to crack" Mervyn Kelly (great Christian name!). Alex and Alan went through as 1st and 2nd respectively. 
In Group B : in order of averages, Mervyn Phillips, Tanmay Tijare, Russell Penn and Gerald Ridgway. No easy matches in this one, and Mervyn (1st) and Tanmay (2nd) came through. 
Semi's : Alan v Mervyn.
 A tough match that lived up to expectations, could have gone either way, which Merv finally nudged it. 
Semi : Alex v Tanmay.
 No details as I was playing Alan "in a marathon match" at the same time! Tanmay got through to the final, would like to have seen the match, two fine attacking players. 
Final : Tanmay v Merv
 I had noticed Tanmay was playing well and getting better in each match. 
Although I won in 3, all games were close and there were some great attacking rallies. Tanmay was an excellent young opponent who will continue to improve. I was impressed with the way he played, and in particular his sportsmanship throughout the tournament, a great credit to the  mkttl.

 I look forward to playing Tanmay and his team mates again next season in the Premier, as both Mk Phoenix and Mk Topspin look to be promoted. 

DIVISION 2  (courtesy of Martin Johnson)

The end of season "Top Eight" event for Divsion 2 took place alongside those for the Premier Division and Division 1 on Monday 25th April (sorry for the delay)!

Unlike the Premier Division event that night, there were several from the top of the division's season end averages unable to attend, for various reasons, so well done to Mike Howard for working his way down the list to get an event arranged.  Despite this, there were, initially, only seven entrants there on the night, but Abhay Tijare (who was there to support his son, Tanmay, in the Divison 1 event) was persuaded to compete and to make up the numbers - thanks.

The two Groups were as follows :-
  Group 1  -  Derick Rodrigues, Graham Silversides, Glenn Barcham & Abhay Tijare.
  Group 2  -  Rupert Greyling, Martin Johnson, Andy King & David Bartlett.

Group 1 opened up in round 1 with Derick winning in straight games against Glenn, however the second set almost produced an upset, as reserve Abhay pushed Graham to five games, and was indeed well ahead in leg five, only for Graham to claw it back from 10-4, to finally win 14-12 (a win that ultimately took Graham through to the semi-finals).  Round 2 saw Abhay get a virtually identical result against top seed, Derick, again going to five legs, but this time losing out 11-9 in the decider, to give Derick his 2nd win, whilst Graham beat Glenn over four close legs, to ensure that Derick and Graham would progress to the semi-finals.  The third and final round saw Derick comfortably top the group with a four game win over Graham, whilst Abhay yet again lost out in five legs, this time to Glenn, after being 2-1 up, so finishing last in the group, but so near to three wins!!

Group 2 opened up with a comfortable three games win for Rupert against Andy, whilst Martin beat team mate David over four games.  Round 2 saw Rupert take the first leg against Martin, but in the first win against the seeding, Martin won the next three games to take his second win in the group, whilst Andy carved out a good straight games win over David, to keep himself in the running.  The third round saw Rupert in a tough battle with David, before coming through in four games, to collect his second win. The final set saw Andy take the opening game, but when Martin hit back to win leg two comfortably, it looked like bad news for Andy, but he battled back to take legs three and four, for his second win (and the second win against the seeding), to leave the group with three players having all won twice - Pupert, Martin and Andy.  Rules were consulted, and it eventually meant that Rupert topped the group by virtue of a +3 games difference, whilst Andy & Martin both had a +2 games difference, with Andy went through as he'd beaten Martin in the group!

This meant semi-finals as follows :-
  Derick v Andy  /  Graham v Rupert

Derick duly won his place in the final, in straight games against Andy, however the second semi-final was much closer.  Rupert took the opener, but Graham took control of legs two and three to move 2-1 ahead and opened up a lead in game 4, only for Rupert to battle back and even things up.  The decider saw Rupert take a lead early on, but Graham again showed his fighting spirits and came back to ensure a very tight finish, and it was eventually Graham who triumphed 12-10 in the fifth, so preventing an all MK Sharks final !!

The final was a repeat of the group encounter between Derick and Graham, but Graham put up stronger resistance this time, twice coming from a leg down to even it up, to take it to a fifth and deciding game, however, Derick was not to be denied, as he took the final leg 11-5, and so took the title, also remaining undefeated over the evening.

Well done to the winner, Derick Rodrigues, runner-up, Graham Silversides, to all who attended, and to Mike Howard for his organisation.  See you all next season!


If anyone is interested in writing a review please let Chris Welch or myself know.