Division Three Top 8 report

Published 24/04/2024 at 10:16:06 by Chris Welch; edited 1 times, last on 24/04/2024 at 11:29:24 by Chris Welch.

Courtesy of Chris Paddon.

Due to unavailability, the Top Eight in Division Three had an unusual appearance with the 11th,12th,13th and 14th seeds all getting a call up but it didn't affect the quality on show as all four acquitted themselves well against the higher ranked players.

Division Three Top Eight line-upsIn the first group, Charles Tien (Open University Shockwave) and Paul Reynolds (Little Horwood Wooden Tops) were joined by stand ins Chris Paddon (Milton Keynes Cavaliers), fresh off victory in the Challenge Cup the previous night, and Andy Hooper (Little Horwood Wooden Tops). Chris and Charles started off the night with a very closely fought game which Charles eventually prevailed to deuce in the fifth. Team-mates Paul and Andy then faced off with Paul taking it in three before Andy's night was effectively finished losing to Charles in four. Paul has struggled against Chris this season despite his lofty position in the rankings and that continued as Chris took his fourth victory of the season against Paul, this time in four sets. That left Paul needing to win his final match to have a chance of going through but despite taking the second set 11-1 he lost out in four sets. Andy and Chris finished off the group with Chris grabbing another win this time in three sets to seal his spot in the semi finals.

Division Three Top Eight finalists: Chris Paddon (winner) and Charles Tien (runner up)In the second group, top seed Muhammad Hamza (Greenleys Moghuls) was joined by Bill Higgins (Little Horwood Wooden Tops) and stand ins Cho Phyu Aye (Open University Shockwave) and Mark Thomas (Milton Keynes Blades). Muhammad has been the stand out performer in the division all season and his matches went to form only dropping two sets on his way to top of the group but the battle for second place came down to the wire as Cho beat Bill in 5 coming back from missing 4 match points in the fourth set, Bill beat Mark in 3 and then Mark beat Cho in 5. Much to Mike Howard's relief after one of the division two groups went down to points scored, Bill dragging Cho into a fifth set meant that he qualified in second place on sets lost.

That set up Charles vs Bill in a battle of two right handers, and Muhammad vs Chris in a battle of two lefties. In the first semi final Charles' form on the night continued as he booked his spot in the final in three but the other semi final was much closer as the two attacking lefties tried to out hit each other. Muhammad took the first set before Chris came roaring back with the next two only to see Muhammad even things up in the fifth set. The fact that this game went to a fifth shouldn't have been a surprise as their only other outing this season had resulted in Muhammad winning 18-16 in the fifth but this time Chris got revenge taking the game to 8 to hand Muhammad only his fourth loss of the season to set up a repeat of match one against Charles.

Charles came storming out of the blocks to take a 5-0 lead in the first before having to fight off a comeback, eventually taking it 11-7. Chris dragged himself back into the match to take the second set 11-5 before putting himself a set away from the title with an 11-8 third set. Charles wasn't giving up though, and a very tight fourth set finished 12-10 to him to set up a another fifth set decider for the title. Finding reserves of energy from who knows where Chris stormed into a 5-2 lead at the turn, countering everything that Charles tried to throw at him before setting up 8 match points as he took five more on the bounce. Charles never knows when he's beaten and managed to save three match points but found himself with too much to do as an overhead smash from Chris on the fourth was enough to take the title, making it a double celebration this week.

Well done to all who participated for an excellent night of table tennis played in the right spirit, and thanks to David Bartlett and Mike Howard for all they've done for the year and in running the event.