Gallery (photos: Tony Shapps)
Semi finals: Jason Sugrue (Microlease) beat Dmytri Bardysh (London Academy) 11-6, 11-6, 11-4
Costas Papantoniou (Apollo) beat Mitchell Jones (Lowlands) 10-12, 11-9, 6-11, 12-10, 11-3
Final: Costas Papantoniou beat Jason Sugrue 11-13, 11-8, 11-13, 11-7, 11-9
Hiba Feredj (London Academy) beat Sally Bax (Sudbury Hill) 11-6, 10-12, 14-12, 11-6
Mitchell Jones & Roger Pyle (Lowlands) beat Jason Sugrue (Microlease) & Laikram Persaud (London Academy) 12-10, 4-11, 8-11, 14-12, 11-5
Hiba Feredj & Eren Gozcu (London Academy) beat Sally Prowen (Juice) & Radovan Živković (Lowlands)
Veteran men's singles
Laikram Persaud (London Academy) beat Gary Morgan (Vagabonds) 10-12, 11-8, 11-4, 11-5
Branislav Živković (Lowlands) beat Steve Pascoe (Lowlands)
Ciprian Bizgan (IFSport) beat Alex Zanuncio (Hillingdon) 11-13, 11-7, 14-12, 11-9
Junior boys’ singles
Claudiu Andrei (Greenhouse CCA) beat Sirat Ahmad (Wembley & Harrow) 11-6, 11-6, 11-6
Junior Girls’ Singles:-
Sarah Mengbistab (Greenhouse CCA) beat Mya Sultan (Greenhouse CCA)
Claudiu Andrei & Tendai Davis-Smith (Greenhouse CCA) beat Sammy Kaye & Joe Kaye (Maccabi) 11-4, 9-11, 11-6, 11-6
Cadet boys’ singles
Claudiu Andrei (Greenhouse CCA) beat Siddhant Rawal (Lowlands) 9-11, 11-8, 3-11, 11-8, 15-13
Cadet girls’ singles
Sarah Mengbistab (Greenhouse CCA) beat Mya Sultan (Greenhouse CCA) 11-6, 11-9, 11-8
The finals kicked off with the Cadet Boys and Girls events on 2 tables. The girls event on the second table was a repeat of the Junior Girls Finals – Sarah Menghistab proved too strong for Mya though in the 2nd and 3rd games had a good start and led. Sarah won 11-6, 11-9, 11-8. The boys match was an exciting one, with fortunes fluctuating between the two opponents Claudiu and Siddhant. Siddhant won the first game, Claudiu the next, followed by Siddhant again and Claudiu levelled at 2 games all in the 4th. Siddhant started strongly in the 5th but Claudiu gradually found himself level at 8 all and then in a tense battle just edged it 15-13.
On the second table the first Men’s Semi-Finals was a one sided affair with Jason Sugrue in total command, winning 11-6, 11-6, 11-4. Claudiu after a short rest was again on table 1, playing for the Junior Boy’s title. His opponent was Sirat Ahmed. Unlike the Cadet Boys finals, Claudiu was in control throughout the match, winning 11-6, 11-6, 11-6.
On table 2 the second Men’s Semi-Finals followed the first. This was a match of a young talented player against an experienced former title holder, Mitchell Jones versus Costas Papantoniou. The first game went Mitchell’s way 12-10, followed by a second game loss 9-11. Mitchell found another gear to win the 3rd 11-6 and was 10-6 up in the 4th with four match points. For some reason a time-out by each of the players was called over the next 4 points and amazingly Costas was back in the match drawing level 10 all and then winning the next 2 points to take it to a decider. The decider was an anti-climax, Costas cruised to win 11-3 and set up a final encounter with Jason.
Meanwhile the Minor Singles finals started on table 1 and Alex Zanuncio started where he left in the semi-finals winning the first game 13-11. Ciprian Bizgan was determined not to let him dominate and won the next 11-7 to draw level, and then in a tense 3rd game just edged ahead winning it 12-14. The 4th game was equally tense but Ciprian managed to hold on to win the game and take the title, 11-9.
Mitchell Jones was back in action on table 1 with Roger Pyle his doubles partner against Jason Sugrue & Laikram Persaud. Another thrilling match which ebbed and flowed and some amazing rallies and retrievals. Jones & Pyle held their nerve to win 12-10, 4-11, 8-11, 14-12, 11-6.
This was followed by the speech from the Chairman and presentation of trophies by Sara Sutcliffe who was Guest of Honour on the night.
After the break
The second half of the night had a change of setting with one table being removed and turned facing lengthwise. The first of the last 3 finals was the Ladies Singles with Hiba Feredj defending her title against Sally Bax. Hiba won the first game 11-6, lost the second 10-12 and just edged the 3rd 14-12. Hiba seemed to have stepped up a gear in the 4th winning it and retaining her title 11-6.
The Veteran Men’s Singles followed. In a tense and increasingly tactical battle, the first 2 games were shared one apiece between Gary Morgan and Laikram Persaud, 12-10, 8-11. Winning the second game seemed to energise Laikram who went on to win the next 2, 11-4, 11-5.
The night ended in what one can only describe as a final of all finals. Many who witnessed this match could only describe it with superlatives – great, amazing, fantastic, exciting. Sara Sutcliffe informed me she thought the match had been a great one and she enjoyed it immensely. It was a battle of two counter looping opponents with a mixture of tactical blocking and spins and speed of movement not witnessed during the night. Jason won the first and third games 13-11, whereas Costas won the second and fourth 11-8, 11-7, to set up a great 5th game. The fifth game had it all, great service, great returns, killer loops, fantastic blocks and at 9-9 it was anyone’s title, Jason’s attacking loops narrowly missed the table for two consecutive shots to give the title to Costas. Amazing!!!! This final will live in people’s memories for some time to come!
The Closed Championships kicked off with the Men’s Singles Groups over 2 days – Monday 10th and Wednesday 12th February. In the group stages the most notable matches were as follows:
Jeremy Banks (Maccabi) against Piotr Borkowski (Sudbury Hill), a 5 set match with Jeremy edging it 11-9 in the final set. In the same group Piotr beat Aurel Bratileanu (Sudbury Hill) 3-2. In another group Leslie Samuels (Kenton) beat Mihai Burciu (Sudbury Hill) 3-2. In Group 3 Maurizio Patane (Lowlands) beat Albert Wood (Lowlands), 3-2 and lost to Lucas Papantoniou (Apollo) 2-3. Jojo Senorin (Vagabonds) was stretched by Ken Lee (Lowlands) in his group where Jojo won 11-9 in the final game ( was this a sign of things to come?). Curtis Welsh (Greenhouse CCA) beat Roger Pyle (Lowlands) in his group match 11-9 in the final game.
To the knockout stages - round of last 32, Lucas Papantoniou was stretched by Bharat Malde (Kenton) winning 3-2. Similarly Dmitry Bardysh (London Academy) just beat M Bujdei (IFSport) 3-2 (11-8 in the final game). Daniel Flash was on the verge of causing an upset over seeded Mohammad Owadally (Vagabonds) and led him 2-0, only to succumb 2 games to 3, 9-11 in the final game. The upset of the round was Steve Leven’s victory over the fancied Kevin Hill 3-2 and 14-12 in the final game. Dumitru Toma (Sudbury Hill) had an epic battle against club mate Piotr Borkowski winning 14-12 in the final game. Roger Pyle beat Jeremy Banks 11-8, 11-8, 9-11 &14-12, Radovan Zivkovic beat Micah Salmon (Greenhouse CCA) 11-7, 14-12, 8-11 and 11-8 in a closely fought encounter.
In the round of last 16, the upset of that round was Lucas Papantoniou’s victory over Jojo Senorin 11-9, 11-9, 7-11, 2-11, 14-12. His father Costas was heard to say, it’s all over now after Jojo won the 4th game 11-2, he of little faith!!! Dumitru Toma had another close battle losing to Mohammad Owadally 8-11, 10-12, 14-12 8-11, Roger Pyle beat team mate Radovan Zivkovic 11-9, 9-11, 11-8, 8-11, 11-8.
In the Quarter-Finals Costas Papatoniou (Apollo) beat Gary Morgan (Vagabonds) 12-10, 11-2, 8-11, 11-8, Mitchell Jones beat team mate and mentor Roger Pyle 8-11, 11-4, 11-7, 10-12, 11-4. Costas and Mitchell now face each other in the semi-finals on 27th Feb. Jason Sugrue (Microlease) beat Mohammad Owadally 11-7, 11-8,6-11 and 11-6, the loss of the 3rd set is the only game dropped by the top seed so far. In the semi-finals he meets Dmitry Bardysh who beat the younger Papantoniou (Lucas) 11-6, 8-11, 11-7 and 11-9.
The Ladies singles was held at Lowlands TTC on 11th Feb and in an uneventful evening during the round robin, the 2 strongest players proceeded to the finals, Hiba Feredj (London Academy) and Sally Bax (Sudbury Hill). It will be a battle of youth and speed versus wisdom, guile and experience.
Junior and Cadet events
The Junior events were held at Greenhouse Capital City Academy, and with the withdrawal of the top 2 seeds the field was left wide open for all the other entrants. Notable wins in group matches were Reece Hing (Greenhouse CCA) over Ronen Weinstein (Maccabi), Paul Vasile (Greenhouse) over Reece Hing, Ronen over Paul. Costel Toma (Greenhouse) beat Usama Waheed (Greenhouse CCA) 3-2 (11-6 in the final game), Arbarilan Shahul Hameed (Greenhouse) beat Alex Iditoiou (Greenhouse CCA) (11-9 in the final game).
In the knockout stages, round of last 16 Paul Toader beat Bashir Wasame (Greenhouse CCA) 12-14, 11-8, 11-4, 11-6, and Sammy Kaye (Maccabi) beat Daniel Toppin (Hillingdon)14-12, 11-5, 11-13, 8-11, 11-4 and in the battle of club mates Judah Jackson beat Sammy Kaye 11-3, 1-8, 8-11, 11-6. Judah progressed to the Semi-Finals where he lost to Sirat Ahmad (Wembley & Harrow) in a very closely fought match 13-11, 16-16, 8-11, 11-6 and 8-11. Claudiu Andrei (Greenhouse CCA) beat Siddhant Rawal (Lowlands) 3-11, 11-8, 6-11, 11-8 and 11-5 in another exciting match. Sirat and Claudiu play for the Junior Boy’s title on Finals night.
The Junior Girl’s and Cadet girl’s event was smoothly run by Jason Sugrue, Ashley Stokes and Egle Adomelyte and the finals of the Junior Girls saw Sarah Menghistab (Greenhouse CCA) beat team mate Mya Sultan 3-0. The same duo play in the Cadet Girl’s finals on finals night.
The Cadet Boy’s event had few notable matches in the group stages, with group 2 creating excitement as Tyrell Brown lost both his matches in 5 games to Costel Toma and Alex Iditoiou. In the last 32, Joe Kaye beat Ryan Taylor, 3-1, following which he lost in the last 16 to Pavle Svrdlin 2-3 (9-11, 11-9, 8-11, 11-7 6-11) Joe was heard to lament his misfortune in playing Pavle twice, once in the Junior Boys and then in the Cadet Knock-out stages. He was pleased that he did make him sweat for his win in this encounter. The other matches saw the seeded players move to their expected places and Siddhant Rawal beat club mate Branislav Zivkovic in one semi-final, and Claudiu Andrei beat Tendai Davis-Smith in the other semi-final.
In the Junior Doubles, there were no upsets with the seeded pairs progressing to the knock out stages. In the quarter-finals Siddhant Rawal and his partner Kishan Chauhan lost to scratch pairing of Judah Jackson & Reece Hing4-11, 12-10, 9-11, 9-11. Judah & Reece then lost to the Kaye brothers in another exciting match 2-13 (10-12 in the final game). Thus ended the 1st week of the Closed Championships, and I breathed a sigh of relief, 7 down 5 to go.
Monday the 17th Feb saw the Men’s Doubles being held at Eastcote. In the group stages the top seeds Gary Morgan and Jojo Senorin (Vagabonds) lost to Radovan Zivkovic & Kevin Hill (Lowlands) 7-11, 11-8, 9-11 11-13. The victorious pair were then beaten by Stuart Seaholme & Mohammad Owadally (Vagabonds) in the quarter finals.
The top 2 seeds met in the quarter-finals where Lucas & his dad Costas Papantoniou beat Gary & Jojo 15-13, 11-6, 16-14. The semi-finals pitted Roger Pyle & Mitchell Jones against Mohammad & Stuart and saw them win 3-1. In the other semi-final Jason Sugrue and Laikram Persaud (Microlease & London Academy) beat Costas & Lucas.
Tuesday 18th Feb was Mixed Doubles day and in the round robin matches, the strongest 2 pairs of Sally Prowen and Radovan Zivkovic (Lowlands) played Hiba Feredj & Eren Gozcu (London Academy) in the final match to decide the winner. Hiba & Eren were comfortable victors 3-0. A special mention must be made of Sue Merican and partner Ron Bryant who took a game off Hiba & Eren, and Fanny Speck & Tony Dias who took a game off both the top pairs. All the matches were played with good humour and umpire Raymond was heard to commiserate with Ron & Sue when they lost their first match to Tony & Fanny, telling Ron that he had trained Fanny very well.
Veteran Men's Sinlges
The following day at Eastcote witnessed the Veteran Men’s Singles. In the group stages Jojo Senorin was stretched by David James (Kenton) winning 11-6 in the final game. Seeded Roger Pyle was beaten by Dumitru Toma, 3-1 and Gary Morgan showed his experience in beating Radovan Zivkovic after being down 0-2, 8-11, 12-14, 11-3, 11-8, and 11-9. Lastly, Maurizio Patane (Lowlands) beat Kevin Hill 8-11, 13-11, 7-11, 11-7, and 11-8.
In the last 16, Dumitru Toma followed up his group win over Roger Pyle by beating Radovan Zivkovic in another exciting and close match – 20-18, 8-11, 12-10,11-8. Jeremy Banks beat Kevin Hill 11-9, 11-9, 7-11, 11-8, Leslie Samuels (Kenton) beat seeded Stuart Seaholme 8-11, 11-9, 11-9, 8-11 and 11-4 and Patane beat seeded Pyle 6-11, 11-8, 11-9, 11-9 to set up an encounter with top seed Costas Papantoniou.
That was the match of the next round as Maurizio caused one of the biggest upsets beating Costas 6-11, 11-5, 12-10, 11-7. Costas was gracious in his loss, stating that Maurizio played much better than he had. In another close battle the wily old fox, Laikram Persaud beat Jeremy Banks 5-11, 11-8, 11-6, 11-13, 12-10.
The semi-finals pitted Gary Morgan against Maurizio Patane and Laikram Persaud against Jojo Senorin. Gary beat Maurizio 3-1 and Laikram had a similar victory over Senorin. SO for the 1st time in 10 years we will see another name on the trophy. Incidentally the last person to win the trophy other than Jojo and Costas was Gary Morgan.
Thursday had the Minor Singles event. In Group 5 Simon Coleman, Joe Kaye & Sue Merican all won 2 matches each and Simon and Joe went through the knockout stages on count back. Ciprian Bizgan (IFSport) was stretched in his group match by Sammy Kaye winning 10-12, 13-11, 11-7, 7-11 11-8. Hillingdon’s Alex Zanuncio beat Daniel Reece (Maccabi) in another close match, 13-15, 11-8, 5-11, 11-7, and 11-7.
In the last 16, in a battle between brothers Sammy Kaye beat younger sibling Joe 11-6, 12-10, 6-11 12-10, only to lose in the quarter-finals to top seed Nadeem Aslam 9-11, 11-5, 15-13, 10-12, 10-12. Ciprian Bizgan had a similar match against LCNL’s Paul Kumaraswamy winning 7-11, 6-11, 11-7, 11-8, and 11-5. The semi-finals had two 5 setters, with Zanuncio beating Aslam and Josh Banks losing agonisingly 10-12 in the 5th game to Bizgan.
It has been an encouraging championships so far, especially witnessing the younger talent emerging. Plaudits should go to coaches Ashley Stokes, Jason Sugrue and Radovan Zivkovic for their efforts in getting their youngsters to participate.
On the opening Monday of the closed competition, the group stage, I said to the number one seed and red-hot favourite, "Jason, (Sugrue) you are scheduled to play Costas (Papantoniou) in the final" his response was "If I am lucky enough to get that far I will have to work my socks off". Well they both made it to the final, and what a final. The reaction of the winner, Costas, said it all, with both hands on his head, he knew not whether to laugh or cry, exclaiming in disbelief "I done it, I done it". I later asked Costas if it was the best ever of his eight men's singles titles and he said "Certainly the best for a long long time Ron". During the final set when Costas edged ahead, one of the more senior spectators on the stage was heard to 'whisper', "I would have given you 100-1 on this match", that would have been very generous but it is a measure of what Costas achieved on finals night. Fair play to the coach, Lucas who remained confident in Dad throughout the whole match.
In the match before, the Vets final, Laikram told me "Gary has had the edge over me for a ages, and I have been thinking all week what I had to do to change that run", well whatever it was Laikram, it certainly worked. Gary playing a mixture of slow and hard topspins and continued throughout to attack, but Laikram was so consistent in defence and thoroughly deserved to pull off another win for the underdog.
Two very different matches but equally enjoyable.
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