A big crowd were treated to a great afternoon of table tennis as part of the Banbury League 75-year celebrations, at Broughton and North Newington.
Around 85 people saw Simon Nolan take away the big prize of the day, taking the Banbury Advertiser Cup beating Michael Harrison in a fast-flowing final.
Harrison took the first game of the day as he beat Barry Hook in straight sets in his semi-final. Both players struggled to adapt to the conditions which meant the game was never flowing. Harrison stormed into a big lead in the first set before taking it 11-8, the second set saw a mix of big shots and basic mistakes from both players. Harrison eventually took this 19-17 and eased away in the third to secure his place in the final.
The other semi-final between Nolan and team-mate Tony Gorman was more free-flowing. Nolan made a fast start taking the first, but Gorman pulled back to take the second in deuce. Nolan’s stepped up the pace to take the next two and secure a place in the final with a great balance of fast attacking shots allied with his renowned consistency.
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The super veterans’ over-60 saw the top two seeds meet for the second year running. Reigning
champion and top seed Wally Warburton took the first set but Eric Barlow used his all-round game to great effect to draw level.
Warburton though is a master tactician and changed his game between attack and defence at regular intervals, using his pimpled bat to counteract Barlow’s spin game. Warburton took the final two sets in close games to retain his title.
Another repeat of last year’s final occurred in the veterans’ over-40 event, where Tadmarton team-mates Hook and Gorman faced off. Gorman avenged last year’s defeat with a straight-sets win to reclaim the title with a positive display of power hitting on both wings.
Hook was back on the table straight away partnering Jason Tustain in the men’s doubles, against holders Harrison and Jack Shardlow. The Tadmarton pairing got off to a flyer taking the first set 11-1, Harrison and Shardlow recover to take the second 11-7, with the next two sets shared the cagey and entertaining encounter went the full distance.
At the halfway point Hook and Tustain led 5-4, but the Millennium pair fought back winning some long points to lead 10-6. Hook and Tustain then produced some of their trademark big shots to draw back to 10-10. Harrison and Shardlow remained focused though and took the next two to take the title 12-10 in the decider.
The stars of the future faced off in the junior final as the Bodicote pair of Toby Dow and Joseph Fisher went head to head. Dow’s big left-handed forehand saw him race in to a lead. Fisher fought back to square the tie and the next two sets were shared in deuce with a number of fast rallies entertaining the crowd. The final set took a similar pattern but Dow’s forehand winners just getting him over the line by the tightest of margins.
The men’s final was the showpiece event and Nolan continued his earlier fine form to take the first set. Harrison was more positive in the second, forcing Nolan away from the table to equal the match. The third set never saw more than a couple of points between the pair as they traded blows, both mixing attack and defence, and producing big winners. Nolan took it with his consistent and calculated hitting paying dividends.
He took a lead at the start of the fourth which meant Harrison had to chase the game allowing Nolan to use his counter-attack to great effect. Nolan taking the set 11-8 to secure a 3-1 win and take the Advertiser Cup.
A period of celebration for the league’s 75th anniversary followed with many former players attending. Youngster David Grysakowski was presented with the Ray Bibby award for the league’s most improved junior of the year.
Meanwhile some of the league stalwarts were presented with long service awards: Nigel Green, the league’s longest serving current player having been a member for 59 years; Pete Jackson for his services to league administration, having been a committee member for 35 years; and Eric Barlow and Dave Joyner recognised for their contribution to the league’s coaching schemes and developing the game locally for over 40 years.
The league would like to thank all who attended and helped to make this such a good day. Particular thanks to Broughton and North Newington for use of the venue, Mrs Teas boutique catering for providing the delicious food, and long-standing league sponsor Hawkins Group for their assistance with logistics.