Maxim Stevens was crowned Junior Boys champion and Charlotte Bardsley took the girls’ title at the Mark Bates Ltd Cadet & Junior National Championships at the University of Warwick today.
Despite the loss of almost half the field in the boys’ competition, including most of the seeds, there were plenty of absorbing matches as the remaining players sensed their opportunity to shine.
And it was Stevens who took the gold, defeating Toby Ellis in the final. Naphong Boonyaprapa and Joshua Bruce were the bronze medallists.
The girls’ trophy went to top seed Bardsley, who defeated second seed Mollie Patterson to lift the trophy for a second time. Bronze medals went to eighth seed Erin Green and the 19th-ranked player in the list, Megan Jones – who was one point away from reaching the final.
Photos by Alan Man – see more on our Flickr page.
Click here to check the full results from today. Tomorrow sees the Cadet competitions, starting with the boys from 9am.
If you heard a knocking sound in the venue this morning, it was opportunity. With five of the top eight seeds withdrawing due to covid isolation protocols, and the total field down to 19, it meant the lower-ranked players had a real chance to go deep into the competition.
That was apparent in the last 16 as top seed Rhys Davies – who had originally been No 3 – was sent packing by Nahom Goitom in five sets, Goitom coming from behind to take it 11-5, 8-11, 7-11, 11-6, 11-8.
Fourth seed Robert Pelc was also eliminated, going out in three straight (9, 4, 9) at the hands of Harry Watson. It was three sets in all other matches bar one, Maxim Stevens defeating Joseph Hunter in four.
The other two seeds fell in the quarter-finals, No 3 Tom Rayner exiting in three straight (5, 7, 8) to Joshua Bruce from the Fusion club in London and No 2 Olly Cornish going out to Stevens, who finished strongly to claim a 3-2 (10-12, 11-8, 11-4, 7-11, 11-6) win.
Naphong Boonyaprapa and Toby Ellis completed the semi-final line-ups, the former coming through 3-0 (11-5, 11-5, 13-11) against Harry Watson and the latter 3-1 (11-6, 6-11, 11-7, 11-9) against Goitom.
And so to the semi-finals, which saw Ellis take on Boonyaprapa and Stevens face Bruce. For the record, from the original seeding list that was No 18 vs No 16 and No 10 vs No 14.
It was the lowest and highest-ranking of those who went through to compete for the gold – Stevens in three (7, 1, 10) and Ellis in four (6, -11, 7, 8) – the latter a fine match characterised by long, hard-hitting rallies.
And Stevens it was who sealed the title, asserting his authority with a blazing run of points in the third, and again in the fourth, after the first two sets had been shared. The final score was 3-1 (11-8, 6-11, 11-2, 11-5) in the Nottingham player’s favour.
A quick word with our Mark Bates Ltd Junior National Champion and a huge congratulations to … Maxim Stevens!! 🏓🥇 pic.twitter.com/tjFRMUe9t9
— Table Tennis England (@TableTennisENG) July 10, 2021
Naphong Boonyaprapa won Group 4 from the No 2 position, winning all four of his matches including beating top-ranked Adam Webster 3-1 (9, -9, 8, 8). He was tested by the No 4, Joseph Hunter, before prevailing 3-2 (9-11, 11-9, 11-13, 11-9, 11-5).
Webster finished second, despite a further defeat – 3-2 (7-11, 11-6, 11-9, 4-11, 11-8) to the lowest ranked player, Dan Hearne-Potton.
That victory was not enough to get Hearne-Potton out of the group and it was Hunter who bagged the third qualifying spot ahead of third-ranked Callum McRae, thanks to a 3-0 (6, 9, 8) win.
Toby Ellis, No 2 in Group 2, defeated the top-ranked player Jie Fu Tham in five to win the group. He came from 2-1 down to triumph 9-11, 11-7, 5-11, 11-8, 11-5).
Tham was also taken to five by Henry-Maric-Murray but won that one, also coming from behind to take it 11-7, 9-11, 10-12, 11-9, 11-7).
Third-ranked Maric-Murray was edged out in his tie against fourth-ranked Jacob Evans as well, 11-9 in a decider after a fine comeback from 2-0 down. The final score was 3-2 (11-4, 11-9, 5-11, 4-11, 11-9) in Evans’ favour, meaning he went through in third place and Maric-Murray went out.
The other two groups featured only three players due to further withdrawals this morning, meaning all three players went through to the last 16.
Group 3 went according to ranking. Joshua Bruce topped the group but was pushed to five by third-ranked Jack Rogers before winning 3-2 (8-11, 11-4, 11-6, 4-11, 11-6). Bruce defeated Nahom Goitom in four and Goitom beat Rogers, also in four.
There was a similar situation in Group 1. Maxim Stevens won the group and second was decided by a five-setter, which saw Harry Watson defeat Ollie Maric-Murray 3-11, 11-9, 11-8, 6-11, 11-7).
The top two seeds met in the final, as expected, but there were plenty of twists, turns and stunning comebacks along the way before No 1 Charlotte Bardsley overcame second seed Mollie Patterson to take the gold medal.
It was 3-0 in the final – though never straightforward – as Bardsley answered all the questions asked of her by Patterson to take it 8, 8, 9.
Patterson had faced a match point in her semi-final before finally ending a remarkable run by Megan Jones, the 19th-ranked player in the tournament who was not even ‘meant’ to get out of the group stage and yet ended with a bronze medal.
Jones took a 2-0 lead but Patterson fought back to level, before a dramatic deciding set which saw Jones lead 6-4, Patterson hit back to go 9-6 in front and then Jones take four points on the spin to bring up a match point. She wasn’t far off taking it, narrowly missing the back edge, and it was Patterson who engineered – and took the next chance.
By contrast, Bardsley’s semi-final was done in three as she had too much in her all-round game for Erin Green, the Nottingham girl seen off 5, 6, 7.
Jones caused a significant upset in the quarter-finals, defeating third seed Jasmin Wong in five – despite what appeared to be a momentum shift in Wong’s favour in the fourth game. Jones hit back, though, to seal it 3-2 (11-9, 10-12, 11-7, 2-11, 11-9).
Patterson had to dig deep to avoid a similar fate as she trailed 2-0 to Amy Marriott. Once she had pulled back a close third game, the second seed showed her class to complete the turnaround 3-2 (7-11, 9-11, 11-9, 11-1, 11-7).
Bardsley was given a fight by fifth seed Anaya Patel, who came close to taking it into a decider before Bardsley clinched her victory 3-1 (11-5, 6-11, 11-7, 12-10).
The other quarter was a less headline-grabbing 3-0 margin for Green over Amillia Baker (1, 8, 8).
Two seeds departed in the last 16 – No 6 Millie Rogove defeated by Jones in three close games (9, 8, 9) and No 7 Gemma Kerr sunk by Marriott in a remarkable turnaround as the South Yorkshire player won 3-2 (2-11, 6-11, 11-7, 11-5, 11-1).
Congratulations to the Mark Bates Ltd Junior Girls’ National Champion, Charlotte Bardsley! 👏 🏆
Here’s what the champion had to say! pic.twitter.com/XSqjyRD7fe
— Table Tennis England (@TableTennisENG) July 10, 2021
Rankings went out of the window in Group 3 as third-ranked Megan Jones and the sixth-ranked Bethany Ellis tore to the top of the standings.
Ellis started with victory over top-ranked Lois Perryman by a 3-1 (7-11, 11-9, 11-7, 11-8) margin and then saw off a comeback by fourth ranked Sophie Rinnhofer to win 3-2 (11-7, 11-5, 7-11, 9-11, 11-9). Her run continued with a 3-2 victory over second-ranked Emily Haskell (11-7, 11-4, 8-11, 9-11, 12-10), saving two match points on the way and a 3-0 margin against fifth-ranked Ella Barnard.
Jones, meanwhile, won her first four matches as well, including beating Perryman from 2-1 down, the final score 3-2 (9-11, 11-7, 8-11, 11-7, 14-12), with Perryman having a match point at 12-11.
The final round say Jones and Ellis meet to decide the group winner, and it was Jones who took the top spot thanks to a 3-1 (11-8, 11-9, 7-11, 11-6) victory, with Ellis going through for a crack at top seed Charlotte Bardsley in the last 16.
Haskell had two remarkable matches, coming from 2-0 down to beat fifth-ranked Ella Barnard 3-2 (6-11, 9-11, 11-6, 11-7, 11-7), but later finishing on the wrong end of a similar comeback by Rinnhofer, who prevailed 9-11, 13-15, 11-7, 11-9, 11-8.
The other groups were no so topsy-turvy, but had their share of drama.
Group 2 saw the third-ranked player Scarlett Anders take top spot with a perfect record across the five matches, including a 3-1 (11-6, 11-4, 11-13, 11-4) win over No 2 Lucy Vernon and a three-straight result against the top player in the group, Samadhi Udamulla (7, 8, 11).
Fifth-ranked Stefania Popa beat Vernon 3-2 (7-11, 10-12, 12-10, 11-7, 11-8), and even though Vernon came from 2-1 down to beat Lauren Loosemore (No 4) 3-2 (11-8, 8-11, 10-12, 12-10, 11-9), it was not enough to see her go through. Instead, Udamulla took the second spot behind Anders.
Amy Marriott topped group 1, as expected, with maximum points, but there was a three-way countback to decide who went through as runner-up, with Scarlett O’Neil, Amillia Baker and Federica Bonato all on two wins apiece.
It was Baker who got the mathematical verdict – and will have been grateful for her 3-2 victory over the group’s fifth player, Jodie Morris, against whom she came from 2-0 down to beat 3-2 (8-11, 10-12, 11-2, 12-10, 12-10).
There was also a cracker in the final round of matches, which went with ranking as Bonato edged Morris 3-2 (15-17, 11-8, 7-11, 11-5, 11-9).
In Group 4, the No 2 and No 4 players (Helena Dicken and Anna Green) withdrew. New No 2 Rebecca Savage held off the lowest-ranked player Eve Witterick 3-2 (4-11, 9-11, 11-8, 11-7, 16-14), saving two match points, and that was the key result to take her through behind top-ranked Kirsty Maull.