Some new and some not so new faces triumphed at the opening phase of the Braintree Table Tennis League individual events held at Earls Colne on Saturday and Sunday.
Amelie Lucas, James Howard, Zach Moore and the Jack Dearsley/Charles Calisin combination are the new names on the juniors’ trophies.
Dearsley was the holder of the junior doubles trophy, won last year with Elliot Game, but for the others, it was their first success.
Lucas, daughter of Paul Lucas, about whom more later, won the girls’ singles with victories over both Chloe and Amelie Jones in the three-girl round robin event.
Howard took the cadets’ singles with a win in the final over Tom Verrier 3-0 (11-9, 11-6, 11-4), while Moore won the under-11 title with Ethan Collins in second place in the round-robin.
Dearsley and Calisin took home the junior doubles after a 3-0 (11-6, 14-12, 11-5) win in the final over George Golbourn and Verrier.
Dearsley also became the new junior boys’ singles champion although he was pushed hard by Calisin in the final before winning 3-1 (5-11, 11-8, 11-6, 15-13).
There were first-time winners also in the division 2 singles, division 3 singles, handicap singles and, handicap doubles with some more familiar names on the top step in the over 50s singles and veterans’ doubles.
Rev Matthews is the new division 2 singles champion after a close battle with Adi Kamma, where he came from behind to win 3-2 (11-8, 8-11, 5-11, 11-9, 11-8).
Oliver Hicks, unbeaten all season in division three, surprised no one by winning the singles competition for that division with a final victory over Jamie Brooks 3-0 (11-3, 11-6, 11-5).
Hicks and Brooks teamed up to win the handicap doubles with a win in the final over Jill Canning and Scott Whiteside (on +8) 21-16, 21-16 while Alex Morgan took the handicap singles, beating Chris Krelle (+5) 21-14, 21-15 in the final.
And the familiar names? Ken Lewis, who would qualify for an over-70s event, won the over-50s version with a 3-1 (10-12, 11-7, 13-11, 11-8) win over Adam Buxton while the veterans’ doubles went to Buxton and Paul Davison, the winners in 2019, beating Karl Baldwin and Lewis 3-1 (10-12, 11-7, 11-3, 11-8).
The remaining events will be decided at finals night at the Earls Colne Recreation Centre on Friday (7.00) and again there is a mixture of the old and new.
The men’s singles was hit by the late withdrawal of top seed and holder Michael Andrews, who had unexpected work commitments, but the other anticipated semi-finalists, Paul Davison, Lee McHugh and Paul Lucas all made their way safely through to the last four.
Joining them will be Alistair Hill, in his first finals night appearance. He came past Jamie Brooks and Ian Whiteside after winning his group.
Andrews’ absence also affected the men’s doubles where he and Davison were the No 1 seeds. Davison instead paired up with Ryan Pitt but they suffered a surprise defeat in the semi-final against Victor Chan and Keith Martin 3-0 (11-9, 17-15, 11-6).
They will face Lucas and McHugh, who had a 3-1 (11-9, 11-5, 5-11, 11-9) win over Baldwin and Lewis in the semi-final.
Davison and Lucas, who could meet in the men’s singles final, will face each other in the veterans’ singles after semi-final victories over Lewis and John Cleasby respectively.
Hopes of including a ladies’ doubles for the first time since 2006 were thwarted when Davina Brazier had to pull out, but finals night will include a ladies’ singles and a mixed doubles for the first time since 2019 and both events feature a clutch of new names.
Jill Canning faces Kath Little in the final of the singles event while in the mixed doubles Little and Jim Davy will face Lindsey Dodd and Jamie Brooks
No 1 seed Karl Baldwin made things hard for himself in the restricted singles. He lost to Adi Kamma in his group, which meant he had to face No.2 seed Sean Clift in the next round. After a see-saw battle he edged through at 11-9 in the fifth game.
He made his way through to the final where, ironically, he will face Kamma again.
The division one singles will be between Ken Lewis and Ashley Skeggs, who beat Zach Harrington and Alistair Hill respectively in their semi-finals.