Impressive performances by a number of Junior players, led by Alesha Ellis-Austin (16), Evie Knaapen (13) and Harry Chivers (17) were the talking point of this year’s C&DTTL annual championships.

Ellis-Austin and Knaapen won through to the Women’s final to be played on ‘Finals Night’ and also captured the Women’s Doubles title, Knaapen (pictured above) was also one half of the Mixed Doubles winners while Chivers advanced to the Men’s semi-finals (also to be played on ‘Finals Night’) and won the Hard Bat event.

Other Juniors who made event finals over the four-day table tennis extravaganza while brushing shoulders with adult players were: James Donald (16) who is one half of the Men’s Doubles finalists (to be played on ‘Final’s Night’), Harrison Hill (12) – who won the division two singles, Jamie Elliott (17) who won the division three singles, the Mixed doubles and the Handicap singles, Cleon Fernandes (17) who won the division four singles, Adhuna Das (11) who was a very close runner up in the division five singles and Lucy Elliott (15) who was one half of the Handicap doubles winners.

Below is a brief day-by-day review covering each event played over the four tournament days.

Thursday January 4

Opening night at Anglia Ruskin University saw the young and not so young congregate in the hope of having their name etched alongside the great C&DTTL players from years gone by.

Top seed Charlie Ware won the Under-13 Singles event with a hard-fought 3-2 win over No 2 seed Joshua Freeman in the final. Ware and Freeman booked their meeting with semi-final wins against Adhuna Das (#4) and Grace Liu (#3) respectively. In the final itself, Ware recovered from 2-1 down and improve upon his runner-up position last year.

No 2 seed Sami Osman beat No 3 seed Joshua Freeman 3-1 in the final of the Under-15 Singles. In a repeat of their earlier U13 matchup, Freeman earned his place in the U15 final with a 3-2 win over Charlie Ware having fought back from 2-1 down.

Osman made it through to the final with a 3-1 win over Amir Chetitah (#5) though he was pushed hard by Ben Robinson in the quarter-final with progress not secured until the deciding game. Robinson had earlier taken Freeman to five games in the group stage.

Moving on from the youngest age categories, Ian Wall repeated his 2023 success in the Under-40 Singles with a 3-0 final win over Matthew Stringer (#3). Wall had earlier edged past #4 Saul Chivers in the semi-final while Stringer beat #2 Sam Lowman 3-1.

In the Under-40 Doubles, No 1 seeds Ian Wall & Matthew Stringer beat the defending champions and second seeds Dan Anderson & Sam Lowman 3-1 in the final. Wall and Stringer did well to overcome the stout resistance of Paul Sturton & Saul Chivers in the semi-final while Anderson & Lowman beat Wiktor Delimat & Alex Tkachuk 3-0. In the final itself Anderson & Lowman took the first game 11-8 but Wall and Stringer edged the next three 12-10, 11-9, 11-9.

On to the Veteran events and the defending Veteran Singles champion and No 1 Duncan Taylor booked his place at ‘Finals night’ with a 3-0 win over #6 Paul Davison. Davison earned his place in the last four with a tight 3-2 win over #4 Gary Young – winning the second game 17-15 and the decider 11-9. Taylor will be joined by #3 Kevin Read who overcame #2 Keith Adams 3-1 in his semi-final having earlier recovered from 2-1 down to beat Mark Allaway in the last 16.

In the doubles, top seeds Keith Adams & Kevin Read beat No 2 seeds Duncan Taylor & Paul Davison 3-0 to retain their Veteran doubles titles. Adams & Read were hard pushed in their semi-final against Andrew Dosher & Gary Young where they had to bounce back from a 2-1 deficit.

Friday January 5

Friday evening was time for the hugely successful ‘Bat & Chat’ to take centre stage with three events scheduled alongside the C&DTTL’s Mixed doubles event.

Barry Gould recovered from one game down to beat Fred Hodges in the final of the Bat & Chat Singles Championships. Hodges won the first game of their encounter 17-15 with Gould taking the second game by an equally close 14-12 scoreline. Gould then upped the intensity and took the final two games 11-6, 11-8. Hodges had reached the final with a fine 3-0 victory over Mike Pitt while Gould squeezed past Colin Base in their semi-final despite Base taking a 2-1 lead.

Georgina Riches won the plate final with a comprehensive 3-0 victory over Mark Day. Riches reached the final with a 3-1 win over Steve Keeble in the semi-final while Day beat Barbara Kirkby by the same scoreline to book his place.

Adam Pitt & Mark Day won the doubles with a 3-0 scoreline against the duo of Doug Blaber & Liz Hendle. Blaber & Hendle won the deciding game against Mike Pitt & Jack Kemp in the semi-final while eventual champions Adam Pitt & Mark Day beat Fred Hodges & Roger Hunt.

Third seeds Jamie Elliott & Evie Knaapen became 2024 Mixed Doubles champions thanks to a 3-1 victory over Ella Sach & Dan Anderson. While Elliott and Knaapen sailed through their three group games conceding just 30 points in total, Sach and Anderson did well to come through the five-game encounter with Alesha Ellis-Austin & Pav Srinivasmurthy.

Saturday January 6

With more than 12 hours of competitive action, the Saturday of each C&DTTL annual championships has to be one of the most special dates in the region’s table tennis calendar. With the Men’s, Women’s and Junior events getting under way as well as a host of other categories the atmosphere is always one to behold!

Alesha Ellis-Austin

Defending champion and No 2 seed Alesha Ellis-Austin retained her Junior Girls’ Singles title with an excellent come-from-behind victory over No 1 seed Evie Knaapen. Knaapen had taken a 2-0 lead in comprehensive fashion (11-6, 11-6) but Ellis-Austin took a tight third game 13-11 before winning the final two games by the equally close 11-9 and 12-10. Earlier, Ellis-Austin had to recover from 2-0 down against Adhuna Das in their group match.

Defending Junior Boys’ Singles champion Harry Chivers and sixth seed Harrison Hill will meet on ‘Finals night’ as Chivers overcame #5 Nikita Tkachuk 3-1 in their semi-final while sixth seed Hill edged past #2 James Donald over five games. Tkachuk and #4 Josh Bickles were involved in the longest game of the event which occurred in the third game of their quarter-final clash and saw Tkachuk go 2-1 up with a 21-19 score.

Harry Chivers

No 1 seeds Josh Bickles and Harry Chivers powered to a 3-0 victory over #3 Evie Knaapen and Harrison Hill in the Junior Doubles final. Bickles and Chivers came through the earlier knockout rounds without dropping a game while Knaapen and Hill fought back from 2-0 down to beat #2 Aidan Lees & James Donald in the semi-final.

The climax of the Women’s Singles between second seed Evie Knaapen and fourth seed Alesha Ellis-Austin will be decided next Monday at ‘Finals Night’. Knaapen reached the final with a 3-0 win over Adhuna Das while Ellis-Austin was involved in a seesaw five-game battle with Frances Hutt which she secured 12-10 in the decider. Hutt had a very impressive singles event; she secured victories over third seed Andrea Alleyne as well as defending champion / No 1 seed Dawn Baldry.

Alesha Ellis-Austin and Evie Knaapen were crowned Women’s Doubles champions with a 3-0 victory over Frances Hutt and Lucy Elliott. Ellis-Austin and Knaapen overcame Adhuna Das and Shweta Lees in the semi-final while Hutt and Elliott earned their final spot with a 3-2 win against third seeds Andrea Alleyne and Ella Sach. Hutt and Elliott had earlier beaten the number one seeds Dawn Baldry and Shirley Carroll in the quarter finals – also via a 3-2 scoreline.

‘Finals night’ will see the last four competitors standing in the Men’s Singles event facing off. The fab four hunting down the title will be representing different C&DTTL clubs and are: #17 Harry Chivers (Chelmsford), #7 Matthew Mulley (Old Chelmsfordians), #11 Paul Davison (Danbury) and #2 Duncan Taylor (Writtle).

Chivers recovered from a 3-2 group loss at the hands of Aidan Lees to go on to beat #5 Mark Mulley (3-1) in the last 16 and defending champion / No 1 seed Keith Adams (3-0) in the quarter-finals. Matthew Mulley’s path to the final included a win over Saul Chivers (3-0) and #12 Eric Green (3-0), while Davison overcame #3 Kevin Read (3-2) in the last 16 and Keiran Lally (3-1) in the last eight.

Previous winner and second seed Duncan Taylor advanced to the semi-finals with wins over Andrew Dosher (3-2, including 15-13 in the decider) at the last 16 stage and Lee McHugh (3-1) in the quarter-final.

Outstanding performances by Junior players included James Donald beating #13 Bruce Kettle 3-1 in the last 32 before losing 3-2 to Lally, Jamie Elliott winning 3-0 against Sanjay Saptarshi, Nikita Tkachuk taking eventual semi-finalist Davison to five games, Omar Wasi pushing #12 Eric Green to five games, and Aidan Lees winning in five games against #8 Kaung Htet Paing.

Top seeds Paul Davison & James Donald earned their place in the Men’s Doubles final (to be played at ‘Finals night’) with a three game semi-final win over Keith Adams & Sanjay Saptarshi. Davison & Donald had to recover from 2-1 down in their last 16 clash with Ian Wall & Matthew Stringer before beating Neil Freeman & Victor Chan in the quarter-final.

Their opponents for the final will be #3 Mark and Matthew Mulley who edged an exciting semi-final against #2 Duncan Taylor & Kevin Read. Taylor & Read had taken an early 2-0 lead (11-7, 11-5) before the Mulley brothers stormed back 11-9, 11-3 and took a tense decider 14-12.

#1 Keith Adams successfully defended his Over-50s title with a 3-1 victory over fourth seed Eric Green in the final. Adams had to recover from a 2-0 deficit in his semi-final with #5 Bruce Kettle, while Green won in four games against #2 Gary Young. James Hicks produced a fine 3-2 win over #6 Babul Mcleod in the last 16 before Adams dashed his hopes in the following round.

Top seed Bruce Kettle repeated his Over-60s success last year with a 3-1 win over #3 Eric Green in the final. Green had fought back from 2-1 down against #4 Babul McLeod in the semi-final to book his place in the final while Kettle beat Ian Whiteside.

The unseeded Steve Buer showed great resilience as he stormed to the Over-70s title. Buer managed to progress to the knockouts despite a group stage loss at the hands of David Parker, he later recovered from 2-1 down to beat Dave Moles in the quarter final before winning 13-11 in the deciding game of his semi-final clash with Denis Crapnell. Buer rallied from a game down in the final against defending champion and No 1 seed Ian Whiteside who had himself experienced a loss in his group – at the hands of Denis Crapnell.

The Hard Bat SIngles threw up some interesting matchups throughout with Harry Chivers ultimately coming out on top securing a 15-11, 15-11 victory over Lee McHugh in the final. Chivers had beaten his brother Saul in the last 16 (15-12, 12-15, 15-12) before bettering Aidan Lees and then Gary Young. McHugh beat Bruce Kettle (11-15, 15-7, 15-5) in the last eight before booking his final appearance with a 2-1 victory over Ian Wall (14-15, 15-6, 15-14). Wall had beaten Matthew Mulley 10-15, 15-10, 15-10 in the quarter-finals and Kettle had edged past James Donald 9-15, 15-12, 15-14 in the last 16.

Sunday January 7

Sixth seed Harrison Hill recovered from a slow start to his Division Two Singles campaign to win the final 3-0 against #3 Chris Buer. Hill lost his first group game 3-1 against Trevor Collin before recovering from 2-1 down to beat Eamonn Hall and advance to the knockout stages. Buer was also well tested in his group by Jamie Elliott who took the No 3 seed to five games – Elliott later raced into a 2-0 lead against top seed Sanjay Saptarshi in their last 16 clash before Saptarshi advanced. Omar Wasi then pushed Saptarshi close in their quarter-final matchup before Hill beat Saptarshi 3-1 in the last four. Buer took out Hill-conqueror Collin in the quarter-final before overcoming Richard Storey 3-1 in their semi-final.

Fifth seed Jamie Elliott was crowned Division Three Singles champion following a tight 3-2 final victory over Dave Moles. Elliott recovered from the disappointment of losing the opening two games (10-12, 11-13) to take the next three games 13-11, 11-7, 12-10. In the semi-finals, Elliott overcame #1 Ian Whiteside in four games while Moles was taken the distance by #6 Evie Knaapen. Moles had been taken to five games by Felix Reeve in the previous round – Reeve had taken out the No 2 seed Ryan Pitt in the last 16.

Third seed Cleon Fernandes beat fifth seed Alex Ware in five games to become Division Four Singles champion – both players improved on their 2023 performance where they were losing semi-finalists. Fernandes beat #7 Alex Wilson over four games in their semi-final while Ware beat #4 Frances Hutt in three. Wilson had earlier beaten #2 Will Goodchild over five games in the quarter-finals while Ware beat #1 Colin Blore at the same stage.

Top seed Richard Pond won an extremely close final against Adhuna Das to be crowned Division Five SIngles champion. Das impressed enroute to the final with three-game wins against Francesca Hart, Ken Wilding and #3 James Grindlay while Pond squeezed past Shengbing Zhu over five games and #4 Davenport in four. Anglia Ruskin players #5 Kelvin Edeh and #6 Douglas Bawuah were both knocked out at the quarter-final stage over five games with Edeh seeing a two-game lead disappear against Davenport while Bawuah let a 2-1 lead slip against Grindlay.

Jamie Elliott (65) became the 2024 C&DTTL Handicap Singles champion with a final victory over Peter Davenport (36). With tables, chairs and barriers being packed away in the hall, Elliott (-9) held his concentration against seasoned veteran Davenport (+9) to secure the title with a 21-15 scoreline. Davenport (+10) had seen off Jamie Hicks (-10) 21-14 in the semi-final while Elliott (-6) edged through 22-20 against Alex Ware (+6).

The Handicap Doubles final saw an intriguing matchup as siblings Lucy and Jamie Elliott faced off on opposite sides of the table. Jamie, who was partnered with Rob Burton (-3) fell short by the narrowest of margins as Lucy and her partner Saul Chivers (+3) took the glory in a 23-21 scoreline. Jamie Elliott & Burton (-7) had overcome Ella Sach & Alesha Ellis-Austin (+3) in the semi-final while Lucy Elliott and Chivers (-2) beat Will Goodchild & Felix Reeve (+1).