After twice losing in the semi-finals and twice being a beaten finalist, Sam Hume finally fulfilled his destiny by becoming Clacton’s table tennis king.
In the Clacton & District League’s 2022 Closed Championships held last weekend at the Clacton Coastal Academy Sports Hall, 21- year-old Sam took the Men’s Singles title for the first time, defeating reigning champion James Denyer 3-1 (11-9, 8-11, 11-8, 12-10) in the final.
In a match high in quality and tension between two of the League’s most popular home-grown talents, Hume’s consistent attacking and ability to return won the day against the equally gifted Denyer, a player able to produce genuinely unconventional winning shots.
Crucially, Hume got off to good start in three of the four sets and, despite Denyer’s valiant efforts and determination to retain his title, it was Hume (pictured above, photo by Roger Hance) who prevailed to become a worthy champion of the League.
Both players had shown their superiority over the rest of the field, Hume defeating class opposition in Mel Rampton and former champions Greg Green and Gary Young in the knockout rounds, with only the first of those matches extended to a fourth set.
Denyer had reached the final by beating Adam Cuthbert and, in the quarter-finals, Paul Hume 3-1 (17-15, 12-10, 9-11, 11-5), before eliminating Daniel Young in a potential upset match 3-1 (11-6, 11-8, 9-11, 11-3), a second successive semi-final defeat for Young in this event.
An honourable mention should go to 18-year-old Ben Bryden. In his first season of League table tennis, he qualified for the knockout stage by finishing second in his group and gave Felipe Rodriguez a fright in Round One before Rodriguez took it 3-1 (11-6, 11-3, 7-11, 12-10).
There was more success for the Hume family in the Men’s Doubles where Sam Hume and Paul Hume reprised their success of 2017, this time defeating Kevin Gowlett and Gary Young in another high-quality final.
Gowlett and Young got off to a flying start and, for an instant, it seemed as though a shock might be on the cards. But the Hume brothers moved neatly into gear and, with clockwork precision applied the pressure to take the title 3-1 (7-11, 11-7, 11-9, 11-7).
The Humes had eased their way to the final with something to spare but Gowlett and Young had been forced to work hard for their place, beating Adam Cuthbert and Liam Harris in a combative five-setter, before defeating the dangerous Mel Rampton/Felipe Rodriguez combination, and then eliminating second seeds James Denyer and Greg Green 3-1 (11-3, 11-9, 4-11, 11-8) in their semi-final.
Gracie Edwards was always the hot favourite to take the honours in the Ladies’ Singles and the talented 20-year-old did the business with a 3-0(11-5, 11-8, 11-6) victory over Debra Found. And whilst she was always the likely winner, her older opponent displayed an array of attacking shots and returns in what was by no means a one-sided final. It was a fifth Ladies’ Singles title for Edwards.
There was a fifth appearance in a Ladies’ Doubles final for Edwards where, twice before she’d been a winner and twice before a runner-up. This year, together with her new partner Debra Found, she made no mistake, the pair taking the title with a 3-0(11-1, 11-2, 11-7) victory over Sharon Gowlett and Kayley Rodriguez. Gowlett and Rodriguez were obvious second favourites and got off to an understandably nervous start but, as they got into the match, they grew in confidence and showed more of their true ability. The win gave Found her first Closed title.
Sam Hume and Gracie Edwards each picked up their hat-trick of titles when, together in the Mixed Doubles, they defeated surprise finalists Mark Gale and Debra Found 3-0 (11-4, 15-13, 11-6). The lower-ranked Gale and Found, very much a scratch pairing, showed remarkable resilience and came within a whisker of taking the second set and creating a possible upset. But it was not to be, Sam and Gracie taking control of the match and with it the title, a first Mixed Doubles title for Hume and a third for Edwards.
Gale and Found, both much-improved players this season, had enjoyed an excellent run in the event, defeating Kevin and Sharon Gowlett 3-1 (9-11, 14-12, 12-10, 11-6), and Felipe and Kayley Rodriguez 3-1 (9-11, 11-7, 11-9, 11-7) to make their way to the final.
And, as a result of her efforts in these events and for her all-round performance over the two days of the Championships, Debra Found was awarded the Victor Trophy.
In the Veterans’ Singles, top seed Gary Young, a winner of this event in 2017 and 2018, notched up his own personal hat-trick of victories, recovering from a shaky start to win 3-2 (7-11, 4-11, 11-7, 11-5, 11-5) against the always-competitive Mel Rampton.
No 2 seed, Kevin James, failed to make it to the final, beaten in round three 3-2 (11-8, 9-11, 11-3, 5-11, 11-2) by his Walton team-mate Derek Willis – who earlier had defeated his other Walton team-mate, Colin Dearman, in five (11-8, 15-13, 11-3, 6-11, 11-9).
Gavin Price was aiming to make it three titles in a row in the Super-Veterans’ Singles but he was denied by Kevin James who took the final victory 3-0 (11-8, 11-8, 13-11) for his first Super-Vets success.
Derek Willis was again in good form in this event and had given Price a run for his money in round two before the reigning champion had triumphed 3-2 (11-9, 4-11, 11-3, 10-12, 11-5).
Kevin James was also a finalist in the Restricted Singles but the final encounter turned out to be a case of youth getting the better of experience, with 25-year-old Adam Cuthbert capping an excellent League season by taking his first Championship trophy, defeating James 3-1 (11-7, 11-6, 7-11, 11-6).
Mel Rampton and Colin Dearman were the losing semi-finalists whilst John Owen had given Kevin James a scare in round two before James took it 3-2 (2-11, 20-22, 12-10, 11-5, 11-8).
After being runner-up three times in the last three outings of the Junior Singles, Daniel Young had a very special reason for wanting to take the trophy this year – and this he did in fine style with a 3-0 (15-13, 11-6, 12-10) win over another talented junior, Liam Harris.
Sam Plummer and Ben Bryden were the losing semi-finalists and, along with Joe Plummer and Alex Marsh, were the four winners of their Groups.
Top seeds Daniel Young and Liam Harris were heavy odds-on favourites to retain their Junior Doubles title. And they duly did so but not without being given a tough fight by Ben Bryden and Alex Marsh, neither of whom seemed overawed by the occasion. Despite the spirited performance of their opponents, Young and Harris took the title 3-0 (12-10, 11-6, 11-7).
Bryden and Marsh had earned their final place by edging out another talented pair, brothers Sam and Joe Plummer, 3-2 (11-5, 11-8, 7-11, 10-12, 11-7) in a quality semi-final between four very promising players.
Joe Plummer is the first winner of the Cadet Singles, a brand-new event for the Championships this year. The No 2 seed defeated top seed Ellianna Burridge 3-2 (5-11, 3-11, 13-11, 11-6, 11-5) in another fine match between players of contrasting styles, Plummer recovering from a nervous start to produce consistent winning attacks.
Burridge had enjoyed perhaps too easy a path to the final where, in her three matches, she conceded a miserly total of just 30 points!
By contrast, Plummer had endured a tough semi-final against Alex Marsh before getting through 3-2 (7-11, 11-6, 11-5, 8-11, 11-9). Coincidentally, the players had also met earlier in a Division Three Singles match where Marsh had beaten Plummer 3-2 (11-13, 11-9, 11-4, 5-11, 12-10) in an equally hard-fought encounter.
For the first time since 1994, there was a Junior Girls’ Singles event and 13-year-old Ellianna Burridge, another young player who’s enjoyed a top-rate first League season, became the seventh different player in the history of the event to take the title, in the final beating Ruby Gallagher 3-0 (11-3, 11-2, 11-6).
Both finalists showed great promise for the future, as did the other two competitors, Lucy Carvell and Evie Sines who’d enjoyed an excellent personal battle in their group match, Lucy winning 3-2 (7-11, 11-6, 11-4, 7-11, 11-6).
In the Division Two Singles John Owen created a record which may be unlikely ever to be beaten, taking the trophy for a second time, a full 48 years after winning it for the first time when, in the inaugural running of the event in 1974, the 20-year-old Owen had defeated John Pavitt.
This year, after a comfortable run to the final, No 2 seed Owen had to use all his wile and guile to defeat the dogged Russell Hillier 3-2 (6-11, 11-7, 11-9, 5-11, 11-4).
It was the third close five-setter Hillier had played in the event, in round two, beating the dangerous Mark Salter 3-2 (8-11, 11-8, 7-11, 11-9, 11-9) and then, in the semi-finals, toppling No 1 seed Daryl Lott 3-2 (11-5, 3-11, 11-6, 9-11, 12-10).
Two newcomers to the League, Clive Allenby and Neil Chegwidden, were top seeds in the Division Three Singles and they duly reached the final where, in a match where both players displayed a commendable abundance of grit and determination, Allenby came out on top 3-1 (11-13, 11-9, 11-8, 11-8).
Ellianna Burridge and Ben Bryden were the beaten semi-finalists, Allenby having to be at his best to defeat Burridge 3-0 (11-9, 11-8, 11-8) whilst Chegwidden was given an even sterner test by Bryden before scraping home 3-2 (7-11, 11-9, 3-11, 11-8, 11-9).
The Championships, which attracted a total entry of 71 players, were sponsored by The Survey Initiative and the League is most grateful to Gary Cattermole for his generous sponsorship.
Thanks also go to Kevin James, Phil Smith and Jenny Higgins for their sponsorship of individual events, and to Mark Salter who provided individual commemorative medals for each of the juniors and cadets who took part.
Men’s Singles (sponsored by Phil Smith): S Hume beat J Denyer 3-1 (11-9, 8-11, 11-8, 12-10)
Ladies’ Singles: G Edwards beat D Found 3-0 (11-5, 11-8, 11-6)
Men’s Doubles: P Hume/S Hume beat K Gowlett/G Young 3-1 (7-11, 11-7, 11-9, 11-7)
Ladies’ Doubles: G Edwards/D Found beat S Gowlett/K Rodriguez 3-0 (11-1, 11-2, 11-7)
Mixed Doubles: S Hume/G Edwards beat M Gale/D Found 3-0 (11-4, 15-13, 11-6)
Veterans’ Singles (sponsored by Kevin James): G Young beat M Rampton 3-2 (7-11, 4-11, 11-7, 11-5, 11-5)
Super-Veterans’ Singles: K James beat G Price 3-0 (11-8, 11-8, 13-11)
Junior Boys’ Singles (sponsored by Jenny Higgins): D Young beat L Harris 15-13, 11-6, 12-10)
Junior Doubles: L Harris/D Young beat B Bryden/A Marsh 3-0 (12-10, 11-6, 11-7)
Junior Girls’ Singles: E Burridge beat R Gallagher 3-0 (11-3, 11-2, 11-6)
Cadet Singles: J Plummer beat E Burridge 3-2 (5-11, 3-11, 13-11, 11-6, 11-5)
Division Two Singles: J Owen beat R Hillier 3-2 (6-11, 11-7, 11-9, 5-11, 11-4)
Division Three Singles: C Allenby beat N Chegwidden 3-1 (13-11, 9-11, 11-8, 11-8)
Restricted Singles: A Cuthbert beat K James 3-1 (11-7, 11-6, 7-11, 11-6)
Victor Trophy: D Found