Charlotte Bardsley won the women’s title and Shayan Siraj the men’s as the second seeds held sway in the under-21 competitions at the Mark Bates Ltd National Championships today.
Bardsley defeated Mollie Patterson to take gold in the women’s event, with bronze medals going to Mari Baldwin and Denise Payet.
In the boys’, Siraj overcame Louis Price, with Rhys Davies and Joe Ferguson taking the bronzes.
The competition continues this afternoon with the men’s and women’s singles group stages, followed by the Mixed Doubles.
All photographs by Alan Man – view more here.
Watch the action on the show court live on Recast.
Click here to visit the event home page for full details of the tournament.
Under-21 Women’s Singles
Charlotte Bardsley won her first title at the Senior Nationals by beating Mollie Patterson to take the women’s U21 singles crown.
This was a second final in a row for Patterson, but the occasion didn’t faze Bardsley, who took the match 3-1 (11-6, 6-11, 11-7, 11-5).
The opening exchanges were very quick, with both players showing their talent. Bardsley gained a 7-3 lead thanks to some lightning backhands. However, Patterson soon settled and showed the elegance of her strokes time and again, with Bardsley having no answer. Set three saw an exceptional rally with Bardsley defending an onslaught of attacks, eventually losing out, but she took the set and, seeing the finish line, accelerated into a 10-5 lead, before taking the title on her first championship point.
After her triumph, Bardsley said: “I feel really proud of myself because I worked really hard, it’s a difficult tournament so I’m glad I got the result in the end.
“Against Jasmin (in the quarter-final), I was match-point down so I had nothing to lose. I tried to stay focused because I was 2-0 down in that match. I knew she was playing well and put me under a lot of pressure. I stayed calm and didn’t panic.
“I’d really like to do well in the women’s event, I’ve never reached the top four so that’s something I want to do. I just want to play well.”
Patterson got her own back on Denise Payet, who defeated her in the final two years ago. The third seed played an excellent match, winning the points at crucial moments to win it 3-1 and send the top seed out.
Bardsley managed to recover from her mammoth quarter-final to beat Mari Baldwin. After splitting the first two sets, Bardsley managed to negate Baldwin’s awkward playing style to win 3-1.
Bardsley and Jasmin Wong played out an epic quarter-final which ebbed and flowed until the end. Wong took the first two sets, catching Bardsley off her guard. However, the game soon turned with Bardsley taking the third and saving a match point in the fourth. It was one-way-traffic in the final set, with Bardsley taking it 11-3.
Payet, U21 winner in 2020, faced Tiana Dennison and won the first set comfortably. Dennison fought back with some excellent blocks to win the second set. However, Payet used her international experience to come through 3-1 in a clinical display.
After Erin Green’s heroics to get through her group, 2020 finalist Patterson stood in her way. Green was quick out of the blocks, with two matches won already, while Patterson was coming in cold. After Green went 7-3 up, Patterson nearly made a comeback, but Green edged the first set 12-10. The second set was almost completely reversed, with Patterson making the fast start, only to win it 11-9 in the end. The next two sets were similar, but Patterson took them 12-10, 11-9 to set up a semi-final with Payet.
Baldwin, Women’s Singles finalist in 2020, came through a tough match with Anaya Patel. The 17-year-old managed to block out Patel’s attacking stokes, winning 13-11 in the fourth set, setting up a semi-final with Bardsley.
In group one, sixth seed Wong was pushed all the way by Megan Jones. The 16-year-old went toe-to-toe with Wong, finding herself at 10-8 in the fifth set. However, Wong held her own and took it 14-12, on her third match point.
The group’s decider saw Wong face Rebecca Savage. Despite losing the first set she was able to fight off the determined Savage, winning 3-1 to face second seed Bardsley.
Even though she was second seed in group two, Dennison made light work of her two opponents. The 20-year-old beat Bethany Ellis and the group’s top seed, Scarlett Anders, in straight sets to face top seed Payet.
In group three, Green went through after a titanic battle with Millie Rogove. Green was struggling against her fellow left-hander in the opening exchanges, going two sets down. However, she dug in and managed to restore parity at 2-2. In the fifth, Green raced to a 6-0 lead. Rogove wasn’t beaten yet, and managed to claw it back to 6-5. After a nervy few points, Green eventually completed her comeback, winning 11-9 to set up a quarter-final meeting with Mollie Patterson.
Patel eased through group four with straight-set wins over Amy Marriott and Stefania Popa to set up a meeting with 2020’s women’s singles finalist Baldwin in the quarter-final.
U21 Men’s Singles
Shayan Siraj stamped his authority on the final, never allowing opponent Louis Price a foothold and holding the edge in the power exchanges as he went on claim a 3-0 (11-6, 11-7, 11-5) triumph.
Siraj said: “It feels really good to be champion, it was a tough tournament especially in the semi-final against Joe Ferguson. He played a good match and I managed to pull through 11-9 in the fifth.
“In the final, Louis has come on a lot, he has really improved since I last saw him. I felt great in the final and I’m very happy to win the title.
“It was a goal to win this title as I’ve been practising a lot more over the past few months.
“I took a bit of a break from table tennis when I finished Juniors, so I’m happy that the hard work had paid off.”
The semi-finals were of contrasting lengths. Price defeated Rhys Davies in three (6, 8, 9), while Siraj had to go the distance before shaking off a determined Joe Ferguson 3-2 (8-11, 11-8, 13-15, 11-2, 11-9), pressing the accelerator in the fourth and sustaining the momentum to build a healthy lead in the decider, which gave him a buffer to resist late Ferguson pressure.
Two seeds fell in the quarter-finals, including top seed Connor Green, who was cut down by Rhys Davies in a fluctuating five-game match (13-11, 3-11, 7-11, 11-6, 11-7).
The other was Josh Weatherby, beaten 3-1 (11-2, 10-12, 15-13, 12-10) by Joe Ferguson – until recently known as Joe Cope.
A shock appear on the cards as Siraj took on Naphat Boonyaprapa, eventually imposing his will in a close 3-1 (12-10, 10-12, 11-9, 11-5) result, while Price came through in three (8, 2, 10) against James Smith.
Group 1 went as expected with Ferguson topping the standings. He was pushed by both Toby Ellis, who won the first game in a close four-setter, and particularly by Joshua Bruce, who twice came from behind to level before Ferguson prevailed 3-2 (11-4, 8-11, 13-11, 10-12, 11-7).
Ellis’ 3-1 win over Bruce in another close match (9-11, 11-9, 11-9, 11-9) meant he took second spot.
Davies had to withstand a comeback by Ben Piggott to take top place in Group 2. Piggott’s timeout at 0-3 down in the third kick-started him, but Davies nipped the fightback in the fourth to win it 3-1 (11-7, 11-8, 8-11, 11-6). Both boys had earlier beaten Naphong Boonyaprapa in three.
Group 3 went the way of Smith, who held off both Aaron Geung and Ethan Walsh. The former took him the distance, Smith getting over the line 11-8 in the fifth after the lead had twice swapped hands. The final score was 3-2 (4-11, 11-3, 11-5, 9-11, 11-8).
It was four tight games against Walsh, Smith triumphing 15-13, 11-8, 7-11, 12-10. Walsh earlier beat Geung, who saved match points in the third before succumbing 3-1 (11-7, 11-7, 14-16, 11-8).
The older of the Boonyaprapa brothers, Naphat, was given tough matches by Olly Cornish and Krish Chotai before winning Group 4. Cornish pushed him all the way before Boonyaprapa took his first match 3-2 (14-12, 11-6, 9-11, 3-11, 11-8).
It wasn’t as close against Chotai, who still had his moments in a 3-1 (11-4, 9-11, 11-4, 12-10) defeat. It was also four games as Cornish beat Chotai 8-11, 11-5, 13-11, 11-9 for second place.