Tom Jarvis took his first Men’s Singles title and Maria Tsaptsinos her second Women’s Singles as the Mark Bates Ltd National Championships came to a pulsating conclusion at the David Ross Sports Village in Nottingham.
Tom Jarvis pulled off a stunning result to shock Sam Walker and win an emotional first Men’s Singles title at the Mark Bates Ltd National Championships.
It was a tough loss for Walker, who has now lost all four finals he has played in but Jarvis, using a hexagonal bat, deserved his triumph.
The quality from both players was exceptional and the game ebbed and flowed right to the end.
Walker continued his amazing form from the semi-final to take the first set 11-3. He didn’t give Jarvis any opportunities with an almost perfect game. The precision and power of his strokes had the crowd entertained throughout.
However, Jarvis got his act together to level the match in the second set. His shots were much more precise and saw him get a 9-4 lead, but Walker had other ideas. He got it back to 9-8 before Jarvis took a timeout. An exceptional rally followed with both putting everything into their shots with supreme pace and spin. Jarvis won the point and the set followed 11-8.
The second seed kept this going in the third set to take the lead. It was close throughout with several quick, intense rallies with both players using every ounce of energy in their shots. A few key errors from Walker and a fortunate edge shot gave Jarvis the set, 11-8.
Jarvis was storming ahead, winning the fourth to put him one away from a maiden senior singles title. A mixture of sheer quality and good fortune saw Jarvis race to the set 11-4.
Walker was getting frustrated at this point and his shoulders were starting to drop, fearing the match was getting away from him. But the fifth set saw Walker regain his composure, cutting the errors out of his game.
He raced to a 7-0 lead and didn’t slack off, taking it 11-3. However, it was Jarvis who took the next set and the title. Despite going 5-0 down, he didn’t lose heart and pulled off some extraordinary shots to claw it back. A few errors from Walker found Jarvis at 10-6 up.
He took it at the first time of asking, with Walker smashing his bat onto the ground. A truly fantastic final, the crowd were thoroughly entertained throughout. The final score was 3-11, 11-8, 11-8, 11-4, 3-11, 11-6.
Jarvis was almost lost for words after the final. He said: “I knew I could win, but I didn’t get the start I wanted. In the end, I did alright!”
“At the timeout, I just wanted to talk to my dad, he knows nothing about table tennis! He said ‘come on son, you can do it’, so I did. I want to thank my mum and dad who have been here, I couldn’t do it without them.”
Walker breezed past Andrew Baggaley in the first men’s semi-final of the day.
The top seed flew out of the blocks and took the first set 11-1. Some of Walker’s backhands were Pitchford-like in their speed and power and Baggaley had no answer. The second set followed a similar pattern as Walker kept imposing himself on every rally, with Baggaley unable to counter. From 3-4 down, Walker won eight points in a row to take the set.
Walker kept his foot on the accelerator to take the third set 11-6, at one point nearly tripping over and still winning the point. The 26-year-old continued to dominate in the fourth set with some outstanding shots along the way. The final score, 11-1, 11-4, 11-6, 11-6.
Jarvis reached his first Men’s Singles final to set up a meeting with Walker, with a highly contested win over David McBeath.
McBeath took the opening set thanks to some excellent serves and forehands. Jarvis, the second seed, got frustrated towards the end, losing it 11-7. Jarvis started to find his groove in the second set with some massive forehands. The speed of some of the rallies was incredible to behold, with Jarvis taking it 11-8.
Jarvis edged the third set, though McBeath made him sweat from 10-5 up by taking the next four points to make it 10-9, however Jarvis was able to keep his cool to win it 11-9 to move ahead. The 22-year-old extended his lead in the fourth set, taking it 11-7. Jarvis hit a fantastic inside-out forehand on his way to winning, with mistakes creeping in to McBeath’s game. However, McBeath made a great comeback to take the fifth set. The 30-year-old found himself at 5-1 down, but proceeded to win the next six points. McBeath made the most of this to hit a precise forehand to take it 11-9.
Jarvis wouldn’t let this stop him from reaching his first men’s singles final. He raced into a healthy lead, finishing the match with a bullet of a backhand. The final score, 7-11, 11-8, 11-9, 11-7, 9-11, 11-4.
Maria Tsaptsinos competed the treble at the Championships, beating Tin-Tin Ho to win her second Women’s Singles title.
This was a repeat of the final in 2019 when Tsaptsinos again came out on top. In 2020, she was injured, with Ho beating Mari Baldwin in the final.
Tsaptsinos came flying out of the blocks, imposing herself quickly with Ho unable to settle. She took it 11-5. Tsaptsinos was a brick wall in the second set, with everything Ho gave coming back with interest. The 24-year-old won seven points in a row to take 11-4.
Tsaptsinos furthered her quest for gold by taking the third set 11-7. Ho made a good comeback from 7-4 to 7-7, but Tsaptsinos proved to be immovable, with her will and passion too much for Ho, who began to make errors. A service error gave Tsaptsinos a set point, taking it at the first opportunity.
Tsaptsinos wrapped it up in the fourth with some more dogged and determined play, with Ho unable to find a way through. Tsaptsinos had a championship point at 10-9, but Ho wouldn’t lose it that easily. More came and went, Tsaptsinos eventually winning it on her fourth to complete the treble. The final score was, 11-5, 11-4, 11-7, 14-12.
Reflecting on the match, Tsaptsinos said: “It feels great to win, I didn’t play for two years because of Covid and injury so it’s great to be back. I came here to try to win all three and I’m so happy I did.”
Ho said: “She played really well, I started badly and didn’t feel great, making lots of errors. It would have been nice to win the singles again.
“The main goal is the Commonwealth Games, but I have lots of improvements to make.”
Ho reached another Women’s Singles final, but was given a stern test by Denise Payet.
In the first set, Ho soon settled and immediately put Payet under pressure. All of Ho’s big match experience come to the fore and she raced to a 7-2 lead. Her power and consistency was too much for Payet, taking the first 11-6 on her second set point.
Payet fought back well in the second set, and started to find her range on her shots. Despite a couple of monster forehands from Ho, Payet’s poise saw her take the second set 11-7. Ho was clearly frustrated with this at the towel break.
After splitting the first eight points of the third set, Ho won seven points in a row to take it 11-4. However, Payet showed her determination to come back again in the fourth set. After several great rallies and unforced errors from both players, Ho dumped one into the net to level the score.
Ho went into a quick lead in the fifth with some incredible backhand exchanges with Payet. The power of the 20-year-old was too much for Ho at times. However, with all of her Olympic and Commonwealth Games experience, Ho regained the advantage to take it 11-8 and one away from another final.
Ho won the sixth set, but was put under serious pressure from Payet. Several superb rallies saw Ho reach a match point at 10-9. However, Payet played two flawless points to get a set point of her own at 11-10 to try and force a decider. Ho wouldn’t allow that, and took it 13-11. The final score was 11-6, 7-11, 11-4, 9-11, 11-8, 13-11.
Tsaptsinos set up a repeat of the final in 2019, by beating Charlotte Bardsley in a tight, four-set match.
Tsaptsinos took the opening set in a tight affair, Bardsley was unlucky at times but the sheer determination of the 24-year-old won it for her 15-13. Bardsley had two set points to win the second, but allowed Tsaptsinos to get back into it. An incredible rally saw the champion in 2019 forced back from the table with an onslaught of Bardsley attacks. However, Tsaptsinos played the big points well, winning it 12-10.
Tsaptsinos began to assert her authority on the game in the third set, taking it 11-5. Bardsley’s shoulders started to drop, knowing there had been opportunities in the first two sets. This continued in the fourth set, with the second seed blocking everything Bardsley tried, taking it on her second match point, 12-10. Bardsley can be proud of her efforts, reaching the last four for the first time.