Callum Evans wins Mens under 21’s at Blackpool Grand Prix

Callum Evans wins Mens under 21’s at Blackpool Grand Prix

Men’s Under 21 Singles

An impressive weekend for Callum Evans concluded with him winning the Under 21’s crown at the conclusion of the weekend.

Evans was rarely troubled on his way to victory, with his first real challenge coming in the shape of finalist and fifth seed Li Kam Wa, who took out a string of top players on his way to the final, including James Garrod, Ryan Fellows and Joe Pilkington.

As for Evans, who was seeded at one for the event, he battled past Joe Killoran and then Will Hornsey, who had picked up a brilliant victory over Michael Fraser to make the quarter-final. Evans brought an end to Harry Dai’s outstanding weekend in the semi-final as he raced to a 3-0 win. In the final, despite never opening a cushion, Evans battled his way to a 3-1 victory with a string of high-quality loops that ended another strong Grand Prix for the Welsh youngster.

Matthew Shaw April 12, 2015

Sam Walker & Tin-Tin Ho making it the double. Awesome

Action from the Mixed Doubles final (picture by Alan Man)

An inspired timeout turned the tide as Sam Walker & Tin-Tin Ho came from 1-0 and 5-1 down to beat Danny Reed & Kelly Sibley and win the Mixed Doubles title in Redbridge.

The defending champions versus the Commonwealth Games bronze medallists was a mouthwatering prospect on paper and so it proved.

And it was Glasgow heroes Reed & Sibley who drew first blood at 11-5. And when they moved smoothly into a lead in the second, something had to change from the perspective of the pair on the other side of the table.

Whatever was said at the timeout worked as Walker & Ho worked their way back into the game and took it 11-8. The third was an even fight but the champions kept their noses in front to take it 11-9.

We were heading for a decider when Reed & Sibley motored into an 8-1 and then 10-2 lead, but Walker & Ho took a run of five points to force their opponents into a timeout.

But what worked for the younger pair did not work for Reed & Sibley and within a minute of the resumption, it was 10-10. Two more points was all that was needed and Walker & Ho had their second titles of the weekend after Friday’s Under-21 victories.

Walker admitted: “I was a bit sceptical about the timeout from Howard (coach) but it turned out it was right and it worked.

“We managed to get ourselves back into it and won the third as well. But then it was 10-2 in the fourth, but we were fighting and didn’t want to give them the set.

“In the end we played two good points to win it. We played the tight ones quite well.”

Ho added: “Howard just said we had to something different and find a way to get back into it – just try anything we hadn’t tried. We both just relaxed and played and started to dominate more.”

Sibley was gracious in defeat, saying: “They’re a good combination and we know we can’t give them cheap points. They took their timeout and had nothing to lose at 1-0 and 5-1 down.

“Fair play to them, they kept fighting and played really well.”

Earlier in the competition, Reed & Sibley started smoothly by beating Tom Jarvis & Denise Payet in three, but it was a bit harder for them against David McBeath and Emma Vickers, who levelled at 1-1 and opened up a healthy lead in the fourth before the Glasgow medallists some back to win it 3-1 (10, -5, 9, 7).

In the other quarter-final in the top half, Darius Knight & Hannah Hicks were staring down the barrel against Mike O’Driscoll and Yolanda King as their opponents took a 2-0 lead and led in the third. But the England duo found something when it mattered to turn it around and win 3-2 (-4, -7, 8, 6, 4).

In the bottom half, Walker & Ho lost the first to Matt Ware & Karina Le Fevre but won it 3-1, while Maynard & Tsaptsinos saw off Chris Doran & Abbie Milwain by the same scoreline, 13-11 in the deciding fourth.

The first semi-final was relatively straightforward as Walker & Ho always had control in a 3-0 victory over Maynard & Tsaptsinos (9, 5, 9).

Reed & Sibley saw their England colleagues Knight & Hicks level at 1-1 but the top seeds regain the initiative to take it 3-1 (5, -7, 6, 3).

Paul Stimpson
February 27, 2015

Tin-Tin Ho wiins the Under 21 Womens Singles and Sam Walker wins the under 21’s Mens Singles

Sam Walker and Tin-Tin Ho have regained their under-21 National Singles crowns.

The top seeds both won the titles two years ago but lost them last season – and both were in the mood to get them back at the Redbridge Sports & Leisure Centre today.

Walker, 19, from Worksop, beat 17-year-old Helshan Weerasinghe 3-1 (11-6, 11-8, 8-11, 11-5) in the men’s final, while 16-year-old Londoner Ho won 3-0 (11-6, 11-5, 11-9) against Maria Tsaptsinos.

Mike O’Driscoll beat Lorestas Trumpauskas 3-1 to retain the Veteran Men’s Singles title, while Jane Vickers beat Des Norbury in the one-off Veteran Women’s match to take the trophy back to Derby.

Under-21 Men’s Singles

Walker always had something in hand over the rest of the field, seeing off Luke Savill in the quarters and Sam Mabey in the semis, both 3-0, before meeting the second seed in the final.

Weerasinghe made the better start as he took the first three points before Walker got on the board with the aid of a net cord.

The younger player was still in contention at 6-6, but five points on the spin saw Walker take the advantage.

He extended his lead in the second, but National Junior champion Weerasinghe hit back to take the third. However, Walker, who recently climbed to No 175 in the world rankings, always had the edge in the fourth and closed it out to regain his title – which Gavin Evans had taken from him last year.

Walker said: “It feels good – I wanted to regain it after last year and I did the job.

“I was No 1 seed, so I put the pressure on myself. I expected to win and would have been disappointed if I hadn’t. But the more important things are coming tomorrow and Sunday.

“I’ve been training in Germany and it’s really helped my game. In the final, I felt I was stronger and had a little bit more, even when it was really tight. I was always confident I could produce my best when it mattered.”

Weerasinghe said: “He was a bit more solid in stock shots than I was. I hit some good shots with good power, but I would miss three or four in a set and it all adds up.

“It’s disappointing for me because I don’t think he played unbelievably, I’ve seen him play better, so I’m disappointed I couldn’t take advantage.

“I didn’t think I was 100 per cent at any point throughout the day. I had a good head but I felt I always had to try to focus – other times I focus naturally and my shots flow, but today it just didn’t click.”

Earlier in the day, several players pulled off crucial last-ditch victories to book their places in the knockout stages.

Karim Khassal came from 2-0 down against Tim Denby to win 3-2 (3-11, 7-11, 11-2, 11-8, 11-8) and join Tom Jarvis in advancing from group 4.

James Smith was 2-1 behind before overcoming Artur Caltabiano 3-2 (11-5, 9-11, 8-11, 11-6, 11-4) in group 8. Group winner Gabriel Achampong had his own five-setter, seeing off Matt Leete 11-9 in the decider.

Two medallists from last week’s Cadet Masters continued their good form. Ethan Walsh, third in Burton, beat Jack Dempsey in the final match of group 5, 3-2 (11-9, 8-11, 6-11, 11-9, 13-11) to join Adam Harrison in advancing.

Meanwhile, Masters silver medallist Joe Clark, seeded four in group 11, won all three matches, including beating Marcus Giles in four. Giles won his other two matches to join Clark in the knockouts.

Luke Savill won group 10, but only with a five-set victory over Billy Forster along the way – he came from 2-1 down and won 11-9 in the fifth.

It wasn’t the last five-setter for him. With Giles having finished second in his group, he and Savill clashed in the first knockout round. When Savill took the first two, he seemed set fair to go further, only for Giles to rally, taking it to a decider and leading 8-4 in the fifth before Savill got on a run to take the last 11-9.

Clark, meanwhile, beat Lucas Papantoniou in four to set up a meeting with Danny Lawrence. And there his run ended as Lawrence won in three.

The pick of the quarter-finals saw Mabey defeat Tom Jarvis in five and it was another fine comeback. Although Mabey took the first 11-9, it looked for all the world as if he would exit the competition when Jarvis took the next two 12-10, 11-8. But Mabey seized back the momentum, levelling with an 11-8 game and then running away 11-2 to reach the last four.

Lawrence saw off Jack Bennett in four and the other two quarters were sorted out in three straight as Walker beat Savill (5, 10, 3) and Weerasinghe beat Achampong (7, 8, 4).

Under-21 Women’s Singles

Tsaptsinos has had a hold over Ho in recent meetings – in the Seniors last year, the Junior Nationals in November and at the Junior Masters in January, the latter by an impressive 3-0 score.

And she started the quicker, going into a 5-2 lead. From there, Ho won nine of the next 10 points to take the first 11-6.

And she never looked back, with 11-5 and11-9 sets, although an increasingly frustrated Tsaptsinos did lead 4-0 and 6-2 in the third.

Champion Ho said: “I feel really happy. I had some tough matches today and I’m happy I could win them and regain the title.

“I was extra motivated after losing to Maria last year and at the Juniors. I think this time I relaxed a bit and tried to play my game and not worry about anything else. I felt quite stable, I didn’t miss much and had more control.”

Tsaptsinos said: “No disrespect to Tin-Tin because she played really well, but I just felt I was never there.

“Coming off the court, everyone was telling me I didn’t dominate and play my own game, I just let it happen. I think she was definitely extra motivated.

“After the semis I was exhausted – and I want to say that Emily Bolton gave me a great game – so I need to be fitter.”

Earlier, there was no surprise that Ho and Tsaptsinos won their groups, but the second places behind them were hard-fought.

It was Megan Knowles who advanced at the expense of Amy Blagbrough in group 1, coming from two down to win 3-2 (11-13, 5-11, 11-0, 11-3, 11-6). In group 2, Kate Cheer also had a fightback win, against Isobel Ashley, prevailing 3-2 (11-3, 14-16, 8-11, 11-8, 11-9).

There was a remarkable preliminary round match between Denise Payet and Megan Knowles. Payet led 2-1 before a monumental fourth went 22-20 in favour of Knowles. That in no way took the wind from either’s sails though, as the decider was won 14-12 by Knowles.

The knock-on effect was that Tsaptsinos had to wait for her quarter-final, beating a tired Knowles 3, 4, 4.

Already through were Ho, who lost the first to Abbie Milwain before winning 3-1 (9-11, 11-7, 11-7, 11-6), Lois Peake, a 3-0 winner over Yolanda King (8, 8, 5), and Emily Bolton, 3-1 over Emma Tovey (5, 9, -7, 4).

Bolton and Tsaptsinos met in the last four and it went to five sets before Tsaptsinos shook off her stubborn opponent 3-2.

Ho was also extended by Peake. The first two sets went according to seeding (both 11-7) before Peake reduced the deficit 11-8 in the third. The fourth saw Peake save seven match points – including coming from 10-6 down – and Ho save three game points before the latter finally took it 17-15.

Paul Stimpson
February 27, 2015

Congratulations to Alex Ramsden and Kate Cheer who won at the Cadet Masters champions

Alex Ramsden and Kate Cheer are the Cadet Masters champions after a thrilling day’s play at Burton Uxbridge TTC.

Ramsden was outstanding, going through the round-robin event unbeaten to add the title to the National Cadet singles crown he won in Preston in November.

No 4 seed Joe Clark was second, with the bronze medal going to Ethan Walsh, the youngest player in the field and the seventh seed.

Cheer’s victory was less clear-cut as she was one of three players who could claim the crown going into the final round.

She beat Denise Payet in four sets to inflict a first defeat of the tournament on the top seed. Cheer also had one defeat, but had to wait for the outcome of the match between Isabelle Joubeily and Charlotte Bardsley to know whether she was champion.

In the event, Bardsley beat Joubeily to ensure they both finished with two defeats. And that meant Cheer was champion by virtue of her head-to-head record against Payet. Bardsley finished ahead of Joubeily in the same fashion – tough on Joubeily, who had won her first nine matches.

It meant Bardsley had the bronze, Payet having to settle for silver behind Cheer.

The second day’s play of the final Cadet Masters – the event changes to a Top 10 next year – had started with the top four girls all boasting 100 per cent records.

The first ‘summit meeting’ of the day saw Payet up against Bardsley, and it was the top seed who prevailed in four.

Cheer needed to hold off a spirited fightback by Gauri Duhan to claim a 3-2 win which kept her own unbeaten run alive (11-6, 11-8, 7-11, 8-11, 11-4), while Joubeily remained in the leading pack by defeating Sophie Barlow in four.

There were first wins for Bhavika Mistry, against Holly Williams, and Jasmin Wong, who withstood a fine comeback by Megan Dillon to win 3-2 (11-7, 11-7, 10-12, 10-12, 11-5).

The next round saw another unbeaten record fall by the wayside as Joubeily swept past Cheer in three straight. Payet had some moments of concern against Duhan, dropping the first set and shading the second 13-11 and fourth 12-10 in a 3-1 victory.

Dillon was so close to notching her first success when she led Mistry 2-1, only to see her opponent come through 3-2.

The destination of the medals began to become slightly clearer in round nine with Cheer’s victory in five over Bardsley. But she had to do it the hard way, coming from two down to take it 3-2 (6-11, 12-14, 11-6, 11-9, 11-6).

Payet continued her serene progress, beating Barlow in three, but Joubeily was taken the distance by Duhan before claiming it in the fifth (11-8, 11-8, 9-11, 10-12, 11-3).

The two leaders met in round 10, and it was a match befitting its status. Joubeily took the first 12-10 and quickly added the second 11-6. As the two exchanged blows in some fierce rallies, Payet got a foothold by taking the third 11-6.

That signalled a shift in momentum and she levelled by sealing the fourth 11-5. And despite being 5-2 down in the decider, Payet responded with her best form of the match to take it 11-7 and put one hand on the trophy.

She strengthened her grip by taking the first 11-5 against Cheer, but the second seed responded by reeling off three in a row to clinch it 3-1 (5-11, 11-7, 11-7, 11-8).

A win for Joubeily would see her join a three-way tie at the top, but Bardsley knew a win could see her take the bronze. It made for a great battle, eventually won by Bardsley by a 3-2 margin (6-11, 11-4, 11-5, 8-11, 11-4).

Meanwhile, Dillon ended on a high by claiming her first victory – 3-0 against Holly Williams.

Champion Cheer said: “I knew going into the last match I could still win it, but I had to rely on other people losing. Even when I won against Denise, I didn’t know whether I had won the title.

“It was a bit annoying because I train with Isabelle and play with her. I wanted her to win her match but I knew she had to lose so I could win the title.

“We had an England training camp last week, so I had a hard week’s training, and I started knocking up really well at the start, so I was looking forward to it and knew I had a chance.

“It’s brilliant to be the last Masters champion.”

In the boys’ event, Clark and Ramsden were the only two unbeaten players after Saturday’s action.

But Clark had to dig deep in his first match of the day to hold off Harry Dai in five and keep his own run going, finally taking it 3-2 (7-11, 11-6, 11-8, 8-11, 11-8).

The first round of the boys’ day also saw Artur Caltabiano get the better of Eren Gozcu in three close sets – 12-10, 15-13, 13-11 – to notch his first win.

The pivotal moment came in the eighth round, as Ramsden and Clark met. And it was Clark who struck first, taking a tight first 14-12. But Ramsden found his form to take the next three 11-8, 11-3, 11-9 to move out in front on his own.

George Hazell picked up his first win in round 8, against Sam Chesterman, while Ethan Walsh came from 2-0 down to beat Caltabiano to maintain his push for third.

Walsh backed that up in round nine by beating Hazell in three straight, while the top two also won – Clark in three against Olly Tyndall and Ramsden in four, having lost the first, against Smith.

Chesterman clinched his first win against Gozcu with a brilliant run of points in the fifth. At 8-3 down, he stormed through the next eight points to break his duck and Gozcu’s heart. The final score was 7-11, 11-9, 11-8, 10-12, 11-8 in Chesterman’s favour.

The 10th round was notable for Walsh moving clear in third with a four-set win over McMullan, while James Smith stayed in contention for a medal by beating Harry Dai in three straight. Caltabiano won a five-set battle with Chesterman.

The final round saw the top three remain the top three, Ramsden beating Dai in three, Clark holding off Smith 3-1 and Walsh getting the better of Eren Gozcu in four.

And there was a cracking match to bring the tournament to an end as Caltabiano defeated Hazell in five, taking the decider 14-12.

Champion Ramsden said: “I came close to winning last year at my first Masters, so obviously it’s good to come here and win this year. I like the fact I’ll be Cadet Masters champion for ever!

“The match against Joe was kind of the decider. He took the first game and came out firing shots in the second and I wasn’t sure what to do, but I changed my tactics and got back in it. It was tough against James Smith as well. I guess they both thought they had nothing to lose.

“I just tried to stay focused. You are obviously going to lose focus over two days but it doesn’t matter as long as you get it back straight away.”

Boys: 1 Alex Ramsden, 2 Joe Clark, 3 Ethan Walsh, 4 James Smith, 5 Jonny McMullan, 6 Shayan Siraj, 7 Olly Tyndall, 8 Harry Dai, 9 Artur Caltabiano, 10 George Hazell, 11 Sam Chesterman, 12 Eren Gozcu.

Girls: 1 Kate Cheer, 2 Denise Payet, 3 Charlotte Bardsley, 4 Isabelle Joubeily, 5 Gauri Duhan, 6 Amy Blagbrough, 7 Jasmin Wong, 8 Tiana Dennison, 9 Sophie Barlow, 10 Bhavika Mistry, 11 Holly Williams, 12 Megan Dillon.

Paul Stimpson
February 22, 2015

Tin-Tin Ho receiving her trophy for Young Sports Person of the Year

Tin-Tin Ho has been named Young Sports Person of the Year at the inaugural Lycamobile British Ethnic Diversity Sports Awards.

The 16-year-old from Paddington collected the accolade at a ceremony attended by 500 people at Coventry’s Ricoh Arena last night.

The outcome was decided partly by public vote and partly by a panel of experts and is rewarded for a stellar year for Tin-Tin who, among other successes, won mixed doubles silver at the Commonwealth Games and competed at the World Junior Championships.

She was shortlisted from a large list of nominees for the Youth Sports Trust Young Sports Person of the Year award and was in good company among the winners as England cricketer Moeen Ali, gymnastics star Becky Downie and Olympic gold medallist Denise Lewis also scooped honours – Lewis getting the Lifetime Achievement award.

Olympic champions Christine Ohorougu and Jason Gardener, plus rugby world cup winner Maggie Alphonsi were also on the guest list – as was Table Tennis England Chair Sandra Deaton.

“It was a really good night,” said Tin-Tin. “I didn’t expect it to be so big. When we went in, they were taking photos and doing interviews. I was sitting next to Ali Jawad the weightlifter, who won the inspirational performance award, so that was quite cool.

“It feels really good to win the award and it’s good publicity for table tennis. I want to thank my family and Table Tennis England for encouraging people to vote for me, and all the people who voted.”

Paul Stimpson
February 22, 2015