These Championships at Pingzone brought the Masters competitive season to an early close. With the holder absent, John Bowe adding spice to the mix and Champion status on the line, the Over 40s was bound to produce some fireworks. Standout of the early rounds was Phil Wallace saving three match points to beat John 13-11 in the fifth. Mark McAlister and Pat McCloughan impressed also; a harbinger of things to come. Phil beat Rory Scott in one semi- final, while Daniel Molzenberger edged out Pat in the other. The entertaining final produced some cracking exchanges. Phil emerged as a deserving victor on a scoreline of 8, -5, 2, -8, 6. No doubt he enjoyed bringing the Harry O’Prey Trophy back home in his own right!
The Ladies event saw two very good victories for Paula, and some tight fifth set wins for Sharon and Gillian. However, at the crunch, Anne Marie prevailed over Ger to seal the title on a scoreline in the fifth of -5, -10, 8,7,2.
In the 50s, Philip Shaw beat Jeremy in the fifth for the second time during the day, having done so already in the 60s. However, he lost to Pat 6-11 in the fifth afterwards. Paul Gallagher impressed with two five set victories over Dave Gibbons and Kevin Mackey. As alluded to earlier, Pat and Mark contested the final, Pat winning out 7,6,-10,11.
The 60s saw the welcome return of Jimmy Robinson to competitive action. However, engaging with Jeremy early at the KO stage was not in his plans. Kariem edged a hard-fought victory over Norman, winning 11-5 in the fifth. Likewise, Philip pipped Jeremy 11-9 in the fifth, which set him at a disadvantage facing Finn in the semi-final. Brian chiselled out a win in four, to set up the final against Tommy Caffrey, who had eliminated Kariem elsewhere. Much later, brute force and ignorance had no place in this absorbing final. Red herrings, powder puff assaults, deft ripostes laced with insidious intent were de rigueur in this battle of minds and will. Converting the first from 8-10 down, Brian was always in control to win the second 11-8. His mammoth fight back from 2-10 in the third fell just short, but a time-out had been used up by his exasperated opponent at 7-10. Changing tack at the start of the fourth,Tommy began an assault with long fast serves. However, this was rebuffed, with no little skill. Leading 5-1, Brian aced a service delivery which pierced the maestro’s defences. Completion anxiety avoided, he finished as a worthy winner, 10, 8, -9, 7! A first national title is indeed to be savoured, as Phil will readily agree.
David Jacobson put in a tremendous performance in the 70s with a win over Liam, and a fabulous -11, 5, -10, 5, 9 victory over Jim Storey in the semi-final. However, it was good to see Jim back to much better form than of late, hitting some trademark forehand winners with authority. In the final, there was no disgrace in David losing 12, 2, 4 to Tommy Caffrey. The absence of Martin Pickles was noted.
The inspiration and tenacity of Jack Cash in staging the very first of these National Championships in Newtownards must be applauded! How they have developed into such a highlight of our TT season is absolutely marvellous! Our thanks to Sharon, Ger, Viv, Anna, both Daves, Jim, Roman and all who helped with running the event this year. The readiness of all competitors to umpire is greatly appreciated in moving matches along to schedule. Overall, it has been a very successful season. Our best wishes go to members coping with serious illness or bereavement at this time.
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