European Veterans Championships 2013

Teresa and Colm

European Veterans Championships 2013.

The OVB ARENA in beautiful Bremen hosted memorable table tennis for some 18 Irish competitors from May 27 to June 1. Colum Slevin and Teresa Devaney were our star performers, winning Silver and Bronze Medals respectively. The supporting crew members had a very busy time trying to be in two places at once, since both players were involved in singles matches at the same time in different competition halls on Thursday. However the effort was well worth it!

Teresa won Bronze in the Over 60s Ladies, losing a tense match in five sets to her Larisa Ilinskaya. Though she may be disappointed at that outcome, she scored great victories over Hannelore Dillinberger and Elisabeth Husin in earlier rounds. Coupled with a solid performance in doubles, she can be justifiably proud of her achievement. The Ladies Report gives more detail on affairs…

Colum gave a great account of his abilities, winning several close singles matches to make it to the last 16. Despite being in serious difficulties against Lednev of Russia, he always seemed to have the ability to grind out those crucial winning points to secure tight sets. He saved at least one match point against Joachim Beumers before winning 12-10 in the fifth. This was a very tense, draining affair in front of an enthusiastic audience. Shortly thereafter, he ran out of steam against his doubles partner, Lorestas Trumpauskas, losing in three sets. Lorestas himself had just beaten Matthias Leissner 12-10 in the fifth, having saved a match point in the third set!

Ted Mahaffy was impaired with an injured shoulder in the Over 70s, while Martin Pickles progressed to the last 32 of the Over 65s, losing to the eventual winner. Jimmy Fleming qualified from his group, but lost in the first round of the main draw, as did Brian Finn in the Over 60s. In one bizarre group match, Brian was tied 6-6 in the first set, where the opponent had scored with FIVE nets and edges! Keld Jaksland lost to Zimmerman in three sets, having beaten Muller in the first round of the Over 50s. He is determined to practice more during the summer for the Six Nations.

Dave Gibbons lost to Milla in four sets in the Consolation over 40s, having finished third in his group. Kevin Mackey started well against T Klein in his first round match. He won the first set 11-8, was 4-0 up in the next, implementing a positive game plan effectively. However, a poor serve disrupted his momentum. He snatched at several shots, and ultimately lost in four sets.

Unfortunately both Vinnie O’Neill and Albert Adamson had to withdraw from their events on health grounds. Vinnie was hospitalised with a recurrence of an infection, but he flew home on schedule. We wish him a speedy recovery.

Men’s Doubles were pedestrian affairs for all Irish competitors, except Colum. What a player! Looking at the draw, Colum felt that there was not one outstanding combination, and that he and Lorestas had a realistic chance of a podium finish. The group stages on Tuesday allowed him to familiarise himself with the style of play favoured by Lorestas, a powerful, aggressive left hander.

On Friday, they eased through two early round matches before facing the defensive combination of Detlef Gassler & Norbert Adolf for Germany. Winning the first two sets comfortably, the third set was tied at 4-4. However, the constant demands of playing heavy forehand topspins resulted in Colum straining a shoulder muscle. They lost that set 4-11, and limped over the line 11-9 in the fourth. Though they won their next match in four sets, Colum’s service action and forehand kill were obviously hampered by the muscle strain. The portents were ominous for the semi-final on the following day. Could ice packs and anti-inflammatories save the situation? Physio, heal thyself!!

The setting of the ARENA provided a marvellous backdrop to a wonderful semi-final with Russians Kushov &Kushkov. A bald scoreline of -9, -15, 14, 10, 9 cannot convey the intensity of such an absorbing encounter. Lorestas played the more aggressive role while Colum seemed to contain affairs. That shoulder was causing problems. Leading 1-4 in the fourth set, the Russian pair called “time out”, but Colum & Lorestas fought back to win 12-10. Colum & Lorens led 5-0 at the turnaround in the fifth. The Russian pair proceeded to serve a wrong court… 6-0. However they clawed their way back to 10-8, when Colum called “time out”… 10-9…. thereupon Lorestas hit a fabulous forehand winner to claim the match. PHEW!

The Final against Georg Bohm & Andreas Fejer-Konnert was delayed by some 30 minutes awaiting the outcome of an earlier match. Losing a close first set 9-11, Colum was 1-6 down early in the second set. Lorestas pulled out some delightful angled winners, and they levelled at 7-7. Colum hit one fabulous forehand to lead 10-9, and the set was secured. In the third set, Lorestas played some telling service returns and powerful forehands to win 11-7.

At that point, this match was the only one on court, and the large audience were rightly enthralled. The cut and thrust of tactical counter play brought Colum to within two points of championship glory. Alas, the set was lost 9-11. Bohm & Fejer-Konnert started the fifth set in commanding fashion, going 0-4 up. They retained their advantage, and were always two points ahead. Trailing 7-9, a “time out” for Colum & Lorestas could not alter the momentu of that final set…. Bohm & Fejer-Konnert secured a notable championship title.

Though Irish eyes may not have been smiling full on, Colum and Teresa have given us involvement and adrenaline to live long in the memory bank! Their many supporters from Germany, England and Norway certainly added to the colour and excitement of the championships. Tampere, Finland 2015, here we come!