Thunderous forehands, feisty verbal exchanges and deceptive defensive wiles were in evidence at the recent Masters Classification Tournament. Any cobwebs from Budapest or lazy summer beaches were soon blitzed in the early group stages. The knockout section of the 40’s began with a fantastic encounter between Daryl and Kevin Mackey. Delivering relentless heavy topspin, cleverly disguised services and furious winners from both wings, Kevin really put in a remarkable challenge. However, Daryl coped well, and led 4-0 in the fifth. Undaunted, displaying real aggression, Kevin bravely clawed his way back to deuce. Daryl then delivered when the chips were down, getting over the line 13-11. Rory Scott edged out Phil Wallace in five in an evenly contested semi-final. Against Daryl in the final, Rory used his blocking skills to good effect along with powerful flat hitting to win the first. Daryl absorbed Rory’s attack, and countered really well to win the next two. Down 2-7 in the fourth, Rory began to play with controlled aggression and hit some great winners to really trouble Daryl. Too late, alas, and a relieved Daryl won 11-8. Brian Devereux can be well pleased with his initial venture with long pimples here!
The Ladies event featured a welcome visitor, Senga Thomson. Several good performances were registered by Ikuko, Sharon, and Paula. Ger triumphed in a close final with Annemarie. Some of her attacking play was very effective indeed. Many close encounters are indicated over the coming season, going on these results.
The 50’s went to script, though Kieran Burke surprised himself somewhat to reach the semi-final. Returning serve very effectively against the dangerous Nebrojša Gabrič in the other semi-final, Kevin Mackey dominated proceedings, never allowing Neb to settle. Kevin was always in control over Pat McCloughan in the final, winning 6,9,-9,7. A strong entry in the 60’s saw the welcome return of Jeremy Lappin and Albert Coulter. Some tremendous performances in defeat were registered by Tommy Fitzgerald, Kariem Sabir and Philip Shaw. However, the final was not played late on in proceedings, leaving Kieran Burke and Tommy Caffrey to share the spoils.
Jimmy Fleming and Ollie Adamson can be pleased with their performances in the 70s. The final produced a classic of the genre, with Tommy taking the first two games, attacking any loose balls from Martin comfortably. Surprisingly, Martin’s variety of spin caused quite some difficulty thereafter, causing Tommy to struggle considerably. Hitting controlled forehands mixed in with deft defensive variations, Martin proceeded to lead 10-7 in the fifth, and looked to be completely in control. Point by lengthy point, Tommy somehow clawed his way back. Martin’s play could not be faulted. He did not freeze, continuing to mix astute attack with defence. However, Tommy won the game and the match on a scoreline of 10,4,-8,-6,12. Legerdemain, hypnosis, woodshedding in formative years, showtime…somehow, Tommy tapped into his reservoir of skills, technical and mental, to chisel victory out from bleak circumstances. Hats off to both players for this enthralling encounter!!
Our thanks to Roman and Ana at Pingzone for their assistance in staging the tournament. Dave, Sharon and Viv really managed the matches efficiently. Dave Pender, Denis Kelly, Jimmy Fleming among others, are to be commended for their efforts to assist in proceedings. Players’ willingness to umpire greatly assists the timely running of events. It does help if people can put empty bottles and litter into the bins provided. The new online system for entries will improve after this outing. The Masters Leinster Open is on 19 October.
Good Luck to all of our teams playing at the Home Nations Tournament in Perth!