McCreery too strong for the men and Carey does the treble: Ulster Open 2017 Report and Results

This year’s Ulster Open saw not only some fantastic players, particularly in the womens event, but also some great performances and some shock wins.

It is safe to say it was a very exciting tournament.

The event started on Friday night with the Men’s and Women’s singles groups and Restricted singles groups.

A couple of early surprises in the Men’s groups were Poland’s Dawid Sulkowski beating Sam Logue from North County TT, Irish Cadet No.1 Thomas Joyce from Mayo beating UCD Dublin’s Conor Gallagher. Another excellent performance came from UCD Dublin’s Art McLaughlin, Irish No.2 Cadet and No.3 Junior. He won his ‘group of death’ which included Zak Earley, Hung Nguyen and Robbie Gavin.

In the Women’s singles groups all went according to plan for all the seeds except for one. Mia O’Rahilly Egan found herself in a group with Former Croatian national team player and former world ranked 109 Tina Kupinich.

A very tight game, where the Croatian’s pedigree was evident, saw her edge out O’Rahilly Egan 3-0 in three extremely close and competitive sets.

In the restricted singles the stand out performances came from Tina Kupinich and Shane O’Connor in group A and Philip Jamison and James Magrath in group B. These four progressed to the Semi finals on Saturday where Tina faced James and Phil faced Shane. The Croatian had too much for Glenburn’s Magrath as did Ormeau’s Jamison for Ballincollig’s O’Connor. Jamison Edged out Kupinich 12-10, 14-12, 13-11 in a very competitive final.

Saturday saw the Men’s and Women’s Singles continue. Art McLaughlin continued his fine run beating 8th seed Sam Logue 3-0. Phil Jamison had a great performance to take out Ballincollig’s Irish junior no.2 Dylan Grace. Tom Davis was one of the standout performers of the weekend beating his team mate Alexander Gillen in the quarter final before having match point on Irish No.1 Paul McCreery and losing out 14-12 in the fifth set. Ryan Farrell performed excelently against long standing National team member Gavin Maguire but was denied 3-2 in the end. This set up a mouth watering Clash between the top two seeds. They did not dissapoint. The two team mates and good friends provided a spectacular, topsy turvy match which saw Gavin take a 2-0 lead before being pegged back by Paul who edged a close 3-2 in the end.

The Womens draw saw the addition of familiar face, Charlotte Carey from Wales and not so familiar faces Sejla Fazlic of Germany and Tina Kupinich of Croatia. Kupinich was unfortunate to be drawn against Carey in the quarter final after winning her group and then receiving a bye. Carey won this encounter 3-0. Her full time practice and current form just too much for the tough Croatian. On the other side of the draw, Fazlic, a member of the German junior girls national squad for 2017, eased through Mia O’Rahilly Egan anfd Ashley Givan to set up a mouth watering clash with Carey who came through Rebecca Finn in her Semi final.

These two ladies produced a fantastic game of Table Tennis where they constantly tried to out-smart each other with placement of the ball and variation of pace. It was the German that got off to a great start steaming into a 2-0 lead. It wasn’t long before the Welsh professional got a foothold in the game and began to take back the control. It was in the fourth set where Fazlic had her best chance to win holding an early lead but could not convert. Charlotte that took the fifth set 11-9.

The men’s doubles saw Maguire and Gillen fight off the spirited Farrell and Logue 3-1 to claim the title. 

In the women’s doubles Carey and Earley came back from the brink of defeat to beat Fazlic and Nguyen 3-2.

The pairing of Maguire and Carey were too strong for Farrell and Fazlic, the UCD Dublin pairing coming through 3-0. 

Junior boys singles saw a surpirse win for James Skelton against Dylan Grace in semi final no.1 while Art McLaughlin ousted his rival Thomas Joyce in semi final no.2. Skelton, in imperious form, went 2-0 ahead in the final before Art started to get into the match. Skelton’s level dropped slightly and McLaughlin’s rose which allowed Art to battle his way back in to the match. Art came through the eventual 3-2 winner. Dylan Grace snatched 3rd place.

Junior girls singles saw long standing junior international Rebecca Finn come out on top beating Leeside’s Zofia Wawrzyniak in the final. Third place went to Loop’s Pravesha Ragi who took out Irish no.1 Mia O’Rahilly Egan during the day. This was an excellent win for Pravesha and shows that all the hard work she is putting in is paying off.

The always competitive cadet boys category proved an exciting tournament, however, for the most part, the seeding positions were fulfilled and there were no great shocks.Thomas Joyce of Mayo fulfilled his no.! seeding by winning the event beating his rival and friend, UCD Dublin’s Art McLaughlin in the final. Ormeau’s rising star James Skelton finished in third place.

Before having to pull out of the junior girls singles on Sunday due to sickness, golden girl Sophie Earley fullfilled her deserved No.1 seeding in the cadet girls singles event beating Pravesha Ragi in the Final. A relatively quiet tournament for Sophie this one but she got the job done on Saturday none the less. The mark of a champion. It was a very successfull tournament for Pravesha Ragi. She continues to improve and show good form. Third place went to Silke Heinen of Leeside TTC. This was a good result for the always improving Silke but she will be looking to better this next time. With her undeniable fighting spirit and ever improving game she will be fully confident of doing this.

There were two stand outs in the U13 boys event. Max Skelton and Jonathon Mooney, both of Ormeau TTC, are showing that they are just slightly ahead of the rest of the pack at the moment. No.1 seed Max sailed through the tournament to the final where he was tested by his team mate but eventually came out on top 3-2. He showed excellent poise and focus to edge out his training partner in the end. Gellert Moravcsik showed his progression taking third place. Ones to watch out for in this category are Gellert himself who is only 11, Fionn Hickey (10) and Tom Irwin (10). Fionn and Tom finished 5th and 6th respectively.

The U13 girls event was another tightly fought event. Again Ormeau TTC had two players representing them in a final. Lucy McIvor beat her friend and clubmate Anna Kelly. Third place went to Rachel Taylor from Buninnadden TTC in Mayo. Reports from the national training camps say that these girls are making big improvements and training hard. The hard work is clearly paying off.

The U11’s event was a participation event where the stars of the future could get some valuable match practise in a stress free environment where results are not of the highest importance. All the kids had fun (the most important thing) and tried their best! We look forward to seeing how these players progress over the next couple of years.

All banded event winners and runners up are listed in the results attached.

See here for all winners and runners up