The birth of a new and exciting Olympic year is now firmly upon us and it was refreshing to witness the young blood and possible future 2020 Olympians carving out their own unique stamp on the Butterfly plywood. A total of seventy young players from eight different counties enjoyed plenty of match competition at yet another very successful Waterside two day Open tournament (another breeding ground for future stars).
The tournament was held over the weekend of the 7th/8th of January, at the popular venue of Waterside’s Testwood College Sports arena in Southampton. The Sunday event reached a nail-biting climax when the top two seeds in the Cadet and Junior boys fought out a couple of pulsating finals.
All of these eager youngsters are serving their apprenticeship in life (which for many is table tennis) and none more so than Jamie (chop and attack) Trevillion from Dorset S1 and Jimmy (spin it to win it) Yeung from Hampshire S2. They went head to head in a double duel shoot-out final, with Jamie taking the earlier Cadet Open whilst later on Sunday, Jimmy gained his revenge by winning the Junior title.
This brace of finals had the audience on the edge of their seats with some top quality attack versus defence rallies where it sometimes took at least ten exchanges each to win a point or force an error. Yeung, the all out attacker, could topspin brilliantly on both wings yet kill any loose ball compared to the opposite strategy of Trevillion who loves chopping his way to victory and taking opportunist attacks on his forehand side.
Both finals were a huge credit to the players (one that went the full distance while the other spanned four games) and they were a fitting spectacle to end two days of excellent play with the added bonus that so many players stayed right to the end to enjoy the last match.
Local New Milton Club player Matthew Daish played particularly well in both days to finish in third place in the Cadets on Sunday following his runner-up placing in the Under 13 Boys the day before.
Five Cadet Girls played out an equally exciting and highly competitive round robin in the morning’s competition. Amy Blagbrough, a Waterside club member, started as warm favourite to take the title but had to eventually settle for third place due to two losses inflicted by Kristelle Brook and Annabelle Cox.
After eighteen months away from table tennis 14-year-old Kristelle Brook from Kidlington took the trophy home to Oxfordshire after enjoying her first come back title. A young lady that uses a combination blade with a defensive chopping style on her backhand aided with Piranja long pimples and attacks on the forehand wing proved too hot to handle for all her other four opponents. Good to see you back Kristelle and enjoying the sport as table tennis needs more young ladies in competition.
Annabelle Cox from Milton Keynes finished as runner-up with Emma Blanchford and Ruth Pickering both from Bournemouth enjoying several close matches.
In the afternoon five Junior Girls contested another round robin competition on Sunday resulting in a title win for Becky Kuzu from Dorset taking the podium top spot, with Amy Blagbrough in second, Kristelle Brook in third while Hannah McErlane and Emma Blanchford gained valuable match experience.
Becky (yet another player from the Bournemouth Sports and Portchester conveyor belt) has a unique but simple approach to table tennis with a close up to the table style of pushing, blocking and counter hitting that proves very effective and just keeps getting the ball back on the table.
The tournament kicked off on Saturday with a mixed under 11 age group round robin event with ten competitors that was won by Sonny Brooks from Portsmouth winning all his nine matches. Local Waterside player William Stevens took the runners-up spot by virtue of eight games won with Vincent Cheung taking bronze with seven victories and Josh Selby in fourth place with six wins.
Later in the day the Under 13’s took the limelight with a 20 player Boys’ progressive group event with just three Girls playing a round robin competition. After several advanced groups of play in the Boy’s event 12-year-old Carl Baldry from Cornwall emerged as the winner, however, he was made to work hard in his semi-final match against Zac Dowling from Bournemouth.
In the final, the young man with a unique grip style who hails from the Blisland Club near Bodmin, took control running out a 3-0 winner against runner-up Matthew Daish from Bournemouth. Another Waterside competitor Artur Veek a left-hander with a bright future enjoyed a great tournament finishing in fourth position.
The Girls event was won by Jasmine Chan winning both her matches with Juliette Moussare taking the runners-up place by virtue of her win against third placed Katie Holt. Following the Girls round robin the three were given more matches as they were mixed in with the boys’ event.
Referee Dave Wiles aided by tournament organiser John Fox kept the event running smoothly and offered the players many matches to enjoy. Many thanks also to Colin French, Tony Huggett, Nico Caltabiano, Jeff Davies, James Stevens and Trevor Mowle the hard working, unsung heroes, back up team who helped with umpiring and also supplied the refreshments.
A special mention to Alan Man who spent hours taking his professional photographs that enhanced the day and this report. The next event to be held at Waterside is on 30th Jun / 01 July with U11, U13, Cadets and Juniors 1 star.
By Geoff Ware.