Record entry for championships

A record 38 players battled for the eight titles at this year's Star Paving Services North Norfolk Table Tennis League Championships, as it took over nine hours for the 124 matches needed to be played out over the six tables.

A record 38 players battled for the eight titles at this year's Star Paving Services North Norfolk Table Tennis League Championships, as it took over nine hours for the 124 matches needed to be played out over the six tables.

John Paul was looking to win both the Open Singles and Veterans titles for a fifth consecutive year and with no John Hancock Junior in the mix, he started as favourite. However Paul suffered his first ever singles defeat in the championships, losing to Dennis Elliott in the semis of the Veterans.

Elliott had nearly gone out of the competition two rounds earlier, when good counter-hitting from Clive Smith had taken him the distance, but Elliott won their fifth set 11-1. Paul and Elliott had enjoyed some terrific tussles over the last five years - most notably last year's Vets final - but the outcome had always been the same.

However, in this year's semi-final, which saw Paul very sportingly concede match point in the fifth set, when he indicated that Elliott's ball had touched the table, the North Walsham player took his first victory over the defending champion.

Elliott's opponent in the final had also got there the hard way, as Colin Humphries had won a tight five-setter against Peter Betts in the round of sixteen and later dropped a set to John Barron in the semis. Elliott defeated Humphries in straight sets in the Veterans final to land him a first singles title at the championships.

There were numerous highlights in the Open Singles, with Mike Toye saving match points to win in five against John Barron, before falling to Mary Sawyer in the second round.

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Matt Robinson levelled from two sets down against James Baldock-Yaxley and nearly recovered from 0-5 in the decider, which Baldock-Yaxley took 11-8. Robinson's comeback from two sets down proved successful in the Plate as he took his first win over Peter Ward, while Baldock-Yaxley, despite some impressive commitment diving, was to be frustrated in straight sets by Colin Humphries in the next round of the Open.

There were four seeded players who were given byes in this event and three reached the semis. In the quarter-finals John Batchford recovered from a set down to Humphries, plus there were straight set wins for Paul and Elliott against Alex Spragg and Philip Stone respectively. One seed fell early, as Martin Lawes lost in four to Phil Baker, with Baker then losing in five in the quarters to a vintage display of hitting from Sawyer.

The Plate competition gives those who lose their first match in the Open a second bite of the cherry and Lawes was always to be the favourite in this after his early exit, although he was tested during a close four-set semi-final with Robinson. Barron won the other semi in five against Simon Halliday, but was to be no match for Lawes in the final.

Both semi-finals of the Open were straight sets affairs and saw Paul and Batchford defeat Sawyer and Elliott respectively. Hence the final was to be a first ever meeting between the two Sidewinders, Batchford taking the first set before freezing on the occasion slightly, as defending champion Paul levelled. Batchford upped the attack and Paul was unable to get quite all of the control he normally brought to the table, as Batchford took his second championship point to win 11-8, 7-11, 11-5, 11-7.

The duo also faced each other in the final of the Open doubles. Batchford and scratch partner Elliott only dropped one set en route to the final in a tricky opener with John Short and Peter Ward, with defending champions Paul and Lawes untroubled. And it was Batchford and Elliott who took the title, winning the final in three sets. John Paul has been a great champion and it was unthinkable that he should leave this day empty-handed, but he was gracious in defeat and is likely to be back next year.

There was a mixed bag of other winners, with the Handicap Singles final a battle between two former champions, as 2007 champion Anne Armitage had a 10-point start against 2003 Champion Alex Spragg and won both sets 21-15. Peter Ward and Simeon Care had both lost in three sets to Armitage in the singles and teamed up to reach the final of the Handicap Doubles, which was won by Eric Dolden and Jack Morton - a pairing who had knocked out Armitage and Peter Triston and the Baldock-Yaxley brothers, and with a four point start, they won the final 21-11, 21-17.

The semi-finals of the Second Division singles saw Peter Betts win a topsy-turvy five-setter against Philip Stone and Tom Baldock-Yaxley take a good four-set win against Halliday. Betts won the final from a set down, but Baldock-Yaxley did likewise in the Second Division doubles final as he teamed up with John Vaughan for a win over Halliday and Robinson.

Thanks are due to tournament organisers Chris and Pat Johnson, Albert Sawyer and Derek Philpott, plus Mary Sawyer for running the raffle, and all who helped set up and clear up the event.

You can watch highlights of the Open Singles Final between Paul and Batchford at http://uk.youtube.com/user/SeriouslyBatty

Championship Results

Open Singles, Round One: P Betts bt A Brown 9-11, 11-7, 11-8, 8-11, 11-8; D Thompson bt M Shanahan 11-6, 11-9, 11-5; A Spragg bt P Ward 11-7, 11-9, 9-11, 11-9; M Sawyer bt R Goffin 7-11, 13-11, 12-10, 11-6; M Toye bt J Barron 10-12, 11-7, 8-11, 12-10, 12-10; P Baker bt S Halliday 11-4, 11-8, 11-7; T Wilson bt C Smith 11-2, 11-5, 11-4; P Stone bt J Short 11-6, 11-4 (ret); C Marshall bt I Hewitt 11-5, 11-7, 11-6; J Baldock-Yaxley bt M Robinson 11-3, 11-9, 12-14, 6-11, 11-8; C Humphries bt E Stone 7-11, 11-7, 11-9, 11-7; E Dolden bt S Care 11-3, 11-1, 11-5. Round Two: J Paul bt P Betts 11-6, 11-4, 11-5; A Spragg bt D Thompson 11-9, 11-3, 11-7; M Sawyer bt M Toye 11-6, 11-8, 13-11; P Baker bt M Lawes 11-8, 11-9, 9-11, 11-4; D Elliott bt T Wilson 11-3, 13-11, 11-4; P Stone bt C Marshall 11-6, 11-9, 11-8; C Humphries bt J Baldock-Yaxley 14-12, 11-9, 11-8; J Batchford bt E Dolden 11-7, 11-6, 11-4. Quarter-Finals: J Paul bt A Spragg 11-7, 12-10, 11-3; M Sawyer bt P Baker 9-11, 11-6, 7-11, 11-3, 11-7; D Elliott bt P Stone 11-6, 11-7, 11-3; J Batchford bt C Humphries 8-11, 11-9, 11-7, 11-5. Semi-Finals: J Paul bt M Sawyer 11-8, 11-7, 11-5; J Batchford bt D Elliott 11-7, 11-3, 11-8. Final: J Batchford bt J Paul 11-8, 7-11, 11-5, 11-7.

Open Doubles, Round One: Baker/Howe bt Betts/Philpott 12-10, 14-12, 11-4; Robinson/Halliday bt Vaughan/Sawyer 11-5, 14-12, 11-6; Paul/Lawes bt Hancock(Snr)/Humphries 11-6, 11-8, 11-8; T Baldock-Yaxley/Dolden bt Marshall/Toye 8-11, 11-7, 11-2, 4-11, 11-5; J Baldock-Yaxley/Spragg bt S Care/Thompson 11-4, 11-6, 11-6; Batchford/Elliott bt Short/Ward 12-10, 9-11, 11-7, 11-6. Quarter-Finals: Baker/Howe bt Wilson/Goffin 11-8, 11-6, 11-8; Paul/Lawes bt Robinson/Halliday 11-4, 11-7, 11-4; J Baldock-Yaxley/Spragg bt T Baldock-Yaxley/Dolden 11-9, 11-4, 13-11; Batchford/Elliott bt Stone/Stone 11-3, 11-9, 11-8. Semi-Finals: Paul/Lawes bt Baker/Howe 11-7, 11-7, 11-6; Batchford/Elliott bt J Baldock-Yaxley/Spragg 11-3, 11-7, 11-5. Final: Batchford/Elliott bt Paul/Lawes 11-8, 11-6, 11-5.

Veterans, Round One: D Elliott bt D Thompson 11-6, 11-5, 11-8; P Betts bt R Goffin 11-3, 11-4, 12-10. Round Two: R Howe bt M Toye 11-7, 11-5, 11-5; J Paul bt M Sawyer 11-8, 11-6, 11-7; D Elliott bt C Smith 9-11, 11-4, 11-7, 9-11, 11-1; A Armitage bt G Long 11-4, 11-4, 8-11, 11-2; J Hancock Snr bt I Hewitt 11-7, 11-7, 5-11, 14-12; C Humphries bt P Betts 11-9, 12-14, 10-12, 11-6, 11-7; E Dolden bt P Triston 11-9, 9-11, 13-11, 11-6; J Barron bt J Short (w/o). Quarter-Finasl: J Paul bt R Howe 11-9, 11-8, 11-5; D Elliott bt A Armitage 11-1, 11-3, 11-2; C Humphries bt J Hancock Snr 11-4, 11-7, 11-9; J Barron bt E Dolden 11-6, 11-7, 11-4. Semi-Finals: D Elliott bt J Paul 11-8, 6-11, 11-9, 7-11, 11-7; C Humphries bt J Barron 11-3, 11-5, 9-11, 11-4. Final: D Elliott bt C Humphries 11-9, 11-8, 11-5.

Handicap Singles (plus handicaps in brackets), Round One: S Halliday bt D Thompson (+2) 21-10, 21-12; S Care (+14) bt J Baldock-Yaxley 21-12, 21-11; P Stone bt C Marshall (+6) 21-18, 21-14; P Ward (+11) bt D Elliott 21-7, 21-12; A Armitage (+8) bt A Brown 21-13, 21-12; G Long (+14) bt M Robinson 21-7, 21-8; I Hewitt (+13) bt J Batchford 21-16, 21-19; P Triston (+14) bt P Baker 13-21, 21-20, 21-19; C Smith (+11) bt J Barron 18-21, 21-6, 21-13; T Wilson bt J Hancock Snr (+4) 21-17, 20-21, 21-14; S Baldock bt M Shanahan (w/o); E Stone (+11) bt R Goffin 21-5, 21-6; P Betts bt E Dolden (+10) 20-21, 21-16, 21-20. Round Two: S Halliday (+8) bt C Humphries 21-19, 21-9; S Care (+13) bt P Stone 21-14, 21-13; A Armitage (+11) bt P Ward 20-21, 21-16, 21-12; G Long (+12) bt I Hewitt 19-21, 21-15, 21-11; C Smith bt P Triston (+4) 21-19, 20-21, 21-17; A Spragg (+4) bt T Wilson 21-19, 21-14; S Baldock (+7) bt E Stone 21-20, 19-21, 21-15; T Baldock-Yaxley (+8) bt P Betts 21-17, 19-21, 21-19. Quarter-Finals: S Care (+12) bt S Halliday 21-18, 21-19; A Armitage bt G Long (w/o); A Spragg bt C Smith (+8) 21-18, 18-21, 21-19; T Baldock-Yaxley bt S Baldock (+10) 20-21, 21-16, 21-15. Semi-Finals: A Armitage bt S Care (+5) 10-21, 21-13, 21-15; A Spragg bt T Baldock-Yaxley (+4) 18-21, 21-10, 21-15. Final: A Armitage (+10) bt A Spragg 21-15, 21-15.

Handicap Doubles (plus handicaps in brackets), Round One: Barron/Chapman (+13) bt Humphries/Baker 21-17, 18-21, 21-10; Marshall/Toye bt Smith/Long (+10) 14-21, 21-20, 21-20; S Care/Ward (+15) bt Batchford/Elliott 21-15, 21-6, Spragg/Brown bt Stone/Stone (+2) 21-18, 21-19, Triston/Armitage (+10) bt Hancock Snr/Thompson 20-21, 21-15, 21-12; Robinson/Halliday bt Vaughan/Baldock (+4) 21-13, 17-21, 21-17; Wilson/Goffin (+4) bt Lawes/Betts 21-14, 21-17; Dolden/Morton (+11) bt Baldock-Yaxley/Baldock-Yaxley 21-10, 21-18. Quarter-Finals: Barron/Chapman (+6) bt Marshall/Toye 21-14, 21-16; S Care/Ward (+6) bt Spragg/Brown 13-21, 21-20, 21-20; Triston/Armitage (+11) bt Robinson/Halliday 21-14, 21-11; Dolden/Morton (+11) bt Wilson/Goffin 21-19, 21-13. Semi-Finals: S Care/Ward (+0) bt Barron/Chapman 21-19, 21-9; Dolden/Morton (+0) bt Triston/Armitage 21-16, 21-16. Final: Dolden/Morton (+4) bt S Care/Ward 21-11, 21-17.

Plate, Round One: J Barron bt C Smith 11-7, 11-4, 12-10. Round Two: M Robinson bt P Ward 2-11, 9-11, 11-3, 11-6, 11-8; M Lawes bt S Care 11-8, 11-4; S Halliday bt A Brown 11-4, 11-7, 12-10; J Barron bt E Stone 11-4, 11-7, 13-11. Semi-Finals: M Lawes bt M Robinson 6-11, 11-9, 11-8, 13-11; J Barron bt S Halliday 9-11, 11-7, 11-7, 9-11, 11-9. Final: M Lawes bt J Barron 11-4, 11-4, 11-3.

Second Division Singles, Round One: T Baldock-Yaxley bt J Barron 4-11, 12-10, 11-3, 10-12, 12-10; M Robinson bt A Armitage 13-11, 11-3, 7-11, 11-6; P Stone bt C Smith 11-3, 11-6, 11-7; J Hancock Snr bt E Stone 6-11, 11-9, 9-11, 11-7, 11-8; P Betts bt M Toye 12-10, 11-3, 12-10; D Thompson bt S Care 15-13, 11-6, 11-7. Quarter-Finals: T Baldock-Yaxley bt P Triston 4-11, 11-7, 19-17, 11-9; S Halliday bt M Robinson 11-7, 11-8, 11-8; P Stone bt J Hancock Snr 11-1, 11-5, 13-11; P Betts bt D Thompson 11-6, 11-5, 11-2. Semi-Finals: T Baldock-Yaxley bt S Halliday 11-8, 10-12, 11-5, 11-6; P Betts bt P Stone 11-7, 8-11, 11-3, 5-11, 11-8. Final: P Betts bt T Baldock-Yaxley 10-12, 11-6, 11-8, 11-5.

Second Division Doubles, Round One: Stone/Stone bt Morton/Dolden 12-10, 11-4, 11-9; T Baldock-Yaxley/Vaughan bt Armitage/Triston 11-6, 11-8, 11-5; Betts/Toye bt Hancock Snr/Thompson 11-8, 13-11, 11-4. Semi-Finals: T Baldock-Yaxley/Vaughan bt Stone/Stone 11-3, 11-1, 11-7; Halliday/Robinson bt Betts/Toye 12-10, 11-5, 11-6. Final: T Baldock-Yaxley/Vaughan bt Halliday/Robinson 9-11, 11-5, 11-5, 11-9.

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