Michael Andrews is the new Braintree table tennis champion. In a high-class men’s singles final, the former Essex No. 1 player had just enough to stop teammate Paul Davison from winning his seventh title.
Both players maintained an unbroken barrage throughout the final, often taking the ball lower than seemed possible and spreading the game across both wings.
It was Davison who started the brightest, often outpacing his younger opponent to win the first game 11-5.
Andrews successfully eliminated his opponent’s offense in the next two games, but had to come back from 4-1 in the second and then resist a Davison comeback from 4-8 to 8-8 in the third.
Davison was off the blocks quickly in the fourth when two players who know each other’s game tried different ways to outrun the man on the other side.
Eventually Andrews opened up a lead in the fifth that Davison couldn’t match and took the final game 11-7.
In the semifinals, Andrews bested former champion Terry Dowsett, who showed some of the old style but couldn’t match Andrews’ speed at the table, while Ken Lewis landed a few straight hits against Davison but found more of them coming. back to what he’s used to.
Andrews and Davison teamed up to win the men’s doubles title that Davison won last time with Graham Playle.
It threatened to be a rout against unseeded Dan Anderson and Takunda Nerutanga, who disappeared 11-3 in the first game in a flurry of activity across the table.
But they resisted and gradually started asking the No. 1 seeds some questions, so much so that they led 10-6 in the second game and 9-6 in the third, but they couldn’t hold back either.
Davison added a second title, the veterans’ singles, which he has held since becoming eligible in 2017.
It was a touch of déjà vu when he returned to face Lewis and with pretty much the same result, 11-7, 11-4, 11-4 compared to 11-5, 11-4, 11-5 in the men’s semifinal.
On the other hand, the night of the finals produced two sets that ended in a tie in the fifth. Steve Pennell looked dead and gone after two hard-hitting games against Ashley Skeggs in the division one singles final.
Both players are strong hitters, but early on it was Skeggs’ strikes that were most revealing.
But after losses of 11-5 and 11-6, Pennell began to warm up and found more hitting going on as Skeggs lost some of his confidence.
Pennell won the third game 11-7 and appeared to have complete control as he won the fourth 11-2.
But Skeggs didn’t finish, regained his composure and led through the fifth, only to have stage fright at 10-7.
Pennell saved all three match points, and a fourth at 11-10 before taking the next three points to victory.
The third division singles final followed a similar pattern. Netts C teammates Peter Clark and Szczepan Ziobro proved to be too strong for most in their first season back in the game after long breaks and with a few elegant plays they showed they should be happy in the second division next season.
This time it was a comeback that didn’t turn out well. Like Pennell, Clark lost the first two games but then calmed down, looked more composed in the vitals and it was Ziobro who started making more mistakes.
Clark took the third and fourth games, but after a tight final game it was Ziobro who held on to the title at 14-12.
The second singles split was more straightforward. And surprisingly so. Adam Clift beat Garry Fryatt in two of his three league games this season and lost in five games the other season.
But he couldn’t go, he didn’t seem to have the confidence to open the game and unexpectedly it was Fryatt who showed the biggest attacking tendencies. He also has a solid defense and maintained control throughout the game to win three games in a row.
Adam’s brother, Sean Clift, was also the target in the singles restricted, but as he was up against Dan Anderson, undefeated in the league, that wasn’t a surprise.
Anderson has a cunning style that both misleads an opponent and opens up chances to hit. Despite some discomfort in the third game, which he let slip, he came back strong to take the fourth 11-5 and the title.
Men’s singles final: Michael Andrews defeated Paul Davison 3-2 (5-11, 11-7, 11-8, 7-11, 11-8). Semi-finals: Andrews defeated Terry Dowsett 3-0 (11-6, 11-3, 11-7); Davison beat Ken Lewis 3-0 (11-5, 11-4, 11-5).
Men’s doubles: Andrews and Davison beat Dan Anderson and Takunda Nerutanga 3-0 (11-3, 13-11, 11-9).
Veterans’ singles: Davison beat Lewis 3-0 (11-7, 11-4, 11-4).
Restricted singles: Anderson defeated Sean Clift 3-1 (11-3, 11-6, 9-11, 11-5).
First Division Singles: Steve Pennell defeated Ashley Skeggs 3-2 (5-11, 6-11, 11-7, 11-2, 13-11).
Second Division Singles: Garry Fryatt defeated Adam Clift 3-0 (11-6, 11-6, 11-9).
Third division singles: Szczepan Ziobro beat Peter Clark 3-2 (11-4, 11-8, 8-11, 12-14, 13-11).