The Annual BDTTA Top-Twelve Tournament, sponsored by The Hawkins Group, took place on Sunday and everyone was treated to some tremendous table tennis, writes Peter Jackson.
Twelve of the best players in the Banbury League were invited to take part. Unfortunately, there were two late withdrawals due to injury but the two groups of five represented a wide age range and table tennis styles.
In Group 1 were Tony Gorman, Jack Garner, Michael Harrison, Brian Hobill and Toby Dow. Five- time winner Gorman was the hot favourite and he confirmed his status by beating Garner, Harrison and Hobill all in three straight games. Harrison meanwhile beat Dow, Garner and Hobill to qualify as group runner up leaving Gorman to virtually play an entertaining ‘exhibition’ game with top Junior Dow to save energy. Gorman probably thought he could cruise past but Dow showed his increasing potential in taking a win in three straight games to record his only win in the group.
In Group 2, Jack Shardlow was joined by Jason Tustain, Peter Harris, Wally Warburton and Joseph Fisher.
This group was dominated by Shardlow who won all his four matches reasonably comfortably. Harris and Tustain were vying for second place and Harris very nearly came unstuck when he met up and coming junior Fisher who shocked him a little with his free attacking style that took him to a fifth set decider.
Harris though took the fifth and breathed a sigh of relief. So Tustain and Harris met in the final match to decide who went through to the semi- final. It was also the best match of the group with both playing a free, attacking game that went to fifth set decider. It was nip and tuck all the way with Tustain just edging it 11-9.
The semi- finals then saw Gorman v clubmate Tustain and Shardlow v clubmate Harrison. Gorman and Tustain both know each other’s game very well with Gorman generally having the edge. So it proved over four predictably tight games with Gorman moving into yet another final.
The second semi- final was a classical attacker versus defender affair with Harrison hitting plenty of hard quick forehands that Shardlow seemed to comfortably retrieve and then counter. The first set was incredibly close and gruelling but went to Harrison 17-15. The expected comeback from Shardlow, who has incredible staying power, never materialized and Harrison continued his brilliant attack and took the next two games to go through.
The final, between Gorman and Harrison, was full of fast attacking play. Gorman started brilliantly and cruised to an 11-1 first set win. Harrison showed plenty of attacking endeavour but the overall power and experience of Gorman proved decisive and Gorman took the next two and his sixth Top12 title to complete an excellent afternoon’s table tennis.