Garry Dodd (pictured) proved he is getting back to his best after winning every match in completing a perfect CI Top 12 qualifying campaign on Monday night. Brought forward by 48 hours in order to ensure all of the big names would be present, Derek Webb had said pre-tournament that it was the strongest field of 10 competitors ever assembled for the annual event.
But the Guernsey Table Tennis Association president saw sixtime island champion Dodd sweep all before him, winning his nine matches and although he dropped seven sets in total, he was never once taken to a decider.
Things had actually got off to a slow start for Dodd, who lost his opening set of the night to Dawn Morgan, but hit back to win that one 3-1 - albeit with two of his successful sets being 11-9. More comfortable wins against Joshua Butler and Lawrence Stacey followed - although he again lost the first set in the latter - before more battling wins over Liam Robilliard and Joshua Stacey. A thrashing of Paul Hainsworth and success over Alex Robinson meant a meeting between the two unbeaten players in the penultimate round of the night.
Alice Loveridge had enjoyed a similarly serene passage through her matches to that point, although she was pushed all the way by Phil Ogier, with both players by then having guaranteed their place in the top-six. Dodd put himself in command for top spot, though, with an excellent 11-3, 15-13, 11-13, 11-8 success and after defeating Ogier last up, he confirmed himself as top qualifier once again.
Loveridge finished off with a win to finish with just a single dropped point, while Ogier, Butler, Robinson and Joshua Stacey booked their spots in the top-six and thus in the CI tournament. That takes place on 31 January in Guernsey, although the Sarnian half-dozen must wait to find out what Jersey opposition there will be, as the Caesareans hold
their qualifier on 4 January.
As ever, points from the matches against other local qualifiers will be carried forward and added to by the results of the inter-island clashes.