23-04-2012 Island Championships
Post date: Apr 23, 2012 10:24:20 PM
This event served up the most surprising outcomes of the Island Championships so far and included some epic 7 game encounters along the way. 4th seeds Olly Langlois and Matt Stubbington will play against 6th seeds Liam Robilliard and Paul Hainsworth in the final.
Langlois and Stubbington opened with a comfortable 4-0 win over the 4th division pairing of Stefan Sayer and Josh Davey. Their reward for this was an encounter against the experienced pairing of 5th seeds Mark Pipet and Phil Hunkin in the Quarter Finals. The number 5 seeds won 8 of their 10 doubles matches during the division 1 campaign and proved to be a massive test for the young Panthers pair. Despite converting a fairly comfortable first leg, the Panthers duo were then on the back foot for the remainder of the encounter, falling to deficits of 2-1 and 3-2. The 2010 Men's doubles winners Langlois and Stubbington were not to be denied though as they showed their mental toughness by coming through the final 2 ends over the extremely tight margins of 13-11, 11-9, saving a couple match points in the process.
In the semi final they were the underdogs against top seeds and defending champions Garry Dodd and Phil Ogier, who had earlier seen off Ian Fitchet and Len Bretel 4-1 and Jez Powell and Neil Hastie 4-0.
The top seeds were first on the board winning the first game, but all of a sudden they were staring down the barrel of defeat when trailing 3-1 after some clinical doubles table tennis from the Panthers'. It looked like the match would be closed out when they led 8-5 in the proceeding 5th game, however the champions refused to go down without a fight and reeled off 6 successive points to keep themselves in the running. It was a similar case in the 6th with a 7-5 lead for the 4th seeds, which was again pegged back before parity was obtained at 10-10. Stubbington played a top class match winning flick return of Dodd's serve at this stage and the momentum carried over to the following point which they duly claimed. The shot of the tournament was also included in the 6th game when Langlois whipped a forehand loop around the post from the wide angle. The ball barely bounced as it skidded along the table, making it virtually impossible to retrieve.
6th seeds Hainsworth and Robilliard also experienced a tough route to the final and made a slow start in their opening match against the St Pauls' combination of Chas Elliott and Maurice James, who won the opening leg. They managed to navigate the remaining 4 games to set-up a clash with 2nd seeds Scott Romeril and Adam Langlois in a match that felt like a semi final clash such was the narrow margins between the 2 teams. This was evident as games went back and forth, until Hainsworth and Robilliard gained a 3-2 lead. The Panthers' pairing made no mistake in the 6th and forced another 7 game decider for this event. It looked like they would continue their progress and gain victory as they held the lead for the majority of the end. It got tight towards the end when Hainsworth and Robilliard fought back to 9-9, leaving Romeril to serve for the match. The point at 9-9 was a classic counter top spin rally from the back of the court with Robilliard dealing the devastating final cross court below leaving Langlois diving to return the ball to no avail. At 10-9 the ball became open for Hainsworth to attack and his forehand topspin forced a block error from Romeril completing the surprise result.
The semi final was a slight anticlimax against the 3rd seeded Stacey twins Lawrence and Josh who never really got going. The first 3 games were claimed by the Lions' pair for the loss of just 15 points. The youngsters did raise their level in the 4th, but were unable to pinch a leg after going down 14-12.
The Women's Doubles was not quite as dramatic as the Men's due to the fact that the top 2 pairings expectantly made the final, although not without some stiff resistance from their opposition.
Top seeds Dawn Morgan and Kay Chivers dropped the 3rd and 4th sets against Paula Le Ber and Chloe Le Tissier before the 2 time champions re-asserted their seeding and used their extra experience to maximum effect, winning in 6.
Second seeds Alice Loveridge and Kate Stubbington defeated 3rd seeds Sam Kershaw and Beth Priest in the other semi final clash by 4 games to 1. A few of the ends were closely contested though and the match could have been extended to a few more legs.