Capelles Open Singles

Post date: Jan 13, 2021 10:7:48 PM

Ben Foss continues to build his senior-level trophy cabinet knowing that the big one – an Island Singles title – may not be too far away on the horizon.


(Report courtesy Guernsey Press)

Before gunning for a maiden Island Championships men’s crown in April, the youngster opened his year with a successful title defence at the Capelles Open. But it was as close as ever. Foss ended his night with two five-set thrillers, culminating in a shootout with top seed Lawrence Stacey.

Lawrence, in turn, went under the cosh in the quarter-finals after a mix-up with entries caused an uncharacteristically early meeting with twin Josh. There, Lawrence edged a bumper opening set 16-14 after seeing the unseeded island champion coming back at him, then the latter rattled off two 11-8s to steal the initiative. Form-man Lawrence held his nerve to edge the next two sets and book a semi spot, where he beat Paul Hainsworth in four ends.

Yet an entertaining battle of youth versus experience on the adjacent table was taking centre stage. Foss burst out of the blocks in set one against Phil Ogier, a six-time Capelles champion between 1999 and 2005, before the veteran pegged him back. The second told a similar tale but Foss just came out top this time, and after two more alternating outcomes and some showy ranged rallies, a decisive fifth end beckoned.

That was when Foss’s survival instinct kicked in and he romped to an 11-5 victory.

Now for Stacey versus Foss – a familiar, but always nail-biting, rivalry. Foss kept his momentum to dominate the first set 11-4, only for Lawrence to restore parity with a stronger second. What started as a blow-for-blow third set turned into one-way traffic as Foss broke from 3-all to 11-4, though Lawrence kept his cool to flip this result in the fourth.

A decider resulted. The clock was ticking on and the post-Christmas break fatigue was rising, but Foss shot off to break five clear. Lawrence capitalised on a series of errors, though, to salvage a deuce situation. After both parties dropped key points amid the mounting tension, Foss pinched a critical rally and moments later sealed a 14-12 victory.

‘It feels good to win this one,’ he said after adding a second Capelles title to his two Whistlers successes. ‘I played pretty well.

‘I was a few points up in the fifth but Lawrence played it back, and 10-all to 12-all were quite shaky points – no one really won a point, we both just lost them. [The 13th] was quite a big one to win and probably gave me the momentum to get over the line.'

He added in reference to a season still clouded by Covid concerns and with Guernsey ace Garry Dodd still inactive out in Sheffield: ‘Island Champs is the main one I have in mind and it would be nice to get that.’

The night concluded with the award of the Hard Luck trophy for the 2019-20 season which went to Lawrence Stacey, with runners-up being Ryan Gilson and Ben Foote.