Mark J Kilby Hard Bat Tournament

Post date: May 14, 2019 10:42:1 PM

Paul Hainsworth’s decade of dominance in the annual Mark J Kilby Memorial Hard Bat Trophy tournament culminated with his 9th win in the past 10 years on Monday evening when he overcame 2019 Island Games player Joshua Stacey in straight sets in the final.

Hainsworth’s only defeat in this event came in the 2015 event where he was beaten by the leading player in the Channel Islands, Garry Dodd, with this 9th victory making him the winner of a quarter of all tournaments contested, the first taking place in 1984.

The tournament is traditionally the curtain closer of the domestic table tennis season and serves as more of a fun tournament for the members, whilst still remaining highly competitive. This is done by the usage of old style hard ‘pimple’ bats being provided to all players for use throughout the tournament. The bats also remain the same side of the table, meaning each match requires players to use both bats on the designated table. The previous scoring system of 21 points is also used and this year also saw the return of 5 serves each, with the tournament having been run with the current table tennis system of 2 serves each for a number of years. The final change from the normal game is the inclusion of the use of the 38mm ball as opposed to the current 40mm ball that is used for all local, national and international table tennis competitions. The purpose of the tournament was to take away any advantages gained by any of the numerous rubbers available for use, which are now more varied within the modern game and also to create the opportunity for any player to win an Open tournament.

Mark Kilby was a talented young table tennis player who tragically passed away in the early 1980’s. Mark’s parents Barry and Val arranged to have his table tennis bat dipped in silver and mounted as the trophy for the winner of the newly launched tournament when it was first contested in 1984. They come down to the centre each year to watch the annual event and also present the trophy at the climax of the tournament.

The event has been well supported by the Guernsey Table Tennis Association Members for the past 36 years and this season was no different with a healthy entry of 24 competitors all relishing the opportunity of trying their luck with the hard bats.

The majority of the top Island Senior players were in the draw and this included Gibraltar 2019 Island Games duo of twins Joshua Stacey and Lawrence Stacey as well as Hainsworth and Dan Collenette. All of these players managed to navigate the group stages as group winner along with regular hard bat specialist and 2016 runner-up Chas Elliott and a surprise package in the form of junior Caden Brouard. Another surprise qualifier was social league player Wendy Le Cras who managed to defeat Juliette Yeaman on her way to finishing runner-up in Group C.

Hainsworth was the most comfortable victor in the Quarter final stages, but he was given a good test by Division 2 player Steve Ozanne, with a lot of quality rallies and shots displayed by both players. Elliott was another comfortable straight sets winner over Brouard, whilst Josh Stacey overcame a close first game to get the better of fellow Division 1 player Ryan Gilson 2-0. The remaining quarter final clash was an epic encounter between Lawrence Stacey and Collenette. Stacey started strongly and his 8-0 lead in the opener gave him the breathing space required to seal it. Collenette battled back strongly and took the second 21-17, but found himself in big trouble whilst trailing 18-14 in the decider. The younger player battled back and held a match point at 20-19, but this was saved by a fortunate edge by Stacey. Collenette held his nerve here and sealed it 22-20.

Collenette is the only local player to have defeated Hainsworth with a sandpaper bat when he beat him in the final of the inaugural Mick’s Ping Pong Challenge back in February and he would have been confident again going into their semi-final clash with the hard bats. The encounter was an excellent one which contained a lot of lengthy rallies, with both players looking to get onto the offensive with their forehand strokes. Hainsworth was not to be denied on this occasion however and ultimately had too much firepower and won in straight sets.

On the adjacent table, Stacey reached the final after battling past Elliott in straight sets by the score of 21-15, 21-19.

The final was a repeat of the previous 2 seasons and Stacey, who had come agonisingly close to winning the title last year, made a terrific start with some awesome forehand winners. This enabled him to hold the lead for the majority of the first end, however from around 12-12, Hainsworth raised his game and this enabled him to take it 21-13. The second game followed a similar pattern with the scores remaining close during the early stages, however Hainsworth again raised his level and a weary Stacey fell away 21-10.